Working together in a small group and providing each other with feedback, fresh perspectives and further ideas was, as always, incredibly helpful. I didn’t leave the lesson with a refined design outcome, or even a refined problem statement, however I did leave with a mind ticking full of ideas. It was clear from my inability to properly articulate my problem statement and possible design outcomes to my group that my idea needed to be further developed and refined. My first step in doing so was to review all of the research I had done over the semester and use this as a basis for redefining my problem statement and allowing me to narrow the focus of my potential design outcome.
The design outcome idea that received the greatest response was that of a data-scraping tool which collects Twitter data regarding relevant issues to do with feminism, femininity, and the sexualisation of the female body; for example, a collation of data on “thigh gap” mentions compared with “pay gap” mentions. Both my peers and my tutor were highly amused by this play on language, and we spent some time brainstorming other possible language juxtapositions that could be collected. I soon realised, however, that it would be a struggle for me to find an ample amount of material. Not wanting to leave this possibility behind altogether, I realised that I could combine a few of my previously outlined possible design outcomes as a way of fleshing this idea out; the thigh gap/pay gap comparison was a starting point, and, into this, I integrated an exploration of the broader constructs of “femininity” and “masculinity”, how this impacts the way we perceive and relate to our own bodies and selves, and the role these constructs and resulting “everyday sexism” play in the oppression of women.
Project title: TBC
Generative design based off data and opinion collection, integrating data visualisations as content
The culturally and historically constructed concept of “femininity” is limiting, and detrimental to all attempts towards gender equality. It is also detrimental to young women’s perceptions of themselves, thus their mental health, as well as to interactions between women and men. Femininity and masculinity as cultural constructs are a form of bodily control and a maintenance of patriarchal power, reinforcing gender stereotypes and maintaining the oppression of women. Women aged 18-24 are vulnerable as they begin to navigate and develop their identity within the “real world” and need to be provided with platforms which encourage empowerment and self-acceptance, and challenge inhibitive social constructs and resounding societal expectations and norms.
The possible change:
The proposed design intervention will specifically focus on women aged 18-24 in Australia, existing to redefine the constructs of “femininity” and “masculinity” and tackle the issues of gender stereotyping and bodily objectification. The design will aim to foster a sense of communal empowerment and encourage self-acceptance, and provide an impetus for discussion between young women. Through a communal movement which redefines “femininity” and “masculinity” and allows for the involvement, contributions and collaborations of many, the issues of socially constructed oppression mechanisms will be addressed and explored in an optimistic and supportive way.
The design action to support change:
Through data scraping social media outlets such as Twitter and Instagram, I have identified key issues that concern 18-24 year old women in regards to self-empowerment, the sexualisation and objectification of the female body, and the impacts of the social constructs of “femininity” and “masculinity”. I intend to break down these issues and provide a service to young women in the form of a zine which encourages self-empowerment, explores themes of gender and self-love, and deconstructs societal expectations, norms and taboos in a positive way. The development of a zine is appealing, affordable, and has the potential for collaboration and expansion in the future as word-of-mouth and personal experiences give the zine a voice within its context. While this design operates on a small scale, it also operates on a very personal level, which arguably has the potential for a higher impact on its audience. The zine could potentially include literature, art, stories, data visualisations, and information drawn from data, as a way of empowering and redefining “femininity” and exploring the notion and effects of the patriarchal worldview.
This design action has the potential for exploring key issues relevant to feminism in our modern discourse, as well as providing a platform for various forms of discussion regarding the historical background, social contexts and resounding impact of “femininity” and “masculinity” as patriarchal constructs. It could explore the way in which our expectations of “femininity” impact the way we view women’s bodies and the way women view and relate to their own bodies, as well as having the potential for exploring “everyday sexism” and the subconscious objectification of women’s bodies that occurs in our society. I intend to collate relevant data from Twitter and Instagram as a basis for these explorations within the zine, as well as calling for submissions from people who feel that the zine’s focus is relevant to their own life experiences.
Sometimes all your toys can’t fit into the one toy box.
That is the lesson my colleagues taught me through our group discussions last week. After attempting to articulate my problem statement out loud, it became increasingly apparent that I was still struggling to articulate the problem I intend to solve to myself. The structure of this subject has pushed me to generate numerous lines of inquiry into the gender equality debate- some which have come to a sort of insightful fruition, and others not. As a type A personality, this way of working does not agree with me. I like things that can be tucked into a tiny box, which can sit alongside other boxes on my mental bookshelf, ready to be referenced when required. What my colleagues hinted to me through course of our chat was that all of my ideas about Feminism and gender equality could not fit into one little box without the lid continually falling off…that the complexity of a social issue cannot be packaged how I’d like, despite my best efforts.
Consequently I have redefined my problem statement so that it focuses in on just one line of inquiry. My design solution will address the ambiguity surrounding the intentions/objectives and goals of current ‘New Wave’ Feminism. The emergence of social media, and the recent roll out of Feminist sentiment across mainstream media sources, has resulted in much wider public engagement with Feminist issues. People, particularly youth are using social media to express their personal interpretations of Feminism and how it influences their personal lives. Until our discussion I had viewed this trend as problematic- thinking that the individualistic nature of modern day Feminism contributed to the sense of disunity within the issue that some seem to feel discouraged by. However in reflection on my feedback, I now think that maybe this diversity of opinions and fluidity of interpretations might be what defines ‘New Wave Feminism’ from the kind of clear cut gender equality advocated by the Suffragettes and Second wave feminists. I now intend on developing a design solution that reflects and embraces the characteristics of current Feminism rather than try to replicate the definitive, unchanging objectives advocated by the feminists of the past.
Project title: A non-definitive, not binding, forever changing, modern day Feminist manifesto.
Practice type: Generative system and data visualisation
The issue: As defined above. The objectives of modern day (current) or ‘New Wave’ Feminism are not as clearly defined as those pushed for by the Suffragettes and Second Wave Feminists. In light of social media, the 24 hour news cycle and spread of Feminist sentiment amongst the wider population, the objectives of today’s Feminism are highly individualised, continually changing and fluid. Through my proposed design, I hope to encourage young people to embrace these characteristics as something unique to our time, and as a positive alternative to the exclusive, un-changing definitive objectives of the Feminism of the past. I hope to encourage people to mould their own understanding of Feminism, rather than search for one definitive, ruling opinion as I have for much of semester (it is very difficult if not impossible to do).
I plan on creating an online platform which gives live updates as to perceived goals of Feminism today. The platform (possible website, app format) will display a list of 5 goals of today’s Feminism, derived from Twitter entries using the hashtag #todaysfeminism. Participants are asked to define the goals of the Feminist movement today. The platform will then generate a list, based on the most common words used. The list will update every 10 minutes in order to show that the goals of Feminism in the modern world are continually changing and developing to reflect what is going on in the world. The goal lists will be time logged so that a user can go back and look at how the list has changed over time (days, week, months, hours). There will also be a capability to search the user’s own list against the database to find similar responses. The design is therefore a generative system but will be displayed as an interactive data visualisation similar to SelfieCity (http://selfiecity.net). This example is great as it is able to communicate the bigger picture and info about selfie culture, whilst still allowing the user to access individual contributions to the project. My design is similar in that is shows the general consensus on the goals of Feminism whilst also allowing the user to browser individual entries.
Unfortunately I was absent for the class brainstorming session, however through the information my group members gave me and further discussions that I had with some of my peers, I was able to hone in on some initial problem statements that I identified within gender equality and feminism, and develop these problem statements through my own in-depth brainstorming.
I wanted to delve deeper into feminist theory and the history of the gender equality struggle before I settled on any particular problem statement. As a result I continued on with deeper research, looking into theorists such as Michel Foucault and Teresa de Lauretis, as a way of deepening my understanding and really allowing myself to hone in on some of the extensive issues within feminism and gender equality. I initially began at Foucault’s theory of biopower in the terms of the control of the female body, and De Lauretis’ writings on Feminism and its Differences.
By deepening my understanding of existing problems and discussions within feminist discourse, my own problem statements and the details of possible solutions were easier to identify and explore. This research really framed my problem statements and subsequent brainstorming, and possible design responses arose from these brainstorms with relative ease (a nice feeling to finally feel like I’m making headway in this subject). I actually completed brainstorms for a handful of problem statements, before deciding to focus in on one in particular, that being the social, cultural and historical construct of “femininity” and how this influences the way we view and respond to women’s bodies in our society.
I definitely feel it would have been beneficial to complete the brainstorming exercises alongside my peers, having had positive experiences with doing so previously, however circumstance meant I wasn’t able to. I struggled to decide on just one problem statement, which I’m sure would not have been so much of a problem if I’d had class mates to help push me in a certain direction. In saying that, having only myself to rely on in my brainstorming meant that I was able to go deeper into my background research and able to incorporate this research into my mapping, resulting in a perhaps deeper and more thorough analysis of my problem statement.
“A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself… She comes to consider the surveyor and the surveyed within her as the two consituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman… Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed, female.” Ways of Seeing, John Berger (English art theorist, art critic, poet and novelist).
The issue of gender equality within our society is a huge, multi-faceted one, one that concerns (or should concern) everyone, one that has its toes stuck in many doors, has many knock on effects, and which relates to many other social issues. From the start of this subject, I was particularly interested in Feminism as a movement, historically, culturally and socially, and knew that this was the direction I wanted to research further into. However, Feminism itself it also a huge, multi-faceted topic, with so much rich history and social relevance, as well as much controversy. Through my research, I came across the writings of theorists such as Teresa de Lauretis, John Berger and Catharine Mackinnon, and was drawn into the ideas of the patriarchal world view and subsequent social conditioning, the sexualised objectification of the female body, and how this all plays into the suppression of women through the culturally and historically specific construct of “femininity”.
Who does the problem affect? Be specific.
The problem specifically looks at young women and men aged 18 to 24 within our contemporary society. Different cultures have different attitudes and interpretations of femininity as a cultural and historical construct, but as my own upbringing and influences are of a Western background, I’ll be focusing specifically on Western culture. This problem particularly affects young women as they often feel the weight of social expectations that surround the concept of femininity, however it also involves men as social expectations and stereotypes play into how they perceive women, and how they perceive themselves in association with women. The issue of femininity as a cultural and historical construct also naturally brings with it the issue of the cultural and historical construct of masculinity, which brings its own issues to the lives of men and how they move within the world.
What are the boundaries of the problem?
This issue exists on a representational level, with social conditioning and long-standing patriarchal power structures influencing (whether consciously or subconsciously) the way women are viewed within the world, and how they move within the world. The issue of social conditioning and how it affects expectations of women and interpretations of “femininity”, and reinforces gender stereotypes, infiltrates throughout our society through social media, mass media, pornography, politics, social spheres, and wider public spheres. While objectification of bodies has occurred for centuries, globalisation and technological developments have altered and expanded the platforms through which we now experience this objectification.
When does the problem occur? When does it need to be fixed?
The problem occurs every hour of every day, as a result of the long-standing patriarchal world views that our society has been built on and which continue to filter throughout every aspect of our lives. Sexualised objectification and the eroticisation of power has its resounding effects on women and the way women’s bodies are perceived (by both men and women) all the time. Ideally, this problem would be addressed immediately, however the nature of our society and the deeply entrenched behaviours and institutional values that contribute to this issue mean that a sudden shift in the collective conscience is unlikely. Rather, education and inclusive conversation seems to be a more achievable way of encouraging a shift.
Where does the problem occur?
This problem occurs across all aspects of society; social media, mass media, politics, social life, workplaces, etc. Social media is a particularly powerful tool within our society as it gives a platform and voice to the merging of the personal and political. Online communities have the power to either perpetuate or challenge these long-standing views, and as a result of such wide-reaching platforms, both the perpetuation of the objectification of women and the rejection of these limiting views are frequently seen. The media is another powerful tool, particularly because all too often “femininity” and sexualised objectification is used as a marketing tool.
Why is it important?
The culturally and historically constructed concept of “femininity” is limiting, and detrimental to all attempts towards gender equality. It is also detrimental to young women’s perception of themselves, thus their mental health, as well as to interactions between women and men. Femininity and masculinity as a cultural constructs reinforce gender stereotypes and contribute to the objectification of women’s bodies, seen throughout media platforms, political spheres, and the social norms, taboos, and expectations of our society, which further contributes to the oppression of women. “Femininity” and “masculinity” are a form of bodily control and a maintenance of patriarchal power.
