Writing 220: Repurposing – Janine Kerr

Hey y’all!

Unfortunately, due to the fact that I am a science major, I’ve had very limited opportunity to do much writing here at U of M (part of the reason why I decided to do the MiW!). Last semester I took Intro to Public Health and was given a paper assignment based on a controversial public health issue (we had a few to choose from). As I read through the options my heart leapt from my chest! Finally I was presented with a topic I truly felt passionate about! Not so. I selected the controversial decision by the FDA to ban MSM (men who have sex with men) from donating blood for a full year after their last sexual encounter with another man, a ban that previously prevented them from giving blood entirely. I was more excited to write that paper than any paper I had ever been presented with until I realized it was a research paper. It was not meant to be argumentative in any way; I simply had to present the cold, hard facts and keep my writing devoid of any and all personal bias/opinions. (I mentioned this in class- I had to scrap the entire first draft because it was so obvious how I felt on the topic).

I want to repurpose this paper in a way that I can use the passion I feel instead of trying to remove the passion from it. I will concede that because it was a research paper I did learn an incredible amount on the topic, which, if anything, only served to make me want to write my argument that much more. (We live in Ann Arbor guys, we’re all progressive. To put it bluntly, I think the FDA ban is stupid). In repurposing this paper I want to turn it into a sort of argument against the necessity of the FDA ban; how outdated it is both medically and culturally and how it now has negative impacts rather than postive. However, I don’t really want it to turn into your classic academic argument paper; I’m hoping to bring a little more humanity to it, make it something that could theoretically reach an audience outside scholars or students (perhaps people of the MSM community?).  I think the cold, hard medical facts behind why the ban doesn’t need to exist need to be in the paper, but I’m also thinking about adding a “cultural snapshot” aspect, if you will. A look into how the blood ban has impacted the MSM community of today, an attempt to encapsulate the emotional side behind the ban. Using articles written after the Orlando nightclub shooting might come in handy, as well as art projects protesting the ban, etc. I’m not entirely sure what the technical “form” of this paper will be, so maybe that’s where you guys can help me out

Any and all thoughts GREATLY appreciated, I need your brains.

– Janine (J9)

4 thoughts to “Writing 220: Repurposing – Janine Kerr”

  1. Hi Janine,

    I love your passion behind this idea, and I’m excited to hear you express it.

    A suggestion I have is to keep the focus on the “cultural snapshot” and emotional aspects, even more so than what you expressed. I agree that you should include facts to back up what you are saying. However, if there are too many facts and it feels like lecturing, people who came in disagreeing will leave quickly. The more your writing is tied to real people, the more emotionally gripping this will be and the greater chance you will be able to reach those who disagree, even if just for a minute more. Plus, these personal stories humanize the topic for everyone. It will make the piece more memorable, even for the people who already agree with you.


  2. Hi Janine,

    I like the topic of this paper because I haven’t heard this issue discussed much. That being said, I think it would be important for you to make a clear, argumentative case that is also devoid of degradation of people who may disagree. I mentioned this in comments on other classmates’ posts, but though Ann Arbor is fairly progressive, not all your readers will be. Similarly, counterarguments will probably be an essential part of completing your argument. While you can and should highlight the humanitarian side of the issue if you want, I think you should also be sure to address the reasons why people who are against MSM giving blood are sufficiently addressed. If you were to write a paper relying entirely on the human emotion behind the issue and overlook the scientific arguments that your opposition is making, it may harm your credibility. However, I think that if you are sure to include counterarguments to your opposition’s stances, you could create an alluring piece. I would also suggest adding a personal testimony if you are acquainted with anyone from the MSM community.

  3. Hello Janine –

    I think that you have a great idea and plenty of ways you can go with it. As you pointed out, really the only thing you have to do is choose what form you want the paper to take. I could see you writing a powerful persuasive piece explaining why this ban is ridiculous and how rules need to be changed. You could also go in depth talking about the ways this ban affects the MSM community on an individual level, including the mindset and stigma that surrounds the community and this issue. Choosing your audience is definitely a key, even though I know it can be difficult. I think that you could write to many different groups, but it would be important to choose one group as to avoid being to general in your purpose. I could see an organizing article written to the MSM community as a call to action, or a persuasive paper written to the people of the FDA (I am not too familiar with this issue or how the system works, so I am confident that you can come up with better audiences than the two I just did).

    Also, I must apologize for responding so late, but I hope this may have helped a little!

    Thanks for sharing!
    – Justin

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