From: Tess Benser
Date: May 6, 2022
Subject: Center for Women & Gender Equity May 2022 Newsletter

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

Light purple graphic


The news this week has been challenging. In a leaked draft opinion, it appears that the Supreme Court is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade. This decision, should the court officially hand it down, would leave decision about the legality of abortion in the hands of individual states. Twenty six states are likely to ban abortion if Roe is overturned.

This news is hard. It’s also not a surprise. Since the Roe v. Wade decision, numerous laws and Supreme Court cases have limited access to abortion. In the last year alone, several extremely restrictive laws have been passed or proposed in several states, most famously the Texas bill SB8 which bans abortion after approximately six weeks and invites citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone believed to have aided and abetted an abortion after the six week deadline (read more about this below).

Abortion rights advocates have been preparing for what the landscape of access would look like in a world without the protection of Roe v. Wade for many years, but the likelihood of an overturn has never looked quite as certain as they do this week. 

As we navigate the uncertainty of what abortion rights will look like in the future, a few things remain important to keep in mind. 

  • Abortion is still legal in all 50 States, though many states have imposed restrictions. The leaked draft decision is not final, as of now. 

  • People of all genders have abortions. Limitations on access are likely to harm trans people in a number of ways

  • The people most vulnerable to harm from the overturn are disportionately BIPOC birthing people. A study published by Duke University Press estimates that limited access to abortion in a post-Roe would would result in a 21% increase in overall pregnancy related deaths, but would increase by 33% for Black birthing people.

  • Limiting access to abortion also has deep impacts on those who have experienced sexual violence or harm. A CDC study found that approximately 3 million American birthing people* will experience a rape-related pregnancy in their lifetime. 

  • Abortion is healthcare.

*The CDC study uses the language of “3 million women,” however this data does not appear to clarify if it was limited to cisgender women. 

If you are looking to engage in some personal advocacy work around abortion rights and access here in the U.S., there a few things you can consider doing

  • Connect with local advocacy groups to volunteer your time or engage in collective action. In response to the leaked draft opinion, the WCU College Democrats, the Gender Studies Club, and Planned Parenthood Generation Action have organized a Rally for Roe this Sunday at 2pm. 

  • Check in on your own contraceptive methods and determine if there are steps you can take to strengthen them. 

  • Stay up to date on news regarding abortion legislation. 

  • Consider making a donation to a local abortion fund. This link will bring you to a list of abortion funds across the U.S.


We hope you will take time as the semester winds down to take good care of yourselves and one another. Wishing you peace, joy, and rest as you finish up this academic year!

Campus Opportunities


Tuesday, May 3
Start End   Event         Location
1:00pm 11:00pm Dowdy Multicultural Leadership Positions for the 2022-2023 Academic Year TBD
1:00pm 11:55pm DMC Peer Mentor Position
Sunday, May 8
2:00pm 5:00pm Rally For Roe Fountain on the corner of High and Rosedale
Tuesday, May 10
11:00am 3:00pm Day Time De-Stress Sykes Ballroom
11:00am 1:00pm Cupcakes and Affirmations Outside of the Starbucks Entrance to the Library
Green graphic featuring mental health awareness month ribbon

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In obversation of this, we are re-running our piece from World Mental Health Day in October. 


Mental Health Matters Recommendations
By Jocelyn Brown (she/her)

     October 10, 2021, is World Mental Health Day. For the World Health Organization, the goal of every year’s campaign is to raise awareness of mental concerns around the world and provide access to materials that help people best support themselves and others. Of course, this year’s campaign is most influenced by the pandemic, and you can read about the WHO’s specific goals here. The WHO writes, “On World Mental Health Day, 10 October, it will have been more than 18 months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In some countries, life is returning to some semblance of normality; in others, rates of transmission and hospital admissions remain high, disrupting the lives of families and communities. In all countries, the pandemic has had a major impact on people’s mental health.” 

