Mapping Exercise

The participatory mapping exercise was a very useful and insightful to further understand the complexities of feminism and gender issues in the world. The mapping proved to show the true and overwhelming extent of gender issues within every corner of society.

The first map created was breaking down feminism into stakeholders such as social media, government, family and other categories where within each category we found various influencers and contributors to the contemporary feminism. For example seen in the first image under social media are Instagram and Twitter that definitely define and promote contemporary Feminism through celebrities. Another example seen in this image is the idea under family where different cultural values can conflict with modern day feminism such as in south east Asian countries most women are still thought of as to serve the men, therefore showing how contemporary feminism is still lacking in such countries and predominantly exists in the Western world.

The second image was our final map that uses a timeline structure, as through the extensive discussion with our group and tutors we found a significant amount issues that were too complex to map and continued to overlap. Therefore a timeline was felt best to map out our end goal where as seen in the second image the problem is gender inequality with the conflict between traditional and contemporary feminism creating misconceptions and misunderstandings about the definition of feminism. Therefore the true definition, which we all wrote out our own definition for, is what is needed to be communication to society with the end goal eventually not having to even discuss the issue as it no longer exists which we discussed would only come through education, accurate portrayal in the media and for both women and men to speak up when implicit gender inequality exists in society such as seen in social media through comments on Facebook and Instagram towards women.

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By Koshila Perera

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MAPPING THE ISSUE

By Rebecca.S. (Blog post 6)

This weeks mapping workshop proved to be incredibly helpful in allowing us as a group to further discuss our issue. Despite not being able to follow the guidelines, we were side tracked by our tutors who instead encouraged us to further our thinking. In particular, Phil and Joanna made us rethink our issue and question our preconceived ideas on it. One effective example in particular was an experiment where we each wrote on post it notes what our definition of feminism was (See image). Not surprisingly we all had similarly worded definitions where the underlying commonality between them all was that feminism means equality. This simple task generated a lot of discussion on our target’s narrow definitions and where the issue may lie.

We achieved this by segregating the stakeholders (image 1). This allowed us to identify where the issues might arise. We realised that these systems are the reasons as to why there are many misconceptions in our society and why the word ‘feminist’ is viewed negatively. Interestingly, it was brought to our attention that a system that plays a vital role in female inequality might be the reproductive system. This was particularly true for issues surrounding inequality in the workforce and the personal difficulties when juggling a career and having a child that many women would face.

As a group the questions ‘what is contemporary feminism’ and ‘how does it vary to traditional feminism’ were proposed to us. This was not something we had defined yet, and seemed to throw us all. This highlighted the need for further research into definitions and theories to ensure we are focusing on designing for today’s current target audience. This discussion made me realise the importance of well-established research on my issue as well as my target audience in order to move forward with my individual design project.

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Mapping Controversies Around Feminism: An Open Discussion

(Blog Post 6, Keira Scurry)

In attempting to come to a final mapping arrangement of the controversies surrounding feminism, our group underwent hours of discussion between several tutors and ourselves, and this discussion is what proved to be the most valuable part of the mapping session. As a result, a final map was never constructed due to the overlapping of in depth discussion and positioning of issues.

After much discussion we choose to categorise our controversies into ‘the problem: gender inequality’, ‘traditional feminism’, ‘contemporary feminism’, ‘misconceptions and misunderstanding’, ‘definitions’, and ‘the end goal: eliminating feminism as an (controversial) issue’. We found that there was a lack of connection between traditional and contemporary feminism, which therefore created misconceptions. Another interesting activity we undertook was getting the group and the tutors involved to all write down their own definition of feminism in order to see just how the issue differs between people, however interestingly all of our definitions were the same; all roughly equating to ‘equality of the genders socially, politically, and economically’ and ‘no expectations for both genders’.

