“What is your gender?” This is a question that can easily be answered by some but not by others. Our Dots is a book filled with illustration of lines and dots and interview from people with diverse genders including cisgender, agender, bigender, transgender and more to break the dichotomous way of thinking regarding gender. The book easily conveys and help readers to understand and respect the existence of other genders.
The book introduces different genders through the voices of diverse participants via questionnaires distributed on SNS with the question “What is your gender?” For a month, lots of answers starting from one word to a full page explanation of their genders were collected, leading to an interview with several respondents for illustration. Since the book is composed of interviews and illustrations, it is easier to read and the book was also used as a reference for “Information package for introducing genders” by Human Rights and Legislation Community Do Learn Do Run.
“I always thought feminism is the way to free the stereotypes that are already set to specific genders and help me be who I really am,” said Park Chae-rin, the illustrator of Our Dot who is also a student of Ewha.
“However I was very shocked when I saw some who call themselves as feminists deny and erase other genders that do not belong to the category of either man or woman. That is how I came up with the idea of creating the book, to help them realize other types of genders and accept as the way they are.”
Park wanted to use “dots” which are similar with points as used to describe parts and components when she was making a title for the book. As a student majoring in the Division of Fine Arts, she was able to easily connect the idea with the dots which can stay itself as a dot, combine to create a line or to extend and make a side. This property of dots can be applied to the gender because it is one of the points that explains individuals and can be combined to represent a person. Park explained that gender could be a dot or dot stretched to make a side.
The book consists of illustrations of the participants and explanation of their gender to the question “What is your gender?” However, these are separated in different pages so that readers can deeply think about one at a time. Interviews are written in first person point of view which makes it easier for the readers to understand.
However, as a student, Park had to face some difficulties in the process of publishing the book. She was not aware of the publishing process and had a hard time taking care of the whole process from recruiting the participants, interviewing and illustrating all by herself. Later, she decided to take time off from school to focus fully on publishing the book. Receiving funds from others was a hope for her since she was not able to manage huge money for the publishment. Due to the support of about 90 people at last, the book was published on Jan. 2018.
“My project ended as I have published the book. I have sent the books to all the supporters. The book Our Dots can be currently found in some independent bookstores like Helloindiebooks and Storagebookandfilm,” Park said. She also added that the book can be sent through delivery for people who cannot visit those stores.
Park recalled an interview with one of the participants. The participant said that “Gender for me, is the way of recognizing myself.” She said that book contains of several thinking of interviewees of other questions as well such as connection between gender and feminism.
“Through reading this book, I hope readers could acknowledge their narrowed perspective of gender stereotypes and widen their understanding of others. The most important thing is not to negate the existence of others even if you are different from them.”