Reflection Seven – Interview

 

Writing an interview research paper was more difficult than I had expected it to be. I had considered a few different topics, but I knew that what got me more interested in anything right at that moment (short of my drug use and abuse class in Anthropology) was this empowered confidence gained from the women that were teaching me about gender and how it matters. I had become enthusiastic and angry, and this, combined with the naiveté and optimism that I clearly cannot shake, I felt emboldened and a desire for other people to feel my frustrations. I readily assured myself that I could take on a task like this – after all, it was only last semester that Professor Clegg had taught me how to construct a research project, with a number of interview and survey techniques. This, though, would be on something that I truly cared about, so I could take my lack of experience and make up for it with competence driven by the desire to learn more. While I had recorded all of the interviews, I decided that the best way to record more of my information would be to type rapidly along with what the person was saying, pulling the most significant and empirical quotes from their speech, and decided to frame what I had put in my project down on paper by these quotes. After sorting out these quotes I began to build my paper from the ground up, finally understanding what I wanted to explore and framing the rest of my interviews to help me explore this.

I learned that it is easy to get sidetracked when you are interviewing someone, and that sometimes, an interview will take you in a direction that you were not expecting. It was hard to come back to “reality”, to steer the person back to the way you wanted the conversation to go, but more than that, I learned that the best way to get information out of someone if you knew they were holding something back was to just look at them silently. If you could do this without making them uncomfortable, they would gather their thoughts and say something, anything, just to fill in the silence that you were forcing on them. This was helpful when I was asking the men a few things about themselves that they would be a little less likely to share; a technique I had learned when interviewing the first wave of drug addicts (and one that I had picked up from my guidance counselor, who was keen to hear me when I didn’t necessarily want to divulge information to him). It was hard to attempt to keep the conversation flowing and ask the questions that would help get the answers you needed, but I tried hard not to lead the person into answering a question in a way that I would prefer them to be answered. It was rather like a direct examination in a courtroom – I would prompt the person with a question, and they would tell me the story. While it looked a little contrived and rehearsed on the outside, I’m sure, there were moments when I could not hide my surprise, which would exude on my face and cause my subject to laugh and feel more comfortable.

I’m very proud of the project that I have put together, but if I could do it over, I would probably reform my interview questions a bit, and interview more participants. While the people that I had interviewed ranged in age, I would love to get a few samples from an age in particular and compare these new moments of research (one of the women I interviewed explained what health class was like for her when she was younger, in one of the tangent moments, but a boy that I had interviewed explained how it was different for him). The topic that I wrote will always relate to me – when I had proclaimed that I would be writing on feminism, one of the boys told me, “I don’t think that’s really a thing anymore in New York City”, the “thing” being a lack of equality. It’s for reasons like that that women like me need to continue to interview and write and analyze, and this is why I am happy with my topic. It isn’t everyone’s favorite subject, but shouldn’t it be?

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