What the F I’ve Been Reading


Listed below are some of my favorite feminist reads (mostly novels and poetry collections), lovingly labeled so because of their exploration of intersecting identities, admiration for women, and ability to emotionally affect me.

  1. White Teeth by Zadie Smith: What I liked about this book was its in-depth look into multiple characters’ minds through different generations. I personally felt like this book had a lot of feminist relevancy because of its exploration into multiple cultures and how they intertwine. Because it focuses on two families and is set in a modern-ish London (the book was published in 2001), readers get to see the perspectives of many different characters who are unique in their personalities, thoughts, and experiences. White Teeth is one of my favorites because Zadie Smith so excellently weaves the families together without anything feeling like a convenient artifice.
  2. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine: This book is a series of poems, often in prose style, that focus on the different kinds of racial aggressions experienced by black Americans. Often accompanied by startling images and pieces of art, the poems highlight the omnipresence of racism in everyday situations. Its attention to race is particularly important because of its emphasis on the need for intersectionality. The line that sticks out to me the most is “Because white men can’t/police their imagination/black men are dying.”
  3. Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang by Joyce Carol Oates: I just really like this book because it’s centered around a bunch of badass teens weaponizing their femininity in order to be independent in the 1950’s. I thought the relationships between the women in this book and how they work together to be a new kind of family was powerful, even though many problems occur because of it.
  4. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: This book is one of my absolute favorites. As a heartbreaking portrait of a family struck by tragedy, it tells the story of a Chinese American family whose oldest daughter has just been found drowned in the local lake. The way in which Ng writes allows her to flawlessly switch perspectives, detailing the family’s history and each character’s struggle with their multipole identities.
  5. Jane: A Murder by Maggie Nelson: This is a hybrid poetry/prose/diary book that explores the murder of the author’s aunt in 1969 Ann Arbor. While the topic is a brutal one, the feeling that pervades the book is one of important woman-ness and the love between women and family members.
  6. A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar: This is another amazing book that explores sexuality, religion, and the intersection of identity. It’s a great “coming of age story” that follows Nidali, who is born to an Egyptian-Greek mother and Palestinian father, as she moves from Kuwait to Egypt to America and discovers herself along the way. While it has some heavy topics spread throughout, its tone is lighthearted, which is a combination that makes it difficult to put down.
  7. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf: A classic feminist manifesto. Goodreads describes the essay as “noted in its argument for both a literal and figural space for women writers within a literary tradition dominated by patriarchy.” Originally published in 1929, it discusses how women have been systematically excluded from writing spaces because they were denied the same educational exposure as men.
  8. Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter by J. Nozipo Maraire: This novel, written in the form of letters, feels steeped in the love between a mother and daughter across time. The chapters focus on different things ranging from gender inequality to colonialism and Zimbabwean freedom fighters to relationships within the family. The author is able to weave present-written letters with stories of the past and wrap them up as small lessons or anecdotes that are still relevant even though this book was written over twenty years ago.

Miranda Hency

Blog Editor, What the F Magazine


13 Badass, Fictional Women of 2013

2013 has been an hot year for women in the media.  From Beyoncé, to Jennifer Lawrence, to Hilary Clinton, the buzz was never ending when it came to female powerhouses.  Check out some of our favorite femme fatales of the year from the silver screen: 13 badass, fictional women of MMXIII.

  1. Michonne, The Walking Dead

Michonne slashes Walkers as if they’re a piece of cake. She’s the only woman on TWD who has yet to have a love interest, too. Michonne’s number one priority is taking care of herself, but she’s fiercely loyal to her own, and doesn’t let any guys fuck with her. If I had to pick anyone to survive a zombie apocalypse with, it’d be Michonne.

  1. Skyler White, Breaking Bad

A lot of people had a problem with Skyler, and I think it’s mainly because she didn’t praise Walt for being the meth extraordinaire that he was. Instead, she protected her children from him. Because, let’s face it: even though we were rooting for him, he was a disaster. Skyler chose to protect her kids, which makes her a badass, not a passive housewife.

  1. Sophia, OITNB

PRAISE BE TO SOPHIA. She fixes hair and she counsels Piper, who seriously needs it. Sophia is the perfect mixture of strength and genuineness. She’s also a commendable representation of a transgender woman, whose story line isn’t muddled down by her sexuality, but rather, enhanced by it. Sophia was one of my favorite characters on OITNB because I felt like her storyline was the most unique and honest.

  1. Katniss Everdeen, Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Sure, she’s in a love triangle, but that’s not her only sole purpose in life (Bella Swan, I’m looking at you). Katniss’s number one priority is protecting her family and her hometown. Not only does she battle twenty-three other tributes, but she also battles a corrupt government. Much more impressive than battling sadness because her boyfriend left her for a few months (again, Bella, I’m looking at you).

  1. Queenie, AHS: Coven

Queenie doesn’t take anyone’s shit. She knows what she’s capable of and doesn’t let anyone walk all over her. Plus, being a human voodoo doll helps. Queenie is a badass witch who is confident in herself, which makes her not only beautiful, but a role model by every standard.

  1. Donna Meagle, Parks & Rec.

She’s sassy, sure of herself, and smarter than 90% of the people in the world. She knows how to get work done, but she also knows how to treat herself and relax. Donna is real, and Donna is loyal. She can roll with the political elites, but she also knows how to remain true to herself.

  1. Lady Sif, Thor 2

She can wield a weapon better than arguably all of Asgard and she’s not afraid to show it. Lady Sif should be the role model for every child everywhere. Thor is great and all, but we all know who the real hero is.

  1. Olivia Pope, Scandal

Olivia Pope is one of my favorite TV characters to date. She can take care of any problem, and she’s one of the most complex characters on prime time television. Also, it’s Kerry Washington.  Everyone loves Kerry Washington.

  1. Hit Girl, Kick ass 2

The movie may be called Kick Ass, but it’s Hit Girl who really steals the show. She kicks ass and takes no names. Hit Girl can fight her way out of anything and isn’t scared of what the universe throws at her.

  1. Tara Thornton, True Blood

Just try to tell Tara what to do. She will rip you apart—and not just because she’s a vampire. Tara’s no doormat, she doesn’t need anyone validate her.

  1. Arya Stark, Game of Thrones

Arya was a badass from the beginning of the series, but her existence gets more and more badass by the episode. She’s not spooked by anyone (or thing) and she’s sure as hell not scared of the gender norms of her day. She knows who she is, and it’s not someone’s wife.

  1. Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones

ALL HAIL THE MOTHER OF DRAGONS. Daenerys may start off by being a meek young bride, but she grows into being one of the fiercest rulers of her people. She doesn’t let men walk all over her—instead, she shows them who really runs things. Daenerys doesn’t rely on a man to get her anywhere.

  1. Brandy Klark, The To Do List

Thank GOD for this movie. It’s the first time a girl has lost her virginity in a movie without FALLING IN LOVE with the guy. Plus it asserts that virginity isn’t this huge deal that society makes it out to be. We aren’t magical unicorns if we’re virgins. And we aren’t sluts if we chose to lose it. It’s really just ‘no big deal’.


Hannah Gordon
University of Michigan
Creative Writing Fiction