This open process of co-creating proved once again how intricate the issue of feminism is, and even to a few tutors it still had this stigma of being a sensitive topic. In relation to my specific research area, this mapping and discussion allowed me to understand that masculinity within feminism is purely a misconception arising from the miscommunication between traditional feminism and new age feminism. Perhaps the issue is not after all attributed to the preconceived idea that feminists are ‘loud’ and ‘aggressive’ on the Internet, but that the generation gap between the waves of feminism had left a question mark on what it means to be a feminist. The issue is rooted back to the stigma surrounding expectations for genders in the late 20th Century (see blog post 1), and through generations of miscommunications results misunderstanding.

The way forward is to develop a connection between traditional waves of feminism and contemporary waves, and then a mutual understanding of perceptions will hopefully be met. The underlying goal is to achieve gender equality, so that ancient ideas of gender roles and masculinity are wiped clean and replaced with notions of gender-neutral acceptance.

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Mapping Feminism Again

By Courtney Brookes

 

The participatory mapping session was an interesting and highly informative experience, which left me inundated with issues and ideas about Feminism I had not originally thought about. The whole process was so overwhelming that our group did not even reach the stage of creating a final map but rather creating timelines and systems to further break down our issue. Despite not achieving the actual map, through the discussions we held between us and with the tutors we definitely developed the insights that were intended by the exercise.

The consistent element of ‘discussion’, which was highlighted, became a central focus in my mind. Discussion within Feminism is so pivotal to the movement and is something that is occurring but often not to the right audience, not on the right issues, or on equal forums or platforms. Often this conversation is one-sided and what I have noticed from my own research into Feminism’s use of the internet is the waves of abuse that arise from starting the discussion. This abuse is also sourced from a range of misunderstanding and misconceptions about the Feminist movement, which face not only men but also other women. We found this was a lack of acknowledgement that the movement itself has changed over time and now represents a new range of problems and a general lack of education about what Feminism means and stands for.

Through breaking down the stakeholders into systems we were also able to objectively recognize and breakdown the structures in which Feminism operates. What struck us immediately is that we had not considered the reproductive system as a non-human actor to list despite it being the biological reason for Feminism’s existence. The systems also allowed us to visualise what issues fall under specific systems in order for us to direct our research further and start developing ideas for our projects.

Interviewing a Fellow Feminist

By Courtney Brookes

Through researching into New Age Feminism I have noticed the shift from a quite scholarly-based discussion to one of open opinioned pieces and even moving beyond traditional discussion into the forms of image and film. With this insight in mind the ability to interview and seek out understanding from around me felt extremely valuable, however, only interviewing one person definitely did not deliver the range of results I was expecting. The focus of my interview and probe was centered on discovering these personal opinions about womanhood, feminism, and gender stereotypes.

11921949_10153541504933142_894616517_nThe questions asked during the interview all sought to uncover her position as a woman and a Feminist and the influences, which have shaped her beliefs. I also used the interview to gauge which of my two probes would be more suited to her. My preferred option was to post the text “I am a Feminist” on a variety of social media sites and document the response received from known friends and unknown followers from these sites. Within the interview she stated that being a Feminist was “Not something that I would shout from the rooftops” and so I established the other probe in which she had to document all the ‘names’ she was called by men and women and the context of these. The list I received back contained all of the names I expected but she did say that most of it was generated from other women at work and under the circumstances was generally nice. She did notice when being called the same name by men and sometimes strangers it did leave an uncomfortable feeling. I think this probe could have been more successful over a greater span of time and with a more established method of documentation.

