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The Personal is the Political


What does this phrase mean to you? I had a vague idea but once I tried to pin it down I became increasingly confused. To some extent I just think of it as a statement of the obvious. Every action I take has consequences, and these consequences will in general have a political dimension that should not be ignored. Some of my actions are clearly political, like voting in an election - others less so (what I buy, how I dress, who I chose to associate with).

This Wikipedia entry on the history of feminism in the United States suggests that the earliest common usage of the phrase was amongst so-called "second wave feminists" in the 1960's - so what did they mean by it? I don't think they all meant the same thing. On the one hand there was an attempt to expand the perception of politics and explore new forms of organisation and action, but on the other hand there was also an effort to campaign for new laws which would extend rather than reduce the roll of government.

For an idea of the wide variety of interpretations of the phrase, take a look at the following:

www.zenatode.org.uk Ian Gregory 2010