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University of Michigan

April 2018

WHAT THE F Your Irregular Periodical Issue 14

Staff Molly Munsell Paige Wilson Natalie Brennan Lia Baldori Stina Perkins Anna Herscher Claire Abdo Emily Cutting Lindsay Calka Srishti Gupta Chase Chapman Adrianna Kusmierczyk Alexandra Niforos Emily Spilman Sophia Jacobs Caylin Luebeck Katie Slajus Sadie Quinn

Co-President Co-President Editor in Chief Assistant Editor Assistant Editor Assistant Art Director Design Manager Assistant Design Manager Assistant Design Manager Assistant Design Manager Finance Director Social Media Coordinator Asisstant Social Media Coordinator Campus Coordinator Event Coordinator Event Coordinator Event Coordinator Blog Editor

What the F is a non-partisan, non-profit publication operated by students at the University of Michigan. What the F’s purpose is to encourage discussion on significant issues of campus, national, and world interest. The magazine, the executive board, and our sponsors do not endorse the ideas presented by the writers. We do, however, support and encourage different ideas into our community and into campus discussion.

Staff Columnists: Sabrina Deutsch, Ilina Krishen, Ally Owens, Maya Reyes, & Bhavya Sukhavasi Staff Artists: Thomas Callahan, Destiny Franks, Elizabeth Feldbruegge, Kate Johnson, & Maggie McConnell

All writings are real, found in bathrooms on campus, because sometimes we just need to talk to each other.

April 2018 Your Irregular Periodical Issue 14


01 02 04 05 06 08

Letter from the Editor Sh*t I’m Afraid to Ask My Doctor 10 Ways To Know You’re a Self-Saboteur Your Body Is Political Me Too Pits

09 11 13 14 16 18 19 20 22 24 27

Voices From the Shadows: Part 3 The Tour Guides Lied to Us: Part 3 Portrait of the Beginning/Ending Stand Alone Art Piece What is a Sister Around/About My Body Stand Alone Art Piece Neurotypical Locations The First Time Stand Alone Art Piece

Keep the conversation going online! Visit our website at Like our Facebook page at Follow us on Twitter @WhatTheFMag and on Instagram @ WhatTheFMagazine Find our Tumblr at

Sources and Sponsors

Letter from the Editor

Welcome to What The F, your feminist periodical! Issue 14 is deeply committed to the experiences of the personal. This issue asks you to read “you” and transform it into “I” all in the hopes of building a stronger “we.” This is the last issue of the school year, and simultaneously, my last issue as What the F Editor in Chief. I have been thinking deeply about what brought me to this publication. About the use of the personal. What the F strives to bring a collection of different voices together to, to provide a platform, to give space. A space where you can fuck with syntax. A space where you can write “fuck.” There is power in this freedom. There is power in this freedom. This issue, I pushed our writers not to write the story they think they should write, but the story that was already writing itself. I am most moved by the type of writing that blends the personal with observations on the abstract, the constructed, the present, the larger. I think of the work of Roxane Gay. Maggie Nelson. James Baldwin. Joan Didion. Durga Chew-Bose. These writers let you into the nuances of their own vulnerability. We are taught that this style of writing is the end goal. That if you make it through x, then you can finally write about y. The x being ever unclear, the y being yourself. When I think about my time at What the F, I am full of gratitude for everyone who rewrote that equation. This organization cares deeply about Empathy. About human

connection. About the type of writing and artwork that channels the chaos. And so, for this last issue, for my last issue, I could not be more proud of a collection of work all focussed on the “I.” Last year, our former Editor in Chief signed off “Thank you What the F for allowing me to edit these little protests.” It’s been an honor to help continue these rallies; I hope to see them grow and grow. I hope your “I” turns into a resist; I hope your “I” feels powerful; I hope you choose to one day write your “I”’s down here. It is such a powerful space to explore your “I”. In committed solidarity,

Natalie Brennan, Editor in Chief


Sh*t I’m Afraid to Ask My Doctor by Sabrina Deutsch Why Do They Ask Me That? First, to dispel a bit of hypocrisy—human error, we’re all a little hypocritical. So I’m going to begin this article with a contradiction that should go without saying: there is no question you should be afraid to ask your doctor. So if you ever find yourself sitting in the doctor’s office, biting your lip to keep from saying “honestly, I think it’s a sex-related injury,” spare yourself the anxiety. Not only is being open with your doctor often an empowering moment of taking agency over your health, it also helps your doctor treat you appropriately. Though What the F’s standard Sh*it I’m Afraid to Ask My Doctor usually focuses on a question we ask so you don’t have to, we’ve decided to flip the script. Here is some clarification on why your doctor asks you some of the things you maybe cringe over. Or lie about. Ideally, your doctors should be creating an environment where you feel open and honest to ask and answer as you please. If not, hopefully this information alleviates some of that tension. Why do they ask about my drug and alcohol use? Many pediatricians will start asking kids if they’ve had any experience with drugs and alcohol when they hit their pre-teen years. And for many kids, this question sends the blood rushing out of their faces, making them feel as if they’ve been accused of a crime they don’t remember committing. There’s a reason they start asking before they would ever expect to get a “yes.” Part of this comes down to checking up on your home environment: making sure that your guardians aren’t giving you access to substances, unwittingly or otherwise. Another reason is that for those who struggle with substance abuse, experimentation tends to start young. One of the most important reasons, however, is that drugs and alcohol can interact negatively with certain medications you may be taking. The trouble is, doctors tend to start asking these questions when parents are still present in the examination room, and it turns us into liars. So, when you’re finally flying solo you may find yourself with a lie on the tip of your tongue (or point of your pen, if you’re filling out that survey at UHS) when asked to report how much you drink, how often, and if it’s ever gotten you into trouble. This may be easier said than done—I know because I’ve had that moment of hesitation myself, that moment of wondering if they really need to know about that one time things got a little out of hand—but just tell the truth. The reality is, we think we know ourselves better than we do. For many people, especially the invincible teen and young-adult populations, this means overestimating our ability to recognize a problem and confront it. By answering your doctor’s questions honestly, you may find that there are indications of a potential problem that you didn’t even recognize were there. This is so important, because the key to preventing substance abuse issues is early intervention. Why do they ask how many hours I sleep on average? I often find myself at a loss for an answer when I come across this question on patient surveys. And there’s a certain irony in feeling unable to report how many hours you sleep, something so fundamental to our health. For me, this is often a reminder that I’ve been out of touch with my body and, as someone who struggles with anxiety-induced insomnia, it’s so important to keep track of how many hours I’ve actually been able to sleep. Sleeping too much or too little can indicate a huge range of possible health complications, both mental and physical. So, consider keeping a log of how many hours you’ve slept each night, along with any stressors you may have been experiencing on those nights where you slept too little or found yourself struggling to get out of bed. You may be surprised to find a pattern that a lapse in mindfulness allowed you to overlook.


