“What makes me feel powerful is being educated and having information.”

BACKGROUND

“I am from Westchester, New York where I was raised and lived a pretty normal life. I am Jewish and grew up in a pretty Jewish area so I felt like I was in a little Jewish bubble. A lot of people find comfort in that, but I felt a little out of place and like my values didn’t align with the values of my peers. Despite this, in college, I stayed in my comfort zone and joined a Jewish sorority, which I loved. But, when I was figuring out what I wanted to do after college, I had an urge to travel and try other places where I could find different people and perspectives. So I ended up in Chicago and I absolutely love it here.

Growing up, I was always the friend that everyone went to. I found that my peers didn’t really want to talk about sad or emotional things. I think people would come to me because I was very open and was comfortable discussing the hard stuff. I felt as though my strengths were my ability to connect deeply with people and my ability to be open to new and different experiences. With this, I decided to pursue a degree in Psychology. At Pennsylvania State, you satisfy your degree by picking and choosing your classes from certain pockets of categories. More science based, sociology based, philosophy based, etc, etc. Without realizing it, I was picking all of these courses on feminism, gender, and sexuality. At one point, my advisor informed me I was a few credits away from a minor in Sexuality and Gender Studies, so I completed that. I loved the knowledge and education I was getting from my Psychology Major and Sexuality and Gender Studies Minor. The information I was receiving on sexuality and gender really felt like true education, I felt I was educated in a way I had never been educated before. It empowered me, liberated me, and enabled me to challenge so many preconceived notions I had about life, being a woman, and being a sexual creature.

NOW IN CHICAGO

I have lived here for three years and I am getting a Psy.D in Clinical Psychology. Last year, I worked as a diagnostician and a therapist at a college counseling center. Now, I am a therapist at a long term care and psychiatric facility and next year, I am working at a feminist collective and healthcare center for women and trans* individuals.

BEING POWERFUL

What makes me feel powerful is being educated and having information, questioning things, and challenging things. I really think we fear what we don’t know and don’t understand, so if we take the time to learn and get educated we can really do anything. I truly think if you aren’t given proper information, you can’t have an accurate opinion on things. I feel so positively that I have received such wholistic information about things that aren’t really talked about and that now I can be powerful, challenge things, and form more accurate opinions for myself.

Reflecting on my identities, I do possess a lot of privilege. A lot of people with privileged identities don’t always need to take a look inward and figure out what it means to be THEM, to be cisgender, heterosexual, etc. because it’s the norm and we have rigid scripts about what it means to possess these normative identities.  When you have a minority identity, you often have to challenge the norm and challenge the scripts. I feel like I got the opportunity to explore and understand my identities as well as how I want to express my sexuality and gender. I’m honestly also just obsessed with talking about sex and gender spectrums. I think it is so important and relevant and fascinating. I think if everyone got as extensive of an education about sexuality and gender, we would all feel so much more fulfilled.”

PRODUCTS SHELLEY RECOMMENDS:

LENA Menstrual Cup

“We have lots of period products that we are taught to use at a young age, like pads and tampons. Unfortunately, these products aren’t tested or approved by the FDA, so they hold a lot of mystery ingredients and chemicals that are bad for you. Your vagina is the most absorbent part of your body and it has a naturally healthy balance. So, with tampons, your vagina soaks up all of those harmful ingredients  and at the same time throw off your vagina’s healthy balance by messing with your pH levels. A lot of women struggle with gynecological problems, like yeast infections, and don’t know why. Often, tampons can contribute to these problems because of the way they interact with your body. Personally, I have found that a menstrual cup works so much better for my body. It keeps your vagina at a healthy pH balance without exposing it to chemicals. The cup is very cost effective, beneficial for the environment, and better for your vaginal health. It is also super convenient because you can leave it in for up to 12 hours without risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome. I specifically recommend the LENA Cup. I am obsessed with the brand because, when I first bought it, they sent me a 20 page PDF on how to use it and other resources for the user. The creator really wanted everyone to be educated on what to expect, how to use it, and how to have a successful period with a menstrual cup. The DivaCup is also a great option.” https://lenacup.com/

The Satisfyer Pro – a knockoff of the Womanizer sex toy. It is a more reasonably priced toy and has a nicer name (LOL).

“Currently there is an orgasm gap between men and women. Studies show that from vaginal penetration alone, men are climaxing about 90% of the time, while women are only climaxing 40% of the time. Along with that, it is said that only 8% of women can climax from vaginal penetration alone. The frequency of orgasm increases with lesbian identified couples, in part, because they are more likely to engage in behaviors aside from vaginal penetration. This provides stimulation to external areas of the vulva, such as the clitoris, so orgasm can be experienced in women who do not climax from penetration. This sex toy stimulates the external areas of the vulva and can create a better sexual experience and more orgasms for women! It can also easily be used with a partner!” https://us.satisfyer.com/us/satisfyer/1/satisfyer-pro-2