Possible design responses:
A data-scraping tool which collects Twitter data on “thigh gap” mentions and “pay gap” mentions and compares the two (this could extend further to juxtapose other Tweets that use opposing language/views)
Visualisations of feminist issues swapped over to men (e.g. the burkini ban in France transferred to being some kind of control over male bodies on French beaches)
Some kind of data visualisation that explores the historical background or social context, and resounding impact, of “femininity” and “masculinity”
Some kind of data visualisation that explores the way our expectations of “femininity” impact the way we view women’s bodies/the way women view and relate to their own bodies
A generative system of sorts which involves an online video compilation of “everyday sexism” or subconscious objectification of women’s bodies/a visualisation of the eroticisation of power
Up until this point I had tried to be immersed and completely focused on the topic of gender equality and feminism as much as possible without really considering options for a design proposal as a response to the issue. Undertaking this brainstorming task with peers who were equally immersed in the same issue made this a lot more interesting and beneficial to my idea development. In the development of the issue statement to direct the brainstorming, I didn’t have a very succinct or specific explanation of my issue, and as a result of being quite broad, at the time my insights and possible solutions were quite bland.
Developing the problem statement by following the Who, What, When, Where, Why method was a really good way to better understand the issue and lead to some potential outcomes.Repeating and elaborating on this process individually later though, I began to brainstorm some potential directions for tackling the issue in a more tapered and structured way around the topic of how online communities engage with feminism across social media.
Who Does the Problem Affect?
The issue of Gender Equality affects everyone, however not all in the same way or with the same level of pervasiveness. This can be specified further by considering those frequently engaging with social media and online communities, such as Reddit and Facebook. This audience consists predominantly of late teens to late thirty year olds as a rough estimate. Further still, whilst both sexes are affected by gender inequality, there are sub groups that equally affected but, again, have varying levels of action and engagement. These include men’s rights, anti-feminist movements, pro-feminist groups, LGBTIQ advocates, spiritual adherents, and simply the cultures of behaviour that pervade the different online platforms.
What Are the Boundaries of the Problem?
In the simplest of terms, gender inequality affects both men and women, and whilst traditionally this has been an issue tackled by the feminist movement, we are increasingly assessing the impact of excluding men from this discussion, the perpetuation of many double standards, social expectations and stereotypes that are outdated and sexist, and, attributing Feminism to a single sex.
When Does the Problem Occur? When Does it Need to be Fixed?
Gender inequality has been a element of our history from the very beginning. Actually considering the male role in the feminist movement has only arisen over the last few decades, and actions have been taken in an even shorter time frame. As social media has only existed as a key channel of communication for the last 15 years or so, it is only recently that groups have banded together online to share their views on the topic. Due to the nature of social media and the internet, the information and discussion around the problem has all increased tenfold by being able to interact with someone sharing your perspective who lives on the other side of the world. Communities are strengthened in numbers and accessibility and issues arise when opposing views are not able to respectfully debate the issue and work towards mutually agreeable solutions.
As for a deadline for action, there is not an overnight solution. Like racism and homophobia, it has taken generations before a mentality of respect is deeply and intrinsically ingrained in our society enough to speak out against hate. Ideally this is fixed sooner rather than later so we can begin embracing what different sexes have to offer without elitism or sexism.
Where is the problem occurring?
Specifically for social media, the problem is occurring amongst online communities with very subject mentalities towards the issue, and as the problem occurs across a spectrum that includes the impacts on men and women and the oppositions to both stances, each community’s culture of discourse and action makes collaboration and discussion difficult despite the extremely accessible platform for communication. Although for the purposes of this task I was focusing on online communities, the implications of the actions and worldviews formed by actively participating in these groups shapes wider aspects of our society, such as workplace interactions, legislation, social norms and taboos, and cross-cultural collaboration and discussion.
Why is it important that the problem is fixed? What impact does it have on all stakeholders?
In this case I would disagree with the term “fixed”. The status of our current society is a clear outcome ofdeveloping “successfully” as a result of a patriarchal background. We are at a point now of reflection upon the impact of this history and considering how we need to change in order to function successfully in a future civilisation where no one is discriminated based on their sex and people are free to make personal decisions that are not shaped by expectations of their gender. I would say that the term “evolve” is more appropriate, as each generation is being equipped with a mentality to better adapt to the necessity for respect towards both gender that is becoming increasingly prevalent in society today.
5 Possible Outcomes
From the brainstorming process, these are three potential outcomes to address the problem statement.
1. Comparing Language of Women’s and Men’s Rights cultures This would be better suited to subreddits with established extremist communities with their own opinions towards the other sex. I find these pro-single sex groups really interest and my proposal would be a generative visualisation map of the tone and language used across these different subreddits. For example, men’s rights groups, even when speaking matter-of-factly about women have a culture of speaking in very derogatory language about them within their posts and comments. It is really interesting to juxtapose these discourses and approaches to emphasise the lack of cohesiveness and promote action and discussion.
2. Map engagement levels across groups on the genre equality spectrum Similarly to the previous proposal, this would be a more data based visualisation based on generative data. I propose a spectrum of gender equality with the single-sex extremists wings at either and and pure gender equality in the centre, similar to a political spectrum. Along this spectrum would be positioned various groups/pages/subreddits (dependent upon the social media platform) as columns of engagement, based on their stance towards equality. As people subscribe to these different groups or the topics ‘trend’, the columns would be affected, such as becoming higher or brighter to visualise where our weight on the issue, as a society, is actually sitting.
3. Juxtaposing messages of sexism or gender inequality The goal of this proposal is to represent how ingrained in our society gender inequality is. This would work by matching two tweets, for example, with the same phrase relating to gender inequality, such as “I hate it that women…”, or “Why can’t boys…”. By comparing two separate statements it will ideally create small microcosm of the huge spectrum of areas that this issue encapsulates. Further, it would be really interesting to compare statements that are directly related to genders, to highlight the negative phrasing and language that is used against men and women on the internet.
4. Connect people from across the globe with similar perspectives and online interactions Using the benefits of easy communication, I propose utilising a bot to track user location and posts by analysing key phrases and subscribed groups and using this data, connect the two people via either an existing or a new platform. This would be a really interesting way for individuals to gain a more informed understanding of the issue from a different cultural perspective.
5. Twitter-bot reply to anti-equality tweets Using a method of data-scraping and automated posting (e.g. bots), sexist tweets that degrade either males or females would be automatically replied to with a message or link that calls our the sexism. Whilst this would definitely be met with a lot of confrontation I think it would be a really interesting way to help people realise that certain things that are said are in fact sexist or promoting gender inequality.
Hybrid Generative System and Data Visualisation: Juxtaposing Gender-specific Tweets
As contemporary society strives to achieve access to universal gender equality across all areas of life, it must be remembered that both males and females are affected by gender discrimination and movements towards fair outcomes. Gender equality ensures respect, acknowledgement and celebration of individuals and groups without prejudice or criticism.
Achieving equality doesn’t mean simply elevating rights of the oppressed to those of the oppressors, but to provide means for both genders to flourish regardless of sex in an equity-driven culture. Currently, movements towards gender equality are mostly focused upon females having the same rights that males currently uphold, and less focused upon identifying where men’s rights should rise to meet women’s. Due to a history of women’s oppression, as a modern society we are much more accepting of harsh public critique of men, an impact of relatively second-wave feminist propaganda, specifically present in online platforms. Contrastingly, criticism of women is viewed as discrimination and sexism, resulting in resentment and the exclusion of men in the equality discussion. This institutionalised and publicised perpetuation of double standards has lead to feminists gaining a negative stigma and reputation for being hypocritical and male-hating, and men feeling that they can not be open about feeling repressed the way that women are praised for.
The purpose of my proposal is to promote public awareness and reflection of the language and attitudes we frequently employ when discussing the other sex. The final design is a hybrid of a generative system and data visualisation, utilising a Twitter-bot to find, compare and display tweets on a screen-based platform. The process for this bot would be to cycle through a series of phrases directed at both females and males separately and compare them side-by-side, which would continuously update every 5-10 seconds to show a new phrase and tweet pair. By visually juxtaposing tweets that use the same phrasing relating to females and males respectively, the aim is to visualise the spectrum of attitudes and opinions that are expressed on this topic. I anticipate that the most evident display in this system would be the ingrained condemnation and hypo-criticism for one or both sexes, which continues to discourage mutually respectful outcomes.
An example of how this would work is shown in the mock up below (source A). In this case the algorithm has searched for the phrase “I love that women/men…” and have displayed two of the corresponding tweets in juxtaposition. As is evident in this example, the attitude and tone in each tweet are completely different, with the first applauding women for creating empowerment from their over-sexualisation, and the second sarcastically calling out men for sexual assault crimes reflected in a patriarchal judicial system. In this one example we can see how the public opinion on this topic is very disparaging of men whilst simultaneously praising the same actions performed by women.
In a second example (source B), using the same process but with the phrase “I love that girls/guys…”, a completely different attitude towards specific genders is represented. It is interesting that these two examples praise actions that subvert traditional gender roles and thus provide an insight into how we are really embracing acts towards mutually beneficial gender equality. Further, by cycling through different words to describe males and females, a greater scope in opinions can be reached, as more colloquial tones tend to be used for praising, whilst formal vernacular is often linked with criticism. In this case referring to females and males as girls and guys creates a much more light-hearted tone and yields vastly different results to the previous example.
As the twitter-bot would not be able to consistently and accurately identify the tone or angles used in either tweet in the pairing, this would reveal some really interesting comparisons. The table (source C) below highlights the combinations of tweets opinions and the result of the juxtaposition.
The idyllic end goal is that as both individuals and wider society we become more aware of how we speak about the opposite sex, particularly on social media where as many as 50% of the users could be offended by a sexist generalisation that is the result of an ignorant interaction with a minority. This is the first step in extending the hand of respect that will take us one step further to embracing gender equality.
While mapping the Polemic: Pay Gap and the emotions and motivations that come along with it (see first image), we realised how everything is connected. We felt it was important to map the emotions of Men as well as Women. Red lines were used to connect anything that refers to Women – they’re feelings and motivations, while the brown lines refer to Men. Although this is only a map of the Pay Gap, a lot of these emotions and motivations would also be used if mapping out the other polemics.
Resonant terms: Feminism, actually meaning Equality, but commonly misunderstood to mean man-hating or only women’s rights.
During this issue mapping exercise, I worked collaboratively with Natalie and we had similar points of views, so while brainstorming and listing things we were able to bounce-off each other and build upon what one person was saying. At the same time, we also challenged each other particularly in the ‘Polemics, Emotions and Motivations’ map, while we would mainly be thinking from the perspective of a Woman, each time one of us would pull up on this and ask ‘What about the Men? What’s their view on this?’. Looking back, I think this was crucial for us to do to each other, as what I’m really learning from the course of my research is that, it is about Men as much as it’s about Women. And if we understand this, how much of our demographic (18-25yr olds), also know this to be the case? The lack of education, awareness and understanding is very much part of the problem that fuels the misunderstanding of the resonant term: Feminism and Gender Equality – which Jackson Katz highlights:
“This is also true, by the way, of the word “gender,”because a lot of people hear the word “gender”and they think it means “women.”So they think that gender issues is synonymous with women’s issues.There’s some confusion about the term gender.”
Therefore, this could be the design problem I try and find a design solution for. I think the possibilities for action to create change is to include Men into the conversation by changing the perspective of these terms: Feminism and Gender Equality – away from what people perceive them to be i.e Women only or Man hating, and toward what they actually mean – equal opportunity for all.
Whilst I was absent for the group mapping session, I was able to gain insights from other class members filling me in, and recreating the maps they made together in class. The thing that struck me the most was the general ease in mapping and making connections in comparison to the first mapping task. It pointed out the huge gap in knowledge that has been filled through collaborative research and discussion, and it was much easier to gain an understanding of how different people play roles within the issue.
