This is the third post in a series contributed by Susan Albertine, Senior Fellow at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).
This blog post started as a conversation with my daughter. About three years ago, I asked my daughter about feminism. She, Hannah, had just finished her first year of college. Prime time for a mother to swoop in and take temperature. Let’s be more precise. Second-wave feminist mom who at age 43 gave birth to her daughter descends on wary daughter after year one of college, bearing annoying questions. I could easily have been her grandmother, but she was under no obligation to extend me that courtesy.
I took the risk. Note: I am often too direct for my own good. Indeed, the conversation was awkward. Asked about the word feminism, Hannah said, “That’s your generation. I don’t know a single person who says she’s a feminist.” She said it genially, with a gleam in her eye. It put me in mind of her baby self, beaming with love, looking me straight in the eye, opening wide her adorable little mouth, and biting me. Her young adult conversations retain both their affection and their teeth. I felt it, but I was ready. Then followed ruminations.
Continue reading Reflections on Gender Equity in Higher Education: Intergenerational Feminism Starts at Home
This is the second post in a series contributed by Susan Albertine, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Student Success at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).
In the months since I last wrote for #SAFeminist, we’ve seen racial, ethnic, and sex-gender violence continue to flare across the country, on campuses, and in communities. For some of us, this unrest seems new, a different turn of events. Others of us–I among them–hear and feel the past echoing in the present. Many of us recognize a high-publicity phase of conditions that have simmered, boiled, and exploded all along. Perspective matters here.
Regardless of one’s experience, regardless of the ways one recognizes origins and continuity, social unrest now is impossible to miss. Reading an opinion piece by Danielle Allen, a political philosopher at Princeton, I found myself stunned by empathy when Allen describes—in a single sentence—a moment of continuity in her life. She says, “I, too, was called ‘n-‘ on campus in the lovely, deep late-night dark of Princeton in the spring of 1993.” That sentence haunts me. It is an experience I, as a white woman, have never known. But for a moment I felt a pulse of familiarity. It was not the full actuality, which is beyond my grasp. Still I felt breath and heartbeat for a moment. Thinking about equitable leadership for this #SAFeminist blog post, with that sentence ringing in my ears, I realize what I need to say. Continue reading Reflections on Gender Equity in Higher Education: Equity and Leadership
by: Jennifer R. Keup
The week of Thanksgiving, I sat in my regular yoga studio listening to my instructor begin the class with a statement of intentions for our 90 minutes together. Much to my surprise she shared the following: “Thanksgiving is the time when we might expect to engage in a practice with the intention of ‘gratitude.’ While I certainly support the idea and practice of gratitude, I would rather spend our time on the intention of setting appropriate boundaries. By saying ‘no’ to family members, to food, to holiday obligations, or to other things, we are often saying ‘yes’ to ourselves in the healthiest of ways.”
Continue reading The Gift of Saying “No” to Others and “Yes” to Yourself
by Heather Shea Gasser
In Is Everyone Really Equal? Sensoy and DiAngelo identify sexism as a form of oppression that is particularly difficult to see partially because of the effects of socialization, institutions, and culture. One example for one of the ways in which sexism is both visible and invisible in our culture is the tendency of advertisers to use feminine sexuality to “sell” products, ideas, and experiences. Sexuality in advertising is the topic of the series of videos by Jean Kilbourne called Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women. Kilbourne discusses how the use of advertising that objectifies women to sell products is so ubiquitous; we’ve nearly become desensitized to its effects.
As microcosms of larger society, campuses are not immune to these cultural messages. And, those who design and implement campus programming can unknowingly replicate these same tactics in advertising campus events. I argue in this post that our awareness and then action (or activism) can be important tools in counteracting the pervasiveness of sexist advertising.
In this post, I will share a personal case as an example of the (in)visible sexism on campus and explore how we, as feminists in student affairs, might disrupt sexist advertising within our spheres of influence. Continue reading (In)visibility of Sexism
by Heather Shea Gasser
I’ve written in a previous post about the personal being political and professional — and breastfeeding is a perfect example to further explain my point about how these three intersect.
My choice to breastfeed was highly personal. It was an individual choice I made on behalf of my child’s health and my personal desire. Any woman’s choice to breastfeed is likely wrapped up in her identity as a mother as well as socially constructed perspectives about motherhood. And, how long we continue to nurse is also highly personal and laden with cultural and societal expectations. I want to be clear that my perspectives on breastfeeding coupled with my personal experiences that I share in this post are not meant to alienate or exclude women who can’t breastfeed or who chose not to for any number of reasons. The personal and political nature of women’s choices around pregnancy, birth, postpartum care, and parenting are just that … individual choices to be respected and valued. Certainly there are plenty of perspectives about whether “breast is best”, just as there are about natural childbirth. While these are vital topics to explore, in this post, I move beyond the personal factors to discuss the political and professional intersections with our work in student affairs as feminists and as parents.
Breastfeeding, for many, is also political. Some would say it borders on activism at times. I identify as, know, and support many “lactavists” who see breastfeeding as an outlet for their feminist activism. For others, just breastfeeding discretely in public feels like an outrageous activist act. Continue reading Lactivism: Breastfeeding Activism on Campus