(Cross posted from blog: Feminists in Student AffairsThe featured photo on this post is of my mother, Susan Shea, and me on my 40th birthday)

You wouldn’t know it by looking at the array of women’s magazine covers at the grocery store check out line, but aging ISN’T actually the worst thing to happen to women. Consider the headlines on a recent SHAPE magazine: “Age-Proof Your Body: The Best Moves & Foods To Do It” and “Sharon Stone: 56 & Hotter Than Ever: Her Stay-Sexy Secrets Inside”. Statements like these contribute to the anti-aging, diet, and beauty mega-industry whose ads fill nearly every page inside. These products, ranging from wonder creams to hair dye, promise a more youthful appearance and are marketed nearly exclusively to women. It’s no secret that we live in a culture obsessed with youth.

Today, on my fortieth birthday, I feel compelled to share my thoughts on aging and how the blatant double standards in our society harms all of us but specifically targets and undermines women. Much of the focus on aging has to do, after all with appearance and how one presents to the world. As we’ve discussed in other posts on this site, professional dress standards also disproportionately impact women in the work place and specifically in student affairs. Regarding age and appearance – I contend that we internalize the pervasive anti-aging media messages and these in turn impact how, as we grow older, our effectiveness is perceived and judged in personal and professional contexts.

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(Cross posted from blog: Feminists in Student Affairs.)

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. more

On Tuesday, April 1, 2014 I presented the following slides as part of my Pecha Kucha presentation at ACPA 2014. It was a unique opportunity to share information based on the food class that I co-taught this past semester at Michigan State University.

About Pecha Kucha: My good friend Paul Brown describes the PK style of presentation very effectively in this post. I’d describe it as the most terrifying 6 minutes and 40 seconds, preceded by at least 12+ hours of prep in my life. Pecha Kucha, or PK for short, is a presentation format that lasts only 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Each presentation contains exactly 20 slides and each slide appears for only 20 seconds. Oh, and the slides are set to automatically advance, so once you “go” the trick is to keep time with the slides. As you can see with my slides below, the photos were very specifically chosen and flow between topics made it difficult if they weren’t perfectly timed. Ahhh!!

Quick shout out to my good friends, Kristin Holmberg & Kathy Adams Riester who helped me practice this in my hotel room probably about 20 times!

So, here’s my talk:

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(Cross posted from blog: Feminists in Student Affairs.)

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. more