As our first open interview session, we had Lena Seefried to happily join and share her time and knowledge with us. In retrospect this was the most planned approach and anticipated session of open interview. The session took a couple of weeks to plan, with prior meetings only between us and Lena. We shared our session plan and schedule, in return, Lena also gave her input, and we collectively planned a ‘scripted’ morphed session of Q&A and Free Talk. First on our planning was finding a topic for the session and making an outline in the form of a script with possible questions to keep the flow going. After a series of emails and a couple meetings with Lena, and based on expertise, we landed on the topic of Deconstructing Gender and Binary Systems or Thinking. We made various questions that hung on introductory, middle and concluding levels. Articulate iterations were made to the list content and the structure, mostly on our choice of wording, especially with inlcusion and intersectional feminist values in mind. With Lena on our side, she was able to explain to us the many terminologies that come with the topic. Since we are relatively new to the topic and the movement, this helped us broaden our understanding and motivated us to further our research and practice applying our learned knowledge. In theory, the session was planned in quite a detailed manner, and the structure seems to be bulletproof.
We then also promoted the event over a series of various posts on instagram and per design department wide email, that was published a few days prior to the session date. With the exposure of our social media, and Lena’s reposts of the event, it accumulated a good amount of engagement. This resulted in plenty of people signing up for a spot in the online session. This showed us the reach we had over social media, a contact platform in which we continue to maintain over the course of this project. Since it is part of our method testing, the session started with a short disclaimer, asking permission to have the session recorded for research and sharing purposes. With everyone, 10 people, agreeing to the format, we continued with the recording. To put into context, at this stage of our project, our biggest dilemma was on our choice of wording. Perhaps due to its academia origins, when it comes to the topic of feminism and intersectionality there seems to be a focus on terminologies as means to describe and voice its complexity. In respect for the existing culture, it was only crucial for our project to be mindful and consider every aspect down to the historical background, connotations and overall etymology of each popular keyword. The answer, unfortunately, is similar in nature, in that as Lena mentions, there are no particular definitions of each word, it depends on the context you use and the consensual situation of its use. Lena also brought attention to one’s self, where one stands and what their motivations are with each word; it’s a case of finding words that’s most suitable for the circumstances. It’s about individualizing the approaches, because the topic is only so broad of a spectrum, it may be unrealistic to have a generalized viewpoint. Nevertheless, Lena agrees in and emphasizes on the notion of understanding where the word came from, before any recontextualization.
Stringing on to the topic of self-positioning, Lena brought the discussion on the importance of declaring one’s own identity as a means of support as an ally by hacking and critiquing on the status quo. Normalizing this habit of positioning not only declares it to the outside society, but also helps one reflect inwards of their ground, discriminations and privileges, etc. It is only from understanding and acknowledging one’s own positioning can one mindfully approach allyship on feminism.
With engagement from the other participants through questions and sharing of references in the discussion, the conversation continued without the need of the script structure. It was through these spontaneous flows that led to more vulnerable sharing of personal analogies. However, these instances seemed to be more approachable for the extroverts of the participants, leaving most as passive audiences. Through this experience, we could essentially conclude the richness that comes with an open discussion, which is especially fruitful for bringing awareness and understanding to the topic. However, perhaps a smaller group would give a chance for a more intimate and individualistic experience and learning approach.