Although I personally do not have parents that are divorced, I have witnessed first hand the struggles of a divorce through my aunt and cousin. About a year or two ago, my aunt and cousin had been living with me and my immediate family. My aunt has become sort of a second mom to me and my cousin was and still is practically my sister. They lived with us, loved us, and shared their struggles with us. It had been a hard year for my aunt, she had been struggling with the arduous task of divorcing her abusive now ex husband. I had witnessed the late nights she had spent crying about the fear of losing her daughter, the countless times my uncle tried taking my cousin away, and the realization that she would have to move out of state in order to gain full custody. Even though I did not get to see into the personal paperwork and talk to social workers like they did, it still really opened my eyes to one of the greatest struggles many people face when going through divorce. Not only was it hard on my aunt, it was hard on my cousin. As well as this sparking a passion to look into this injustice, I also knew from the beginning that I wanted to focus on gender inequalities. Gender equality, feminism, and unconscious bias are all things that really interest me and have ever since I realized that world isn't all gumdrops and rainbows. In my own personal research into feminism and equality, there was something wrong that I continuously noticed throughout each argument. Bias and inequalities of men had been pushed to the side as a lower priority. While yes, I agree that women face more gender bias in society than men and are definitely a majority minority, I still see countless examples of men being discriminated, judged unfairly and stereotyped. This is truly what made me want to focus on one of the biggest biases against men, the divorce bias.
The only thing about this project that I feel kind of set me at a future disadvantage to others is that I didn't do it about my senior project. I wanted to explore a different topic that I am passionate about, that topic being gender, and I also felt like if I were to do this about my senior project, I would feel very burnt out by next semester. However, this does not mean my proposal did not show some strengths I would like to bring into my senior project. Of course my proposal revolved around changing the minds of people and changing societal norms; this is something I would like to achieve within my senior project as well. I would like to change the way people view reptiles and change the way they are treated. I also included an art and literature element that I would also like to use in my senior project.
The biggest thing that I have learned throughout this project is that applying yourself can go a long way. By simply putting in a little bit of time each day to get some more research, you will have lots of sources and evidence to use. SOmething else that I have found is that by researching something you are passionate about, you are way more likely to actually do that work and have more in depth thinking about the topic. I believe this project aided my senior project by giving me the inspiration to do research on my own time. I actually find it very fun to do research papers, especially when I have the freedom to choose what I am looking into. This project also helped me by outlining how to find a realistic approach to solving a worldly problem. I always getting stressed out when thinking of my senior project due to the fact that I am not sure how to convert it into an action project. However, this way of researching and outlining how to solve a worldly problem really gave me some ideas as to what I can do.
I believe the most valuable thing that I got out of this project would be the deeper understanding of unconscious bias in society. I had known a little about this, from either TED talks we watched in class and just the feminist knowledge I have; however, this project almost gave me an excuse to find out more about this bias that all people have. Unconscious bias is a form of bias that a society has against a certain group or person, whether they know it or not. It is a bias that is formed by social constructs and patriarchies. Unconscious bias radiates as something small, but can really send waves that create monumental changes in the way a society runs. These said biases can even affect things such as divorce, creeping their way into our courtrooms.
The only thing that I feel like I left out of this project that could have potentially enhanced it was a real life story/stories of a man being discriminated upon in a divorce situation. Yes I did include examples and accounts of these situations, but I left out a real life story from a first hand person that experienced this. If I were to add anything to my cover letter now it would be a real life case of a man being mistreated by the court system; either through overwhelming child support payments, unfair child custody, his partner using the child as a weapon to hurt him, or of the mother abusing the system. I feel as if this would have enhanced the message I was trying to push.