From: Tess Benser
Date: April 8, 2022
Subject: Center for Women & Gender Equity April 2022 Newsletter

Center for Women & Gender Equity in purple and gold text.

Teal graphic April 2022 CW&GE newsletter

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April was first formally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the United States by President Obama in 2009, and prior to that recognition, SAAM has been a part of organizing against sexual violence has happened in April since as early as the 1980s. 

Raising awareness about sexual violence and harm has proved to be an important piece of activism and organizing. Stigma, shame, and systemic violence has meant that awareness has been, and remains, a necessary piece of work to prevent violence and harm. Sexual violence and harm remains extremely prevalent, with people who hold marginalized identities being the most vulnerable to these harms. 

End Rape On Campus, a national organization that works to end campus sexual violence through direct support for survivors and their communities; prevention through education; and policy reform at the campus, local, state, and federal levels, has dedicated this year's SAAM to a campaign called Centering the Margins. Their social media presence this month is dedicated to speaking about the experiences of students who have experienced sexual violence as well as systemic barriers because of their identity. Some of the identities they have focused on are that of transgender and gender non-conforming students, Black women, undocumented and international students, disabled survivors, and low income survivors. 

Prevention is also a key component of the work being done this SAAM. Dr. Jennifer Hirsch and Dr. Shamus Khan, authors of Sexual Citizens: Sex, Power, and Assault on Campushave recently published their SPACE toolkit. SPACE stands for Sexual Assault Prevention And Community Equity. According to their website, "The SPACE toolkit provides campuses a new approach to sexual violence prevention – one grounded in a broad commitment to equity. The process invites diverse stakeholders, from students to the senior administration, to be on the same team. The work rests upon a simple and well-established truth: assault is about power. The SPACE toolkit uses that truth to develop a plan for campus transformation."

Even as awareness grows and awareness efforts gain more traction, the pain and harm of sexual violence remains. The HEAL Project (a BIPOC-led, Trans/Nonbinary-led, and Survivor-led educational initiative using media to prevent and end Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) through healing the wounds of sexual oppression and embracing sexual liberation) is designating this April as Sexual Healing Month. Sexual Healing Month, as described in the HEAL Project newsletter, is "collective work of healing the Culture of Sexual Violence through much-needed personal and institutional investment in our well-being." You can learn more about the concept of Sexual Healing Month in this Instagram video, created by Ignacio & Aredvi, founders of The HEAL Project, discussing the ways they hope to not only address sexual violence and child abuse with this designation of Sexual Healing Month, but also talk about why everyone needs sexual healing, especially folks who have done or caused harm and people who may not identify as survivors.

We hope you enjoy the content below, addressing SAAM, Earth Day, and National Poetry Month. We hope you have a safe and joyful end of the semester. Take good care!

Tess Benser
Assistant Director, Center for Women & Gender Equity

Light yellow graphic of upcoming events


Generation Action WCU Tabling

Friday, April 8
11:00am - 1:00pm
Sykes Tabling, 700 S High St, West Chester, PA 19382, United States
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Come learn more about PPGEN and all that we do!



Red Table Talk Do People of Color of Different Gender Identities Truly Support Each Other?

Tuesday, April 12
5:00pm - 6:00pm
DMC (Sykes Room 003), 700 S High St, West Chester, PA 19382, United States
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Tuesday, April 12 | 5pm-6pm | DMC- Sykes 003
Join us for conversation and good company.
Come hungry! We’re serving emapandas, egg rolls, & buffalo wings.
More information at



The Clothesline Project Display

Wednesday, April 13
10:00am - 3:00pm
Academic Quad (Rain location: Sykes Ballroom), 700 S High St, West Chester, PA 19382, United States
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Stand in solidarity with survivors of interpersonal violence (sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, stalking). This living arts display was created by members of our community impacted by interpersonal violence since the 1990’s. Walk through the display and/or leave a message to honor and support survivors and their loved ones. For more information or to get involved contact Sponsored by the Center for Women & Gender Equity.



