Hello, and welcome to the Fall 2012 edition of the Member Profiles section of the SARAH newsletter! In this edition, we introduce you to Emily Bonistall, at the University of Delaware.
We choose people to profile using a random number generator (really!), but if you have suggestions for DWC members or significant contributors to the field of women and crime that you would like to see profiled, please contact Venezia Michalsen at
or Alana Van Gundy at
We would enjoy hearing from you!
Until next edition,
Venezia and Alana
Emily BonistallPh.D. Candidate
University of Delaware
How did you become interested in the field of women and/or gender and crime?
My area of specialty in the field of gender and crime is victimization, and unfortunately this scholarly interest is dear to my heart. In 2005, my cousin Lindsey Bonistall was raped and murdered. Not knowing how else to channel my grief, I began to immerse myself into the gender and crime literature. The scholarship I read helped illuminate the complexities of what happened to my family, and learning about secondary victimization showed me it was not abnormal for me to fear my own safety even though I had not been personally victimized. It was at this point that I decided to devote my career to continuing to learn, research, and write on the issue of sexual violence with the hope that I can channel my passion into making a difference in the world through the disciplines of sociology and criminology. Although I will never understand what happened to my cousin, she continues to be the inspiration that guides my career goals to educating others and preventing sexual violence.
How do you define yourself as a scholar/activist/educator?
Two words describe what it means to me to be a scholar, activist and future educator: passionate purpose. The passion I have for preventing sexual violence and helping people who have been victimized (or whose loved one has been victimized) is what gives me the drive and purpose to thrive within my chosen career. As a scholar, this passion helps guide my research on gender, victimization, and violence against women. As an activist, passionate purpose leads me to feminist organizations and committees that work toward implementing research into real life situations, such as translating research about sexual violence on college campuses into programs that help educate and prevent violence on campus. As a future educator, I hope my passion will shine through in my classroom as I use the fields of Sociology, Criminology, and Women’s Studies as avenues to educating younger generations about these important topics. I believe it is my responsibility as a scholar to give voices to those who have been silenced, and to educate society on difficult topics, such as rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, and prostitution.
What are your current projects or interests?
Since my line of research can be disheartening, I do my best to find ways to have fun while moving forward with my research agenda. One of the projects that I’ve been able to do this with is my TFLN research. I, like many other people my age, was frequenting the popular social media website “Texts from Last Night” (TFLN). This website posts anonymous text messages that individuals presumably sent to their friends while they were intoxicated. The honesty and willingness to discuss socially deviant topics was fascinating to me as a scholar, and funny to me as a twenty-something woman who had just moved on from the college environment. I was able to use my sociological imagination to see how this funny website was actually a rich area of interest for scholars of deviance and culture due to the “socially deviant” topics (drinking, drugs, sex, skipping classes, driving under the influence, sexual victimization, etc). Papers I have written on TFLN have provided a scholastic overview of the website, and looked at TFLN using a Goffmanian dramaturgical approach. I will be presenting a paper at ASC 2012 which will look at gender and crime on TFLN. I hope you’ll be able to come to our panel!
Who is your favorite person (or animal!) to spend time with, and what are your favorite things to do when you are with them?
How could I pick just one person!? I am very blessed to be surrounded by so many people who make me laugh, support me, challenge me, love me, and make me a better version of myself. Whether I’m with my family, friends, or boyfriend, I love to stay active, enjoy do-it-yourself craft projects, play our family card game (I’ll teach you if you find me at a conference!), and throw impromptu themed parties. It doesn’t really matter what I’m doing as long as I’m doing it with great people.
How do you wind down after a stressful day?
After a stressful day, I like to pour a glass (or two!) of pinot grigio, put on Law and Order: SVU, and let my creative side come out. When I got to graduate school, I started painting as a way to relieve stress, but I soon found that if I painted on bulletin boards it could serve as a personalized gift (great for a grad student’s budget!). Now I’ve turned my stress-relief hobby into a little side business of personalized bulletin boards: BonBoards!
What obstacles do you feel you have overcome to be where you are today?
The obstacles that I have had to overcome are nothing compared to what other people have been through – I am very lucky in that sense (does the idea of “luck” go against everything we think as criminologists??). Life isn’t always rainbows and sunshine, but I have always been surrounded with support, love, and privilege. Without those things, I would not be where I am today.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I hope that I am remembered as living my life with passionate purpose and that through my example others are inspired to live their lives the same way. Living life passionately, and purposefully, adds intentionality and excitement to everything you do. It makes the drudgery of a task not only bearable, but worthwhile. What happened to my cousin was an unimaginable tragedy, but through that tragedy I was given this incredible gift of passionate purpose. If I could pass along that gift to someone else, to help someone else somewhere live their life with passionate purpose…. well, that would be an amazing thing.
What is one of your lifelong goals?
Professionally, I hope that all of my research can be accessible to everyone. If it weren’t for scholars who made an effort to engage in public sociology/criminology, my 17-year-old-self who just lost a loved one wouldn’t have been able to learn and find herself within the research. If the reason we engage in this type of work is to make a difference in people’s lives, then we need to make the effort to reach those people.
Personally, I want to raise the most bad-ass feminist kids ever (can I say that on here?). Oh, and I want to ride in a hot air balloon.
Is there a website where we can send people for more information about you?
Not quite yet! Creating a professional website is something I intend to do in the near future. Until then, I can be reached by email (
) if you’d like to get in touch with me!