Major Reflection and Realisations
Up until this point (beginning of February) I had been adamant about keeping everything theoretical and at arms length, away from my own life and experiences. I think, in all honesty, I was scared about opening up and owning my Feminist identity. It is hard to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. The In The Gang and Surface Manipulation Experiments were a bit of a wake up call for me. I like the designs, don’t get me wrong, I do think there was something in them. But I realised they were empty, just pretty things that didn’t SAY anything. This was because there was no me in them, I had slipped back into the commercial and ‘easy’ ‘digestible’ way of designing. My process was that of working in industry. This wasn’t going to work either for the Masters level or as a way of self-expression, which all my in-depth (non-industry) design journeys are. I design my way through life, through my sexuality, though mental health, as a cathartic way of expressing my inner feelings. This was not that. So this was a wake up call for me.
I had began a huge mind-map of my research, and literally found that I was leaving a huge gap on the page. This gap was what I was scared of researching into and expressing because they linked back to my own life and experiences. This is the gap that I need to fill and the direction my work needs to take. I needed to put me back into the project, it was time.
I began by writing all the things that had happed to, or around, me in my life that fed into my identity as a Feminist. It was emotional and raw, I wrote 5 whole sketchbook pages filled with experiences. I had to face things that had happened, that I had buried, but that still fuelled my anger and drive to even pursue this line of investigation at all. Once it was out, I wrote another list of things that piss me off. Then I took a step back, reflected, took it all in, cried and pulled myself back together again. I started to see major threads pulling my experiences together and realised that I hadn’t even touched any of them in any part of my research. I am not alone in any of my experiences, nor are mine better or worse than any other persons. But they are why I am here and that is something to harness.
Being a Feminist, for me, has come out of a lifetime of experiences. My drive to fight for gender equality and make life a little bit better for others comes from my experiences with prejudice and inequality. In ‘academic speak’ I have to use auto-ethnography as my driving methodology in this whole project or it would end up empty and soulless. It wouldn’t speak for me or for anyone else, it would just be something well-researched and pretty but wouldn’t create any ripple effect.
This was the start of the next chapter in my MA journey, a hurdle to conquer.