     West Chester University is privileged to be a part of this ‘return to normality,’ as well as to have ample access to vaccines. However, we also acknowledge that the return to in-person classes and campus living is going to be a stressful, scary time for the student body. There are still a lot of unknowns and difficult conversations about life going forward to be had. Therefore, like the WHO, I want to provide a few online and interactive mental health resources. These will hopefully keep you grounded and stay mindful of yourself and others in these uncertain times. 

  •  West Chester Counseling Services: Of course, I want to highlight the resources that our community has already collected. In particular, check out the Counseling Center’s YouTube channel, where they offer mindfulness exercises and coping strategies. 
  • Humanity & Resiliency Project: Also as a part of our Counseling Center, the Humanity & Resiliency Project aims to connect students and help them celebrate their shared humanity and vulnerability. The project includes a list of resources aimed toward this goal. One such site is Berkeley’s Greater Good in Action, which is short practices such as Mindful Breathing, based on actual scientific studies to help you live a good life.
  • You Feel Like Sh*t: This website describes itself as a “self-care game.” You answer questions designed to help lead you towards the main reasons that you might be feeling bad at that particular moment. Then, it gives you small, actionable suggestions you can take to improve your mental health.
  • Finding Steady Ground: This website’s mission is “strengthening our spirits to resist and thrive in these times.” They provide 7 behaviors that people can use to strengthen their mental health in times of turmoil. You can also sign up for their email list, which sends out 7 corresponding emails that further explain how to implement these behaviors.
  • Mental Health America’s 10 Tools: Mental Health America (MHA) has a guide on living your life well that includes 10 pages on explaining and achieving their top self-care tips, such as “Create joy and satisfaction.” They also have an article specifically on Overcoming Pandemic Re-Entry Anxiety.

   These websites are just quick tools to help you cope in the moment. Please don't be afraid to seek professional help if you are able to or at least reach out to the Counseling Center. After all, the WHO's slogan for this year is "Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality."

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The Clash Between Social Justice and the Art World
By Holland Morgan (they/them/theirs)

Historically, what is considered ‘high art’ has been dominated by white and male museum curators and board members, which has shaped the narrative of art and the industry.  It was reported in May of 2021 by the L.A. Times that Black people only 32 of 585 board seats at ten of L.A.’s most prominent art groups, and only 19.5% of museum board members identify as non-white.  This example comes from just one city in our country, but it is indicative of the patterns across the museum and art industry.  In response to this issue, The Art Newspaper reported that diversity and inclusion directors are now on staff at distinguished art museums in New York, Washington, DC, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, St. Louis and Toledo.  This is designed to not only be in response to more inclusive curating but also addressing the systemic racism within the museums themselves.  The exclusivity of the art world and the artists it has chosen to support is not a new issue, so why are they making these changes now? 

With all of the social change in regards to racial justice in this country in recent years, many industries have been held accountable to address issues both systemically and culturally in ways they hadn’t been previously, and the art field is no different.  For a brief history on how the art world we know has developed, socio-economic factors have dictated the meaning and accessibility of art.  Starting the 1970s, changes were stemming from globalization as well as major social justice movements.  Later on, the technology boom of the 90s and 2000s expanded what was considered art and it also became more accessible to consumers.  Art was less confined to the walls of expensive and exclusive museums, and gave more people the ability to create, share, and consume.   As the world has changed, economies have become deregulated and privatized, and the art world was not protected from this.  So this leads to the question of whether or not true creative and political resistance is possible when capitalist forms of production, marketing, and financialization, have impacted the meaning of art? 

