by: Kathryn Kay Coquemont
India Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair” is a symbolic anthem communicating that people (particularly those from the Black/African American community) are more than the social identities we use as labels. She sings, “I am not my hair / I am not this skin / I am not your expectations, no / I am not my hair / I am not this skin / I am the soul that lives within”. Although many found these lyrics empowering, others were quick to point out that systemic oppression often does relegate people of color to embody a single dimensional identity. As a woman of color, my permitted identity is often determined by those with more privilege and power than I have. Every day, I navigate the world trying to determine if my racial or my gender identity is more salient in the current space I inhabit. I can only imagine and listen to stories about how much more difficult it is for women with additional marginalized identities to cope with social expectations. Continue reading Identity, Intersection, and Collision
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
This is the first 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)
Reading the postings at SAfeminist, I’ve been thinking not just about leadership and mentorship for women on campus, but also about the purposes of leadership itself. Why do we—by whom I mean SAfeminist voices—care so much about leadership, specifically about female leadership? Is it really self-evident why it matters? SAfeminist writers are united in their call. I hear that. I hear that women continue to feel pulled between the personal and the political, between family and career, between fixed and fluid identities, between one polarity and another. Personal experience tells me those dynamics are real. What I am not hearing as clearly is why women’s leadership and mentorship will help right now. I’d like to reflect on that question. To what end do we envision the leadership for which we are calling? Continue reading Reflections on Gender Equity in Higher Education: An Introduction
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 Heather Shea Gasser
Why do people shy away from identifying as feminists? What are the stereotypical images that the word “feminist” provokes? How does one integrate a feminist identity into working in Student Affairs? These questions and more are why we intentionally titled this blog and linked its purpose to feminism.
While there are many definitions of feminism, I personally like bell hook’s definition as “the movement to end sexist oppression.” Oppression based on perceived gender norms affects everyone, men, women, transgender individuals. And, more importantly, anyone who seeks to promote principles of gender equity and social justice in society can be a feminist.
I recognize that the label “feminist” doesn’t resonate with everyone and many people resist identifying as such because of the negative stereotypes with which the word is associated. In my previous experience working as the director of a campus-based women’s center, I often interacted with students who would say “I’m not a feminist, but…” Continue reading The F-Word: Feminism