Why do they ask about the symptoms of depression instead of just asking me if I’m depressed? There’s a trend here: asking seemingly circuitous questions to potentially identify a warning sign you didn’t even know was there. Sometimes, taking away the stigma behind different health concerns can help doctors better evaluate what is actually going on. If you can answer without any preconceived notions, you’re less likely to vary your answers. You may find yourself (that is, if you’re following our first rule and reporting honestly), ticking off more red-flag boxes than you would have expected. And that’s okay! They ask so that if there is a concern, they can equip you with any tools and resources you may need. After all, all of these questions are only to help. Why do they ask how many partners I’ve had? You might have seen that horrifying video that explains how, from a health standpoint, when you sleep with someone, you’re really sleeping with their previous partners, and their previous partners’ partners, and so forth. It’s extreme, but the sentiment isn’t entirely off-base. A health professional should never slut-shame you, but knowing that you’ll be accountable to someone might make you think twice before making a potentially risky decision. So, there’s some element of psychology here, and then, of course, the ever-important matter of testing. No need to preach here, but you should always make it a priority to ask your partners about their STI/STD history before engaging in any sexual activity. Mistakes happen, though. Even when you are diligent about asking, let’s just give people the benefit of the doubt here and say that they don’t always know their status (or they may think they do and accidentally misreport). As a general rule, you should be tested annually. Certain demographics, like people with penises who have sex with other people with penises, are recommended to get tested every 3-6 months when not in monogamous relationships. Go forth, have sex—or don’t! But know then when your doctor asks how many partners you’ve had, they should be asking as an educated cheerleader, not as a judge. Bonus Question: Are the condoms really free? YES! Grab them by the fistfuls unabashedly, or wait until that torturous 3-35 minute period between when the intake nurse leaves and the doctor appears from behind the curtain, to stuff your pockets full of them. Just remember to mind the expiration dates and never be afraid to go back for more! If you’re at UHS, then these are your tuition dollars at work.


10 Ways To Know You’re a Self-Saboteur by Anonymous


here has been a lot on my mind lately. The usual—school, family drama, friend drama, a little bit in between, nothing out of the ordinary. But then I started seeing this guy, Blake*.

Blake is really cool. He treats me well, cares about the world, and I’m attracted to him. He also doesn’t flake on our plans and respects my time, which makes me think he’s a good person. And when we do things together, I always have fun. But despite all of these “good” qualities, from time to time I find myself fighting an inner voice to stop seeing him. I’ve done a lot of work in order to learn my boundaries. To commit myself to only accepting what I deserve. To only scout out relationships that are worth my time. Not necessarily capital S serious relationships, but respectful ones. In theory, all I really want is someone to explore Ann Arbor and Detroit with, make dramafree memories with, and laugh with. A lot. Enter Me 2.0. Someone completely different, who is rejecting a person who has nothing wrong with him. He checks off all my self-constructed boxes: we plan to go to local concerts, abstract art museums, and explore nature when the weather lightens up—all things I want to experience in good company. And good company he is. Blake is a genuinely interesting person who makes me want to learn more about him. He has proven himself to pay attention to me fully: emotionally, mentally, physically. He is a feminist, and even better, he would be really comfortable and confident in me referring to him in that way. To recap: respects me, likes art, believes in equality. Check, Check, Check. Which leads me then to believe that I, not him, am the problem. Thanks to a continuous loop of thoughts parading around in my noggin, I blame a couple of reasons for my inability to calm the fuck down. One explanation is that I’m not ready to be in a relationship right now. I don’t want someone to get in the way of accomplishing my dreams. I’m not sure where I see my life going. But Blake and I haven’t even talked about commitment yet and he has not put any pressure on me at all. And independent of Blake, my past has shown that I have the confidence and strength to stay true to my convictions in the face of temptation. Which then brings to reason number 2: he’s just not the right person for me. When this thought pops into my head, it then trails off to a full analysis of my ex-boyfriend and the comfort of familiarity we shared. My last relationship was very serious and, in my opinion, it ended too soon. But it’s been a over a year since that end, and before meeting Blake I hadn’t really thought about my ex at all. Besides, I don’t even know Blake well enough to accurately assert he isn’t the right person, and none of the evidence lines up. He hasn’t done anything to make me believe this thought. Maybe the point that holds up the strongest is that he’s graduating. We probably won’t see each other again after May. This scares me more than I thought it would. I see the potential hurt I could go through. My inability to not see this relationship as impermanent makes me not want to be open at all. I extend my care for him in only a casual way. And, to maintain casualness, I also have to maintain emotional distance Excuse me, “Fearful and Doubtful” me, where is the “Take It As It Comes” and “Go Out and Get It” me? Where’s the “Live In The Moment” me, who preached to a friend to never throw away


