GSC Fosters Education, Community, and Advocacy at Bodily Autonomy Fair

Courtesy of Bonji Onuma

On March 21, the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) hosted the Bodily Autonomy Fair in Parrish Hall. According to an email sent by Director of Gender & Sexuality Paige Jennings to the community on March 19, the event was an “expression of resistance to recent policy attacks on our bodies through education, joy, and camaraderie addressing our basic needs.” Alongside GSC associates and staff, a variety of organizations were present at the event, including the Sexual Health Advocates (SHAs), Student Wellness Educators (SWELL), Mosaic Medical Center, Get Out the Vote, the Title IX Office, and Swarthmore Athletics. At the event, students learned about safer sex practices, received free menstrual and safer sex products, and collected tickets to enter a sex toy raffle. 

Annalise Di Cicco ’27, a SHA and an attendee of the event, said the Bodily Autonomy Fair allowed her and other students to learn more about the work of student organizations.

“I saw a lot of my peers, and even myself, just being able to learn in a judgment-free environment. That was so liberating and amazing to see,” she said. “There was a voting table and I thought, ‘Oh, that didn’t even cross my mind, that voting is so important for bodily autonomy!”

GSC Associate Hannah Rowland-Seymour ’27 tabled at the fair to speak with students about the GSC’s gender affirmation closet, which is set to officially open on March 29. 

“I just loved that people were able to ask questions about the products that we’ll be able to provide and I also loved answering questions about transness and queerness in general,” they said. “They are very individualized experiences, and I can only speak to certain parts of it, but people were asking questions, which is what we wanted.”

Di Cicco emphasized the importance of the event in destigmatizing sex education and having open conversations about bodily autonomy. 

“I think if we keep people in the dark, if we don’t have these conversations about bodily autonomy, if we make it a taboo topic, that’s when STD rates rise. That’s why in certain communities, it is way more stigmatized and those rates are much higher. There are plenty of statistics on that,” Di Cicco said. “The more we talk about it, the better and safer sex we can have, the better we can choose about what kind of sex and intimacy we want to have. If we’re given all the information, then we can make those informed choices. Stigmatizing that only reduces choices and only reduces communication.” 

Similarly, GSC Associate Georgie Greene ’26 stated that the event created a welcoming and open space for students to talk about stigmatized topics, which is especially relevant in the face of new anti-queer and anti-abortion legislation. 

“I think it’s important that, as a campus, we take a very strong stance on these issues,” Greene said. “I think that having a fair in a very public place and showing people that there is a community and resources for them on campus and amongst their peers is very important.”

Rowland-Seymour explained that the event gave visibility to the effects of anti-queer legislation and encouraged attendees to engage with the issue. 

“I think a lot of people aren’t aware of things that don’t necessarily affect them directly. It’s very easy to ignore something if it’s not your life actively being put at risk or your body being targeted,” they said. “By having the event, we want to promote that this is an inequality issue, and it does affect everybody in some way. All of this anti-trans legislation, body regulations, and horrible things that are happening across the country are important to everybody and we need to make a conscious effort to try and fight against them.” 

During the fair, tour groups of prospective students interacted with representatives of organizations present at the event. Greene explained the importance of the event in showing prospective students what support and community are available to them at the college.

“I think that, as a prospective student, you only see a very sanitized version of the college, which is obviously intentional. The college is putting its best foot forward to attract prospective students,” she said. “I think that it’s good to see events like this in action and see that there’s a community here for them. Beyond the college as an institution, there’s a strong community of people and resources.”

However, despite the open atmosphere at the event, Di Cicco observed some hesitancy and judgment from some attendees. 

“I was walking out behind this group of three people, and they said, ‘Can you believe they had those things out? That’s wild, you don’t need to have that out. That’s weird,’” she explained. “I can completely understand why they may feel that way and that’s their opinion, but I think I was a little bummed when I heard them say that because it seemed like they just walked by and judged without interacting.” 

Di Cicco hopes that similar events in the future will branch out beyond Swarthmore.

“Everybody talks about the Swarthmore bubble. I think that it is a good thing to affirm to our own student body that we have these resources to educate our own community,” she said. “I think it would also be a great idea to offer it to other spaces, whether it be colleges, communities or spaces that don’t have as many of these conversations.”

Rowland-Seymour reflected on the event’s purpose and explained how they hope future events surrounding bodily autonomy continue forward. 

“When you think about the origins of this event, it came to fruition as a result of federal attacks on bodily autonomy and AFAB bodies,” they said. “When you consider the origins, I don’t want more of these events, but I think they are doing great things for the Swarthmore community and I think that it should continue in that sense.”

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