Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Writing a thesis research reflection

My supervisor has told me I need to send him a two page 'thought piece'. Something reflective that explores where I'm going and what I've been doing.

It's difficult. Can't I just start writing the damn thesis already? The words 'thought piece' make me shudder a bit on the inside. But, he's guided hundreds of PhD students successfully, so I'm just going to shut-up and do what he says.

So, I'm going to ramble honestly here, then I'm going to extract the sensible parts and gloss it up a bit.

"It's been three months since I officially started and I think I've been doing reasonably well so far. I've written about 6000 words for my literature review, and I think it reads well, but I also feel like I have been mismanaging my time and my resources. I started off with excellent intentions and a good structure, but all of that seems to have fallen by the wayside. My plan was to write a few hundred words each afternoon. I was meant to cite everything properly as I go and document resources to follow up. In the past two weeks I have done none of these things. Fortunately, I know that my few hundred word system works because it was going very well until I stopped. Why did I stop? I got tired. I became fed-up with doing 10 hour days at work and I became jaded and depressed about the world in general.

Tasks for the next three weeks:

I need to decide on a good way of managing my resources so I can find them again.
I don't have a structured way of managing my resources. So far I have been placing downloaded articles in a folder on my computer, and linking them into my "Resources - fulltext" folder in Scrivener. Books and anthologies are only being listed when they become part of the literature review. I do have a folder called "bibliographies", but I haven't made good use of it yet.

There are a few unfinished literature reviews to work on, and I have yet to look at Johnson's General History. I also need to look at a four volume work called "British Piracy in the Golden Age". Incidentally, I can now do so since I have a student card. My photo is appalling. One lens in my glasses is reflecting light, and I'm worried about the time so I look like a one-eyed botoxed witch with a frozen grimace for a smile. Anyway, I also need to order a copy of some resources held at the NLA, and I expect there are quite a few newspapers I'm going to need to obtain as well.

I'd also really like to paint a giant map of the Spanish Main on the wall of my study. It is unlikely to help with my research, but it would certainly be fun. Plus, my geography knowledge is rubbish."

There. That's a decent start.
In other news, the thesis master has also given me the wonderful news that I am on track with my research! In fact, I'm not just on track, I'm ahead of where I should be. Which is marvellous, because I feel like I'm drowning. Too many readings and not enough thesis time. Actually, too many readings, too much library work and no thesis time.

We have meetings every three weeks because it keeps me working. Guilt and expectation are powerful tools. Thesis master calls it the fear of humiliation. Clever man.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

You have made me feel sick

An ex has made me very upset. Which is interesting since I never really speak to him anymore.

See, I have this idea that I don't have any friends who are misogynists. I like to think that all my friends understand what feminism is and consider themselves to be feminists. I think that all my friends are thoughtful and clever people. But a little while ago I started to think I'm dead wrong about this, and he just confirmed that.

The ex said that it's "fair for female gamers to campaign for games they want to play, but it's not fair to campaign against games that boys like to play". That, in my view, is just plain wrong. His response to my re-posting of an article about Anita Sarkeesian was poorly thought out. Considering the context, it was even slightly sickening. I know he's smarter than that. We had some great and thoughtful conversations when we were together. Surely he MUST be smarter than that. Games are still heavily weighted against women - Mass Effect does not wipe out the thousands of games where women are either treated as sex objects or there to be beaten up or abused (and even Mass Effect has problems). Yes, you can come back with the fact that there are heaps of games where you can play as a woman. But how come most warrior women have a tiny metal bra and weird armoured panties? What the hell does that protect? And why are their breasts bigger than their heads or busting out of their tops?

I responded saying that I don't play games much anymore because I don't like having to be a hyper-sexualised person (I'll always love Age of Empires).

His response was that games need to evolve and diversify, which is already starting to happen. Then he ruined it with "There'll always be a place for trashy games though, live and let live I reckon"

Sure. Live and let live. I'll let my young son play games about beating up and raping women because they're just trashy games. I'll let him see my husband playing them. I'll let him grow up thinking that men are supposed to embrace violence without thinking, and that if in doubt, you should shoot everything in sight. Don't think, just react. How many female characters are there that aren't designed to either be rescued (innocent) or sexually desirable? After my kids grow out of Dora and Diego, I'm pretty sure they'll need to exit the gaming arena (unless things change fast).

Many video games do two things I hate. They depict women as sexual objects to either be conquered, rescued or leered at, and they assume that men want to do those things.

I'm confident that most men I know find so called 'trashy games' sick. They don't want to punch a prostitute, they don't want to see a half naked elf woman run around and they don't want to always be cast as a violent or emotionally restricted goof.

A gamer might find a character of a school girl with DD breasts sexy, but it's not. It's weird. If the poor girl was real she'd probably have incredible back pain. Plus, she'd have the hots for the young things on Home and Away.

That said, I need to tell you a story about my friend Obvian. He's a very talented artist (and musician). Once one of the cooler guys at highschool asked him to draw a scantily clad woman (can't remember it exactly, but the request was something similar to that). It was the first time I saw him get angry. He told the guy to shove it. Another friend IS a games developer. He routinely gets angry at the way women are depicted in video games - as he told me once "I've seen women. That's not a woman."