The first map is the stakeholder’s within the issue. The previous stakeholder’s map was reasonably difficult to fill the space and was all over the place and unorganized. With the additional knowledge it was easy to break down the stakeholders into succinct subcategories that covered all areas. The biggest difference I can point out in the ‘human’ section is that categories and sections have become un-gendered. The last stakeholder map pulled apart men and women and the stereotypical differences between who would effect them, however this version manages to cover all bases without gendering. I think there is accuracy with how large the media section is and I feel as though media plays an enormous role as it infiltrates information to the public. I found the coverage of video games particularly interesting as there are such a large amount of extremely sexist video games –as the times stated; “In some games, you can even have your character pay a woman for sex and then kill her, if you are so inclined.” (Sifferlin 2016) This is having a huge impact on players, particularly young men – “They found that boys who played the games containing sexism and violence were more likely to identify with the character they were playing. They also reported less empathy toward the images of female victims.” (Sifferlin 2016) I previously hadn’t considered video games as a part of the media; but was incredibly intrigued to find out more and absolutely appalled when I did. Whilst it is only a game, what kind of messages are we sending – particularly as a huge sector of players are young boys! (Sorry for the tangent…)
The second map was considering the controversies, emotions and motives. I found this mapping process particularly helpful to step inside the shoes of someone else and completely unpick and understand their perspective. I think it’s important to question and try to understand different perspectives of the issue (i.e. not identifying publically as a feminist) in order to induce change around the issue (i.e. making it a comfortable experience to identify as a feminist and cleansing the stigma that comes with it).
The third map explored the connections between human and non human stakeholders within “reluctance to identify with the term feminism.” This map proved how far my knowledge has come within the topic as there is no way I would’ve been able to identify and connect the stakeholders in an in-depth way like this. Whilst this map could be extended on (and probably go forever) I think it was a really valuable learning curve in that it made me realized that each issue and each approach to change will not only effect the intended audience, but will have a knock on effect to several other human and non-human stakeholders that may not be immediately obvious.
The final map is an exploration of a particular non-human element exploring the different issues and challenges, capacities, associates, politics, value alignment and hierarchies associated with this element. This map focuses on clothing and by breaking it down into these categories, we were able to understand all the different aspects and influences it has on the issue within society. We covered how traditions and gender norms influence a way of thinking about clothing; and how this infiltrates into common situations and effects how people are viewed. We also covered the influences of religion, individualism and freedom of choice. The most interesting topic unveiled was the ‘excuse’ of sexual assault being provoked by a woman’s representation of herself. With the treatment of peers and social media (due to the ways of thinking in society) it doesn’t really seem surprising that defenders of sex offenders see it as justifiable to blame a woman’s attire as inviting or ‘asking for it’. This is in dire need of change, and whilst it has started to; it is crucial that we remove stigmas and stereotypes and reinforce that; no matter what someone’s wearing it is not okay to sexually assault someone – ever.
This mapping exercise has underlined that this issue is massive, with so many connecting elements and influencing factors. In order to truly achieve gender equality, empowerment of both sexes, and freedom of individuality there needs to be a collective shift and a large community involvement as there are so many intrinsic connections and knock on effects to seemingly unrelated areas.
Meacock, L. 2016, Mapping Exercises, University of Technology Sydney, .
When it comes to sourcing a diverse spectrum of opinions on gender equality, look no further than the internet. There are many social media sources that allow users to post, share, vent and interact with others on the internet, and so I chose to investigate Reddit, an online social media community that is dubbed “the front page of the internet”, covering all these features and more (O’Gara, 2013). Sharing content is a key component of Reddit, whether it be articles, images, reviews, opinions, stories, or simply commenting on other people’s posts, and this enables other users, or “redditors”, to engage with the most popular and interesting content from across the internet. With a reputation as a channel with some heavily opinionated content on an incredibly diverse range of topics from all corners of the web, I wanted to expand and deepen my understanding of gender equality through exposure to some unique perspectives on the issue of gender equality and males.
The Unique Nature of Redditors
An interesting feature of Reddit is the democratic way in which redditors interact with the platform. Although redditors are free to post at will, the spread of content is controlled via up or down voting on posts and comments, bringing popular content to the ‘Front Page’. Further, within Reddit are hundreds of thousands of “subreddits”, which are more specific communities established around topics of interest. These subreddits, denoted as /r/NAME, are often governed by guidelines set by “moderators” who establish and control the subreddit, require subscribers to read the rules before posting (for example refer to source 1, showing the guidelines for The Red Pill subreddit). Due to the anonymity of Reddit, opposed to platforms such Facebook or Instagram, opinions tend to be more open and honest, but can also lead to very heated debates and arguments. Statistically, the Reddit community has a male to female ratio of 2:1, with 18-29 year old males representing the largest and most active demographic.
As a foreigner to this platform, I began by understanding the interaction hierarchy of Reddit. As represented in the flowchart in source 2, I began by searching for subreddits under the broad terms of “feminism”, “gender equality” and “feminism men”. I was looking in particular for posts that challenged my own opinions of this topic, however I maintained consistency in my process restrictions to ensure validity in my findings. Upon searching these terms, I was inundated by a range of subreddits that represented different stances on the issues. Considering the top 3 subreddits from each search term I then narrowed my search into the most subscribed under each topic. Investigating each subreddit, I again refined the search to posts listed under the “controversial” label that were posted in the last week, and then ordered them by popularity of engagement. From here I began reading the top posts and discussion threads for each. The main shortcomings of this refinement process are that I only get exposed to a relatively minuscule slice of the huge expanse of posts on these topics. This said, trying to analyse quantity over quality within Reddit would be ineffective, never ending, and far too difficult to draw singular conclusions due to the uniquely subjective nature of the posts.
A Tone of Surprise
The spectrum of opinions on gender equality ranged hugely in the data that I investigated, however I was most intrigued by one’s focusing on anti-feminism and men’s rights. Although I can only speculate at the gender of the redditors posting and interacting with the comments, I found that the top posts in the subreddits explored relatively controversial issues, usually with a focus on sex or a critique of women. The vernacular used when referring to women by presumably male redditors is almost consistently derogatory and within certain subreddits is condoned. One such post in /r/TheRedPill about an experience with an escort, a sample shown in source 3, one redditor comments that “all women are whores”, and despite a clear and logical explanation, the language and tone discourage an equal mentality (full comment and reply shown in source 4). Even the name of subreddit ‘Pussy Pass Denied’ is extremely offensive to women, with it’s description as “[a place] where women are not allowed to use their gender as a handicap or an excuse to act like assholes” (Mustaka, 2014). Although also stating “no misogynists”, the tone and stance creates a division that begins to separate women from the discussion, despite the overarching goal being for total gender equality. Comparatively, analysing the popular posts on /r/Feminism, there is a more driven tone towards equality, perhaps due to the guidelines disallowing sexism, classism, homophobia, etc. A popular upvoted post in this subreddit is an image calling out the UBC for ignoring sexual assault, shown in source 5, highlighting the difference in tone between the different subreddits.
Considering how different the tones and expression of opinion are across these subreddits, one could argue that this is a result of the guidelines or interests of the subscribers and that this isn’t a fair representation. However, as the analysis represents the most popular opinions across each subreddit, it is worth questioning the notions and mentalities of the people willingly expressing their ideas on the internet and how strong opinions influence those of other people.
Mapping Reddit Posts
As mentioned, considering Reddit posts in terms of quantity to then express them in a data visualisation form would be extremely difficult and subjective, however utilising the algorithms put in place by Reddit to determine the popularity of posts could be something worth tapping into. An interesting visualisation could be representing on a global map the locations of heavily engaged subscribers to gender equality subreddits with use of a colour spectrum to determine stance on the issue. On a much smaller scale, analysing the language of a single post and overlaying maps of the percentage of derogatory, biased and/or informed information from different subreddits; an example sketch of this mapping is shown in source 6. This kind of mapping could be really interesting to compare how controversial issues are voicedand supported by different perspectives, although this kind of mapping is heavily interpretational and would have to be supported by a very wide analysis to show an accurate representation.
Summary of Findings
There was a significant amount more engagement with subreddits that focused on men’s rights and men’s liberation. A plausible reason for this could be the much higher ratio of male to female (2:1) redditors and therefore increased users likely to relate to and engage with these topics.
I was fascinated by the rules and guidelines that govern subreddits. This completely altered my perception of online discussion forums, where I ignorantly imagined I would find unstructured pages of arguments and rants by anonymous members of patriarchal societies. I am happy to admit that I was wrong.
Despite rules disallowing misogynists in certain pro-men’s right’s subreddits, the language used by a lot of presumably male redditors towards women uses a lot of derogatory and offensive language, despite the tone being generally matter-of-fact and content being relatively well-informed. There is an intrinsic culture in these subreddit communities that condone this mentality and discourse around women. To what extent this is hindering or encouraging gender equality I do not know at this point.
The tone, vernacular and engagement of posts within popular pro-feminist subreddits were completely different to their male counterparts, with a greater emphasis on empowering women, calling out injustice and oppression of women by both individuals and institutions. Contrastingly, the tone was more critical than derogatory towards opposing perceptions, perhaps as the mentality of these subscribers to strive for equality as opposed to the scathing perspective of privileged.
Analysing this data is so expansive and due to the nature of Reddit, let alone the wider internet, is infinite as new posts are being uploaded every second. Although I was as consistent in my process as I could be, and ended up with a lot of content to look through in the few posts I had whittled my selection down to, I felt that so many interesting opinions, posts, and subreddits were lost in the process. I would love to analyse further the locations and population densities of redditors, or the demographic make up of specific subreddits, however due to the anonymity and privacy restrictions of Reddit this would be a really big challenge.
‘danachos’, 3 September 2016, ‘University of British Columbia’s student society throwing some much needed shade at the start of the school year’, /r/Feminism, Reddit, viewed 5 September 2016, accessed via imgur at: <https://imgur.com/a/nJwoq#SESheqp>.
In this collaborative mapping exercise, my class mate and I began by elaborating on our week 3 map, choosing to focus on developing the stakeholders within the feminist movement specifically related to the media. The outcomes of this expansion on the media’s role and relation to feminism included:
The identification of social media campaigns such as #HeforShe, #freethenipple, UN Women’s ‘the Autocomplete Truth’ campaign, and the Lonely Girls Project which focuses on female body empowerment and positivity.
The exploration of podcasts and blogs which are specifically geared towards enabling the feminist discussion and giving voice to women and their opinions. Through identifying podcasts and blogs such as “Mamamia”, “What Would A Feminist Do?”, “Chat 10 Looks 3”, and “Lenny Letter”, we were also able to identify prominent individual stakeholders within the feminist discussion such as Leigh Sales, Annabel Crabb, Mia Freedman, Jessica Valenti and Lena Dunham.
The identification of book publications and feminist authors. My class mate and I were able to elaborate on books and published manifestos, identifying prominent writers and publications which concern themselves with gender equality and feminist discussion. Such books included Roxane Gay’s “Bad Feminist”, Rebecca Sparrow’s books specifically geared towards adolescent girls, Tara Moss’ “A 21st Century Handbook for Women and Girls” and Jessica Bennett’s “Feminist Fight Club”.
The acknowledgement of more minor forms of media, such as cartoons and newsletters. We identified feminist and socially critical cartoonists such as Liana Finck, Gemma Correll and Frances Cannon.
Being able to expand on this map in collaboration with my class mate meant that we were able to identify a much greater range of media stakeholders within our issue. An example of this collaboration was the awareness of feminist podcasts that my class mate had. As a result, she was able to contribute many names of feminist podcasts and podcasters to our map. Most of my issue research has been in the form of blog posts and written content, which meant, through putting our heads together, we were able to expand and elaborate on our map much more than we would have been able to individually.
Following this, my class mate and I put together a polemics list, identifying controversies within feminism and exploring the possible emotions and motives that are involved within these controversies. We identified issues to do with maternity leave and employment discrimination, as well as the issues that surround the reluctance that many have to identify with feminism and as a feminist. Through this collaborative exercise, we were able to reveal the polarising nature of the term “feminist”. We explored the possibility of politicians and celebrities using their rejection or acceptance of feminism as a strategic move, avoiding criticism, avoiding controversy, or appealing to wider audiences. Ultimately, public figures identifying as feminist or non-feminist is a controversial move; an unfortunate truth.
