Thesis Project

The F Word

The Problem

Over the past few years, it’s been impossible to ignore the ever-rising social and political polarization in the United States.  From abortion to the Black Lives Matter movement to the LGBTQ+ community to gender inequality to mass media and everything in between, it seems that there are two strongly opposing opinions on every topic.  In a society that is becoming increasingly isolated, there is an excess of misjudgement and a lack of empathy.  Although it might not seem obvious, all of these issues are related to the practice – or lack thereof – of intersectional feminism.

My increasing frustration with people’s refusal to consider situations from a different perspective (including my friends and family) and my increased education on feminist practices led me to my research question:

How can empathy and reciprocity encourage and influence active intersectional feminism for college students in their early twenties?

Success Statement

In order to move forward as a society, we need to be able to empathize with each other and have conversations that may be difficult in order to gain perspective.  The F Word is a fun and accessible way to get these discussions going.

Target Audience

The audience I am trying to reach with this work is college students in their early twenties.  Specifically, I am hoping to target juniors and seniors in college who are about to enter the workplace and encounter people who are different from them for the first time and who are not educated on intersectional feminism or are not active intersectional feminists.


The research methods I decided to implement are a subject matter expert interview and a focus group.  I wanted to conduct a subject matter expert interview because I wanted to learn an expert’s definition of intersectional feminism, her thoughts on why people should be but aren’t intersectional feminists, and her recommendations for my final project.  I organized a focus group because I wanted to gain insight on what individuals in my target audience thought of intersectional feminism through learning their knowledge, perceptions, and experiences through discussion.

For my subject matter expert interview, I interviewed Dr. Kenna Neitch, a visiting assistant professor at Miami University teaching Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

My focus group participants consisted of 6 female participants aged 20-22 who are upperclassmen at Miami University.  These women represented varying political affiliations and 6 different cities across 5 states.

From my research, I learned that my final deliverable should involve building meaningful relationships with others through organic networks, should not be a one-time event and should provide opportunities for ongoing engagement, and should encourage and inspire deep conversation.

Design Process + Testing

My user testing of the game consisted of presenting the same participants that were in my focus group with questions from each level of The F Word.  I deemed the results to be successful because the card prompts generated thoughtful responses and conversation, with some players noting that they had never considered some topics or perspectives before.

Design Solution

These insights led me to my design solution, The F Word, a conversational card game that teaches active intersectional feminism through encouraging empathy.

The goal of this game is to take advantage of organic networks by encouraging deeper conversation and prompting discussion.  People talking with their friends, families, and other close groups can do a lot to break down toxic stereotypes about feminism.

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