Post 10 – Reflecting and Re-Proposing

Lily Partridge

Reflection from my Previous Proposal

These past few weeks have felt like a whirlwind. I’d finally grasped the hang of ‘research, map, blog, repeat’, but then suddenly breaking my process out of it’s spiralling trance with a design proposal: I was really unprepared.

The draft proposal that I explored with my peer group explored the idea of negative tone and language used to address the opposite sex in social media. I was really stuck for how to best explore this idea, as I didn’t want to place blame on either sex. I did, however want to focus on males as the victims of what many people feel to be victimless, anti-man rants on social media that generalise and shun men for mentalities and actions that are only internalised by a minority.

Refining this concept with my two group members, they were really helpful in nutting out potential directions for how I could present this information as a proposal. The strongest idea was a a campaign-style video inspired by Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘Celebrities Reading Mean Tweets’ that would present people form both genders, but mostly males, reading out tweets that generalised them as a male or female and gauging their response. I liked this idea because it put a face and an emotion to the faceless void of social media and would encourage people to think about how they discuss gender on an open platform. Chris, my tutor, wasn’t as convinced, suggesting that whilst the direction with language and tone was interesting, this probably wasn’t the most effective outcome. I definitely agree, so it was back to the drawing board for my proposal idea.

During the week I did the ‘Asking Why’ methodology to better get to the heart of my problem and to crack me out of a cycle of blinkered ideas. Below (source A) is this method. I came to realise that a much deeper issue that has lead to contemporary gender inequality across various areas is that in the process of building empowered women, men have taken a hit. As a result of generalisations they are attacked for trying to adhere to traditional masculinity paradigms that are often labelled as patronising and sexist towards women, yet on the other hand are also criticised for trying to rationally stand up for their rights in areas such as parental custody, paternity care, and acceptance in female-oriented industries. This process has greatly shaped the revision of my proposal, as you can see below.

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Source A: Refining down the issue to the core using the WHY methodology.

My Proposal Outline

‘Social’ – An online education platform for social, emotional and mental wellbeing.

Service Design – Website

The Issue:
Our society has reached an unusual impasse in relation to the gender equality movement, the result of a juxtaposition of standards: women are praised for embracing their flaws, but simultaneously males are criticised for fighting for rights and acceptance; gender stereotypes are being challenged, but both sexes are attacked for not adhering to socially acceptable gender labels; we want to reach a place of equal and mutually beneficial access to rights, yet are struggling to fully extend the hand in invitation. Understanding the equality revolution involves a mentality that, as adults, is difficult to adopt due to social stigma and tradition. Shifting a worldview takes generations, however with an issue as complex and subjective as Feminism, it is almost impossible that with so many perspectives we will ever reach a united and informed outcome. We need to break the impasse at the root by ensuring that everyone receives the same social education surrounding behaviour, rights and emotional and mental health, however currently no outlet exists to do so.

The Possible Change:
I anticipate that with this service we can begin to build a strong societal mentality that is unified around a contemporary understanding of gender equality, redefining gender roles and social behaviours. By educating children and institutionalising these themes to instil a feminist mentality that supports a healthy social and mental wellbeing that can be monitored and standardised, we can ensure a faster passage to creating meaningful and beneficial social change as they grow and impact society.

The Design Action to Support Change:
I propose an online platform created by mental health professionals, such as educators, counsellors, psychologists, scientists, etc., that foregrounds social skills as part of the education curriculum. The platform would be integrated into school curriculums as well as be accessible at home for parents. As a website, the design has the potential to be engaging and fun for children to use whilst targeting specific themes such as communication, respect, understanding gender, leadership, conflict resolution, etc. Further, as a web tool, it is easily accessible in most schools and homes, and by involving and assigning activities from the service to the students as tasks, the value that is placed on a social education becomes higher.

This platform can become more advanced as it is catered to older year groups, incorporating story sharing, online counselling, chatrooms, and other services so that this becomes a key tool in subliminally establishing a more healthy attitude towards gender equality and it’s impact upon the individuals and broader community.