What its like to be a woman in the workplace

Findings:

  • My interviewee’s responses were perceptive and helped lead me to further insights regarding women’s rights in the workplace where she had prior knowledge and experience in this field to share with me. My first question was “what do you currently know about women’s roles in the workplace?” For this question she replied accurately stating that there were lack of higher roles for women, specifically in design she stated it was male dominated along with most other industries.
  • My second question was if she had and if so how it was working with a female boss, to which she responded that she had and found them to be more empathetic, welcoming, had to be more confident and driven to thrive and reach the positions they were already in. I found this insightful and accurate as women in high positions would have to be more naturally driven and ambitious as for many it is tougher to reach these positions as a woman.
  • Another question I asked was what it was like working with a male boss to which she responded that her time at her old workplace was full of male staff at the top who made sexual jokes, did not show much respect to her and the roles were based on traditional ideals of male and females, where women were at the counter and not doing labour work.
  • Also her thoughts on quotas was that it is a good solution however can lead to females being offended adding discrimination of being hired for a quota and not based on skill. Also when asked how she would balance work and family she answered that she would prefer to be home more to raise her kids.
  • In regards to the probe I asked her and a male friend to each write a maternity/paternity leave letter where interesting differences were found. For the maternity leave letter was far more assertive such as “As we discussed, 18 weeks of this will be paid leave.” Whereas in the paternity leave letter the male seemed to have to provide more reasoning and in a less assertive tone such as “I want to be there to support my wife during this time, and I feel as though four weeks will be suitable.” Again feeding into the notion that paternity leave is uncommon and not as a widely accepted in the workplace as maternity leave.

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Design-led Ethnography: Perceptions of Feminists and Gender Roles

by Keira Scurry (blog post 5)

Design ethnography proved to be a highly stimulating and interesting experience, and has now become an integral factor in my research findings. For the interview component of the task, I asked questions surrounding perceptions on masculinity within feminism, and personal experiences with gendering. I ultimately aimed to achieve quick first impressions rather than thought out answers in order to gain realistic ideas of perception. My interviewee, Tey Dehong, had a particularly fascinating outlook on feminists and his role as a man in society, due to his Singaporean upbringing. Some of the most thought-provoking points gathered included his first reaction to the word feminism- describing feminists as being ‘”very loud” and “vocal about their equal rights”. This response was based purely off social media encounters with feminists, and is a very widely held belief by a lot of people. The general response was that the interviewee agreed with feminist values and gender equality, yet did not identify as a feminist. Most interestingly, the interview participant perceived the issue as mostly a first world problem (a very common and legitimate view) and had no real experiences of the issue until he came to Australia.

In relation to personal experiences with masculinity and femininity, the interviewee outlined the ways in which he was expected to be ‘manly’ growing up (having to complete 2 mandatory years in the Singapore Army). Although there was no obvious pressure to be perceived as masculine, as a boy he highly valued taking care of his family and younger sister. This kind of responsibility to ‘look after’ is common among most boys, yet it can also be argued to be more so an ‘eldest sibling’ issue than a matter of masculinity. The feedback from the interview provided insight into a male perspective on the issue of feminism and gender roles, with a different cultural outlook on the whole subject. The interviewee admitted to becoming more open minded to the concept of feminism in recent years, and has no belief that feminists are by any means masculine people nor should they be expected to be. However, the issue is currently evolving in way that he generally does not involve himself with. In essence, Tey had some refreshing insights into his experiences with feminism and gender roles, which allowed me to explore different angles of the issue in terms of culture and the ways in which feminists are observed from an objective point of view.

For the probe, my interviewee was asked to note all male-targeted products he used in one morning, and also to ask 5 different people the question ‘what is feminism?’ The results from probe task 1 did not provide a lot of insight into masculinity and gendering, as he only came into contact with four different items targeted to men specifically. However, the second task had predominately fascinating results and truly expanded on my research surrounding perceptions of feminists. Of the 5 people asked ‘what is feminism?’, all had negative ideas surrounding the movement. The general belief was that people understand feminism to have 2 sides; one that is legitimate and fair, and one that is extreme, vicious, and favours women over men.

In actuality, if a women considers men lesser than women then they are not a feminist, as the whole movement is based on gender equality. However, according to the results of the probes and interviews, this is the largest misconception surrounding feminism.

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