Introducing… My Master’s Dissertation!

For those of you who don’t know, I’m currently writing my master’s dissertation here at Trinity College Dublin. Just me and 15,000 words all summer… soooo fun… The whole thing has been pretty solitary, which can be tough for me, so I wanted to share some of what I’ve been reading/thinking about/procrastinating with all of you.

Before you start rolling your eyes, I am not writing my dissertation on like 15th century clay pots or the habits of bug mating in South America (although I would probably still read a blog about that). I’m writing about social media, female sexuality, and young adult literature – more specifically, the way social media is used to shame and harm young women who either partake in consensual sex or are raped. So like pretty heavy stuff, right?

And I guess for me, the most important part of writing about this academically is to be able to talk about and share the things that I’m reading and discovering. Because as great as it will be to have another feminist piece of academic criticism on the books, that doesn’t necessarily start the conversation I want to have.

Since writing about my weird email experience (here), I have been completely inspired to make my blog a place of actual real conversation. It was so amazing to feel a sense of solidarity and real talk on the internet instead of trolling and tearing each other down and I want to keep that up. That doesn’t mean everything has to be heavy all the time (I’m sure there will be a fair share of silly/excited/fun posts as well) but I’m really trying to steer myself in the direction of my genuine opinions, which will also be a journey for myself as a person/writer.

SO with all that said, please feel free to give me real/candid/anonymous/whatever makes you comfortable comments on any of this stuff because the blog is just another page on the internet without you…

Now back to the main event!

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Above are just a few of the many books I’ll be reading for my dissertation, including my three primary texts Asking for It by Irish author Louise O’Neill, Gossip Girl the series that inspired the TV show by Cecily Von Ziegesar, and Good Girls by Laura Ruby. All three, in different ways and at varying degrees of technological advancement, deal with young women be criticized for sexual acts (consensual or not) on the internet.

Asking For It is by far the most recent, published in 2015, and is also the roughest one to read both in terms of sexual violence and patriarchal bullshit. Good Girls also has its fair share of infuriating moments, but promises more resolution and female solidarity than the others. Gossip Girl, I was surprised to learn, is rather different than the TV show, but is still packed with drama, nonetheless.

I have gotten several eye rolls/questioning looks from librarians as I’ve checked these out, so I would like to take a second to defend my choice in academic literature: These are books people read outside of school. Girls read them when they’re 13, adults read them to regress a little at night, people read books like these without an academic lens. But I think it can be dangerous to leave books that are widely consumed by culture (and particularly by young women) completely unexamined. What are these books really saying? Are they empowering or puritanical? Do they show girls that sex is a natural right or something to be feared? I’m not sure yet – that is kind of the point of all this. But I’m not content to let these books be tossed aside by academia simply because they are intended for young women.

As I go through this writing process, I’ll be sharing bits and bobs of what I’m researching hoping that someone else will find it interesting, too. And as a way of keeping my own sanity as I dive into the pits of patriarchal hell.

So let me know what you think! Have you read any of these? What else should I be reading? Seriously, recommendations would be incredibly, amazingly helpful because the internet is a deep dark place… Thanks so much y’all!

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