Muddy-Puddles Visits The FHG Library

Monday, April 18
12:30pm - 2:00pm
FHG Library, 25 W Rosedale Ave, West Chester, PA 19382, United States
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Meet the Therapy Dog Muddy-Puddles at the FHG Library!
Muddy will be here on April 18th & 25th, 12:30-2 pm.

You might see some other therapy dog appearances!



Tight Knit

Wednesday, April 20
3:30pm - 4:30pm
Private Location (register to display)
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We're starting a pattern. Join us weekly for Tight Knit, a queer crafting group. Bring your current knitting, crochet, embroidery, or other craft project to Sykes 250 on Wednesdays from 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm.



Study Nights with the DMC

Thursday, April 21
5:00pm - 7:00pm
Sykes 255, 700 S High St, West Chester, PA 19382, United States
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The Dowdy Multicultural Center Peer Mentoring Program presents...
Study Nights
Week 3: Thursday, February 10 | 4pm-6pm | Sykes 210
Week 4: Tuesday, February 22 | 5pm-7pm | Anderson Hall 313
Week 7: Monday, March 7 | 4pm-6pm | Sykes 210
Week 10: Thursday, March 31 | 5pm-7pm | Sykes 303 & 304
Week 11: Monday, April 4 | 4pm-6pm | TBD
Week 13: Thursday, April 21 | 5pm-7pm | Sykes 255

Join us for study nights and for a chance to win prizes!
All are welcome! No need to be a part of the program.
Questions? Email:



Take Back the Night

Thursday, April 21
6:00pm - 9:00pm
Starting at the Rammy Statue, 700 S High St, West Chester, PA 19382, United States
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Save the Date! Take Back the Night 2022 will be the evening of Thursday, April 21st. Support those who experienced harm, learn about resources, and contribute to a safer campus for all of us. More info to come!



Queering the Conversation: The Past, Present, and Future of Queer Media

Friday, April 22
11:00am - 12:00pm
Private Location (register to display)
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In the Queering the Conversation series, we invite guest scholars and community activists from a variety of disciplines to join us to share their expertise on specific topics related to the LGBTQ community.

Synopsis: LGBTQ+ representation has had a long and complicated past in film and television. From queerbaiting and queercoding to the Hays Code and horror, we’ll trace this history from the 1930s to the 2020s. In the present day, we’ll take a look at the continued effects of these practices on generations of queer folks. We’ll discuss the media that shaped our experiences, identities, and journeys, and what we wish we’d had. Audiences will come away with a better understanding of the history and importance of queer representation.



Trans Advocacy Training

Tuesday, April 26
1:00pm - 2:00pm
Private Location (register to display)
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Join us in Sykes Student Union Room 254 on Tuesday, April 26th from 1-2pm for our Trans Advocacy Training!

Trans, non-binary, genderfluid, genderqueer… what exactly does it all mean? This one-hour training will review terminology, problematic language, WCU policies, and qualities of an advocate as it relates to the transgender and non-binary communities and experiences. Participants will also discuss how society interacts with trans folks and what you can do to strengthen your advocacy. For more information, check out our Ram Connect,, or contact us at or 610-436-3147.

This event is part of the Ram Plan Co-curricular Experience. Students who fill out the post-assessment after attending the program will have this event added to their co-curricular transcript. For more information about the Ram Plan, visit



Coffee, Tea, and Donuts

Wednesday, April 27
10:30am - 12:00pm
Sykes Front Patio, 110 W. Rosedale Ave Sykes 250, West Chester, PA 19383, United States
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CTQA will be giving out free coffee, tea, and donuts outside of the Sykes Student Union from 10:30am-12pm!



Tight Knit

Wednesday, April 27
3:30pm - 4:30pm
Private Location (register to display)
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We're starting a pattern. Join us weekly for Tight Knit, a queer crafting group. Bring your current knitting, crochet, embroidery, or other craft project to Sykes 250 on Wednesdays from 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm.



CTQA's Lavender Graduation

Thursday, May 5
3:00pm - 5:00pm
Private Location (register to display)
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Join the Center for Trans and Queer Advocacy in celebrating our trans and queer graduates. Lavender Graduation is a special ceremony for LGBTQIA+ graduating undergraduate and graduate students to acknowledge their achievements, contributions, and distinctive experiences at West Chester University. All are welcome to join us in celebration. By clicking "Register" on RamConnect, you will be redirected to a Qualtrics form for registration. We encourage all graduates as well as guests to register by Monday, April 18th.


