By Courtney Brookes
Project title: The Feminist Dictionary (Punchier name TBC)
Emergent Practice: Service Innovation and Social Action
Issue: The accessibility of Feminist discussion created through the emergence of New Age Feminism and their use of online platforms and social media has seen a growth in intolerance towards the movement. This is predominately seen through the backlash in comments and opinion posts which include hostile, aggressive, and abusive language towards women and the movement. This type of degrading language distracts conversation from the real issues facing women as well as bullying them. The harassment is now inseparable from the online movement and its incessant occurrence has seemingly removed the meaning of the comments or phrases as it is easy to just ignore or scroll past them, therefore allowing them to be acceptable.
Design Action: To re-establish the meaning of these words and remove them from the Feminist discussion I am creating a service innovation accessible through web and mobile platforms. There are two aspects to my yet to be named design:
- An online database and plug-in which can be accessed through computer or phone which will allow users to input replacement words or phrases for those they find offensive and unnecessary. Once applied the application will search for those words on all websites or applications open and immediately replace them with what has been previously set. The user can decide whether they want the unwanted comments to read as gibberish or as a reflection on the person commenting with poignant statements relevant to the Feminist movement.
- Accessible through the same online medium will be a Feminist dictionary and thesaurus. This will be a database filled with the definitions of the words added by users with a satirical thesaurus immediately below revealing the ‘common-place’ synonyms. For example the word ‘slut’ is automatically defined as a sexually promiscuous woman with many casual sexual partners, the common-place synonyms for this could simply be ‘girl’, ‘woman’, ‘someone who is sexually empowered’. This will highlight the saturation of online forums with inappropriate and derogatory words in place of those which are neutral and positive.
The design action will be proposed through a video showing use of the application by two different characters through the various mediums. It will also display basic layouts, modules, and modes of the service.
Audience: The audience to be addressed is quite broad but will include those participating in the online Feminist movement, those posting the backlash, and people who have not contributed or are not aware of the issue. The tone of the design will be humorous and sarcastic, mocking the perpetrators and their actions. Through this the relevance of the service will be made apparent.
The possible change: Generated awareness of the extreme, inappropriate, and saturated use of abusive and derogatory language towards women will hopefully be achieved. Individual and group reflection about what words should be used to describe girls and women could eventuate in a reduction in the ‘slut-shaming’ trend over time.