something because you’re scared of what it could bring. Why have my mantras changed now that I am the subject? As women, we are taught to look out for toxic men. How many pop songs have you listened to about your man cheating at the club? How many Cosmo spreads with the title “10 Ways To Know You’re Being Used”? For the first time, I’m realizing that what I actually need to pay attention to is myself. The type of attention I’ve neglected because I’ve spent too much time fighting uphill battles with men. Have I become jaded? Have I let go of my idealism? Maybe my idealism is what made my love so sweet in the past, and shouldn’t be something I let go. An idealism that was soft and giving, but also strong and sturdy—grounding me in who I was. Maybe it is a tendency of women to doubt what we deserve when we obtain it because society tells us we can’t have what we deserve without consequence. I find myself searching for excuses not to spend time with Blake, when really I should just give him a fair chance to meet my expectations instead of analyzing everything about us. And maybe these insidious tendencies are so ingrained in women that they aren’t only present in relationships but also in other aspects of life, accounting for why we may not seize career opportunities when they arise or engage in gender-defying behavior to construct the life we want. It’s not because we aren’t smart, strong, or savvy enough, it’s because history has shown that things do not usually work in our favor, so we begin to feel beat down. But, instead of shying away from conflict, we need to confront it. Sometimes, someone isn’t out to get us, except ourselves. I have done a lot of work to realize what I deserve. Now, I am working on letting myself enjoy it. *Name has been changed for confidentiality

YOur body is political


#Me I

don’t think I’m the only one who had a strange moment of introspection when I first saw the wave of women making #MeToo posts on Facebook and Twitter this past fall. Do I qualify? Is this me too?

I have never been raped, had never consciously identified as a survivor of sexual assault or sexual harassment. But as I read and talked with other people about this movement, particular memories began to pull at the back of my mind. My first kiss was a tongue-shoving make-out at a fraternity party a week or two after I arrived at Michigan. I was drunker than I had ever been before. He walked me outside, then upstairs, then kept on shoving with his tongue and hands and body. He held me in place, one arm tight across my back, fingers gripping my leg hard. He kept on holding while he told me over and over how pretty I was. He kept on holding until my friends found us. I have felt uncomfortable at work because of the way my boss addressed me. I have felt uncomfortable in lab because of the way the grad students talked about another student’s crush on me. I have endured sharp, persistent pain during sex (I should have asked again for softer, slower — but then again, he should have listened the first time). I have apologized to and mollified someone angry at me for refusing sex that night. I have said nothing, done nothing, built walls out of “should have”s. Endured, stayed quiet, forgiven. Coerced encounters, ambiguous consent, perniciously bad


by Anonymous

eToo sex: all are so much a part of our atmosphere that pointing out what crosses a line, or indeed, where the line is, is daunting. But when I work hard to put aside the excuses, to feel for a deep-down, fundamental line: yes, me too.

I graduate from Michigan in a few short weeks. When I think about this movement — a movement that has been hashtagged for longer than it’s been covered and has lived in women’s whispered conversations for longer than time — and when I think about my own silence and reluctance to condemn, I cannot avoid some larger questions. Aren’t I stronger than this somehow? Didn’t I enter college and the world of sex with principles defined enough to recognize assault for what it is? Why haven’t my beliefs trickled into my own life? And then: Didn’t I know who I was, once? Before college, before sex? Do I now? I have strived and worked long hours to distinguish myself here. I have adapted and optimized myself for a dozen types of classes, teams, and work settings. I spend most of most days in a state of careful self-modulation, trying to hand-pick the wordsW on others’ lips after I leave — humble, polite — trying to hold off the wrong ones — bitch, control freak. Increasingly often, I think I project nothing at all.

as if the more I tailor myself to please my various worlds, the more the pieces of me fade to irrelevance too, drops of ink into water.

Mine is a distinctly feminine and traditional self-ablation: sacrificing, making do, keeping a smile on. The jagged mismatch between my feminist ideals and my realities extends beyond sexuality. Me too, me too, me too. I am tempted even here to demur: It could be so much worse. After all, I am still here. I still undeniably have a hard kernel of self. But to say “me too” is not to paint my whole story in shades of tragic or to understate the fruits of my work and modulation. Even borderline assaults are worth stopping. My self and my natural modes of expression are worth preserving. We must actively improve this culture that encourages silence and looks the other way. I must actively try to stop sanding myself down. This is, of course, the crucial #MeToo question: How do we go forward? How do we refuse to let the ink dissipate? How do we spare the women who come after us? As I leave here and look back at the ways that I have both grown and lost myself, I wonder whether what we do to answer these questions will help those future women stay whole. As for me: it is not my job to appease those who cause me discomfort, but to work for those who are also uncomfortable— those who, months later, still feel unsure whether they can say “me too.”

I have dealt with the hurts of assault and harassment by letting them fade, drops of ink into water. I feel sometimes



by Regan Detwiler There is a beast that looks like us whose sentience is made of bodies, teeming. It beats, haphazardly thrashing its limbs unpredictably crashing — they call this place The Pit. The Pit of what? A pit in your stomach a pit of despair a pit of hell armpit the pit of a peach a plum a nectarine, one great hairy seed, one gnarled heart out of many — the hearts and limbs of this great being growing and exerting Force.


When I taste the cheap beer, when I feel his unwanted hand creep upon my body, when I hear the pop-hip-hop blaring, white faces laughing, when I smell the smog of crowding cars, when I see the terrified faces of drunk couples fighting, the expression of love lost, the beast feeds me, touches me, scream-sings to me, sprays me with its stale perfume, revealing itself to me. To criticize it is to disrespect a wondrous institution — Don't complain. Enjoy it. In these tiny tragedies the beast made of bodies broods incubating the next generation of destructors.

NOTE: Two of our columnists, Ally Owens and Ilina Krishen, independently decided to write about the film industry for both of their last columns of the year. This is not entirely coincidental; #TimesUp has been at the forefront of media discourse. There is a lot being said, there is not a lot being done; to hold the powerful men accountable; to address the whitewashing of the movement; to discuss the nuance of multiple identity categories that separate one from the white man. In the following two columns, hear from the perspective of two women of color on what meaningful representation means to them.