Dark Take Back the Night graphic, featuring image of a newspaper headline from the Philadelphia Inquirer


Advocacy in Action: Take Back the Night
Dana Pratt (she/her) 


Content Warning: The Center for Women & Gender Equity supports the course of healing each individual takes after having experienced harm, and we are committed to creating a safe virtual space where our readers feel supported. Please note that the following message is regarding Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and it will contain references to topics around consent which may include conversations around sexual violence/harm, intimate partner/dating/relationship violence/harm, gender-based violence/harm, misogyny, racism, racist violence/harm, examples of white supremacist violence, homophobia, biphobia, anti-LGBTQIA+ harm, and transphobia or anti-trans violence/harm. We understand that engaging with this content can be potentially triggering and/or activating for our audience members, so we invite you to take care of yourself by scrolling past this section or exiting out of this email as needed to honor your feelings around such topics.

The month of April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). In honor of this, I would like to highlight The Take Back the Night movement (TBTN). TBTN is the earliest worldwide effort to combat sexual violence and violence. In the 1970s, as the liberation movement swept throughout the world, violence against women became part of the movement as occurrences of this violence caused media attention throughout the United States. “Take Back the Night” was the title of a 1975 article written in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and eventually used as the title of a memorial in 1997 at an anti-violence rally in Pittsburgh, PA. While this movement began spotlighting violence against women, TBTN’s present mission, “recognizes and embraces survivors of all gender identities from all backgrounds around the world.” 

  • 1 in 3 women worldwide experience some form of sexual violence or intimate partner violence.
  • 1 in 6 men experience sexual violence.
  • 2 in 3 transgender people have been sexually assaulted.
  • People in the LGBTQIA+ community are more likely to experience sexual violence.
  • Less than 50% of victims report these crimes.
  • (

TBTN is a charitable foundation that works to cultivate safe communities and relationships through initiatives and events. Their foundation focuses on forms of violence including intimate partner violence, sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and all forms of sexual violence. The foundation was organized in 2001, following the lead of movements by people across the globe. The goal was to form a hub for information sharing, resources, and support for both survivors and event holders” ( It is important to mention that the Take Back the Night movement is about so much more than the foundation. This movement has been happening since the 1970s, first in South Philadelphia, to reclaim public space from the people that cause harm, a public statement emphasizing that everyone needs to be safe within a community. Universities across the United States have used the “Take Back the Night” term in annual marches on campus as well to empower students, faculty, and staff to assemble and communicate about needed change, acknowledging the violence that often finds a home on college campuses. It is also important to note that there have been other names used for this march, including “Take Back 24” at West Chester University of Pennsylvania in 2012, as there were concerns that “TBTN” implied that harm only happens in the evenings. Moving forwards, many universities and other organizations have chosen to stick with TBTN with the caveat that harm is not a stranger to the daytime, but that TBTN is a way to create a shared experience with other institutions. 

Traditionally, TBTN events include a rally/opening in which refreshments, resources, and even giveaways are provided. This is often followed by the march, a way to reclaim public space and take over the location they have decided to gather. Finally, space is offered for a speakout. This aspect creates an environment that is safe and supportive for people to tell about the harm they have experienced. There can also be a keynote speaker to talk about policy, current events, or anything else related to sexual violence or violence in general.

This year, West Chester University of Pennsylvania is hosting Take Back the Night on our campus. The event will be held on Thursday, April 21st from 5:30 pm-9:00 pm. The event will begin at the Rammy statue near the Old Library at the intersection of South Church Street and West Rosedale Avenue. The event will be funded by The Center for Women and Gender Equity this year. If you would like to get involved in the planning/coordination of this event, please reach out to the Center for Women and Gender Equity via email at 

Light green earth day themed graphic, featuring images of Earth and climate activists.