In our next map, we decided to delve further into the polemic issue of this reluctance to identify as feminist. Through mapping out the emotions that are involved in this issue, my class mate and I were able to illustrate two clear sides of the controversy, that being “empowerment” and “ignorance”. We discovered that often the reluctance to identify with feminism comes from discomfort, ignorance, misunderstanding, or a fear of offending, while those who embrace feminism generally do so out of passion, empowerment and courage, forging a sense of community and personal identity through the movement. We also explored the idea that often the ignorance and confusion that is tied up with the reluctance to identify as feminist is due to a lack of experience, or a lack of context within the feminism movement. We considered that in mainstream media feminism is often misinterpreted, and as a result of feminism gaining popularity within certain areas of the media in recent years, the feminist message has an increased potential for misunderstanding.
Following on from this, we formed a larger group of six in order to further explore a specific polemic. The polemic chosen ended up being the issue of rape culture, which one of the other pairs had chosen to elaborate on through their previous maps. This exercise gave us an opportunity to widen our scope of interest within the issue of gender equality even further, and bringing five other voices to the issue meant a varied discussion and reflection on how we each experience the issue of gender inequality.
The task of co-creating these controversy maps was especially informative this week, as working with a partner really allowed for deeper exploration and deeper discussion into the issues we explored. I definitely feel like connections and relationships between key stakeholders were able to be identified and explored through this collaboration in a way which I would not have been able to achieve on my own. Because the issue of gender equality is such a broad one, we each had our own interests, knowledge, and previously gathered research within the issue which we were able to bring to the table. What particularly stood out to me from these mapping exercises was the relationship between the emotions of “empowerment” and “ignorance”, which my class mate and I identified and explored in one of our maps. Through my own previous research, I was introduced to the concept of “choice feminism”, which explores the notion of how our everyday choices as women (and men) have the potential to either empower us or contribute to the cycle of inequality, and I feel that the role that “empowerment” and “ignorance” plays in how people react to feminism really ties into these concepts, and is definitely the direction that I want to continue researching. How feminism is interpreted is so broad, and often misconstrued as a result of many factors; possible actions in creating change could include campaigns that educate, inform, inspire and empower all.
Twitter is amongst the most popular of social media networking services today, providing a public platform for people all over the world to voice their interests and opinions on current global trends and events via “tweet” comments. Information and comments shared and circulated on Twitter are made public, and with a hugely varied user base, ranging from celebrities, politicians, prominent public personas and social commentators, NGOs and the general public, Twitter is a valuable database for the speedy collection of public opinion relating to certain issues. To assist my research on gender equality, I decided to focus on the use of Twitter Archiver and the Advanced Search option on Twitter itself as a way of accruing new perspectives and popular opinions.
I wanted to collect data which would provide me with a base understanding of who is currently involved with and talking about issues of gender equality, what demographic they belong to, and to generally observe whether the user’s gender plays a role in the opinions shared.
In Twitter’s advanced search, what I considered to be a fairly broad search on the words “feminism” “women” and “Australia” provided a good initial starting point for my data collection, and actually returned some rather specific and in-depth results. This search provided me with many references to other forms of media such as online news articles and videos, with many of the tweets that used all three of the search key words being of a political nature, making reference to politicians such as Julia Gillard and Barack Obama, and referencing a broad range of gender equality issues such as the pay gap, women’s sport, intersectionality and indigenous women’s issues. I believe this reflects the often political nature of Twitter, with many Tweeters using the platform to voice personal political and social opinions. Accounts such as Women’s News, an account with 18.3k followers specifically dedicated to “women of the world” and feminist issues, dominated the search results, while other results provided links through to articles, essays and online news pieces concerned with feminist issues within our society, such as “The War on Feminism and the Normalisation of Misogyny in Australia” by Jennifer Ellem and articles from Yahoo News and The Age.
Following this, I searched for the phrase “not feminist” using Twitter archiver, which returned 448 results from the last 10 days. This search provided me some interesting results, as it really highlighted the relationship between current world events and feminist discussion. The recent burkini ban in France was a notable discussion point amongst many Tweeters, as was Hillary Clinton’s current position in American politics. I also came across many interesting comment threads and tweets which highlighted the disparity between the term “feminism” and its true meaning, with many Tweeters claiming to be “not feminist” whilst still supporting equal gender rights.
Again using Twitter Archiver, I searched the word “hysterical” whilst also including either of the words “women” or “woman”, providing me with 556 results from the last 10 days. While my previous search results provided more specific gender equality opinions and discussions, this search returned both social commentary and feminist discussion, but also many non-feminism-specific personal comments revealing the way often thoughtless, everyday language reinforces gender stereotypes.
Using Twitter as a way of collecting data has allowed me to gather popular opinions on the topic of gender equality, and enabled me to identify conflicting opinions within the issue. This has further enabled me to define modern feminism, and identify the varying interpretations of feminism within our society.
Ultimately, the more specific the search rule, the more in-depth responses and opinions I was able to collect, however through the search of broader terms I was able to gain a less in-depth but more expansive understanding of opinions on feminism and gender equality. Both the more specific and generic search rules had their place in providing me with interesting insights.
Data scraping methods need to be critical, as using social media as a basis for assuming information and forming an opinion from this information isn’t necessarily going to be reliable. Social media is a good way of identifying trends in opinions, but not necessarily for developing fully accurate understandings of certain issues.
Twitter is frequently used as a platform for conversation and discussion, with many users sharing their opinions on current world events and broader social issues. Often there is a direct relationship between current events and the prevalence and frequency of commentary on certain social issues.
Twitter is a good starting point for sourcing deeper research material such as news articles, videos, online essays and references to key figures and voices within the feminist discussion.
In the initial stages of developing the questions for my interview, it became very apparent that the direction of the interview and the phrasing and selection of my questions would rely very heavily upon the interviewee I was paired with. Being a relatively well-informed Western female, I had to be cautious of a number of personal factors and ignorant assumptions that could heavily skew the outcome of my interview, including the presumption that my interviewee would share a similar stance on gender equality to my own. It wasn’t until I began considering questions and strategies that I realised that in my quest for gender equality I had failed to recognise the extremely diverse pool of knowledge and experience I was dipping into for this task. A strategy that was developed for a potential male candidate involved probing them to recognise their naivety as a man, however this assumed that they were ignorant. Questions surrounding a woman’s stance on feminism inferred that they should feel passionate for their own rights.
Avoiding bringing up the term feminism until well into the interview presumed that the interviewee felt uncomfortable with the stigma, therefore unintentionally perpetuating the negativity surrounding labelling of oneself as a feminist.
In the end I was grouped with two males: Tristan and Keegan, aged in their early 20s, which was an interesting turn of events for me. I was really interested to see what their stance would be on the role of males in feminism, whether or not they engaged with this, and why or why not. I also wanted to gain an insight into the male perspective of feminism and whether there was a significant barrier that they felt prevented them from being supportive in this social issue, based on the attitudes of ‘man-hating’ that is often incorrectly associated with feminists.
The Probe Task
At this point in my investigation into the topic, I was less interested in statistics, reports or movements around feminism, but more focused on the day-to-day experiences that resulted from gender inequality. Therefore, my probe task to Tristan, my partner at this point, was to ask him to record for 5 days any interactions or incidences he experienced with gender equality/feminism. This could have included witnessing someone else experiencing it, personally feeling the impact, or seeing the topic on social media or in the news. Although it was broad and a little vague, I didn’t want to assume that he was aware of the presence of gender equality in society, or even to assume that he knew that males were affected by gender inequality too. More than anything it was a task to get him thinking about the topic prior to the interview, in which we were able to discuss the findings in conjunction with the questions I had prepared.
“The term ‘feminism’ attaches a gender to the equality movement that discourages men from labelling themselves as feminists.”
Insights and Realisations
1. There’s not much “feminism”.
In the initial discussion about the probe task, Tristan identified that he didn’t really see that much “feminism” around his life. He spoke about how in different interactions he had, i.e. commuting, uni, work, he didn’t really witness that many obvious cases of feminism. I was careful to phrase the question as ‘gender inequalities’ at this point to see whether he would identify any male discrimination, however he only discussed the experiences of woman. It is interesting that due to the history of feminism and seeking equality we are so accustomed to seeing this as a “women’s” issue that we fail to recognise the influence and impact of men as well. Perhaps this comes back to issues of men being seen as weak or sensitive, and thus unlikely to vocalise their experiences of prejudice. Initially I was surprised as I (strangely) imagined that there would be a lot to discuss here. However, reflecting on my own social interactions, experiencing gender inequality isn’t something that I can often pinpoint or label as “sexism!”, but that it is more of a general feeling or atmosphere. I’d also suggest that this is a case of blind privilege, in that as a male, most inequality isn’t acknowledged simply because of a lack of knowledge, awareness and opportunities to empathise with women.
2. Complying with voyeurs in a patriarchal society
Tristan explained that his sister, Amy, is a ‘cyber feminist’, a term I had never heard before that recognises contemporary feminists with an interest in the web and technology for communicating and understanding feminism. He relayed a story from Amy, who is 5’3” with shaved hair on the side of her head and a dark, ‘tough’ style, of her experience of getting onto a bus to find older men give her shocked judging looks because of her appearance. The mentality was that because she is not traditional “eye-candy”, to use Tristan’s expression, the men felt uncomfortable staring at her the way they would normally stare at less alternative women in the same situation. Tristan’s explanation was that these men often think that they have a right to stare if a woman is attractive, and that it is almost an offence to them if a woman does not comply with what they would be comfortable to gaze at. This is a very simple example of the influence of a patriarchal society, and early expressions of the mentality that women who dress a certain way are “asking for it”.
3. A Physical Difference
After discussing the probe findings further, Tristan identified that he did witness a lot of gender division at the gym, more specifically the weights versus the cardio zones. What he identified as a “natural separation” between the genders occurs probably due to the nature of the exercises. From what he has witnessed, when a female enters the weights zone it is like a “rite of passage” where she is “observed” by the men in the area, as though she has to “earn” the right to be there through strength, technique and stamina. On the other hand, the men in the cardio section are often older and/or not as muscular as those in the weights area. Similarly, Tristan retold an experience he had recently had outside a club, in which a female friend had prevented a fight between himself and another man by standing between them. In this scenario the other man had said he would not hit a woman, and Tristan identified that this came down to a “physical psyche” where women are not seen as physical threats to men. Whilst initially I would have said that this was more of a considerate move, our discussion lead me to understand that in the physical sphere, men rarely see women as their equal, whether at a club or in the gym. Although this may not seem significant, when considering the extreme cases of domestic violence against women, lack of support towards women’s sport, or even the judgemental stares at the gym, these little differences continue to perpetuate inequality in our society.
4. Males with good intentions can perpetuate the problem.
Discussing the topic with both Tristan and Keegan towards the end of the interview, I asked them how they felt about their own position in the gender equality discussion. They both openly stated that they were feminists, simply because in their eyes there was no reason not to be, and that the opposite would be being sexist. Along with this, they identified that for men there was a reluctance to get involved in the feminist movement because of the stigma of men resulting from the second wave feminist mentality. As Keegan explained, he felt restrained and criticised in trying to stand up for women knowing that traditionally people listen more to men and that he is therefore perpetuating the problem but not allowing women to stand up for themselves. Tristan described further than feminism attaches a gender to the equality movement that disconnects men from wanting to label themselves as feminists. This creates a void between sexism and feminism filled with people wanting to identify with gender equality but not feeling comfortable characterising themselves with an unestablished term.
5. Even the informed have lots to learn.
I was surprised to hear how both Tristan and Keegan shared the same “massive hesitancy” when approaching women, as due to the negative stigma perpetuated by some males, they couldn’t speak to an unknown woman without feeling like they were being creepy, patronising or being judged. On the other hand, when I shared my own negative experiences with men in date or club situations, the boys were shocked to hear what was happening. We all began to better understand the reasons behind this shift in our social and cultural interactions through shared understanding here. This is just one example of how through the whole interview, I was constantly being surprised by the stories and opinions I heard from both of the boys. I am both delighted and embarrassed to admit that both Tristan and Keegan had a really well informed stance on feminism, which had initially been something I hadn’t expected from males. These kind of social findings that can’t effectively be recorded showed me that although I can continue to investigate this topic, until I properly find out psyche of both males and females and understand a broad range of opinions on the matter I can’t possibly consider myself as well-informed as I have been doing.
