This reflection will be following an unusual format as I will be talking in separate blocks tackling each topic separately as this was done over multiple days so thoughts might not be cohesive therefore the blocks format. I will be reflecting on the article “Design Justice: towards an intersectional feminist framework for design theory and practice” by Sasha Costanza. Here is a link if you want to read the article: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3189696
The design justice premises presented at the very start of the article constituted a set of rules that I personally find both appealing and repelling. The rules were meant to serve the community prioritizing the people over the designers, however many of these flaws are done by the people, the people are the ones who made google associate pornography with ethnicity plus girls. I will discuss this further on during the reflection.
“Patricia Hill Collins calls the matrix of domination: white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, capitalism, and settler colonialism” a quote taken from the article directly and it feels to be a bit over dramatic if its tackling the current era, however it was said in 2002 which was accurate at the time. More on that later.
First, I will discuss the concept of intersectionality, which is basically a term given to something most of us agree on even without knowing it yet. The term is given to the occurrence of multiple identities at the same time, for example, if Person A is a woman that’s identity one and if she is black that’s identity 2, she is now a black woman which is the intersection of her identity. The author mentioned the interlocking of everything and how one cannot act independent off the other which is something I totally agree with, however, shouldn’t it be independent? The fact that I am black, a Muslim, a woman or even a purple troll shouldn’t factor in the way people treat me or to the rights that are supposed to be given to me like everyone. The author talked about some real examples, but they were mostly outdated, that sort of discrimination isn’t common now. When it comes to Egypt though, that sort of discrimination where you get judged for a multitude of things is very common, for example how they treat maids because they are black versus how they treat them when they are white, how people treat veiled women versus unveiled women.
In the next part, labelled the matrix of domination we know that said matrix isn’t very different from intersectionality, however, it is not as common as it was before. The author said that structure of oppression is pillared by race, class and gender and I see that they are absolutely crucial but we should add religion to it if we are going to talk about Egypt as Egypt tends to be harsh on veiled girls in the higher classes and harsh on unveiled in the lower classes which is a chaotic environment, a country taken as a slave to its own hypocrisy and aggression towards people who are not sharing identical beliefs. The author of black feminist said in her book and I quote “People experience and resist oppression on three levels: the level of personal biography; the group or community level of the cultural context created by race, class, and gender; and the systemic level of social institutions. Black feminist thought emphasizes all three levels as sites of domination and as potential sites of resistance” which I totally agree with and the author continues to give example for each level of oppression. I will use these levels of oppression and instead of giving the examples the author gave, I will use examples from Egypt. For the personal level it won’t differ much from anywhere however we see many people not comfortable with who they are due to the social standards like homosexuals and transsexuals. The community level is obvious, for example veiled girls are not allowed into most clubs/bars, some restaurants and even some beaches which is not rules done by the government it done by the community. As for the government institutes its pretty easy, till now you need a man to give permission for the women to get married and I think till recently, women needed men to produce documents to go to Saudi as a mehrem.
While I totally agree with the tentative definition of the design justice and the aspects it contains, I have a few concerns of my own. Two of the rules in the design justice of networks are as follows and I’m quoting from the article ”we center the voices of those who are directly impacted by the outcomes of the design process”, while distributive goals are emphasized in the third ”we prioritize design’s impact on the community over the intentions of the designer”. This might lead some designers to lose passion as we sideline them into making not what they want, but what they are required to do, both will yield products but not of the same quality. Also, if we center someone, we are benching the others so we can’t center a group over the others, and we should try our best to make every single voice heard.
Next I will talk about design and designers, and a quote really caught my eyes “Design is something far more pervasive and profound than is generally recognized by designers, cultural theorists, philosophers or lay persons; designing is fundamental to being human — we design, that is to say, we deliberate, plan and scheme in ways which prefigure our actions and makings […] we design our world, while our world acts back on us and designs us.” Reading this section forward is summarized into one single set of stats, which is that women hold 25% percent of all programming jobs 3% of them are black women and 1 % for other than white ethnicities which means 21 % of the women working are white which might be the reason why when you search white girls you don’t get pornography as mentioned by the woman we watched her video in class( I can’t remember her name). This should be 50 % women and almost equal ethnicities inside however this is not a problem of the employers as it is a problem in the community that provides the obstacles for these women to pursuit their passions in programming and engineering which causes the selection pool for the company to be significantly less. As for the users it is a very good idea that the rules stated at the start included this “We share design knowledge and tools with our communities.” Which I believe will make the users part of the design team with their constant feedback and knowing how the algorithm works is a major plus as they will be able to avoid any conditioning to the software that will produce horrific results. However, we should not trust the good in people for that to be done, designers must install safety measures to block such discriminative behaviors.
To be honest, the article is a very good read however I did not learn many new things but it corrected my understandings of some things which is good, as I am a person who is not really involved in the humanities sector while deeply interested into the tech side. Nothing will be done that can fix this problem immediately, it is a matter of trial and error over time which needs patience and tolerance from all involved parties and even then, people need to realize that nothing can be perfect and everything will have some errors as we are not gods but mere humans creating for humans.