Voices From the Shadows Part III:

Women, Women, Everywhere, But Not a Single One Like Me by Ilina Krishen


n the spring of 2002, my parents took me to see Bend It Like Beckham in a theater in Detroit. The audience was mainly of South Asian origin, mostly coming to see Anupam Kher (Kumail Nanjiani’s father in The Big Sick) as one of the central characters in the film. For those of you who have never seen a Bollywood film, Kher is an acting legend and has appeared in over five hundred films in several languages. Before this screening, I had seen both Bollywood and Hollywood films. Bollywood films were filled with fairskinned actors with size zero bodies, who would dance to catchy music and would frequently cry to melodramatic storylines.Hollywood films were made up of white men and women, with slick one-liners and amazing action sequences. It appeared to me that the two categories were mutually exclusive; they seemed so seperate to me. Bend It Like Beckham was the first film where I realized that South Asian people and white people could be in the same film together. As a young brown girl watching the film for the first time, I felt really connected to the character Jess. I finally saw a character who looked like a lot of the women from my community, who didn’t have a forced and over-the-top Indian accent. Jess was like any other young woman; she had her own interests, dreams, and mindset that was not defined by the stereotypes that are commonly associated with the South Asian community. Seeing Jess play soccer and absolutely kick ass was the first time I realized women of color could play sports and be extremely successful at them. More importantly, Jess wasn’t defined by her race, though her experience and identity as a British-Indian woman was repeatedly discussed throughout the film to her unknowing white male and female colleagues. All too often, men and women of color are written into a storyline in order to serve a stereotyped role defined by their race. When a person of color is cast into a major television show or a film with a majority white cast, that character is almost always male. Think: James Olsen in the CW’s Supergirl, Falcon and War Machine in Captain

America Civil War, or Kumail Najiani’s The Big Sick, as well as all the cast members of color (with prominent speaking roles— one line doesn’t count) in last year’s Wonder Woman. I would like to point out that these are not the only examples of films that exclude women of color, but are some of the most high-profiling examples in recent years. All of these films and shows have been praised for being progressive and inclusive of diversity. The prominence of one character’s nationality does not make the film the “definition” of diverse. It’s a step in the right direction, but we can do better. Some see criticism of these so called “progressive films” as not supporting the success of fellow women or people of color. I fully support the increase of diversity and representation, but what is wrong with challenging these diversity and sexism problems further? We are capable of relating to characters with skin tones different from our own. But too often, it is women of color who have to do the relating. Why can’t I see myself on screen, further breaking down the barriers that have been built to limit the inclusion of women of color not only in film, but in all aspects of society? Why is it that when I do see a woman of color on screen, she is confined to the stereotypes of her race? Seeing Bend It Like Beckham when I was only five years old gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling that I can never forget. I imagine it’s comparable to the feeling most black men and women felt after watching Black Panther. After years of being forced to relate to white men and women in the media, you finally see someone who looks like you be the hero in their own story without being subject to harsh stereotypes. That was Jess for me. For the little girl seeing Michelle Obama’s portrait in the viral photo, that was her moment to see herself reflected as a strong, successful, and inspiring person, giving her a role model to look up to for the rest of her life. This video didn’t go viral just because it was "cute." It was because this is a novelty in America; little girls of color don't get to see themselves. I regret to say that until seeing Rose in The Last Jedi, I hadn’t seen an Asian American woman being portrayed in


a positive light on screen, with the exception of the show Straight off the Boat. When I do get these opportunities to watch women of color play inspiring and leading roles, I feel inspired, too. And yet, I'm simultaneously left frustrated by the infrequency of this feeling. All too often, people and women of color are trapped within stereotypes associated with their identities, giving them “typecast” roles. Even though Bend It Like Beckham inspired me in some ways, it wasn't without its flaws. The movie missed the opportunity to pursue the powerful queer relationship that you are led to believe will bud, and still confined Jess and her family to maintaining the South Asian stereotypes of emphasizing the importance of cooking and being a "good" bride. In fact, whenever I see the depiction of South Asians onscreen, I worry which stereotypes or tropes will come out. Even as I write this piece, I wonder how many readers are mis-demographing "South Asian." Quick reminder to those of you who have forgotten basic geography, countries on the Indian subcontinent—such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh—are all part of Asia. Brown men and women are often stereotyped as not being attractive enough, socially awkward, and the “loser” of the group—all with horrendous accents. For example, the character of Raj on The Big Bang Theory and Apu from The Simpsons are notable portrayals of South Asian men encompassing stereotypes. These stereotypes are harmful to the perception of Asian men, correlating to recent research that shows that, on dating apps, Asian men and Black women are least likely to get a response compared to other races. And so, how do we measure this progress in the film industry? By screen time? The portrayal of Asians on screen has gone up; this summer, Crazy Rich Asians will be released, making it one of the first prominent films starring an all Asian cast. The recent success of films and shows starring Kumail Nanjiani, Hasan Minhaj, as well


as Aziz Ansari (not any more though) has pointedly and apparently improved perceptions of South Asian men. However, just because people of color are receiving more screen time does not mean they will be represented in a positive or representative light. This has an impact on how people of color are able to view themselves in the media, as well as what they believe they can be. These stereotypical images of South Asian and brown families contribute to the historical perception that Asians and people of Middle Eastern descent are unable to assimilate into so-called “American Culture.” They rarely discuss (if they do, it’s rather fleeting) the struggles they faced when coming to the United States and attempting to make a life better for their children. Their pride in their culture and roots is not emphasized in a manner that feels real and natural, it is only used to point out that their views were “wrong” or for comedic effect. This perception of immigrants’ failing to assimilate contributes to the anti-immigrant sentiment in our country. Being seen and presented on screen similar to how white actors are (mostly) respectably portrayed might get people used to the fact that people of color exist and have always been a part of history. We do not just need representation, we need accurate representation, written by people who represent these very demographics. This work is important because it impacts immigrant sentiment. If we could get an opportunity to change that by showing families of color in their own diverse elements, instead of comedic stereotyping, we might be able to begin to change people’s perceptions of immigrants and people of color. I’m not saying that it is the answer to all of our problems (it really isn’t), but it gives us an opportunity to be presented in the way we should be: with respect, dignity, and appreciation for our diverse cultures.