When the art world is more engaged with socially and politically charged art, what does this mean for activist artists that have been historically ignored?  In the book Delirium and Resistance: Activist Art and the Crisis of Capitalism, G.G. Scholette analyzed the blurred lines between activist art and capitalist intervention, and stated that activist art “challenges the traditional view that art is an autonomous phenomenon that is immune from the political conditions and economic turmoil of a historical moment”.  This is an important idea because other fields of emotional and creative expression like music, dance, and film, are not devoid of political or social issues, so why should art be any different?  Famous musicians including Nina Simone or Kendrick Lamar, or filmmakers such as Cheryl Dunye, have all responded to Black rights movements through their different forms of art.  Instituting a diversity and inclusion director at a notable museum or attaching the name or work of a Black artist does not solve the issue of systemic and cultural racism within the art industry.  This  leads us back to the earlier question of whether or not activist art is sincere if it is entangled with capitalism.  I personally believe that it is possible.  We all live and or contribute to a capitalist system in some form, so to be able to create a piece of art within a capitalist system that still reflects your own ideas, values, beauty, emotion, whatever it may be, can be incredibly liberating.  We can not get discouraged by the fact that we are all inherently intertwined with these oppressive systems, so using those feelings of anger or frustration to our advantage and creating a unique expression of your ideas is an effective form of resistance. One great example of this can be the “Spray Their Name” art project led by Hiero Veiga and Thomas “Detour” Evans.

The art project by Veiga and Evans has the mission of creating murals of Black and Brown individuals who have lost their lives as a result of police violence, and have created notable portraits of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Elijah McClain.  They look at art as a way to grieve and have the families partake in the design of the mural.  They want to showcase the names and faces of those that have been silenced by systems of white supremacy and give voice to their communities.  Spray Their Name travels across the country and partners with local activists and artists to ensure that they are getting an accurate perspective.  I included this specific art project because I think it is a wonderful example of activist art within a social movement as well as our modern capitalist world.  Spray Their Name is not backed by a major museum or art group with the underlying goal of profiting off seeming more diverse or inclusive.  Their project is fueled by the power of public art and acquires all of the funding for supplies and transportation through donations.  They are sending a political message while also taking care to make it a community experience and memoriam.  We need to continue to expect better from the art world and appreciate the beautiful and diverse creations that can come out of it.

Green graphic featuring illustrations of sex toys

This article originally appeared in the December Edition of our Newsletter. May is observed as International Masturbation Month and has been since 1995 when surgeon-general Jocelyn Elders was asked to resign after a speech she gave for United Nations World AIDS Day in which she identified masturbation as something that was a part of human sexuality that ought to be included in sex education. In response, Good Vibrations, a California based sex toy store introduced Masturbation Month.  For more sex education information on masturbation, please visit this link from 


Sex Education: An Introduction to Sex Toys
By Callie Anderson (she/her)

Please take note that this section discusses different types of sex toys, how they are used, and how they are cared for. The end of the (school) year marks a time of joy, togetherness, and celebration, and we believe that sexual pleasure is part of that! Engaging in conversations that break down stigma around sex is also an important part of how we engage in anti-violence work. We encourage you to read only as you feel comfortable!

When it comes to sex toys, there can be an overwhelming number of choices whether it’s your first time buying or your tenth time. While sex toys aren’t required for good sex or masturbation, they can add some variety and a new way to enjoy sexual activity.

Sex toys can be purchased in person at Spice2Nite in Malvern or from retailers online. Some online retailers include Come As You Are, Early to Bed, Enby, and Smitten Kitten.These retailers have toys for all genders and sexualities and kinks. They use discreet packaging to protect your privacy throughout the shipping process.

The following is an introductory guide to different types of sex toys, but it is in no way an exhaustive list. Many stores like the ones mentioned above have informational sections on their websites or staff that are experts in helping you find what you’re looking for. Smitten Kitten even founded, which is a resource for toy and lube safety.

Vibrators are designed to produce pleasure when in contact with erogenous zones like the vagina, clitoris, and anus. Vibrators are versatile as some are made for penetration, some for clitoral stimulation, some for dual stimulation, and some for prostate stimulation. They also can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some can be phallic shaped while others are rounded. Some can be six or more inches long while others can be attached to one’s fingertip to use.

