Tag Archives: Heather Shea Gasser

Lactivism: Breastfeeding Activism on Campus

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

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Lessons from the Field: Feminist Supervision

by Heather Shea Gasser

This entry was modified from the original post on heathersheagasser.com

Very early on in my career in student affairs I had a really terrible supervisor (who will remain nameless). He was a “good ole’ boy” in the purest sense, catering not to his staff but to the upper administration (nearly all men) at the college. He undermined my role as the primary advisor to a group of students frequently: sometimes he provided only lukewarm support of my decisions and other times he blatantly advised students to take a course of action in direct opposition to my previous advisement. It probably comes as no shock that I moved on from that position as quickly as possible. There is nothing worse than having an unsupportive and hierarchical supervisor.

Supervision in student affairs comes in all shades. Some supervisors are as developmental and intentional in supervising their staff as they are in working with undergraduate students, applying lessons of Sanford’s “challenge and support” in every context (maybe inappropriately at times). Continue reading Lessons from the Field: Feminist Supervision

The Personal is Political… and Professional

by Heather Shea Gasser

A rallying cry of the women’s liberation and second-wave feminist movement is “The Personal Is Political.” The phrase charged legions of women who for too long had kept to themselves, thinking their private matters were just that… private. Therefore, highly personal topics like childbirth, sexual assault and harassment, and domestic violence were frequently hidden and consequently shameful. The feminists of the early 70s wanted these private matters to instead become matters of public concern. They established consciousness-raising groups with the hopeful outcome of increasing awareness of common experiences as a necessary precursor to broader social change.

The phrase, ‘The Personal Is Political,’ is also the title of a well-known essay by Carol Hanisch and was originally published in Notes from the Second Year: Women’s Liberation in 1970. The full text of the document, with a new introduction by the author written in 2006 is available here. Continue reading The Personal is Political… and Professional