NOTE: This piece is to be read in conjunction with the previous column, showing the pervasiveness in which our authors are thinking about #TimesUp

The Tour Guides Lied to Us Part III by Ally Owens


ith each awards season in Hollywood, I find myself mildly vexed over the same issues, and as I inch closer to the age where I actually have to start doing something to begin a career, mild irritation has turned to panic. It’s old news to say that “Hollywood is white and male-dominated.” Thank you, we knew that already and we know no one’s really doing anything to stop it. However, within the small space carved out for people who aren’t white dudes, there still are distinctive and nuanced identities that are often unceremoniously amalgamated together. In Hollywood, there are few films that touch on racial experiences. Race is handled as a singular issue. You are black and black only. The faces of these movies normally happen to be straight, cis men. Selma. 12 Years A Slave. Driving Miss Daisy. Do The Right Thing. Next, you can veer into the world of gender. This realm is a bit more edgy and poppy than the tragedy porn of race movies, but the faces here are almost exclusively white. Wild. Gone Girl. Thelma and Louise. Juno. In this equally scant realm, gender is treated as a singular issue. You are a woman, and a woman only. This conundrum is why Emma Stone’s “jab” pissed me off well into my week. While announcing the nominees for the category of Best Director at the Oscars, Emma Stone took it upon herself to summarize the category as “these four men...and Greta Gerwig.” While it was important to note that Greta Gerwig was the only female nominee in the traditionally all-white male Best Director category, absent was Stone’s critique that the category ALSO happened to be all white, excluding Jordan Peele. Or that aside from Guillermo del Toro the nominees were all Anglo-Saxon or American? If she wanted to hit closer to home for standardization of categories, Stone even could have called out the fact that the Best Actress category for yet another year was completely whitewashed. But she didn’t, because Stone thought that she was talking about gender. Thus, in her eyes, and sadly many other people’s, race did not apply. In Hollywood, identities are not as mixable and matchable as Target bikini separates; if you fit into more than one category, you’re temporarily forced to pick one that may not represent fully who you an Urban Outfitters bikini. And like an Urban Outfitters bikini, it comes at a heavy cost I won’t beat around the bush here--when anyone but a white man succeeds in any field (especially in Hollywood) it warms my cold, dead heart. Thus, in the year of Greta Gerwig’s stellar debut and Jordan Peele’s

monumental success, there have been many moments where I have been extremely proud of their subversion of the norm, their success against the tide. However, within me, I simultaneously recognize that although their successes are meaningful, they’re not completely for me. It’s like watching someone who claimed to be your running partner finish the marathon, while you are still panting for air with many miles ahead of you. Awards season serves as the cruelest reminder of the quest I will have to embark on to make it. If you think I’m being dramatic, name a mainstream black, female director other than Ava DuVernay. My point. It is difficult enough for Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele to knock down doors, but if privilege were a board game, the two of them would only be one square away from white, male normalcy. Women of color are a day late and two squares short. So I must constantly ask myself, if it’s going to be this hard, why even try? My first semester at Michigan, I took the women’s studies course: Gender and Pop Culture. We were assigned an article to read called, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” by Linda Nochlin. Nochlin’s central argument is that in than comparing the works of lesser renowned female artists to the likes of male greats, we negate the entire purpose of feminism. Instead of being proud of mediocrity, we need to analyze the systemic factors that allow men to prosper to such great heights, while women are left with an iota of the same opportunity. In all races and genders, there are people that have amazing potential and talent, and then there are people that produce shows like The Haves and Have Nots and The Royals. Talent is non-discriminatory. Societal systems are. Thus, talented people of a certain race or gender will not get the same chances to wield and master their craft as others are. Paul Thomas Anderson, for example, is not talented simply because he is a white male. However, as a white male, he has been given the privileges to receive affirmation that his ideas, his plans, and his stories featuring people like him are important and worth watching. I cannot be 100% sure of affirmations from parents or professors, but, I am confident that he had the greatest affirmation of all: growing up watching a screen populated with people like him, and hearing success stories about men that look exactly like him. While Paul Thomas Anderson had Orson Welles, Rob Reiner, and Stanley Kubrick to aspire to, who did his contemporary women of color


The Tour Guides Lied to Us Part III


have to view as inspiration? Women of color are set up to fail from the start when we veer towards industries that are not “for us,” simply because we are not visible. Perfectly paralleling the barren representation that I found onscreen was the bleak state of my first semester film class. I had no idea what I was walking into, and, there was no way that I could have. The tour guides (at least the good ones) weren’t going to tell me to buckle up for a shitty four years of classes dominated by white, faux-hipster, mansplaining douchebags who believe liberalism begins and ends with thinking Donald Trump is bad. Even in a pretty sizable lecture, about 120 people, and I could still count the women of color one hand. The class felt representative of the very industry we are studying, the industry that the majority of the class desires to break into. An industry that emphasizes singularity because it doesn’t know how to handle the complexity of the numerous identities that can make a person up. There were many instances where I felt two squares short. My parents have no connections, the only editing software I had was iMovie (a cardinal sin), I couldn’t name a classic Italian movie off the top of my head; I was unconsciously erased from all topical conversations we had in class. Our guest lecturer passionately asserted that only 28% of credited screenwriters are women. I reclined in my chair, tired of hearing the same old statistic be thrown around without accounting for what fraction of that percent is LGBTQ? Asian? Arab? Black? Latinx? A combination of these? The familiar feeling of invisibility began to bolster my desire to switch my major. Why even try? My mind eventually returned to the Nochlin article. The same institutional forces that had pushed an innumerable amount of women out of the industry in years past were now testing me. If proving my parents right wasn’t bad enough, quitting meant that I would be shorting the next generation of women a role model. How could I live with myself if I perpetuated the cycle that I detested? When we discussed Do The Right Thing in lecture, I had my true A-Ha moment. The class that had been abuzz for the likes of Hugo (the most ass movie I’ve seen in all of my years) and Shadow of A Doubt was radio silent. It was not hard to come to the conclusion of why. While attempting to assimilate to their white male mediocrity,


