For my DIY project, I was inspired by the Pinterest set-up and culture: pinning Internet clippings onto a personal “board”. However, instead of creating my own Pinterest, I wanted to explore a more “original” version of Pinterest that involves the actual act of “pinning” a clipping—whether that be a picture, or a card—to a board. For this project I went around the Jewett Residence Hall floors and took fifty-six pictures of first-year corkboards. (With the permission of the residences). I took nine pictures in each single sex hall, and ten pictures in each co-ed floor. (For example: five girl boards, and five boy boards for Four East and Four West, both co-ed halls). This meant I had twenty-eight pictures of boards decorated by females, and twenty-eight boards decorated by men. I was interested in seeing what kinds of items Whitman first-years put on their boards. Who are the people in the pictures and how are they related? Which musical or visual artists influence them? What do the colors and the design of the board have to say?
What I found during my project is that yes, many more female residence members had a lot more pictures, colors, and “girly” aspects. The women of Jewett tended to have more arts and crafty type of items that were pinned onto the board. Further, what was interesting was most of the big posters that the first-year women hung up were of white male men. (If you look you’ll see some Bob Dylan, John F. Kennedy, a Friends poster etc…) The other larger posters included animals, or nature pictures, and if you look closely you can see Audrey Hepburn on one board.
For the first-year men of Jewett, the corkboards were not as heavily decorated, but displayed a lot of stereotypical masculine interests such as sports, hardcore science posters, action movie posters, and women. However like the women of Jewett, there were definitely exceptions and in fact, there are a handful of male corkboards that did not present themselves as “overly masculine.” (One has a couple of crafty cards dangling from it). The male corkboards were much less busy, and there was not as much color, but interestingly color was easier to see because the boards were not as busy. I saw a lot of flags, music posters, (Bob Marley is pretty popular) and maps. I think it is important to highlight that both men and women’s corkboards were, for the most part, pretty organized. The difference was the amount of stuff pinned to the boards.
As I thought about my project more and more, I decided that a corkboard is like the Pinterest board except physical. Boards are personal, and often people pin up items that express who they are, their personal opinions, (politically, musically, artistically…i.e the 2012 Obama signs) as well as the people that influence them. Looking back at the corkboards decorated by women, the creative designs gave a lot of information about the “in” styles. A number of the boards had a “hipster” vibe to them (like nature pictures, Nols stickers, crafty items), but for the most part organized, and loosely collected. Others were more “girly”. Granted, some boards were much more busier than others, and to go against the stereotype there were at least three boards that had barely anything on them.
However, I would also argue that these corkboards are like scrapbooks as well. The women of Jewett pinned special cards, memorable pictures, and clippings onto their boards. One girl’s board had everything from cards, pictures to candy wrappers. Like a scrapbook, corkboards collect memorabilia, but instead of being bounded by a spine, the “scrapboard” is open to anyone who walks into the room.
Unlike a zine, I did not see a lot of “resistance” against what was on these women’s boards, or “talk back” which why the “scrapboard” resembles a Pinterest board. Similar to a scrapbook in which, “girls and women would place cards they had collected…while allowing space for personal expression…” conveying, “a more colonizing interest in incorporating people into a commodity marketplace rather than providing a site for resisting that marketplace.” (Piepmier, 32). Most people do not “pin” images on their Pinterest (or their personal corkboards for this matter) that they resist. However, I would like to “talk back” to these corkboards and point out that despite the aesthetic look of most of these women’s boards, they are representations of status and mainstream culture. (In this case, first-year college dorm culture). Because there are so many books and sites on “how to decorate your college dorm room” there is a push to decorate your dorm room and of the women and men of the Jewett Residence Hall who did not have as many items on their boards, apologized or warned me that their board was not very interesting. Some even felt bad about it. One girl commented, “Sorry, mine kinda looks like a guy’s board.”
As a result of these comments and reactions, it proves that media influences everything from the clothes you where to how much a college student should decorate his or her dorm room and how. A dorm room corkboard should not wholly define a person; yet apparently in the Jewett Residence Hall students still feel slightly “outside” of the conventional college corkboard designs. Not only does media influence different genders on appearance, the professional fields to excel in, and something as simple as what to put on a corkboard, but also the pressure to decorate one’s board for the sake of being a) a person who has “unique” yet “common” interests like everyone else and b) to prove that your corkboard or Pinterest, or scrapbook is à la mode depending on your gender.
Cork-boards decorated by women:
Cork-boards decorated by men:
Piepmeir, Alison. “If I Didn’t Write These Things No On Else Would Either: The Feminist Legacy of Grrrl Zines and the Origin of the Third Wave.” Girl Zines: Making Media Doing Feminism. New York: New York UP, 2009. 32. Print.