The Research Interview

If you’ve landed on this page, either:

a) you received a Telefeminism card, also known as a “Card of Awesomeness.”

b) someone referred you here. Welcome!

c) you were curious. And hey, if you read this page and think to yourself, “I am exactly who they should be interviewing,” contact us!

You probably have some questions. Let us try to answer them.

I didn’t get a card, I got a weird tiny television.

It’s the same thing, except we a) ran out of regular cards, b) thought you were the sort of person who would enjoy quirky stuff, or c) were so desperate to get in touch that we wanted to give you something you’d poke your hand on whenever you reached in your pocket. Sorry about the poking, by the way. We were just really excited.

Why do you want to interview me?

We’re interested in interviewing people whose perspectives we want to include in our research: writers, directors, actors/actresses, showrunners, costumers, production assistants, the intern responsible for the cast and crew’s Starbucks orders, etc. The unifying factor is that their point of view is important to understanding how women are represented on television, because the culture behind the scenes almost certainly impacts the stories we see onscreen. By understanding your point of view, we can help the public better understand and engage in our mission: ending sexism on television and in the industry.

What do you mean by “sexism on television” – and are you sure it’s really there?

Sexism might be overt or subtle, intentional or simply the product of the attitudes that are ingrained in our society. Either way, it’s definitely there.

One way the Telefeminism Project plans to prove that point is by providing statistical evidence. You can find out more about how on the methodology page, but the gist is that we’re analyzing thousands of episodes of television and scoring them on whether (and how well) they pass the Bechdel Test, the Mako Mori Test, and the Inverse Bechdel Test. Then we can use statistics to present the facts. It’s a lot harder to argue with numbers than with observations, because there’s less subjectivity.

Check out the background page to learn about some of the research that’s already been done on the subject.

This is an elaborate scheme to hang out with famous people, isn’t it?

You’ve caught us.

Just kidding. No, we’re not just randomly trying to talk to famous people. While we are interested in talking to people whose work we’re familiar with and who we find awesome (see: card of awesomeness), it’s not just a wish list of names for the sake of gratification. That said, it does help to have big names when it comes to getting the public to pay attention. We’re not interested in winning any prizes or gaining notoriety, but we want to involve as many people in the conversation as we can, and obviously, some people have a big audience who want to hear what they have to say.

What does an interview entail?

We mean a research interview. One of the goals of the project is to produce a book, part of which will include observations and quotes from these interviews. We’d love to be able to put a few quotes or short videos online to move the conversation and engage audiences, but only with explicit permission.

This is not a journalism project. We do not want to get you to talk about things you’re uncomfortable with in order to get a good story out of it and we don’t want to ruin anyone’s life by finding dirt. These interviews are about building our understanding of how the television industry works and what influences the way in which women are portrayed. Anything we use in a book, video, or wherever else is subject to final approval. From you. A thousand journalism professors are crying somewhere, but we’re fundamentally opposed to getting places by stepping on other people and we consider having your input a privilege that shouldn’t be abused. All of this is within reason, obviously – we can’t alter a quote after the fact and we definitely can’t alter conclusions made based on our research.

In-person interviews are obviously ideal, but since that’s not always possible, we’re flexible. The project is based in New York City, so if you live here (or are within driving/train distance), we can work around your schedule, for the most part (this project doesn’t produce any profits, so there’s the whole day job thing).

If you live on the West Coast or overseas, we’d ideally like to arrange something when you’ll be in NYC, which – why wouldn’t you? It’s a wonderful city. But if you happen to be allergic to good bagels or have recurring nightmares about pizza rat, we’ll try to make our way to you. Otherwise, we can set something up via Skype.

While we would love to treat you to a fancy meal and a bottle of expensive wine during the interview, this is a not-for-profit and completely unfunded project, so hopefully that’s not a dealbreaker. We are glad to spring for coffee and a scone or for a mediocre glass of wine and a plate of parmesan-truffle fries, though.

Oh, and we’ll bring cupcakes. This project runs primarily on cupcake power.

I’m in. How do I set it up?

Through the email address on the card or, if you prefer, by Twitter DM. That’s and @telefeminism in case you forget.

If you have people to set things up, have them get in touch the same way. We do not have people. We attempted to have a cat in charge of scheduling once but it went poorly.

One last question. When you say “we” and “us,” who is that?

We are an amorphous concentrate of feminism and awesomeness. With a jaunty hat. Thank you for asking.

For your convenience, we take human form for interviews.


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