I had neglected to realize that the factors that made me feel as though I was inferior were the factors that made me untouchable. I had a film analysis tool set, but I also had the lived experiences and perspective that allowed me to view trite topics in an original way. Before Thanksgiving break, we were assigned our final project. We could make a video (5-8 minutes) arguing any point that we wanted to, using any of the films we had watched over the course of the semester. The GSIs would pick the best videos from their sections, and on our last day of class, we would have a film festival in which the class voted for the winner. I overheard conversations of guys in my discussion class claiming they had the competition in the bag. For guys who want to go into screenwriting, you’d think that their real life dialogue would be a little more refined than the likes of an American Pie bully character. This smug self-assuredness made me go ballistic (internally, of course). The depths of my madness were reached over Thanksgiving break, where other than my grandma (who barely moved), my only company was my laptop, unbridled rage, and an undying goal to prove everyone wrong. The end result was my baby. I was extremely proud. But, like Hollywood mavericks that preceded me, I felt as though “the man” wouldn’t recognize me. I was so confident in my failure that I enacted a scheme to walk out of the festival when I didn’t see my name posted on the program. When the day of the festival arrived, while excited to enact my Real Housewives level dramatic exit, part of me wanted to be recognized. To receive the affirmation that I could do this. My name appeared on the sheet. What happened next surprised me more than I’ll ever know. Being completely honest, I almost peed on myself when they announced my name for both “Best Original Argument” and “Best of Festival.” Rather than simply giving up, I persisted. I will not be a part of another generation of women that bows to the status quo, conceding that it’s “just the way things are.” I am all of the proof you need that with enough free time, feminist rage, and self-assuredness (that often goes missing within women of color), we can do anything. Take it from me. I beat a class of mansplaining cinephiles, and this bitch did it all...with iMovie.


PORTRAIT of the END by Mckenzie Zauel

I wish my lilies could’ve taken defensive measures when they heard their fibers popping. It was the kind of fuzzy death that he blamed on blooming - that I blamed on spirit halos and glittering lips and uneven candle tips whose heat rays dove deep enough to enter the eyes’ tear filmand he didn’t stay for the Wiping Away the Tears ceremony-it was just me at the Scraping the Spilled Wax off the Glass Table after-party after heat rose like my new ghost sickness in clouds of thickness and post re-rooting, rotgut clean apartment pickiness. And the petals didn’t even burn.


“What is a Sister?” by Ana Lucena


never had a sister. I was gifted two younger brothers close in age. My brothers and I have a good relationship, caring for each other’s career goals and sharing a common sense of humor. Despite this, throughout elementary school I would bring up to my parents how much I wished I had a sister. I was naturally introverted and shy, so making lasting friendships wasn’t my forte. When I heard other girls talk about the fights they had with their sisters about personal space and toys, I was jealous. I thought having a sister would give me a close friend, who would understand me better than my brothers and could relate to me more than my mom. Though my brothers and I had our fun times playing with each other and tastefully getting on each other’s nerves, it never provided the camaraderie of womanhood I was looking for. My brothers were disappointed that I didn’t want to play violent video games or watch crude comedies to bond with them. They mistook my rejection of these activities for a rejection of closeness. I started looking for this "sister" in other places—like friendship. My mother, watching this search unfold, warned me not to get my hopes too high. She explained that sisterhood was special. This only made me crave this type of relationship more. I did eventually make good female friends with my shared love of drawing and social justice. But I also encountered bullying, was hurled put-downs, and received several variations of “you have no friends” written in my yearbook. I was told I would be prettier if I did my makeup and hair, and that no one cared about my specific comments about literature and film when I talked too “adult.” It is easy to categorize these encounters as "coming of age." That it was the product of "mean girls." That this is just how middle school is. And I came to understand that, too. But when the traits that apparently made me so different were pointed out to me by my mom at home, I worried if anyone would ever embrace them. Once, my mom brought up the possibility of taking me to a psychologist to help


me with these concerns. I was ecstatic to finally get help. But the next time I brought it up, she dismissed me, getting offended I would want to waste family money; I just needed to put myself out there more, she said. I am still learning how to undo the damage to my sense of self. Damage that was mostly, to my surprise, done by women. I was socialized to stay away from boys. I was taught how they would demand kisses or make you pleasure their dick if you got too close. I was ready for this. But it hurt to learn that women are not in this together. That they disrespect one another, too. When I first learned about feminism through Tumblr halfway through high school, I felt vindicated. This is why I refused to accept the stereotypes in the media that women are catty and cruel by nature: men and the media capitalize on our insecurities and make us feel like we must compete against each other. And so, I still had faith in finding a friend who I could instead call a sister to me. I decided this would be my top priority in college. My new goal was overshadowed by a change in the dynamics of my relationship with my brother. Two months before starting college, my brother was diagnosed with a rare and “milder” form of muscular dystrophy. This news came after a year of medical examinations for his limitations of mobility, in his neck, wrist, and ankles. My mom and I cried terribly all the same. I did the best I could to support my brother by researching his condition on Google and understanding the shaky prognosis that, after his pacemaker was inserted, he should be “okay” (read: able to walk) for several more decades as the muscle cells in his arms, legs, and heart increasingly starved. I went to college with a heavy heart, processing my brother’s condition and a newfound awareness of my privilege as an able-bodied person. After attending a workshop on campus focused on disability issues, I wanted to make sure my brother would always feel comfortable talking to me about his condition.