The Eco-Gender Gap in Climate Change Activism 

Jocelyn Brown (she/her)

    Earth Day occurs every year on April 22. The origins of Earth Day are well-known: in 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson was able to reach across the political aisle and encourage thousands of colleges and their students to protest against industrialism’s environmental effects. While much progress has been made, we are still having the same conversations over 50 years later. Some of that progress has been halted by gender-based discrimination around the world. Climate change compounds forms of marginalization, so it affects women and men very differently. There are many examples available, such as the fact that women are 14 times more likely to die during a natural disaster than men, due to lower socio-economic statuses and limited movement. They also make up 80% of mobile refugees and displaced peoples; the number of climate refugees is climbing fast. While most of these examples are from disasters in the Global South, the Global North is not exempt from gender inequality, especially economically. 83% of single mothers after Hurricane Katrina were unable to return home for 2+ years, and Ôàö of the jobs lost after Katrina belonged to women. 
    Although the effects of climate change will be felt—and are already being felt—differently by marginalized populations, not everyone is being included in the fight against climate change. In particular, women are often in positions where they can only take on certain roles deemed “socially acceptable” within climate change activism. However, all of climate change activism came to be perceived as feminine work. Let’s take a look at how these perceptions came to be and how we can begin to change it.

The Problem: Gendered Activism 
    The problem is that, somewhere along the way, climate change activism became something seen as inherently gendered. Senator Nelson is actually an exception to the rule; for much of American history, male climate change activists and their environmental projects were mocked as feminine. For example, the early environmental movement came in the form of wilderness conservation. Even American president Theodore Roosevelt was drawn in an apron in political cartoons for his conservation work. John Muir, co-founder of the Sierra Club, was also described as effeminate by critics. Unfortunately, this wrongful association has lasted into the modern day, as one political cartoon about electric cars pictures Joe Biden in a dress as Marie Antoinette. 
    This association is called the green-feminine stereotype, or the pervasive belief that environmentally-conscious activities and behaviors are considered more feminine than masculine. It aligns environmentalism with traditional feminine gender roles, such as domesticity, caretaking, and the general assumption that women are more altruistic and care more about other people. Although this may seem empowering at first, as it is the reality that the modern climate change activist movement is overwhelmingly led by women and girls, such as Greta Thunberg, this is not the case. The green-feminine stereotype limits climate activism for all genders. First, and quite obviously, the green-feminine stereotype makes men think twice about engaging in environmentally-friendly behaviors. Women themselves uphold the green-feminine stereotype in studies, and studies suggest that men are more sensitive to maintaining their gender identity than women, because they face greater social penalties for losing their perceived masculinity. This leads to the eco-gender gap, which now describes the gap between men and women in all sustainable alternatives, but initially grew out of the marketing field. Because of this fear, men will not buy green-marketed products because they are more sensitive to the subtle (or sometimes not-so-subtle) cues when it comes to color, font, shape, and more on products. For example, Elle Hunt writes for The Guardian, “Plastic Freedom and Package Free Shop, two popular zero-waste online retailers, say they are careful to use gender-neutral marketing – but both say about 90% of their customers are women.”
    The fact of the matter is that most green products still assume that they are being sold to women, as the vast majority of products with sustainable alternatives are beauty products and domestic products (cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.). This brings us to the discussion of pro-environmental behaviors (PEBs). A 2004 study tracked private (meaning at-home or individual lifestyle changes) PEBs and public PEBs in 22 countries. The study found that women are more likely than men to engage in almost all private PEBs, except for the few private PEBs that are associated with masculine gender roles, such as household construction. The authors note that this means that private PEBs are not shared equally within a household, and women are taking on more environmental burdens than they should have to. Combined with the concept of a “double-day,” where women in capitalist economics have to work all day and are still expected to come home and do the vast majority of the domestic work, women often do not have enough time to engage in public PEBs. Or, depending on the country surveyed, women still did not feel comfortable doing so. Overall, Swedish and Japanese studies have found that women in both countries are more concerned about the environment, spend more time researching sustainable products, and will spend more on sustainable products. 
However, again, I want to avoid language about women as the sole champions of climate change. This is an unfair burden and also not the entire conversation. While the green-feminine stereotype is quite old, women’s involvement in environmental policy really picked up speed in the 1980s, well after Earth Day, because it served the status quo. Women could be given a nominal seat at the table with programs such as planting trees and affirm gender stereotypes by being the face of caretaking Mother Earth. While planting trees is important work, these programs assisted in making women solely responsible for fighting climate change but avoided giving women more structural power and resources within society to win that fight. Thus, the larger conversation here is structure, individual willingness, and how the two play off of each other. Although public PEBs align more with masculine gender roles, both women and men engaged with them at abysmal rates. Multiple studies find that everyone will only engage with PEBs if they do not require substantial time, energy, discomfort, change, or cost. The 2004 study states, “We find that individuals, regardless of gender, are more likely to engage in environmental behaviors that are presented within the routine of daily living (e.g., recycling, driving less, etc.), activities that perhaps involve less ‘cost’ than activist endeavors” (p. 690). This willingness or unwillingness to accept lifestyle changes comes from, at least in part, historical patriarchal structures. Because women generally have less trust in these historical institutions, they do not trust them to adequately address climate change. Meanwhile, in the same Guardian article, Rachel Howell, a lecturer in sustainable development at the University of Edinburgh, writes, that men, who have “been historically well served by the status quo, ‘are much more inclined to believe that, if they accept there is a problem, then somebody or some technology will sort it all out – that we don’t need to change our lifestyle.’” 
To conclude, these are just trends. Men are not incapable of lifestyle change and caring about climate activism, just as women are not perfect. Seema Arora-Jonsson, a professor of rural development, writes, “We need to be able to see women like men being responsible for as well capable agents in mitigating climate change.”

