Recently, a female colleague said that she believes that I had achieved my professional position because I am an attractive woman and work for male administrators. The (not-so-subtle) implication of this statement was that, as an attractive woman, I was given opportunities not afforded to others who she believes are better qualified than I am.
To be quite honest, I was shocked at this accusation. I would never classify myself as an attractive woman. I would describe myself as a runner, athletic, a feminist, an educator, a wife, a sister, a mother, an animal lover, and a laundry list of other adjectives…but never would I label myself as “attractive.” The idea of of using my appearance in an attempt to get ahead is ridiculous to me. I am the person running out the house at the last minute with a dryer sheet stuck to the arm of her blouse. I am so frugal that I only shop at second-hand clothing shops and that one red tag clearance rack at the back corner of the store. My husband is far more fashion forward than I am. In fact, he does all the ironing in our household as my skill level is not up to his standards, which is fine by me. I spray that magic wrinkle spray on myself and call it good enough. Most of my time outside of work is spent in running shoes and workout clothing. My beauty “routine” consists of my daughter’s baby oil, eczema cream, and prescription acne ointment from a dermatologist (yes, in my mid-30’s I am plagued by both acne and wrinkles). Those are certainly not the features that one would normally associate with “attractive.” Continue reading Feminism and the Alpha Female
By Brandy Turnbow
The closing months of the year are often a time of intense reflection for me as I struggle to understand what has been most meaningful about the year thus far and what can be done to better navigate some of the challenges experienced as I prepare for the next year to come. I rely heavily on my simple meditation of Space and Grace. Both capitalized; they’re that important. Space to attend to my self-care and self-reflection. Grace not to hold guilt for prioritizing my needs.
The past few years have been tedious and difficult. Small wins met with larger defeats or complete restructuring of purpose. Suffice it to say, when the calendar begins to wind down toward November, my anxiety increases and I find myself vulnerable and heavily reliant on my protocols of self-care.
Continue reading Space and Grace
by Z Nicolazzo
This morning, while scrolling through my Facebook feed, I happened across a post that brought a smile to my face: it now appears that Simmons is the third Women’s college to openly affirm its stance on accepting transgender (herein referred to as trans*) students (Rocheleau & Landergan, 2014). This announcement follows those made earlier this fall by Mills College and Mount Holyoke, signaling what I hope will be a sea change for not only Women’s colleges, but for all institutions of higher education. I agree that all institutions of higher education need to be considering trans* students more seriously, and have even mused why Men’s colleges have yet to publicly address the inclusion of trans* students. However, I think there are important questions to be addressed by the recent increase in attention on trans* students (lack of) inclusion at Women’s colleges, most notably, how does recognizing and affirming trans* lives shape the future of feminisms?
Continue reading Trans*ing Feminism
So, here’s the deal: I’m TIRED! Like to-the-core mentally, physically, spiritually, and professionally tired. This is not the kind of tired that a vacation, a long weekend spent in bed, or a weekday massage can dispel. This is the kind of exhausted that I suspect is the hallmark of many mid-level and senior student affairs professionals who are also juggling other demands in their lives. Add to that the fact that many of us who are drawn to this field are innate and lifelong “caretakers” whose responsibilities and obligations in service to others probably predates our professional roles in higher education for reasons that range from being type A personalities, first-born children, lifelong leaders, or even managing more pressing challenges in our inner circles such as addiction or mental health issues. Contextualize all of that within a resource-sensitive era of higher education (read: “we ain’t got no money!”), being asked to do “more with less,” and continually needing to prove our worth as partners in the academic mission of the institution, and it can be a recipe for serious burnout.
Continue reading Dreaming of an Administrative Sabbatical
by Brenda McKenzie, Doctoral Candidate, Kent State University
Women and girls are bombarded with messages every day from the media about how they should look and act and who they should be. These messages are often detrimental and can be downright misogynistic as has been highlighted by the work of Jean Kilbourne and the documentary MissRepresentation.
But there has been a recent shift in how women and girls are being portrayed and the messages companies want to send to women. The shift seemed to start with Goldieblox’s ad that dispelled the myth that all girls want is to play princess. Girls want to be innovators and architects and scientists and more. More recently Verizon Continue reading Shifting Media Messages to Women?
by Keith E. Edwards
I don’t call myself a feminist. It’s not because I don’t value, support, and aspire to feminist aims and goals; I do. I don’t call myself a feminist for two reasons. First, I’m mindful of a history of men appropriating feminist and women’s movements for their own benefit and credit. Second, I am troubled by those from dominant groups who self-identify as allies in general and feminists specifically. As a man, my privilege blinds me to so much of my own socialized and internalized sexism that in spite of my best intentions, I can never be sure if I’m effective in my efforts to support feminist aims. I’d rather individuals who experience sexism and identify as feminists determine who is (and if I am) an effective ally. In the meantime, I aspire to be an ally and feminist. When those who experience systemic sexism call me a feminist, I take it as an enormous compliment.
Feminism is not anti-man, rather it is anti-patriarchy (hooks, 2004). That is a BIG difference. Battle of the Sexes was a crappy show on MTV, not a solution to the very real problems facing people of all genders. Continue reading Why Feminism Is In My Best Interest As a Man
by Julia Overton-Healy
All too often, as a Student Affairs professional woman who coaches a lot of young college women, I hear women students start a sentence with “I’m sorry but…” They are usually asking a question –perfectly encouraged since they are, after all, trying to learn something; or expressing a thought—again, wonderfully welcome because we are in a classroom and thought is our main currency of exchange. Sometimes they want to share an opinion; always a happy moment since it indicates they’ve thought about the information they now understand and have weighed it against other information they have and formulated a decision about the entire process. Often they are simply reacting to someone else’s comment; again, highly welcome since conversation and discussion is one of the best ways we learn about our world. So I am baffled when I hear “I’m sorry but” as a prelude to a question, thought, opinion or reaction—all of which are welcome in my class!
I’ve started interrupting my students now when I hear them do this. I’ll just butt right in—rude, I know—and ask them “what are you sorry for?” Continue reading #NotSorry
by Tamara Yakaboski and Leah Reinert
During graduate school and the early days of a new job, individuals are socialized in what is considered professional attire for that position, office/department, institution, and, even, regional culture. Sometimes those expectations clash with individuals’ identities and cultures. What are the consequences when we, as student affairs professionals and faculty, tell staff and students to “be authentic” but then expect a narrower and gendered version of professional appearance?
In examining professional dress for women in student affairs, there seems to be a double bind in expectations. Women are expected to look feminine but not sexy (i.e., fitted shirts but no cleavage; heels but no stilettos) while at the same time ascribe to a white, upper middle class image of professionalism, meaning suits, blazers, slacks, knee length skirts or dresses (i.e., J. Crew or Banana Republic). These messages even echo through annual student affairs conferences such as NASPA or ACPA. While it is appreciated that individuals show up looking their best, the expectations and judgments of what is considered “proper” professional attire for women has gender, class, and race undertones to it.
Continue reading Professional Dress and Authenticity
by Craig Bidiman
I’ve had a few interesting interactions with men over the last two years during my insurgence into the realm of studying and advocating for healthier masculinities. One topic that constantly arises is feminism.
Feminism is an interesting topic in the masculinities realm because I have found that some men are quite resistant to identify as a feminist.
Feminism—simply put—is advocating for gender equity. For all.
And men—simply put—are not good at sharing. At all.
Even though men are often not good at sharing, I have faith we can share feminist dialogue with each other. Yet, in order be effective, I have found that the conversation must go through three distinct steps. Continue reading Three Simple Steps for Men to Engage Resistant Men in Feminist Dialogue