To all of that.

Okay, okay, I’m back.

The reason I’ve been MIA for the past, oh, six months is because I’ve been in denial about having to write my thesis taking some time to carefully consider the best way to tackle my thesis. I’ve officially committed to writing the first three chapters of Shamed: An Exploration of Ugliness on the Internet. And I’ve decided the best way to start is just to start. Only took six months to figure that out.

When it comes to slut-shaming, one thing I hadn’t really considered until my professor sent me this article was the concept of girl-on-girl shaming. I just assumed that anonymous trolls who slut-shamed women online were male, but it turns out women are shaming other women too. This is the case with Lindsay Bottos, a young artist who posted selfies on Tumblr and began receiving hateful comments from, presumably, women. Lindsay began screenshotting the comments and pasting them over selfies, creating art by publishing the anonymous comments on the medium from whence they came.

The concept reminded me a little of dooce.com blogger Heather Armstrong who used to publish all the hateful comments she received on a page with zillions of advertisements. That way her followers could read the horrific messages and Armstrong got paid in ad revenue. Brilliant!

Bottos, who explored sexism through photography in her senior thesis (love it) tells Buzzfeed:

“The act of women taking selfies is inherently feminist, especially in a society that tries so hard to tell women that our bodies are projects to be worked on and a society that profits off of the insecurities that it perpetuates. Selfies are like a ‘fuck you’ to all of that, they declare that ‘hey I look awesome today and I want to share that with everyone’ and that’s pretty revolutionary.”

Hell yes. Hoping to find more stories of women fighting back against slut-shaming. Maybe my thesis can be a part of that fight.

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Posted in Art, In the News, Slut-shaming, Thesis, Trolls | 1 Comment

Trapped in the Closet

When I was little I used to do this weird thing. Well, I did a lot of weird things, but for the purposes of this story we’ll stick to one.

When I was little, and I wanted to change my mind about something – the TV show I wanted to watch, the shirt I wanted to wear, the flavor of popsicle I wanted to eat (you know the kind in the plastic where you have to cut off the end and then you suck all the juice out when you’re done?) – I would go into the closet.

Like, I would literally walk to the closet in our old living room, open the door, walk in, close the door, and perch on our vacuum cleaner for a few minutes. I don’t really remember what I did in there – it was pretty dark. But after a few moments I would reappear, ready to announce my new decision.

So, yeah…

Anyway, I have to go into the closet. Metaphorically. At the beginning of the summer I chose a thesis topic (yayyy!) and felt so much relief. I researched. I wrote. I was making progress. And then I changed my mind. Here’s what happened:

I’m taking a class called “The Publishing Process” this summer. It’s great – seriously the best class I’ve had at SCAD so far. The whole semester is spent putting together a book proposal. First, we vetted ideas for our books, and then we dove into each section – the proposal, the table of contents, the sample chapter, and the CV and author bio. We are graded and get feedback on each section and at the end of the semester we revise the whole thing and hand it in as our final project. And then we have a real, honest-to-goodness book proposal we can send out to agents and publishers! So. Freaking. Cool.

Wanting to keep things light and breezy this summer, I chose to do my book on slut-shaming and rape culture. Here’s a little teaser I wrote about it for part of the proj:

Shamed: An Exploration of Ugliness on the Internet. This nonfiction book explores the contemporary phenomenon of online slut-shaming. In an effort to demean and guilt women who willingly or unwillingly express themselves sexually online, anonymous Internet trolls have taken it upon themselves to act as “moral” vigilantes. Acts of slut-shaming often have disastrous – sometimes deadly – consequences for the victims, with few repercussions for the anonymous offenders. What does the prevalence of online slut-shaming today say about our society’s attitudes toward women and sex? By investigating victims’ personal stories, this book brings to light an under-researched crisis. Is the Internet the cause? Shamed reveals something more sinister is to blame.

Good, right? Stop, I’m blushing. So, basically what I’m finding is the people who become the Internet trolls who are attacking these women are doing it because they’re horrible, pathetic people, yes, but it also stems from people feeling powerless, disenfranchised, and being messed up in the head. Additionally, I’m finding that socioeconomic factors are at play. And, sadly, I’ve found that we’re not as progressive as we think we are when it comes to taboos involving women and sex.