not do the same for me. I went to CAPS to talk about my aforementioned struggles with maintaining relationships and got a preliminary diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, or high-functioning autism. When discussing my elation of having an explanation for the hurt I went through, my brother immediately told me I was “stupid” for believing such a “ridiculous” diagnosis. He told me to, in short, get over myself. I was met with the same reaction by my parents. After this conversation and our discussion about my diagnosis, I didn’t feel like I had an ally in my brother in the same way I hoped he felt he had in me. I was shocked by my brother’s lack of understanding since he had a disability himself. But when I thought about this further, I was shocked at myself for having expected my brother, who never particularly cared about social justice, to suddenly transform into some kind of advocate for disability rights. For me to expect him to make his disability something inspiring for me is selfish and wrong. My relationship with my brother makes me question where the line is blurred between gender and ability. I am mad that I still listen to his struggles when he feels faint or dizzy, because

I feel he shares them without hesitation, no matter where we are or what we are doing. It has been speculated that I, like many many women on the spectrum, was diagnosed later in life precisely because women are socialized to be submissive and passive, while men are expected to be dominant and take the lead. My stomach hurts when I see my brother hurting because I am not a doctor or miracle worker who can cure him. But I gladly do the bare minimum I can and listen to him in support, anyway. Would my brother have done the same for me if he were a woman? I am motivated to listen to my brother, in part, because I am worried that as a man he is socialized to keep his emotions to himself, and will not have anyone with whom to talk about his disability if the family tunes him out. Would I have been more supportive to a sister in the same situation? My quest to find an ideal sister is over. I’m not sure it’s realistic of me to expect to always have someone I can connect to on such a unique and deep level. But after reflecting on my relationship with the brothers and friends I do have in my life, I have learned to accept them for what they are, rather than dwelling on what they are not. This year, I have the goal of becoming my own closest friend, the only person who I can count on to look out for myself.


Around/About My Body By Regan Detwiler

I don’t want to write about my body the words make it realer its material fact is undeniable words are salt to the wound my body is made of cells that grow into fat, muscle, blood vessels bulging growing uncontrollably not that I haven’t tried 800 calories only I ran 5 miles a day but still my body is made of cells that multiply to fill my skin I don’t want to write about my body the words make it realer


I want to write about my body the words make it realer this isn’t a story I’ve read many times I had an eating disorder say it quick, before they worry but I’m okay now, don’t worry. this isn’t a story I’ve read many times we need more words for the pain I want to write about my body because its story is rude I did exactly what they told me made myself smaller to be a better girl and then I took it back I got bigger, stronger, fatter and cut off all my hair I want to write about my body the words make it realer


Madison Jones’ Locations to Pretend


At first, the strict body normativity exacerbates my anxiety as I walk past the Beckys and Chads enjoying their cycle classes. However, by the time I finish my laps in the pool, I’ve decided to throw out my medication; exercise and healthy eating are the real antidepressants.

The Diag

I stroll the Diag, admiring the beauty and diversity of this campus. I accept the flyers being passed out with a smile; I’ll totally feel up to attending this concert on Friday night. I stop and snap a photo of the Send Silence Packing demonstration and post it on Instagram... #SoMoving

Starbucks (Union or Liberty)

As a result of my new and healthy bedtime routine, I’ve woken up early enough to grab some coffee on the way to class. Although a mobile order is easier, I choose to wait in line since I have the time and social interactions don’t bother me at all. My dehydrated body screams for water. “What was that, body? Order a Blonde Roast to continue our coffee dependence? Don’t mind if I do.”


1 2 3 4 5

The Arb

Happy white people jogging, warm weather, and my slightly manic behavior. Listening to“Who You Are” from Moana, I remind myself that happiness is a choice.

North Campus Wave Field

I sit in one of the hollows, ignoring the strange looks from the passing engineers. In the peace and quiet of North Campus, I can finally clear my mind and try to journal once more. “No one will love you until you love yourself,” I write.

Official Top Ten Campus to be Neurotypical(™) in no particular order.

6 7 8 9 10

Law Quad

My friend and I have been waiting for the weather to cooperate so we can finally have our photo shoot. Those CCRB trips have really paid off and I love the pics. My Insta post, “there’s no place like hoMe,” an accurate representation of how much I’ve enjoyed my time on campus, gets over 300 likes.

Main Street Area

After a delicious dinner, I walk down Main Street, admiring the quaint shops and the lights in the trees. I’m excited to graduate and become a real adult. “It’ll get better,” I tell myself convincingly.


I’ve woken up early enough to make it to the Farmers’ Market today. Armed with my reusable bags, I blend in with the Ann Arborites. I can’t wait to cook fresh and delicious meals with all of this produce and newfound free time now that I’ve stopped giving a shit about my classes..

The Big House

In a sea of maize, Beckys, and Chads, I join in a rousing chorus of “The Victors.” I almost cry at the first sound of James Earl Jones’ voice in the hype video. “This really is the best university in the world,” I choke out to my friend, ignoring the negative effects of alcohol on my antidepressants.


“Your mood seems much better,” they tell me after I’ve cracked a couple of jokes. Our appointment only lasts 5 minutes. They let me know I can come use the wellness room anytime I’m feeling stressed; I’ve been told that the massage chairs are especially effective at kneading away my depression and anxiety.