Potential Solutions: Just Sustainability 
    Two potential solutions to ensuring that climate change activism remains responsive to and accessible for all is to change definitions and change people’s relationship with climate change. First, we must slightly change the definitions of environment and sustainability. Julian Agyeman, a famous climate educator, notes that, beyond the traditional, natural definition of environment, environment is also wherever humans live, work, and play. Therefore, the environment also encompasses issues such as a lack of public transportation, urban areas without green spaces, gentrification, and other racist housing policies. To his credit, Senator Nelson realized this as well, stating, "Environment is all of America and its problems. It is rats in the ghetto. It is a hungry child in a land of affluence. It is housing not worthy of the name; neighborhoods not fit to inhabit." Agyeman also notes that the traditional definition of sustainability is about tweaking existing policies to make them more green, but that will not be enough to save the Earth or to benefit everyone. We have to reform traditional power structures. Instead, Agyeman writes, “A truly sustainable society is one where wider questions of social needs and welfare, and economic opportunity are integrally related to environmental limits imposed by supporting ecosystems” (p. 751). Therefore, just sustainability aims to redistribute power in society and takes on a social justice lens for integrating issues of identity. 
    Second, we must alter people’s relationships to the concept of climate change. Locally, as a predominately white institution in the Global North, most people at West Chester University feel insulated from the immediate effects of climate change. Thus, Office of Sustainability peer educator Nicole Salapong and I’s Gender Justice Conference session concluded by engaging students and faculty alike in two projects that tackle this disconnect. All We Can Save Circles are a project created by Dr. Katharine Wilkinson and based off of the anthology book by the same name, written by 60 women at the forefront of climate change activism. The website states, “Caring about the climate crisis can be incredibly isolating. Polling tells us climate conversations are few and far between, yet we know folks are hungry for deeper, more generous dialogue on the topic and to circle up in ways that connect, nourish, and seed action.” Therefore, each Circle should be a community of six to ten individuals and meets for ten sessions. Facilitation guides are free for all on the website, and they include discussion questions, journal prompts, and further reading. 
    The second project is My Climate Story from the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities (PPEH) at the University of Pennsylvania. The faculty director is Dr. Bethany Wiggin. My Climate Story is a workshop that, again, anyone can facilitate. It provides the tools for people to be able to reflect on their personal experiences with climate change and submit them to a national storybank, so that people understand that climate change is extremely personal. As most of the stories are from the Greater Philadelphia area right now, climate change is local, too. The free workbook states, “We often use language to distance ourselves from the climate crisis, sometimes unwittingly, sometimes on purpose. . . Climate scientists and others close to the crisis sometimes speak of a cycle of despair and helplessness, a kind of climate grief. Yet we know that talking about climate change is absolutely crucial to help us build communities better equipped to cope with the myriad challenges climate change poses.” The website features all of the materials necessary for facilitating a session: the workbook, the PowerPoints, and worksheets. You can also visit the storybank to read other people’s climate stories or submit your own. 
    Overall, we thought that these were two good projects to begin furthering the climate conversation on campus. They are free and accessible for everyone. They represent the intersection of identities and personal experiences that make up, or should make up, the climate change activist movement. Of course, this work is never done. If you’re interested, you should try implementing a Circle in your friend group or clubs. Think about your climate story, and bring these projects or others like them to your professors’ attention. Every class can benefit from a climate conversation. Every climate conversation is a piece of activism and the first step to lifestyle changes. After all, Dr. Wiggin notes that climate inaction in the face of all the facts is just another form of climate change denial. And WCU has an obligation to do better–not only this April, but every month after that. 