Reflecting on the Study
In hindsight, overall I am really happy with how this ethnographic study turned out, despite a few things that I would change. Reflecting on my preparation, I ended up rejecting most of the questions that I had prepared as they tended to be irrelevant to the flow of the interview and/or to the openness and stance that both men were presenting. If I were to do this again I might have grouped my questions based upon opinions rather than topics, as most of my questions on a single area, for example university, shifted tone and weren’t as cohesive for me to work with as an interviewer. Considering my probe task, for the purposes of collecting data it would have been easier for me if I had given Tristan a physical form or task to fill in, however I don’t feel like this would have lead to the same open discussion and personal reflection that he undertook for the probe. Had I been grouped with peers that were less open or informed on the topic I would have had a lot of issues with this interview, but due to the smooth communication had with both men I was able to glean some really great insights into the issue to inform the next stages of my research.
Cartoon by Melanie Gillman, 2012, reflecting an attitude brought up by my interviewees regarding the negative stigma of men that approach women in public.
Sourced: 29 Aug 2016 from <http://pigeonbits.tumblr.com/>
Which actors share the same values, views (worldviews) and which do not?
While looking at our map and thinking about which actors share the same values and worldviews, I found that a lot of my answers were that some stakeholders within the categories identified would share the same values with other stakeholders and others in the same category would not. This is probably a reflection that our map was too broad/general. For example, society and the media were two of our stakeholders and we identified that they held the most influence (alongside the UN, Policy Makers and Men), however some people in society would hold the same values and views as the media, and some of course would not. The one thing that was made clear, was that one stakeholder would not have it’s influence if it wasn’t for the other – they directly feed off each other – society has the power to decide where their values lie and the media will respond to that, but at the same time, the media has an incredible power to sway society, and place specific perspectives, worldviews and values into the minds of their audience – who then again, get to decide what is of value to them and what their perspective is. It is a constant feedback loop between these ‘actors’.
Week 5 Map
Stakeholders Map (Developed) Wk 5
Stakeholders Map (Developed) Wk 5
Stakeholders Map (Developed) Wk 5
Stakeholders Map (Developed) Wk 5
Stakeholders Map (Developed) Wk 5
During this mapping exercise, now paired with other people who are exploring the same issue of Gender Equality and Women’s Rights, we took a slightly different approach and created sub-headings of factors that have contributed to Gender Inequality and Gender Equality, and listed the stakeholders underneath them. For me this was a really interesting exercise as the factors and stakeholders the other group members came up with broadened my understanding of Gender Equality.
While looking at this new map, I can see again that the Media – specifically mainstream Women’s and Men’s Magazines as well as social media, hold a negative impact on Gender Equality, as are driving forces for Body Shaming and Body Image issues, and defining what it is to be feminine and masculine. However, I do feel that media is changing with the rise of social media and celebrities/women in media such as Jennifer Lawrence, Tavi Gevinson , Emma Watson and Jessica Walsh are speaking up about Gender Inequality and through their own work, showing other girls that there is no one way to be. Women can no longer be restricted to what Men, the Media and Society has told women they should be. Therefore, as lot of these stakeholders have the same values and worldviews, there are a lot more stakeholders peppered throughout this list that are coming up to challenge and hopefully change their perspective on Gender Equality.
Another exercise that I found really interesting was categorising 21 of the 100 words associated with Gender Equality and Women’s rights which we came up with as a group. From these categories we plotted the words onto a line between two different variables i.e Simple and Complex, Positive and Negative and Active and Passive. After doing this we took the words plotted along the Simple and Complex scale and turned them into (somewhat) a poem.
Male Advocacy, Like a Girl. Misogyny, Contradiction Voice and Capability Masculinity and Motherhood. Consent – Victim Blaming Slut, or Princess? Male Privilege, Double Standards. Self-Esteem and Confidence. Objectify, Perspective. Pay Gap, Rape Culture.
After performing this in front of our peers as a group, the pairs we drew from these words simply by following the way in which we plotted the words along the scale from Simple to Complex created a real depth to understanding the issue of Gender Equality and Women’s Rights. What it highlights for me is how important the role of males are in the issue.
10 Images + Annotations
In this poster designed by Kevin Aderland titled ‘Facial’ he depicts two specific character traits of Men and Women – Masculinity, the moustache and Femininity, the bright red painted lips. As each are of equal proportion Aderland’s poster represents Gender Equality underlined by the words ‘we are equal’, typeset without the use of capitalisation or uppercase letters, further emphasising the idea of Gender Equality, that no one holds more power than the other.
This poster design visualises what I’ve found most true in my research. Above in the stakeholders map I mentioned that the actors that hold the most influence in achieving Gender Equality and Women’s Rights was Policy Makers i.e Men in Power. This is also true when I read this report for one the 25 articles I read when I first started researching this issue. What it highlights is that Men are the majority who hold positions of power – in Government, in the Workplace and in the Boardrooms, therefore if they are the majority of voices – who is being heard? Who’s issues are given priority? Who’s policies are most likely to change? In saying this, I would like to see how many of those male voices are too standing up for Gender Equality.
Which leads me to the great Justin Trudeau – Canada’s current Prime Minister, who appointed for the first time in Canada’s history, a Gender Equal cabinet with 15 Women and 15 Men. He is a man in power using not only his voice but his actions to empower society. This photo represents a step toward Gender Equality especially at a global level.
When I found this poster design, I resonated with me so much. After listening to these Ted talks by Michael Kimmel titled “Why Gender Equality if Good for Everyone – Men included” and “Violence against Women – it’s a Men’s Issue” by Jackson Katz, they shared the same sentiment that Gender Equality is a Men’s Issue, but we need to invite men into the conversation. If we adjust the focus, and get men engaged with understanding the issue and educating them on how it influences them too, then we can truly start to implement some changes, specifically attitudinal ones that switch the conversation from being seen as man-hating/women loving feminism, to what it is actually about: Men and Women being equal.
During the recent Rio Olympics Gender InEquality was definitely highlighted by the way in which Media portrayed female athletes. From crediting Women’s success to their husbands and celebrating Men’s success over Women’s. In this case this headline captures that explicitly as Katie Ledecky a female US Swimmer, had set a world record and won gold in her event yet her headline was placed below Phelps who had tied for silver. When I saw this image circulating around Facebook, I started to notice these subtle differences in the portrayal of Men and Women through the media coverage of the Rio Olympics. After finding the actual source of the image, and looking at the reaction from other twitter users, many were divided – one person arguing that this wasn’t a case of Gender Equality, but just the fact that Phelps was more of a household name. Besides the fact that Phelps is an incredible athlete who has reached enormous success in his sport, is the reason Ledecky isn’t a household name (until now), because Women aren’t covered as much and given the same amount of exposure in the sporting arena?
Although, when they are covered by the sports media, they are given a very different treatment to male athletes especially when they are interviewed. In this video #CoverTheAthlete, it shows what happens when Male Athletes are asked the same questions female athletes are asked. I think what this video depicts is the clear gender inequality in sports media. Therefore, I thought this image below was incredibly powerful in exposing this inequalities as it’s sub-title reads “…if we talked about male Olympians the way we talk about female athletes.” – speaking about them in reference to their famous/successful partners rather than using their actual name in their own right.
This still from the follow-up campaign to Always #LikeAGirl titled Always UnStoppable #LikeAGirl represents a young girl literally and metaphorically getting rid of the restrictions that society places on females that in essence, box them in. It’s powerful to see that she is kicking the box on which she wrote “Can’t be Brave” – something she’s noticed in fairytales and films – that the Women are the ones who always need saving, and it is the Men who come to rescue them.
Based on actual Google search results that creators Memac Ogilvy and Mather Dubai say was in no way engineered to produce those results and it was in fact these search results when they typed in “women should”, that sparked the whole idea for the campaign as they were naturally shocked by the results. However, they mention that the campaign is so much about the Google autocomplete suggestions, but rather used the medium to highlight the issue of gender inequality that women face. These images are so simple, and so powerful. By covering the women’s mouths with a search bar which the words “women should” and their results, effectively communicates the idea that societal norms and traditions of Gender roles dictate what Women should and shouldn’t do. What it doesn’t represent is the other side of Gender stereotypes – Men, as this too would be a powerful addition to highlight that these stereotypes do exist and that by fighting to break these Gender traditions, Women and Men can achieve equality.
NotThereYet Campaign co-opted 40+ existing advertisements to remove the women from their ad on International Women’s Day 2015 to highlight that women are “not there” yet in terms of Gender Equality. I think the concept is an interesting one, and the notthere.org website is a great resource to find out more about Gender Inequality, however when I first saw it I thought “What do you mean we’re not there?” If you look at the magazine stand, 4 out of 5 magazines feature women on their cover, and there are enormous billboards that feature Women – so by removing them, it highlighted to me that we are physically there in terms of media presence. What I do think it was successful in doing, was starting the conversation by asking “What is not there?” and being prompted to check out the website notthere.org that replaces where the Women in the Ads once were.
For me this image does well in highlighting two things:
1. That society holds Men as priority
2. Gender Equality cannot be achieved without the Men. We cannot have one without the other, we cannot ignore 50% of the population.
For my probe task, I asked my interviewee to ask ten of her friends with whom she conversed with during the week what their opinion of feminism is. I’m particularly curious about modern interpretations of feminism and the reasons for why so many young people seem to be disillusioned with modern feminism and unwilling to identify as feminist, and getting a broad range of opinions seemed a good way to collate more data on the topic.
The answers from the probe led me to see that there seems to be a big disparity between current interpretations of feminism and the actual goals of modern feminism. The popular notion of the man-hating feminist with extreme views, passions and beliefs appears to be alive and well, and seems for many of the young males who provided me with responses a reason to reject the possibility of identifying with feminism, as as a feminist. It made me question what it is we, as a society, have to do in order to reform and rebuild opinions on feminism; how we can redefine the term ‘feminism’ to escape from the current misconstrued definition and the stereotypical extremes that people seem to associate with the movement, and how we can create a movement of equality that all are willing to identify with. It fascinates me that so many of the male opinions on feminism gathered from my probe were so far from what my own view of feminism is, and has made me wonder how we can bridge this gap of understanding.
My interview provided me with more (personally speaking) optimistic results; my interviewee happily identified as a feminist, acknowledging gender equality issues as personal issues which have defined her character and which continue to define her path in life. We both agreed that feminism is still a very relevant movement, and that the reasons for some young adults feeling uncomfortable with identifying as feminist is because of a misconstrued interpretation of what feminism actually is; a movement which my interviewee defined as “identifying the imbalance of opportunities between the sexes [and a] wish for both to have equality”. The passion with which some people speak about feminism was identified as a potential reason for this discomfort (which was then supported by my probe results), as “sometimes those who are very passionate can be quite intimidating” or interpreted as threatening. Ultimately, my interviewee stated her belief that more people need to voice their opinions and to call out injustice when they see it, regardless of their gender. She cited Emma Watson’s “He for She” campaign as an important example of modern feminism.
Through my interview and my probe results, I believe I have gathered samples of two very different modern views on what feminism is, who feminists are, and what the expectations and goals of feminism are. Of course, the answers that I received from my probe task entirely depended on who my interviewee happened to converse with and question during the week, what her own personal and political beliefs are, and what her circle of friends’ personal and political beliefs are. The answers that I received from this probe were obviously only brief snapshots of opinions, and they definitely made me want to dig deeper into these answers and understand the reasonings and backgrounds of those who gave the answers.
The initial mapping task made it obvious to me how extensive gender equality issues are within our society; these issues are relevant across so many spheres and within so many groups, from politics, the business sector, the media, social media, religion, education and within the home. Group-specific motives, opinions and discourse can be found within all of these non-human stake holders, as well as individuals of influence. Such individuals, motives, opinions and discourse carry substantial influence within the non-human stakeholders, but most importantly, they have a ripple effect into wider society. As a result, it’s clear as to why there are so many varying and conflicting interpretations and opinions on feminism and its goals. With such an evidently high level of relevance and with gender equality issues infiltrating into every sphere of our society, it seems obvious that this is not simply a “women’s issue”, but rather a broader social issue that should concern everyone.
Through the most recent collaborative group exercise, it became quickly evident that certain terms were more loaded and more effective than others. Some were tangible issues such as “pay gap”, “women’s sport” and “porn”, some were more emotive concepts such as “permission”, “apologetic” and “judgement”, and others were examples of controversial concepts within feminist discourse and within our society at large, such as “fetishisation”, “tokenism” and “objectification”. This range of words clearly makes evident the extensive relevance that feminism has across so many aspects of modern society, and the roles that current equality issues, the construction of gender norms and stereotypes, and, importantly, language, play in the tensions between liberation and discrimination.