SO – I’m writing this proposal and it occurs to me: I SHOULD WRITE THIS PROPOSAL AND THEN USE THAT AS A BASIS TO START MY THESIS WHICH WILL BE THE FIRST CHAPTERS OF A BOOK ON SLUT-SHAMING AND THEN I’LL GET IT PUBLISHED AND CHANGE THE WORLD.

Crushed It

In other words, I had my thesis topic.

But then I found myself in the closet.

Here’s the thing: the stuff I’m finding is really messed up. Like, the stories of these girls who have been exposed and shamed are heart-breaking. Sickening. So, that should be all the more reason to write about this right? I don’t know. I really don’t. Researching this stuff has seriously made me question whether people are generally good. There are comments and websites and memes I’ve found that I won’t post here because I don’t want to give them the publicity, but are just so awful. People hide behind the veil of anonymity the Internet provides and use that anonymity to do truly awful things.

So, now I feel like I should pick a new topic. Can I realistically spend the next year reading and writing and talking about this stuff? I feel passionately about this topic, but maybe I’m too emotional about it to write objectively.

I don’t know what to do. I’m still in the closet on this one.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

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Summer is Over: The Review for Candidacy

How’s your summer going? Mine was great. Notice I used the past tense there.

With spring classes over I had more free time than I’ve had in well, ever, and I filled my days with hours at the beach with friends, peaceful drives in the Prius, weekend trips to Hilton Head, and hours of reading…for pleasure. I don’t mind telling you that I reread Harry Potter 6 AND 7. (Did I mention I’m 26?)

I was even feeling good about my thesis. Did I have a hard topic nailed down? Well, no, but I had a writing schedule in place, which made me feel good even if I didn’t stick to it. And I’d started free writing a little bit. I was thinking, brainstorming, jotting things down. It was like I could feel the wheels turning in my brain. It felt good.

But then one night I woke up in a cold sweat. Something had been bothering me all day, but I hadn’t been able to nail the feeling to any one cause. Sure, after a particularly bad sunburn I’d made the mistake of Googling “skin cancer,” but it wasn’t that. And yes, my DVR had failed to record The Real Housewives of Orange County, but that wasn’t it either. The problem that shook me awake at 4 a.m. was a responsibility I’d pushed to the back of my brain long ago: my 45 hour review.

Also known as the review for candidacy, this project is required of every SCAD student once they’ve completed 45 hours of coursework (15 hours for M.A. students). Guidelines vary by department (check the Graduate Studies website), but in general you select a committee, put together a portfolio of your work (“indicat[ing] the breadth and the depth of the candidate’s writing abilities” -Writing Review for Candidacy Guidelines), and submit it to the committee. Then the committee rates your work according to a rubric they’ve designed, and you meet with them for a presentation, and they decide if you can stay in the program. No big deal!

Wish me luck. This is how I feel…

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Write Your Thesis in 3 Months

Write my thesis in three months? Seems too good to be true, but I’m liking this blog, especially his ten tips for fast thesis writing. I love that he encourages students to set a goal of 500 words a day – that doesn’t seem so bad, does it? And he’s even into working for 25 minutes and taking a five minute break. Didn’t I mention something about that once?

I’m always on the lookout for online thesis writing resources, so finding this one was a real treat. If you have any suggestions, comment below!

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The Thesis Diet

A friend of mine recently told me that while writing his thesis he lost a good ten pounds (pounds he couldn’t afford to lose), because of his poor eating habits. Whether it’s overeating or undereating, I think a lot of us can relate to letting our healthy eating habits go out the window when deadlines are looming.

I did a little research on “healthy study foods” and actually found there are a number of foods/eating habits that are good for you and supposedly help you focus too. Some of these are a little obvious (NEWS FLASH: caffeine makes you more alert), but I can get on board with the daily servings of nuts and chocolate.