Because there are so many different types of vibrators, here are some starting points for looking for one you’d like. G-spot vibrators made for penetration include the Orchid Mood G-spot Vibe, the Splash, and the Razzmatazz. For clitoral and external stimulation, check out the Satisfyer Layons Sweet Sensation, the Mini Swan Rose Pink Massager, or the Satisfyer Pro 3 Vibration. There are also suction vibrators like the Satisfyer Pro Traveler. Options for dual stimulation vibrators include the Pretty Love Tim Mini Silicone Vibrator, Eve’s First Rechargeable Rabbit Vibrator, and the Butterfly Kiss. For anal vibrators or prostate stimulation, make sure that the vibrator has a flared base to ensure easy removal. Some options in this category include the Gossip Desire Anal Explorer, the Fuze Arrow Plug, and the Vibratex Pandora Prostate Massager. Some options for fingertip vibrators include the Tingling Tongue and the Rechargeable Finger Teaser.

Another popular sex toy category is dildos. Dildos are phallic shaped, but they come in a variety of colors and materials, so you could choose one that looks realistic or one that is beaded glass or anywhere in between. They also come in many different sizes, so you can find one that fits your preferences. There are dildos with suction cups that can stick to a wall, the floor, or a shower, or that could be attached to a harness. There are also dildos made for anal penetration that are designed with a flared bottom.

Some starting points for realistic-looking condoms are the Loverboy Top Gun Tommy 6 Inches and the Vac-U-Lock 7 Inches Thin dildo. A few unrealistic dildos include the Egon Neon Green Dildo and the Little Buddy. If you’re interested in a glass dildo, check out the Glas Relic and the Glas Clear Curved G Dildo. There are also options for a harness and dildo set, such as this Beginner Harness Kit.

Anal sex toys is a whole category itself with many different options. Butt or anal plugs are similar to many dildos, but they are specifically designed for insertion into the rectum, so they tend to be shorter and have a protruding or flared edge to prevent it from getting lost inside. For a smaller and more beginner-friendly butt plug, consider the Luxe Explore. The Fuze Pleasure Plug is available in four different sizes ranging from 4.5 inches to 6 inches. To ensure that anal play is comfortable and enjoyable, there are training kits to help figure out what one enjoys. For example, there is a Booty Call Trainer Kit with 3 butt plugs, and the smallest is 2.75 inches and the largest is 4.5 inches. There is also a Silicone Anal Trainer Kit that comes with 3 butt plugs ranging from 4.5 inches to 6 inches.

Anal beads are a series of attached spheres or balls that are inserted into the rectum. There are a variety of sizes of spheres depending on what your preference is. There is also a ring or handle at the end of the anal beads to prevent the beads from becoming stuck and for easier removal. Beginner-friendly anal beads include the Petite Sensations Pearls, which also has a mini vibrator at the base, and the Curve Novelties Perfect 10. For glass anal beads, an option is the Glas Quintensse Beaded Glass Anal Slider. There is also a starter kit for anal play, the Back Door Basics Kit, that includes a Booty Call Plug, Silicone Booty Bands, Slippery Stuff Lube, and a sheet with anal sex basics.

There are also sex toys made for penises. For example, cock rings (sometimes called c-rings), which are rings worn at the base of the penis usually for the purpose of restricting blood flow to make an erection stronger and longer. C-rings are made out of a variety of materials including silicone and metal, and some c- rings vibrate. A good beginner option is the Screaming O RingO. There is also the RingO Pro x3 pack that comes with 3 c- rings ranging from 1.5 inches in diameter to 2 inches in diameter.  An option for a leather ring is the Spartacus Velcro Leather C-Ring. If you’re looking for a vibrating c-ring, consider the Satisfyer Rechargeable Vibrating Rings and the PrimO Vibrating Ring

There are also toys called strokers, sleeves, and other forms of artificial mouths, anuses, and vaginas to simulate oral or penetrative sex. These can look realistic or unrealistic and are usually made from a soft, lubricated material. Some options for strokers include the Neon Luv Touch EZ Grip Stroker, the Tenga Air Cushion Stroker, the Coed C*ck Sucker Mouth Stroker, and the Back Door A** Masturbator Stroker.