A witty cartoon from illustrator, cartoonist and writer Gemma Correll, ‘Disney Princesses, Reimagined’ is one of her many of gender-stereotype-fighting cartoons, born as a frustrated response to the gender stereotypes that are commonly seen in the media. Correll uses her feminist humour as a way of making important issues more accessible to all.
This image is of Malala Yousafzai, taken at the age of 15 not long after she had been shot in the head by a member of the Taliban in Pakistan. In the years that have passed since this image was taken, Malala has become an inspiration and a prominent voice for women and girls, speaking out for all of those who are denied an education purely because of their gender; “I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is not. It is the story of many girls… I am those 66 million girls who are deprived of education” (Yousafzai 2014). When this image was taken, thousands of people were calling for her to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for her fearless and tireless demands for bringing change to the state of women’s education in Pakistan. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.
Image 3a and 3b:
These images show the arrest of two women in Chicago in 1922, who were deemed to have violated the ‘modesty policy’ of the time. During this time, women were expected to conform to the ‘modesty policy’ which specified that bathing suits had to cover a certain amount of their legs and arms. A demeaning process of having their swimming costumes measured against their legs and arms and, if found to be in violation of these rules, being escorted off the beach, reveal the little personal freedom women held over their own bodies at the time. It’s interesting to draw some parallels between these women in 1922 having their bodies monitored and policed, and the current debate around the burkini ban in France; two clear examples of governmental power and societal expectations being given higher importance than individual bodily autonomy.
This image was taken at a Breastfeeding Is Not Obscene protest on the subway of Warsaw, Poland. The protest was conducted as a reaction against a ban that had been imposed by city officials on an art project which portrayed breastfeeding mothers, meant to have been displayed in the subway. Breastfeeding in public is still, strangely, cause for debate in most countries. This simple, peaceful image highlights the interesting issue that, despite breastfeeding being the most natural of interactions between mother and child, the hyper-sexualisation of women’s breasts in our society evidently makes some uncomfortable with women publicly using their breasts for what they were intended. The irony of the widespread acceptance of the constant use of women’s breasts in a sexual manner for the sake of advertising and marketing and the widespread discomfort with the use of women’s breasts for a non-sexual act such as breastfeeding is inescapable.
This image is of some of the women who started The Ladies Network, a Sydney-based platform for female artists to exhibit their work. The founder of the group, Lara Vrkic, has said she knew “so many creative females” but because of the underrepresentation of women in Sydney’s art scene, female artists didn’t have the platform to give their work exposure. The network holds regular exhibitions and manages online content, featuring both established and emerging female artists. Vrkic has said “it’s not so much differentiating ourselves from men, it’s getting men on board as supporters of women”.
This image is of some of the women who are members of associations against violence towards women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Holding up leaflets, they were protesting against ongoing violence which was occurring during the opening of the Francophonie summit in Kinshasa in 2012. The image seems to convey a simple and peaceful protest, however the expressions on the women’s faces portray strength and commitment to cause.
This image is a still taken from the recent advertisement for British feminine hygiene company Bodyform, titled “Blood”. The aim of this advertisement is to challenge the stigmas and misrepresentation of menstruation which are commonly seen in the media, and to break down social stigmas and stereotypes currently held about women’s bodies. Themes of strength and endurance run throughout the video, which this image clearly reflects.
Rupi Kaur is a writer and artist based in Canada who is well known for her expressive, personal and engaging multi-disciplinary explorations into femininity, love, loss, and healing. ‘Period’ is a poignant, powerful and confronting photo series that she developed as a way of challenging the sexualisation of women and the taboos that surround the natural processes of the female body. In her artist statement, Kaur says that “some are more comfortable with the… sexualisation of women, the violence and degradation of women, than this… we menstruate and they see it as dirty, as if this process is less natural than breathing”.
Frances Cannon is a Melbourne-based cartoonist and artist, who’s passion for women’s rights infiltrates into much of her work. Her popular cartoons focus on themes of self-love, body-positivity, relationships, sex, sexuality, gender, and the female psyche, examining “what it is like to be a woman in contemporary times”. This simple, positive cartoon is a beautiful example of the way Cannon challenges societal expectations of the female body, whilst simultaneously providing a refreshing alternative to the often self-deprecating view women have of their own bodies.
Campaigners in London attended a rally organised by activist group UK Feminista in 2012, calling for equal rights for men and women, and lobbying their local MPs to demonstrate against legislation that damages women’s rights. Some of the campaigners, seen in this image, dressed as suffragettes, a powerful reference and nod to those who originally fought for women’s right to vote in the early 20th century.
The biggest thing I learnt from primary investigation into gender equality is that feminism has grown this massive stigma – people don’t know what it’s about, don’t want to be called one, yet they believe in it’s core values and believe in a gender equal future.
This image encapsulates the key ideas I could pull out of my interviewee’s responses:
(Meacock, L. 2016)
Note: My interviewee is a female between the ages of 18-25
Feminism – what it really means.
One of the key issues raised is that feminism is misunderstood and, “there is a big stigma about it.” There is a belief that feminists are “really aggressive women,” who are “anti-male,” and that feminism is “a negative thing.” Whilst this is the general view of the stigma around feminism, my interviewee also pointed out that she isn’t “entirely sure what it stands for,” and that “equality between men and women is definitely a good thing.” (Meacock, L. 2016) This taught me a lot about the target market I’ll be working towards in that there is more of a challenge getting people to understand what feminism means and educating people of what it stands for to cleanse this stigma as well as getting people on board with the values.
Feminism effects women… duh??
The second issue I observed as an obstacle is that feminism is seen generally as a woman’s issue. “It does effect women more.” (Meacock, L. 2016) It is agreed that throughout history women have received the short straw in terms of rights and social standards, “for a long time it’s felt as though men are more dominant than females in every day situations as well as if it’s about violence,… within relationships or in the workforce.” My interviewee pointed out that it’s “not as if [men] are better… it’s [men’s] self belief. They will imply that through their actions.” She also pointed out “that it’s of a women’s role to stay home and look after the kids, which is bullshit,” and that the hardest part of overcoming this is that it is so “ingrained in social beliefs.” (Meacock, L. 2016) For true change to be realized it must be made obvious that gender equality effects everyone and has benefits for people of all genders.
But it’s a joke… so it’s not sexist?
Throughout the interview the Australian Government campaign ‘Violence against women – stop it at the start,’ ads were brought up on. You can watch it here. One of the comments stated in the ad is “C’mon mate, don’t throw like a girl.” (Department of Social Services, Australian Government 2016) My interviewee commented that statement’s like these are “about women being less strong or less important or not at the same level as men. It’s interesting because a lot of people wouldn’t see that as a discriminatory comment, but it actually is.” (Meacock, L. 2016) I think that it’s really important to highlight that whilst these small comments seem ineffective and light-hearted, it is the culture that grows from these comments; which make more serious issues (e.g. violence against women) seem reasonable or acceptable to persecutors.
I was really interested to see how my interviewee (who gains most of her information on gender equality through Facebook) observes sexism within every day life. The design probe I gave her was:
“Record any sexist comments you hear and who said them. Draw a smiley face to record the expression of the person who received the comment.”(Meacock, L. 2016)
Here was her response:
(Meacock, L. 2016)
My interviewee definitely engaged with the probe and captured some interesting comments which may be generally looked over as ‘a joke’ and observed sexism to many degrees. It was a shame that she didn’t include the smiley faces as I would have really liked to see how these comments were received. I thought the capturing of the environment it was said in was an interesting context for the comments. For my next probe I will think about transferring it to digital to make it easier for the person partaking – for example emoji’s instead of hand drawn smiley faces.
My 5 key findings:
Feminism is misunderstood.
Feminism has a bad stigma.
Feminism is seen as a women’s issue.
Sexism is seen as a joke and not taken seriously.
Design probes that are digital (i.e. on mobile) are probably easier to interact with.
By creating a stakeholder map the idea that literally every single person being intertwined complexly in the issue became more and more true. I think the most valuable standpoint the stakeholder map reinforces is that in order to see true change for gender equality we must fundamentally change societies values and way of thinking. We need to stop perceiving gender equality as a “women’s issue” and start seeing it as everyone’s issue. The impacts of a gender equal society effect people of all genders, and all institutions and human constructs and until all of these people included can see the benefits we will still live in an unequal society.
This is the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Forum (World Economic Forum 2014) which gives some insight as to where the world is at.
This set of advertisements by Terre Des Femmes has a strong message about the perceptions of clothing and sexuality. The slogan of the posters, “don’t measure a woman’s worth by her clothes,”(Wlokka & Regeheim 2015) aids in the understanding that society puts perceptions on a woman’s sexuality based on what she wears. The scale filled with derogatory terms emphasizes the way in which society judges women, no matter what they wear, and finds a way to link this to women’s sexuality. This outline of perceptions creates the understanding that it isn’t the fashion that needs to be altered, but societies understanding and perception of women that has to be changed.
IMAGE 2 (Who Needs Feminism n.d.)
The Who Needs Feminism? campaign is about people posting an image explaining why they need feminism. It started to overturn the perception of feminists as “man-hating, bra-burning, whiny liberal[s],” (Who Needs Feminism n.d.) and aim to promote the importance of feminism to everyone within society. I chose this particular entrant because I think in terms of feminism and gender equality, it is often seen as a women’s issue and the implications of males (or non-gendered people) are often overlooked or unspoken about. I think the term “MAN UP” really encapsulates the gendered pressures of society that men face and the expectations that are placed upon them.
IMAGE 3 (UNWomen 2014)
This image by UNWomen featuring Emma Watson was created for the HeForShe campaign. I found this image particularly powerful through the capture of the true essence of femininity and masculinity. Society has constructed a belief that women are sensitive, and men are strong and this is what segregates us and provides gender roles. The emotion captured in Emma’s eyes shows strength and sensitivity at the same time and the repeated phrase; “both men and women should feel free to be sensitive/strong,” brings to light that gender doesn’t alter the way we do or should feel about ourselves and about situations. These gendered stereotypes create boundaries for both men and women restricting them from being their true selves and accepting all ends of the emotional spectrum.
IMAGE 4 (UNWomen 2013)
This set of images comes from a campaign by UNWomen which used google’s text prediction to highlight people’s understanding of women and the way in which they are perceived. The placement of the search box over the mouth of these women is metaphorical for the way in which their voices are taken away and these sexist perceptions prevail. The following statements below the search bar, including; “women need to be seen as equal,” accentuate the shift that needs to be made in society for equality to be reached. It points out the flaws of the way gender stereotypes force us into having certain perceptions based on genders and how they are unjust and unfair.
IMAGE 5 (Unknown n/a)
Although this image isn’t very visually provocative, what’s really nice about it is that it explains how it is okay to change your perception or way of thinking about something. By crossing out particular genders and their particular roles and explaining what we should all do collectively as humans, “it is a person’s job to respect another person.” Through editing old values to put hope forward for new ones, it provides people with an understanding of how they should treat people and suggests a way of viewing people of different genders.
IMAGE 6 (Unknown 2013)
I think this image is really powerful in that it explains through the text how gender can completely change perception, and that gender stereotypes interplay more than we may realize. These stereotypes that we place upon gender are basically jumping to conclusions without knowing any details. The subjects of the Baby X study weren’t able to speak to the baby or see the image it was reacting to, however “literally identical behavior could be constructed differently based on the perceived gender of the subject.” (Unknown 2013) The combination of this image and text explains how we place a stereotype on people before they have even developed or are able to express how they feel. In order to achieve gender equality and shift societal values so that men, women and other gendered people feel comfortable and valued in society, we must stop placing generalizations on people, particularly children – who haven’t learnt who they are or want to be.
IMAGE 7 (Unknown n.d.)
This image has a pretty similar standpoint to images 2, 3, and 6 in that it shows that this issue concerns everyone and that it is purely a way of thinking, not segregation based upon fact. It isn’t that associating with masculinity or femininity is a negative thing – it is that your gender shouldn’t discern which one you associate with or if you associate with either. There should be equal avenues for both sexes and neither should feel like their gender has an impact on the decisions they make.