In fact, I’m going to get on that chocolate thing right now…

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Git ‘er done

I’ve been having trouble focusing lately, especially on my thesis, so I decided to look up some strategies for getting stuff done. After reading a few, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to get something done is just to DO IT ALREADY (see above).

But I found this article from Men’s Health (of all places) on avoiding distractions at work moderately helpful. I liked ‘carve out time‘ and ‘think by the week‘ the best.They don’t all apply to thesis writing, but during finals we can use all the help we can get.

And at the very least, the article provides a distraction…

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This Article on De-stressing Stresses Me Out

I wanted to write a blog post about how to de-stress, given that it’s the end of the quarter, and we’re all scrambling to finish up work (*cough*blog posts*cough*), so I Googled some suggestions.

The Huffington Post has an article on ways to relax that makes me want to do this. The title of the article seemed promising: “8 Surprising Ways to De-Stress The Brain,” but then it made suggestions like “use your nondominant hand” and “appreciate your hands” (what’s with the hands??), and it was just too ridiculous not to share.

You know what helps you relax? Laughter. Go laugh. Start with this article.

And have a good Memorial Day weekend.

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Fear of Starting

I’ve mentioned how I use productive procrastination as a way to avoid starting the thing I should be doing (like, my thesis), and I’ve heard from several of you that you have similar strategies. But recently I read two pieces that have inspired me to actually start writing. Or, well, at least to think about starting to write.

Stop judging me.

The first is John McPhee’s “Draft No. 4,” which was in the April 29 issue of The New Yorker. Unfortunately, I can’t share the whole article here because you have to pay for it, but click here for the beginning.

Basically, he talks about writer’s block, a topic he frequently refers to in his New Yorker articles. He says he most enjoys working on the fourth draft of his articles or books because that’s when things really start clicking – he feels like he has something he’s excited to share with people. However, to get there, he must slog through drafts three, two, and the most difficult, draft one.

When you’re not sure how to begin writing something, McPhee suggests starting by writing a letter. Complain to your mother about what a terrible writer you are. How difficult it is. Why you’re not sure you’re even pursuing this career. Tell her about the bear you’re trying to describe in your story (this is the example McPhee uses). Describe it in detail. Go on for as long as you want to. When you’re done, McPhee says, cut the ‘Dear Mother’ and all the whining and “just keep the bear.”

The second inspiring piece I read is a short little blog post by Seth Godin called “Overcoming the Impossibility of Amazing.” He says that expecting ourselves to produce something amazing on the first go is a great way to set ourselves up for failure.

So, don’t do that.

Our theses don’t have to start off amazing. We just have to start. Think of how good it will feel when we get to draft four.

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There Should Be an App For That

I’ve been searching high and low for some kind of thesis timeline resource and have yet to find one that I like. In fact, aside from the Dissertation Calculator I told you about long ago (which I’ve tried to use but don’t really like), I haven’t found another. I realize timelines will vary depending on a student’s major, time frame, and abilities, but I feel like there has to be some kind of general timeline somewhere.

Grrr.

But while I haven’t found what I’ve been looking for, my exploration has lead me to several cool apps built to help students. I’ve only used Goodreads so far, but I think I might experiment with some others. Check them out below. Now they just need to make a thesis timeline app. Could someone get on that?

  • Learnist – like Pinterest but for knowledge
  • Notability – lets you integrate all kinds of notes (handwritten, audio, PDF, etc)
  • Goodreader – a PDF reader! Take those long documents with you and read anywhere.
  • Goodreads – an app and website, signing up for a free account lets you create different book shelves. A good way to catalog thesis books you want to read, have read, etc.
  • Evernote – save and organize all of your ideas, anywhere.
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Thesis: Real-life Animated GIFs!

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, this blog centers largely around two things: theses and animated GIFs. I use GIFs in this blog to better express how I feel, and often, in my real life, I wish I could hold up a GIF to express my joy/disdain, rather than actual words.

(Did I mention I’m a writer?)

Well some little smarty-pants decided to make create a GIF-maker, called a GIFTY, for his thesis project.

As the article explains, the GIFTY really produces still images that can be pieced together to make a kind of flip-book, but it’s still a pretty NIFTY idea. Don’t you think?

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