Youtube link to What Does the Eco-Gender Gap Mean for West Chester and the World?

National Poetry Month: Remembering bell hooks, Author and Black Feminist Theorist
By Holland Morgan (they/them/theirs)

For National Poetry Month, I wanted to highlight the knowledge that bell hooks contributed to feminism and anti-racist social justice.  Over the course of her career she published more than forty books, collections of poetry, and scholarly articles, with focuses on Black feminist theory, self representation, intersectionality, and white supremacy.  She received considerable recognition for her work and was a well respected theorist in feminist circles, especially after the release of her 1981 book, Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism.  Even though she was a successful author in academia, she consistently spoke of her identification with the working class and southern Black culture (Media Education Foundation).  
bell hooks was born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville Kentucky, and her pen name was created in honor of her grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks (Black Past).  Her pen name was not capitalized, which was prominent amongst authors at the time she began publishing.  It communicated that she was putting emphasis on the substance of the writing, rather than her name and was also speaking from the view of the collective.  She attended Stanford University, University of Wisconsin, and the University of California-Santa Cruz where she received her doctorate in literature. 
I was a young girl buying bubble gum at the corner store when I first really heard the full name bell hooks, I had just ‘talked back’ to a grown person. Even now I can recall the surprised look, the mocking tones that informed me I must be kin to bell hooks — a sharp-tongued woman, a woman who spoke her mind, a woman who was not afraid to talk back. I claimed this legacy of defiance, of will, of courage, affirming my link to female ancestors who were bold and daring in their speech.
    -Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (1989)

Impact on Poetry: How do we Live? Love? Coexist?

    Something that I find personally impactful about bell hook’s work is how she connected complex feminist theories to everyday life.  A term often found in her work is, ‘white supremacist capitalist patriarchy’, and she used this institutional structure to analyze how it impacts our intersectional identities.  Using the term ‘white supremacy’ over ‘racism’ is deliberate because in an interview on cultural criticism and transformation, she explained how using only racism excludes the recognition of colonization and decolonization, as well as internalized racism.  White supremacy affects your experiential reality, it is not just what white people do to Black people, it is how white supremacy permeates itself into Black communities (Media Education Foundation).  It was in 1989 that Kimberle╠ü Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality, but that was just when it was given a name, Black women were using the leading ideas of intersectional analysis for years prior.  bell hook’s work in particular put focus on how the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality all functioned from a feminist viewpoint and criticized the fact that women of color were excluded from mainstream feminist movements.  The recognition of the unique positionality of Black women is more prevalent in feminist movements today, but previously they catered mostly to white, middle and upper class mothers and wives.  She argued for the extension of feminist movements to include the complex identities of women of color as well as working class women.  In the struggles for social justice and dismantling of white supremacist systems, bell hook’s poetry was a beacon of light.
    In collections of poetry and books such as When Angels Speak of Love, Appalachian Elegy: Poetry and Place, and All About Love: New Visions, one of the guiding concepts bell hooks explored was love and healing from the extremes of pain and joy.  We are not speaking about love in terms of romance, but moreso in the sense of compassion and unity.   In All About Love, she critiques the fact that our society has not provided us with a healthy model to learn how to love and unify each other.  I think that creating a connection between her conceptions of love and cultural critiques of systems of white supremacy, can form a model of social justice that is all encompassing and recognizes our needs for unity and care.  bell hooks passed in December of 2021 and her contributions to feminist theory and poetry will be remebered for years to come.