IMAGE 8 (Withnall 2014)
This image has a similar standpoint to image 6 in that it values teaching children not to fall into these stereotypes and to do what they want to do. The things children learn at a young age set a foundation for their perspective on the world and the decisions they make as to the person they want to be. Considering this letter was said to be put out in the 1970s it was a pretty forward way of thinking and promotes letting children choose for themselves “whatever appeals to them.” There is a lot going around the media currently about the impact of gendered toys and how this gendering is shaping young people’s understanding of gender from a very young age, limiting them from exploring what they truly enjoy if it is classified as the opposite gender’s ‘thing’.
IMAGE 9 (Always 2016)
This image is a part of the #LikeAGirl campaign which is challenging the way in which feminine qualities are used to put down men and is a highly-offensive insult – e.g. ‘don’t throw like a girl.’ The text questioning what is meant by this derogatory term, alongside a small girl with both a powerful stature and glance emphasizes the unjust nature of the phrase and the second-hand sexism implied in the statement. It is trying to overthrow this common way of thinking that ‘girls are weak’ and reinforce that women are capable of anything if they believe in themselves and are supported. Being a girl should not be a disadvantage in terms of sport, or anything else for that matter.
IMAGE 10 (look_at_this_pusssy 2016)
This image and statement was posted on the instagram look_at_this_pusssy which is a feminist instagram which posts images of everyday things which resemble the female genitalia often alongside a statement about female oppression or gender equality. This one particularly stood out to me because the image represents the combination genitalia in resemblance alluding to both sexes importance in building the human race. The statement explains that feminists aren’t arguing against men or saying that their issues are less important. Feminists are looking to bring to light the way in which women have often received the short straw. It promotes egalitarian values and that people should be in all senses equally… basically that people should “simply act like A Fucking Human.”
This campaign utilised google’s prediction function to highlight the conversation surrounding women. The campaign indicates the negative discussion around women’s rights, in which much attention is placed on what they cannot do, rather than what they can achieve. This may be a result of the women’s liberation movement which worked to highlight what women were restricted in doing in order to lobby against it. But despite the progress made towards gender equality, there is a lack of positive campaigns celebrating what women are now able to achieve.
This print, created by designer and artist Barbara Kruger speaks to the objectification and commodification of the female body. The print was designed for the 1989 reproductive rights protest, the March for Women’s Lives, in Washington, D.C and utilises Kruger’s signature graphic aesthetic in order to communicate Kruger’s distinct social commentary with her audience. Combining black and white found photography with red and white type, Kruger emphasises the clear social and political implications of the work by having her subject stare straight ahead through the print, frankly addressing the viewer. The vertical split of the image, one side traditionally developed, the other shown as a negative, represents the two sides of the debate surrounding reproductive rights.Through the image, the artist infers that women have been reduced to a battleground, a place to host other’s who debate of women’s behalf. The message therefore unequivocally addresses the issue of the continued feminist struggle, (2nd wave) by encouraging female viewers of the work to associate their bodies with the conditions that necessitate feminist protest.
This artwork, created by the Guerrilla Girls in 1989, speaks out against discrimination against female artists by art institutions and galleries in America. The poster is one of thirty shown in a portfolio by The Guerrilla Girls, a group of anonymous American female artists whose main objectives was to expose sexual and racial discrimination in the art world. Highly political, the Guerrilla girls appropriated the visual language of advertising in a similar way to Barbara Kruger, in order to deliver their message in an easily digestible, direct manner. This poster appropriatesa famous painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) entitled Odalisque and Slave (1842, Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore).The gorilla on the woman’s head reflects the masks the Guerrilla girls wore to protect their identities. The poster was shown on busses and bought advertising spaces, until being taken down after being described as ‘offensive’. The poster is indicative of the types of social bias that exist specifically within various industries and professions. It highlights the need to specialised campaigns or approaches in order to break the patriarchal patterns and historian trends that facilitate the discrimination against women in these fields.
This photograph shows a 1922 arrest of two women in Chicago, due to their violation of ‘Modesty’ policy. Women during this time, were obliged to conform to a ‘modesty policy’ which specified that their bathing suits reach a particular level above their knee, or be in violation. The two women photographed were in clear violation following police officers measuring their bathing suits. The stance of the woman in the officer’s arms suggests a struggle. The photo speaks for the passion with which women defend their rights. It is noted in many texts, that women who are publicly pro gender equality are often extremely passionate, in a way that is stereotypically more aggressive than advocates for other social movements. This photograph supports this claim, and suggests that this was not just the case following the first wave of the Feminist movement, but much before that.
In 1967 Kathrine Switzer, a 20-year-old junior at Syracuse University, entered the all male Boston Marathon race. As demonstrated in this photo, two miles into the race, a race official jumped on the course and attacked Switzer in an effort to physically remove her from the race. This event occurred at a time when women were considered physically inept and unable to perform on equal terms as male athletes. Although much less prevalent, this sentiment still remains and can be reflected in the lack of media coverage and sponsorship for female sporting teams such as the Australian female soccer team the ‘Matildas’. Switzer did finish the race, and provoked discussions which would eventually lead to the Boston marathon welcoming female participants in 1971.
The first wave of Feminism was centred around women’s right to vote. The Suffragette’s produced this poster as a rationale in order to explain their reasoning as to why women should vote. Many of the sentiments expressed are still appropriate today. For example number 10. However some reflect a rather traditional view of the role of women, and their responsibilities in the home. This is inferred in number 4, 5 and 9, which suggest that the primary role of women is to be a mother and caretaker. Although less prevalent, this mind frame still remains within current society, and contributes to the gender pay gap debate. Many argue that the reason many women opt for lower paying jobs is to ensure they have access to flexible work hours, allowing them time to both work and raise their children. Number 12 is of particular interest, and relates to my research into the role of men within the gender equality movement. Men are often excluded from the feminist debate, by women due to their ‘lack of empathy’ and inability to comprehend the discrimination women experience. Achieving gender equity is in the interest of both genders in my opinion, and hence this notion, expressed by the suffragettes should act as reasoning to include everyone in our efforts to achieve equal treatment of all sexes.
This cartoon was created by Spanish illustrator Samuel Akinfenwa Onwusa. Onwusa believes that gender equality is inextricably linked with education, and that attitudes in support of gender equity must be implemented young through the education system. This cartoon specifically comments on the discrimination against women in job interviews, despite their education or qualifications. Interestingly, the cartoon disregards research that suggests that men naturally feel more comfortable in talking about themselves, and are willing to ‘sell’ or talk up their abilities, much more than women. Interestingly, women out perform men consistently throughout high school, and more women enrol and graduate university than men. It is at this interview stage, when students enter the workforce that women begin to fall behind, supporting the argument that the lower amounts of working women is a result of a lack of confidence, rather than a lack of qualification.
This image of Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton is representational of the incredible progress made by the Black and Women’s Liberation movement’s in America over the past 100 years. Barack Obama’s election to office was of huge historical significance, as the first African American President of the United States. Similarly, the nomination of Hilary Clinton as the official nominee at the Democratic Convention last month, is momentous as Clinton becomes the first female nominee for president. At the convention, Obama described Clinton as the ‘most qualified nominee’ in the race, which appropriately reflects statistics that report women enrol and graduate university at a much higher rate than men. Clinton was introduced to the stage by her daughter Chelsea, indicating the potential for working mothers in the workplace.
This illustration is found in cartoonist, Jacky Fleming’s new book, “The Trouble with Women”, in which she focuses on the brilliant women left out of the history books. This particular image references Darwin’s theory of the potential of women to be geniuses. Fleming summarises Darwin’s theory “Women are at a different stage of evolutionary development, so genius is a biological impossibility for them.” (Fleming, 2016). His testing method was to write two lists; one of the eminent men he could recall and one of the eminent women. The lack of women on the list, was supposedly a clear indicator of their mental incompetence. Fleming’s book and illustration sparks the interesting discussion as to the influencing factors that stop women from achieving. As discussed with the above image, education (within first world countries) is not the cause, but more likely social attitudes or expectations that influence their decision making. These social attitudes are noted in my second academic paper, ‘Men and Gender Equality’, and are widely suggested in general media sources as an ‘unconscious bias’ against women.
This infographic was created in reference to Roxanne Gay’s essay collection ‘Bad Feminist’. Gay, an american writer and editor coined the term in order to describe herself, noting that feminism is a philosophy that must be nuanced in practice. In observing her own contradictions and “downfalls” as would be described by first wave or traditional feminists, Gay searched for a way in which feminism could stay relevant and achievable within a modern context. Troubled by the ‘women against feminism’ movement, Gay’s perspective on Feminism presents a middle ground, that allows for mistakes, and is encouraging of inclusion, countering the man-hating, extreme groups that speak in the name of “feminism’. This perspective of feminism is one I have come across in many mainstream media articles. They cite these outspoken man-hating streams of Feminism as the reason for many women boycotting the movement and term entirely, despite Feminism advocating for their benefit. I find this infographic, and Gay’s book as extremely provocative and find myself drawn to her position.
This image, created for the Instagram page “redefine women’ exemplifies how the Google utilises sexist and derogatory phrases in order to define many words. The definition for ‘housework’ in particular the use of the pronoun ‘she’ in the example suggests that housework is a female profession or task. The inclusion of the word ‘still’ suggests that regardless of a woman’s commitments they must fulfil this obligation. This image is constructed as a sort of propaganda used to lobby Google to change their definitions so that they are gender neutral. Alternative definitions and information provided by Google for the word ‘housework’ have therefore been excluded.
Girl Effect are a creative social business whose driving purpose is to “create a new normal with and for girls” in developing nations. Primarily working in Africa, Girl Effect believes that providing girls with skills, ideas and knowledge is the key to breaking through poverty. Through the use of mobile technology, innovative research and community engagement, Girl Effect aims to “challenge discriminatory gender norms and start conversations” about the potential that girls hold in breaking through these poverty cycles.
Girl Effect’s main community engagement projects are currently centred in Ethiopia and Rwanda, in which they’ve created “youth brands” that aim to inspire and inform through the use of journalism, drama and music. These youth brands provide multimedia platforms spanning across magazine, radio and mobile, providing a platform for girls to learn new skills, be exposed to new conversations, and gain access to advice about topics such as education and sexual health.
Through interactive technology and real-world safe spaces, Girl Effect have also set up “Girls Network”, which involves both online and real-world youth clubs aiming to empower African girls, provide networks, and provide a space to build skills and knowledge. As an extension of this, Girl Effect offers a free helpline called “Girls Connect” which gives girls access to on-demand content, conversations and mentorship.
Girl Effect’s most expansive project is Girl Effect Mobile (GEM), a global digital platform which “connects girls to vital information, entertaining content and to each other”. With the belief that increased access to knowledge about health, education and safety will result in greater levels of self-confidence and a heightened ability to overcome cultural barriers, GEM provides an interactive and relevant support platform of stories, advice, forums, conversations, polls and connections, all based on the user’s geolocation.
Through innovative research and relatively simple mobile technologies, Girl Effect has engaged in extensive explorations into how local groups of girls can form supportive global networks. I believe their ultimate goal of liberating young girls in developing nations is a huge goal, one which will take a long time, and a lot of collaborative efforts, to achieve. In saying that, I think these initial projects that Girl Effect has set up are fabulous steps in the right direction. I initially came across their work as I was looking through frog design’s work and collaborations. Frog spent a month in Nairobi working with Girl Effect, using research planning as a way of bringing local girls into the design process and brainstorming how communication and problem solving could be forged in the local communities. This research led to further explorations into how these local girl groups could form a global network through limited mobile technologies, which greatly ties into Girl Effect’s GEM project and “Girls Network”. I think it’s incredibly important for organisations like Girl Effect to collaborate with companies who work in global design and strategy such as frog, as this provides such a greater level of exposure and opportunity for growth.
I took interest in Girl Effect and their projects as they have particular relevance to my exploration into gender equality issues. While my own research and practice will be focused on gender equality issues in Australia and within young adults, I found Girl Effect and frog design’s innovative research to be a helpful insight into successful ethnographic and integrated research methods.
“Just one in five countries has achieved gender parity [in research and development], whereby 45% to 55% of researchers are women”
(UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2014).