Along with sex toys, lube and cleaning products are often necessary to keep sexual activity fun and healthy. Lube decreases the amount of friction and can help with penetration of the vagina and anus. There are multiple types of lube: oil-based, water-based, and silicone-based. It’s important to think about what kind of lube you’re using as oil-based lubes can breakdown barrier methods of birth control like latex condoms, water-based lubes can dry out faster, and silicone-based lubes can breakdown silicone-based sex toys. An oil-based lube is Stroke 29. Some options for water-based lube include F*ck Water Clear Lubricant, Wicked Sensual Care Anal Jelle, and JO Tri-Me Triple Packs, which comes with three flavored lubricants. For silicone lube, consider Sliquid Spark Menthol or Uberlube. Also, there are silicone and water blend-based lubes, such as Wicked Simply Hybrid and Sliquid Organics Silk.

When buying sex toys, it’s also important to know how to take care of them and keep them clean from harmful bacteria. To clean your toys properly, first you need to know what they are made out of. Porous materials, such as fabric, leather, hard plastic, and rubber, have microscopic holes that bacteria can grow in, so you may want to consider using a condom for protection. Nonporous materials, such as silicone, metal, and glass, are usually easier to clean because there aren’t holes for the bacteria to grow. Many sex toys can be cleaned with mild soap and water. Sometimes you will need to deep clean your sex toys, and you definitely should deep clean and disinfect them if they are being used by multiple people. There are cleaners made specifically for sex toys, and some recommended brands/products are Medamore, Sliquid Shine Toy Cleaner, and Satisfyer Cleansing Foam. For more information on how to clean sex toys and a breakdown of what is necessary for different types of materials, check out this article.

There are so many different types of sex toys and products, but this overview will hopefully empower you to embrace your sexuality and explore beyond this list to figure out what toys (if any!) you’d like to incorporate into your sex life.

Reproductive Justice: Post-Leaked Draft Decision

By Dana Pratt (she/they)

Headlines fill newspaper stands and infographics flood our social media pages. For most of us, the recent Texas state law passed, S.B.8., seems too awful to be true. Even in places where reproductive rights exist, they are not accessible for everyone, and now for folks in Texas, they do not even have that. Screaming for bodily autonomy for almost 20 years of my life leaves my throat dry and unable to heal. The supporter of this bill is Governor Greg Abbott. We see more and more how politicians make decisions about citizens’ rights to undergo or terminate biological processes that they do not understand, most of them have never even experienced them firsthand.

After the initial anger of “Why did they do this?”, we transition to the “How can they do this?” stage. This is something that many people are asking. Luckily, we have political scientists and other informed people to explain how this law slips through the hands of our human rights. Senate Bill 8 is the first of its kind to pass through the supreme court and go into effect. Texas lawmakers have coined this the “heartbeat law” which essentially bans abortions at or after 6 weeks of pregnancy, making no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. The misnomer of this law is the term “heartbeat.” A fetus’s heart does not develop until nearly the 20th week of pregnancy, and in most cases, “If you are less than seven weeks pregnant, it's unlikely to find a heartbeat by ultrasound” (VeryWellFamily). At this point in the pregnancy, the small clump of cells is not even considered a fetus, it is an embryo. This embryo is so small that in many cases ultrasounds cannot identify cardiac activity. Further, hormone levels of HCG, the pregnancy hormone, are sometimes too minimal to be picked up in an at-home pregnancy test. Further, for people that experience menstrual cycles, we know all too well that so many things can cause your period to be late, or not come at all.

Below is a compiled list of reasons why a menstrual cycle could change other than pregnancy.