The First Time by Alexandra Niforos


e, as a society, love to treasure the serendipity of a “first time.” Whether it is something intimate (a first kiss), materialistic (a first car), or jovial (a first sleepover), we take great care in remembering our “first times” and looking back on them fondly. But why do we never talk about the scarring first times, the ones that may haunt us for years to come, the ones we never hope to experience again? It was on my 10th birthday. That afternoon I went to an event for my dad’s family. Feeling excited about my ascent into double-digits, I put on a brand new outfit I had bought just for that day: a snug light green v-neck shirt with a matching floral skirt. I felt on top of the world. But later that day, as I waited patiently at the table while my family got my cake ready, a relative of mine said, “Honey, you should really suck in your stomach.” Though they likely stemmed from that person’s insecurity, those words burrowed their way into my previously pure and positive outlook on my self-image. These words took approximately two seconds to say, but have echoed in my head for the past nine years of my life. Being a preteen who is not in love with their body isn’t exactly groundbreaking news. But let me tell you: from the ages of ten to fourteen I hated my body. This one specific instance of body-shaming is not to blame for everything that followed, but it was my first introduction to the concept of insecurity. After being told that tight clothes accentuate the things I should be ashamed of, I avoided them like the plague; I wore oversized t-shirts every single day of 6th grade. I started making excuses for why I could not attend pool parties, school dances, and, eventually, most social activities. The less I was noticed, the better. I dreaded telling my mom I outgrew clothes almost as much as I dreaded having to go to a store to try on new ones. I tried to look in mirrors as little as possible, because when I did it ended in tears. A friend once told me that we only notice the flaws


in others that we see in ourselves. I picked apart other people’s bodies in my mind, and anytime I saw someone who wasn’t stick thin, I assumed they were as unhappy with the way they looked as I was. I still haven’t completely conquered these thoughts. I tried many forms of exercise and food restriction, but I got bored and lost motivation quickly when I didn’t see instant results. Nothing made me immediately skinnier or happier—which I equated as one in the same. I ran cross country my first year of high school for fun, with no intention of losing weight, but at the end of the season I was shocked to find out I weighed 135 pounds. I had reached my dreams of being thinner, so shouldn’t my insecurity have ended right then and there? Every time a family member or friend said “You look amazing!” I found myself growing more and more unhappy. The thing about commenting on other people’s weight is that (shocker!), you shouldn’t. As I got more attention for finally being a “socially acceptable” weight, all I could think was “was I really that grotesque before?” When I realized that looking like how I had always wanted to look wasn’t going to make me happy, I enabled myself to start the process of mending my broken self-image. Learning to love yourself is a journey. I don’t have all of the answers here, but I do have starting points. I think discovering feminism and the body positive movement was a start. The idea of just choosing love for myself instead of hatred at first seemed far-fetched. But what did I have to lose? I unfollowed social media accounts that promoted toxic messages, I started calling people out when they said insensitive things about how others look, and I began to search in the mirror for a positive outlook on the traits I once saw as shameful. The thing about insecurity is that it is always going to be present in my life: as hard as I try to fight it, insecurity will fight back just as hard. Small thoughts in the back of my mind still remind me of how much space I take up or how I look eating in front of other people. I don’t worry though, because while insecurity still sometimes wins these battles, I have won the war.

Now that I am past the point of living in a permanent state of misery, my eyes are open to the toxicity in our society that causes these types of insecurities in the first place. Little kids don’t wake up one day and decide to hate their body: it is something that is taught by others. So when I overhear gossip revolving around other people’s bodies or watch a popular TV show with an overweight person as the butt of the joke (cough cough, the Fat Monica bit on Friends), I am angered by the shallow cruelty that sometimes persists in smallminded people. Every time a friend tells me that they don’t think they look skinny or pretty enough in a photo, my inner Leslie Knope wants to grab them and shake them and yell, “You perfect sunflower! How are you not seeing what I’m seeing?” Why do we not talk to ourselves the way we talk to our best friends? I stopped thinking negative thoughts about myself as soon as I realized this. I abolished my old habit of constantly comparing myself to others and thinking “I wish I was like that,” turning it into the ability to look at people and just simply admire them for the natural

beauty they possess. My instagram comments of “wow you’re so pretty i’m jealous” transformed into a simple “you are SO beautiful!” This also required me to come to terms with the fact that beauty is exhibited through so many facets. Have you ever seen someone completely absorbed in a book they’re reading? Watched someone talk about something they’re passionate about? Looked at a group of friends laughing over dinner? People are so incredibly beautiful just in the way they exist. I am so grateful to (currently) be on the up-and-up about my body image. I am fortunate to have always been legitimately healthy, even when doctors and my peers and the media made me feel like I wasn’t. I am lucky I never had to deal with darker outlets for insecurity. I am mostly glad I can look back on my tenth birthday and only feel unbelievable sadness for the person who felt it was acceptable to comment on a child’s weight. While first-times have weighed heavily on my life, I have also found comfort in them. I will never forget the freedom I felt the first time I decided to love myself.





The First Time, pg. 22-23,

Maggie McConnell

Illustration by Anna Hersher

List of Staff,

Stand Alone Art Piece, pg. 24-25,

Illustrations by Maggie McConnell

Illustration by Adrianna Kusmierczy

Bathroom Confessional,

Illustrations, pg. 26-27,

Illustration by Miles Hones

Illustrations by Claire Abdo

Letter from the Editors, pg. 1,

Back Cover,

Illustration by Maggie McConnell

Illustration by Maggie McConnell

10 Ways to Know You’re a Self-Saboteur, pg. 4-5, Illustration by Anna Herscher

Your Body Is Political, pg. 5, Photos by Perry O’Toole

Pits, pg. 8, Photo Collage by Thomas Callahan

Voices From the Shadows: Part 3, pg. 9-10, Illustration by Claire Abdo

The Tour Guides Lied To Us: Part 3, pg. 11-12, Illustration by Claire Abdo

Portrait of the Beginning/Ending, pg.13, Illustration by Kate Johnson

Stand Alone Art Piece, pg. 14-15, Illustration by Margaret Sheridan

What is a Sister, pg. 16-17, Collage by Zoe Black

Around/About My Body, pg. 18, Illustration by Regan Detwiler

Stand Alone Art Piece, pg. 19, Illustration by Elizabeth Feldbruegge

Neurotypical Locations, pg. 20-21, Illustrations by Anna Hersher


What the F Issue 14  
What the F Issue 14