In 2016, accessing data is no challenge for our tech-savvy society. With statistics, figures and information literally at our fingertips, the role of visual communicators and designers to synthesise code and numbers and communicate complex ideas succinctly is increasingly valued. The Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards, held annually, “celebrates excellence and beauty in data visualisation, infographics and information art” (Kantar, 2016), and the nominated designs explore data across a range of topics areas. The winner of the 2014 Top Studio Award within this competition was an interactive data visualisation designed and developed by FFunction. FFunction creates data-based visualisations including infographics, data journalism, and motion graphics for an impressive client list. Their winning data visualisation project was developed for the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), focusing on the topic of women in research and development (R&D), entitled ‘Women in Science’.
‘Women in Science’ begins by representing the percentage of women involved in R&D within each country using colour and scale mapping in a petri dish, a relevant image to the field of science (source 1), as well as the option to view the countries via a global map (source 2). The user takes control of their path of immersion into the issue as they choose a country by toggling between the two maps, both of which clearly communicate the data at a range of levels. The interactive elements allow for an instant statistical comparison between countries when hovered over, and upon selecting a country, for example Spain, a more detailed overview of the gender comparison is revealed (source 3). The information is clearly laid out with minimal text and effective use of colour, scale and feedback to maximise the communication of the core data and ensure seamless navigation and interaction for the user.
Source 1. UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2014: The opening screen of ‘Women in Science’ by the UIS, designed and developed by FFunction. The imagery of the petri dish is relevant to the topic area and is clear to navigate. The overall layout of this screen is clear and easy to navigate, as well as introducing relevant themes, including colour as an indication of representation and statistics.
Source 2. UNESCO Institute for Statistics 2014: The Map viewing option, an alternative to the petri dish seen in source 1. The world map is another appropriate form of imagery to utilise in this visualisation, as it again provides easy navigation for users seeking a different way to find data that is more engaging for them. As countries and regions are hovered over the average statistics are highlighted in the bottom left corner, as established on the petri dish view alternative.
Source 3. UNESCO Institute for Statistics 2014: The 2nd layer of information, providing a more detailed breakdown of male and female representation in various fields, sectors and education qualifications in each country. The clean presentation of data, predominantly through colour and bar charts, is easy to understand at a glance, making for a very successful communication of information.
As a piece of visual communication that at it’s core is purely numeric data, this visualisation is very effective at displaying complex information in an easy to absorb format. The design elements, particularly clear colours and vector-based visual style, present an objective stance on women in R&D, enabling a pure interpretation of the facts by the user with minimal bias. This said, the copy is subjective in support of the equal or more significant representation of women in this sector, with this copy in the ‘Breakdown of Fields’ tab:
“In most countries, women focus on the social sciences and remain under-represented in engineering and technology. To level the playing field, girls must be encouraged to pursue math and science.” (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2014).
Whilst this is clearly an encouragement for women’s representation in a traditionally male dominated industry, there is no evident hostility towards how men have and are contributing to this field. As so often we see one gender seeking to discredit the other in the fight for their equality, this opinion by the UIS is refreshing to see and, in my opinion, the kind of blame-free action we should be encouraging in the push for gender equality.
This data visualisation concept is also particularly relevant to my personal exploration of gender inequality. As a successful representation of complex and broad data, it is a strong tool for people to easily process information through well considered designed attributes. I also appreciate how this visualisation is relatively objective in its goal to inform, engage, and inspire audiences, not apply blame to external parties.
Images: All sourced from screens within the data visualisation, ‘Women in Science’ by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, designed and developed by FFunction, 2014. Includes feature image, design by FFunction.
Gender equality and female empowerment is a predominant issue in contemporary society and has progressed significantly throughout the years. Women fought to re-establish and reintroduce gender roles by encouraging each other to see themselves as equals to men. Recognising the power of change and improvement enables one to identify how much further there is to go. Through the in-depth study and analysis of secondary sources I have come away with three corresponding positions on gender equality and women’s empowerment: education, women’s empowerment and the power of authoritative figures.
USAID is a U.S. Governmental Agency that works in “ending extreme global poverty and promoting the development of resilient.” (USAID, 2016) The article, Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, explores gender equality and women’s empowerment on a global scale. Providing statistics from surrounding professional bodies, in order to deliver expert information surrounding a global issue. The articles are demanding of change and reform, whilst offering factual evidence and statistics. USAID reports on numerous issues revolving around gender equality, particularly within developing countries. The potential of women has grown exponentially due to the increase and improvement of education across the world. “An extra year of secondary school for girls can increase their future earnings by 10-20 per cent.” (USAID, 2016) Meaning that their exposure to opportunity and empowerment is increased, enabling women to have their own sense of independence and liberation. Countries that capitalise on girls’ education are proven to have “lower maternal and infant deaths, lower rates of HIV and AIDs and better child nutrition.” (USAID, 2016) USAID aims to equalise gender roles in order to achieve societal development and progression. “When women participate in civil society and politics, governments are more open, democratic and responsive to citizens.” (USAID, 2016) With this unprecedented opportunity for women’s empowerment follows the challenge. An estimate of 62 million girls are not in schools, 1 in 3 of the female population experience gender-based violence and within developing countries 1 in 7 girls will marry before their 15th birthday. (USAID, 2016) USAID’s aspirational position is emboldening and informative of the potential of growth and development, establishing global change in the right direction.
Independent Australia is a progressive news platform focusing on Australian history and identity, revolving around politics, democracy and the environment. Author, John Passant, consistently writes for IA with a strong focus on gender-based sexism. Passant’s articles are passionate and engaging, providing readers with opinion based articles that are supported by factual evidence. His notable article,Violence Against Women: the Price is wrong, comments on the oppression of women (particularly in the media). Passant’s maintains a responsive position stating, “Jokes about violence towards women are indicative of systemic misogyny that normalises the oppression of women.” (Passant, 2016) Considering the topic is such a controversial issue at large I applaud and support Passant’s honest position on the article, I believe that his opinions are valid and authentic. “In my opinion, this violence flows from something deep within society, deep within the structures of capitalism and the profit motive.” (Passant, 2016) Violence towards women becomes catastrophic when experience in the media, because it immediately advocates and encourages the oppression of women on a large-scale. Passant references incidents in the media that encourage violence against women. The event where Eddie McGuire ‘joked’ about drowning Caroline Wilson on professional media was seen as ‘Just a bunch of blokes joking around’. (Price, 2016) While Alan Jones ‘joked’ about putting former Prime Minister Julia Gillard “in a chaff bag and dumping her out at sea.” (Passant, 2016) Joking about violence against women in contemporary society, especially on broadcasted platforms, encourages the subjugation of women. This behaviour accelerates the issue and ultimately feeds excuses for perpetrators actions.
Karen McVeigh has been a senior reporter for the Guardian since 2006 and reports on adolescent sexual harassment and violence, whilst also having a strong focus on refugees. Her article, Schools tackling sexual violence should focus on boys, explores the ways in which boys and girls are educated on sexual violence. McVeigh provides untainted, factual information on sexual violence within schools around the world, while also presenting Project Manager, David Brockway’s perspective on the matter. I believe that McVeigh’s position coincides with my own perspectives on the issue, whilst also providing informing statistics. Sexual violence is treated as a female issue and education is directed accordingly, however, “schools should focus on changing the behaviour and attitudes of boys rather than simply enabling girls to avoid abuse.” (McVeigh, 2016) A survey by Girlguiding found that “59% of young women aged 13-21 had faced some form of sexual harassment at school or college in the past year.” (McVeigh, 2016) If men are educated on gender quality and feminism, violence against women will be improved significantly. David Brockway provides a stimulating perspective, stating “you cannot separate the abuse and violence and the language that is part of this whole problem without linking it to the fact that it’s part of the male identity.” (McVeigh, 2016) Brockway believes that “gender-based harassment and violence is a men’s problem, it is not a women’s problem.” (McVeigh, 2016) Sexist stereotypes commonly support the behaviour of sexual coercion, which originates from the way individuals are educated. Brockway conducts school workshops for boys in order to overthrow gender stereotypes and abuse, improving gender inequality at the core. Providing a male voice on gender based violence and sexual harassment allowed for an interesting article, as it gave insight to a perspective I myself have not yet come across.
A Rape Victims Story: Six months of assault, five years of court explores the debilitating court process of a victim of sexual harassment, Sylvia Varnham O’Regan, recounts 14-year-old Amanda’s experience in explicit detail. O’Regan is a reporter for SBS News and is also a qualified lawyer and is particularly concerned with criminology and the justice system. The author provides an empathetic position with rigorous detail on the victim’s experience, presenting a slightly bias argument. O’Regan successfully communicates an engaging and emotional article that informs readers about the hindering effects of sexual abuse and the draining court process. O’Regan includes numerous recounts by the victim, relaying the detriment of her experience. The article explores the physical and emotional abuse Amanda experienced from the incident and the trial. Stating, “I was on the stand for six hours on the first day and it was just horrific, it’s almost like torture what they put you through on that stand. They questioned my sexuality, they told me I was a drug addict, they told me I was an alcoholic at 14.” (O’Regan, 2015) The legal system does not treat sexual assault cases with the deserved severity; they make it traumatic for the victim and lenient for the perpetrator. “People don’t report [rape] because they hear about how awful court is and how long you have to wait to go to court.” (O’Regan, 2015) Amanda received $40,000 in damages, but was charged with $20,000 in legal fees, a small reward for five years in court. In the current justice system sexual harassment cases are not controlled in the correct way. I believe that this issue alone leads to disparity in gender and the oppression of women.
Australian University Life’s Nasty Little Secret: campus rape was published by the Victorian newspaper journal, The Age. Authors Henrietta Cook and Timna Jacks explore the destructive rape culture within Australian universities. With a strong focus on victim, Emma Hunt’s first experience at Monash University. Both Henrietta Cook and Timna Jacks regularly report on education, with a primary focus on student issues. Providing readers with well-informed and well-written information and statistics on Australian universities and schools. The article explores multiple sexual harassment incidents from different universities within Australia, whilst also providing statistical evidence to inform the severity of rape culture. “National Union of Students report found that 53 per cent of abuse victims were targeted on campus, at a university event or college. Only 6 per cent of victims reported the incidents to the university and 5 per cent to police.” This quantitative data cohesively and clearly identifies the issue on a national scale, providing an impartial perspective. The authors sustain a reporter-like approach to the article, focusing on the victims’ emotional response, as well as the facts. This unbiased report on sexual harassment enables readers to build an empathetic response. Throughout the article the author repetitively quotes the emotional responses of the victims. With comments like “I said I wanted to go to my place, but was too scared and drunk” as well as, “I didn’t want to speak out in fear I would be attacked”. These unsettling comments are recurrent in each victim’s comments creating a pattern within contemporary rape culture. The reluctance of authoritative figures is an issue within society that demands attention. “When other things occur which are against student codes of conduct such as plagiarising … the university does have responsive reporting processes, which include punishment … there shouldn’t be any reason why they can’t do this for sexual assault” said the victim. The fact that plagiarism within universities is taken more seriously than rape astounds me. Students under go immediate punishment in the act of plagiarism, equivalent (if not greater) standards should apply to those who sexually abuse. Most students begin at university or college when they are only just above the legal drinking age. Students entering into these circumstances are “left to do whatever they want” (Cook & Jacks, 2016), encouraging a pool of adolescences to behave accordingly. Cooks and Jacks reported, “students’ sexual encounters were broadcast over a PA system at one University of Sydney College while residents at a neighbouring college published a journal that ‘slut shamed’ female students”. This misogynistic behaviour degrades and humiliates women, while elevating and praising men. This culture that is cultivated within schools and universities needs to be disabled, in order to achieve gender equality.
Furthermore, as a result of my analysis I have developed three core positions that need to be investigated further: education, women’s empowerment and the power of authoritative figures. Educating young men and women on mutual respect is the key to development and progression. While, encouraging female empowerment will help women find a voice and speak up. Currently “the cost to a woman making a complaint outweighs the benefits, to which there are almost none.” (Cook & Smith) This hesitation is another vital position that needs to be investigated, in order to dive deeper into these issues. Further investigating the culture that exists within schools, universities and the justice system at large will too progress my understanding of female empowerment and gender equality within young adults. Investing in gender equality and women’s empowerment can unlock human potential on a transformational scale. (USAID, 2016)