Appalachian Elegy: Poetry and Place (Section 6)

listen little sister
angels make their hope here
in these hills
follow me
I will guide you
careful now
no trespass
I will guide you
word for word
mouth for mouth
all the holy ones
embracing us
all our kin
making home here
renegade marooned
lawless fugitives
grace these mountains
we have earth to bind us
the covenant
between us
can never be broken
vows to live and let live


Black graphic with green, digital text


Consent in the Digital Age
By Callie Anderson (she/her)

When thinking about situations when people need to get consent, digital consent might not be one of the first scenarios that come to mind. But as technology and the Internet grow in their role in interactions between people, consent and establishing boundaries in online scenarios also grow in importance. Digital consent is necessary for communication and interacting online so that all people’s boundaries are respected and everyone feels safe.

Consent is a complex topic, but a major aspect is that people need to know exactly what they are consenting to. It is important to be clear in our language when asking for consent as someone might consent to one activity or boundary but not another. Furthermore, consent needs to be voluntary or freely given, so the person asking for consent cannot apply pressure, guilt, or coercion.

A challenge with digital consent is that there might be non-verbal cues such as tone of voice or body language that can be more easily missed than it would be during face-to-face interaction. Navigating consent and boundaries is a necessity for interaction between people whether it is face-to-face or through a screen.

Consent is a baseline for all sexual activity, both in-person and on a screen. Sexual activity such as sending nude photos, sexting, or planning for in-person sexual activity through online communitcation all require consent.

Unfortunately, the Internet and online spaces often are not safe for women and feminine-identifying people. Over half of young women and girls have experienced online abuse, ranging from threatening messages to sexual harassment to revenge porn, which means sharing private, sexual images or videos without consent of everyone involved, and almost 90% of women and girls think that this problem of targeted online abuse is getting worse.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), online sexual abuse can include any type of sexual harassment, exploitation, or abuse that takes place online. Some forms of online seuxal harassment or abuse include:

  • Unwelcome communication about sex
  • Hateful comments about sex, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation
  • Unwanted requests for nude photos or videos or to livestream sexual acts
  • Performing sexual acts on webcam without the consent of everyone involved or in an inappropriate setting
  • Revenge porn
  • Sharing porn in inappropriate spaces where not everyone has consented to viewing it
  • Grooming children to enable their sexual abuse

Some social media and dating sites have taken steps to address online sexual abuse on their platforms and encourage respect and consent. Match Group is the company that runs 45 online dating services, including Tinder,, OkCupid, and PlentyOfFish. Match Group launched the #ConnectRespect campaign for its users to respect their matches and their consent because “consent doesn’t become important only after you’ve met in a physical space. It begins the moment you view someone’s profile on an online dating platform.” The dating app Bumble provides its users with some examples of ways to ask for consent online:

  • I’d love to show you exactly how I feel. Can I send you a nude photo?
  • I feel like there’s something between us here. Would you be interested in sexting with me?
  • I’m really enjoying this conversation a lot. Would you like to take it to a more intimate level? I’d love to tell you what I’d do if we were together right now.
  • Would you want to have video sex with me? No pressure either way. I just think it would be fun since we’re having such a good chat.

Online sexual harassment and abuse can take on many forms, but it is influenced by the same harmful attitudes and beliefs that lead to sexual violence committed in-person. Some of these risk factors for both online and in-person sexual violence include social norms that directly or indirectly condone violence; harmful ideas about masculinity; and attitudes that devalue and degrade women, LGBTQIA+ people, people of color, people with disabilities, and other marginalized communities and identities.