  • Weight Changes
  • Increased Exercise
  • Secondary Amenorrhea (
  • Sleep Schedule Changes
  • Medication
  • Aspirin and other medicines (called blood thinners) that prevent blood clots.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (for example, Advil or Motrin) and naproxen (for example, Aleve).
  • Hormonal forms of birth control, such as birth control pills, Depo-Provera injections, Nexplanon implants, and the levonorgestrel IUD (Mirena).
  • Hormone therapy.
  • Medicines used to treat cancer (chemotherapy).
  • Thyroid medicines
  • Stress
  • PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
  • Chronic Conditions
  • Menopause
  • Cold/Sickness

As shown above, these are just a handful of circumstances that could affect the menstrual cycle from functioning regularly. It is also necessary to mention that most people do not know that they are pregnant at 6 weeks. So how did this law pass?According to an article in The Atlantic, “The key… was not to criminalize abortions. Instead, the state has authorized private citizens in the state- quite literally any private citizen—to file lawsuits against anyone who performs or ‘knowingly aids or abets’ an abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy. When plaintiffs in these suits succeed—and many inevitably will—they will receive at least $10,000 from defendants and an injunction preventing a provider from performing any more abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.”

By doing this, the state is not technically infringing on human rights of any kind because it is not the “state” shutting down abortion centers or criminalizing people directly. Essentially, this law is fueled by fear of being sued or “tattled on” for seeking any abortion services. On September 9th, the Justice Department sued the state of Texas over this ban. The lawsuit reads that ‘The state enacted the law “in open defiance of the Constitution.”’ As for any progress on getting rid of the bill, “The Justice Department is seeking a permanent injunction from a federal court in the Western District of Texas. But it's likely the U.S. Supreme Court will have the final word on the matter” ( It is important to note that this law is an issue outside the gender binary, and that is why it needs our attention so urgently. The below design offers a hyperlink to ways that citizens can help support people in knowing that their bodily autonomy is a human right and that we believe that this fight is an important one.

A letter from the author: 

This article has been one of the hardest I have ever written for many reasons. Senate Bill 8, also referred to as the heartbeat law, has become a catalyst for anti-abortion laws to surface.  Uncertainty regarding people’s reproductive rights is still a reality. Here are some updates on Senate Bill 8 and the copycat bills introduced afterward: 

  • October 22, 2021: Supreme court announced it would hear two cases challenging Texas’ SB8. According to the ACLU, “The court declined to rule on a request to block the ban until it hears the cases on Nov. 1. Since Sept. 1, when the ban took effect and the Supreme Court initially declined to block the law, nearly all Texans have been unable to access abortion in the state.” The two cases heard were United States v Texas and Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson. 
  • “United States v Texas: a lawsuit challenging SB 8 filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Earlier this month, a federal district court granted the DOJ’s request to temporarily block the law, but an appellate court let the law take effect again less than 48 hours later. The Supreme Court will decide whether to block the law again and whether the DOJ has the authority to bring this case”(
  • Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization: This law, written as a 15-week ban, asserts that pregnancy begins on the first day of the last menstrual period of the person, giving folks only 13 weeks to access abortion healthcare. While this Mississippi law is more forgiving in terms of time, it directly threatens the protections of Roe v Wade (which protects people’s right to seek an abortion) by claiming that viability begins at 15-weeks and that no one can access abortion afterward. This is also the first care that explicitly calls for the overturn of Roe v Wade. In Mississippi, there is only one abortion provider, making this law eliminate all the places that folks can access abortion after 15 weeks, making abortion nearly completely accessible. 
  • Even if Roe is not overturned, it doesn’t address the issue at hand: Legality is not equal to accessibility, which is currently a huge issue in providing this healthcare. 
  • Protection of Roe v Wade does not knock down the Texas abortion ban because of their use of private citizens as reporters of abortion. 
  • There are 24 states likely to prohibit abortion if the Mississippi ban is upheld by SCOTUS.
  • Abortion is still not as accessible as it needs to be, especially for BIPOC, those of lower socioeconomic status, and folks living in rural areas.