We recently reconnected with Tiger, a 2014 alumna of our High School Investigative Reporting Workshop. A senior at Brookline High School, Tiger joined us in Boston to speak to NECIR supporters about the importance of investigative journalism. Tiger also spoke about her recent research paper for her Feminism in Literature class, a study of the taboo of menstruation. She drew on many of the skills she learned during her summer reporting workshop with NECIR, and shared with us her recent work, her news that she’ll be headed to NYU in the fall, and her advice for other young journalists. Check out Tiger’s important research paper, read our interview with her, and enjoy some of her stunning photography.
NECIR: Can you tell us about your recent paper for your Feminism in Literature class at Brookline HS? How did you come up with the idea? What excited you about it?
Tiger: I’m in an incredible program at BHS called School Within a School. While in the program, you have the opportunity to take very unique English and History courses. Right now I’m in Feminism in Literature and I’m loving it. We study a lot of theory and then apply it to poems, short stories, and novels, discussing and debating topics ranging from eating disorders to the color pink. No class is exactly the same, it’s the most powerful, liberating, yet frightening class I’ve ever taken. We are near the end of the course, and I can say that simple events in my life, even like walking through a grocery store, are now subject to analysis and criticism, but I think it’s for the better.
I came up with the idea for my paper after reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story “Sexy”. There is a line in the story that describes the word “sexy” as, “loving somebody you don’t know”. This ignited my constant thoughts about how women are solely performers and must conceal many traits and actions to survive patriarchy. All of a sudden I was thinking about the most common function female-bodied people must hide: menstruation. I began my research and soon learned the disheartening and shocking taboos that stain many societies around the world today. I tried to compare those extreme taboos with the stigmas we have in our own country. By the end of my research (if there ever is an end) I discovered that no matter if a woman is concealing or acknowledging her period, she is being oppressed.
NECIR: How did you go about conducting research and finding sources for the story?
Tiger: Along with several readings and films I used to research the taboo of menstruation, I conducted a survey and several interviews. My survey, which is fully explained in my paper, assessed both “menstruators” and “nonmenstruators” about their level of knowledge and comfort towards menses. The data helped me put the sentiments of high school students in perspective to the Nepali and Indian girls’ I had been researching. Along the same vein, the interviews served as juxtaposing narratives to the stories I had been hearing about women in very rural societies. Gaining multitudes of varying perspectives was my goal.
NECIR: Did anything surprise you about what you learned?
Tiger: I was quite surprised to learn about the first woman to win a court case with PMS as her defense. On the one hand, she is playing the messed up system women live in, so I am inclined to say ‘go her.’ But then I have to think about the precedent she’s setting, the loss of credibility she’s unintentionally advocating for. Every element of my research seemed to have a bit of a catch 22.
NECIR: What techniques or skills did you use for this piece that you can trace back to your summer experience with NECIR?
Tiger: The most pivotal skill I learned from the workshop that helped me write this paper was how to ask good questions. Asking good questions is the basis for all successful interviews and surveys. Seeing as interviews and surveys were two key pieces of my research, I can’t imagine what my research would look like without having learned how to ask effective questions.
NECIR: How would you describe your time in Boston on our investigative workshop?
Tiger: Extremely informative and preparative. But more importantly, I met such great people.
NECIR: What are you up to now? What’s next for you as a young journalist?
Tiger: I will graduate from BHS in June and attend NYU this fall. Still with a passion for photojournalism, I hope to let my camera lead me through New York City.
NECIR: What sort of advice do you have for those considering the training program, or for those preparing for the program?
Tiger: An open mind is all you need.