Along with asking for consent when engaging in sexual activity online, there are also everyday activities not related to sex where boundaries and consent are still vital pieces of having healthy interactions. According to the NSVRC, “everyday consent means we communicate our boundaries and ask others for their perspective before taking actions that impact them.”

Practicing everyday consent can show up in many different ways, but here are a few online examples:

  • Respecting people’s devices and accounts (not unlocking someone’s phone or laptop, not reading through texts or looking through pictures)
  • On shared devices, logging out of accounts that are not yours and not looking at private information that might be stored on the device
  • Asking for permission before posting photos, stories, or personal information about someone online
  • Agreeing to a time to video call rather than sporadically calling and making an assumption that they will be able to talk
  • Leaving options for how to communicate online, such as leaving a webcam off

Whether face-to-face or behind a screen, all people’s boundaries should be respected, and consent is necessary to navigate and respect these boundaries.

Light teal Gender Justice Conference graphic

Gender Justice Conference Thank You

Thank you thank you thank you for participating in the 2022 Gender Justice Conference! What an incredible day! We so appreciated the time and critical engagement so many of you offered! Please feel free to take some time to visit the Center for Women & Gender Equity YouTube page where you can find recordings of select sessions from the Gender Justice Conference. 

Thank you to our partners:
  • Center for Civic Engagement & Social Impact
  • Center for Trans & Queer Advocacy
  • Center for Women & Gender Equity
  • Counseling Center
  • Dowdy Multicultural Center
  • Graduate Social Work
  • Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
  • Office of New Student Programs
  • Office of Student Conduct
  • Office of Wellness Promotion
  • Parent & Family Relations
  • Peace and Conflict Studies
  • Political Science Department
  • Undergraduate Social Work
  • Women’s & Gender Studies Department
  • The WCU 150th Anniversary Speaker Series

Thank you to the members of our Committee:
Sendy Alcidonis, Sasha Alvarado, Callie Anderson, Kaileik Asbury, Chikayla Barriner, Tess Benser, Judy Bijoux-Leist, Jocelyn Brown, Soozie Davidson, Barbara DiEdwardo, Taylor Enterline, Megan Harth, Erin Hipple, Meg Hoffer-Collins, Ali Kochik, Gabby Margherti, Hiram Martinez, Lexie McCarthy, Shannon McQueen, Holland Morgan, Lindsey Mosvick, Ta'jah Norman, Jamie Piperato, Dana Pratt,Yamilet Reyes, Jayme Trogus, Jack Wolcott, Joan Woolfrey, and Lauren Zahour

Thank you to our presenters, artists, and speakers:
  • Becky Gourde
  • Chikayla Barriner
  • Chrissy Rockwell
  • Em Evans
  • Em Reynolds
  • Emily Miller
  • Jocelyn Brown
  • Kimmy Herman
  • Leilani Adens
  • Nicole Salapong
  • Robbie Wittiko
  • Sasha Alvarado
  • Shelby Lewis
  • Steven Feldman
  • Ta'jah Norman
  • Chloe Gong
  • Ericka Hart
And if you have not yet, please do stop by 214 Lawrence to get your conference t-shirt and swag bag!!
Light teal graphic featuring photo of Gender Justice Swag - a copy of Chloe Gong's These Violent Delights, a t-shirt, a tote bag with the Girls Bill of Rights, and a purple It's On Us water bottle.


The Clothesline Project Display Logo


The Clothesline Project Display

Wednesday, April 13, 2022
11:00am - 3:00pm
Private Location (sign in to display)
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Stand in solidarity with survivors of interpersonal violence (sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, stalking). This living arts display was created by members of our community impacted by interpersonal violence since the 1990's. Walk through the display and/or leave a message to honor and support survivors and their loved ones. For more information or to get involved contact Sponsored by the Center for Women & Gender Equity.

Take Back the Night Logo


Take Back the Night

Thursday, April 21, 2022
6:00pm - 9:00pm
Private Location (sign in to display)
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Save the Date! Take Back the Night 2022 will be the evening of Thursday, April 21st. Support those who experienced harm, learn about resources, and contribute to a safer campus for all of us. More info to come!