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March 9, 2009

Blog #5

As we have discussed and seen in class, the definition of “political” is flexible. But at the least, we decided that an issue that is political is something that i public and affects many women. In this way, feminists fight to make what is “personal,” or not public, political. Issues that women deal with everyday, but that may not be openly talked about, must be brought to the forefront in order to be dealt with and changed. Things like the functions of a marriage, relationships with men and/or other women, sex, the home, and so on are things that many women deal with but, traditionally, are not talked about publicly or politically. Making the personal political draws critical attention to them and forces society to realize what is not right about how they are functioning, etc. So the term “political,” or anything public that many women deal with, can obviously be a broad term and cover a lot of ground.

The readings we have read thus far, have focused on women’s equality in relation to men as well as other women and the various “cast systems” employed in the U.S. Thus far, the readings have defined political, as issues that affect the lives of multiple women. I feel what is meant by the feminist idea, “the personal is political” are the issues which women face in regards to sexism and other various forms of inequality. An example of the “personal is political” is one of the main topics currently being covered in the media, Rihanna and Chris Brown. What were once personal issues between these two individuals (domestic abuse) are now political, because the personal issues in their relationship have been exposed and are now public, making them political. What makes an issue a feminist issue, is when it involves oppression of any group. The core principle of feminism is equality for all not just women, but I feel many feminist issues are centered on equality for women; such as female genital mutilation, sex trafficking and domestic abuse. Politics are very broad, practically any issue can be considered political no matter how narrow we would like to make the political scope.

Question #5

I think the articles we’ve read seem to articulate that not everything is political, but rather that everything has the potential to be political. For example, we discussed the issue of domestic work in several of our readings. Today, while many domestic workers do not have access to fair pay or benefits, many have access to co-ops and advocacy groups. However, there was once a time when domestic workers were alone to deal with the hardships of the industry. In this case, the personal struggle of domestic work became a political issue when the individuals got together and decided that something needed to change. I think we see this in almost every other political debate. No situation is created innately political; instead, individuals realize the necessity for change and make the situation political. In this sense, I think the term “political” can be interpreted in any capacity: no issue is too broad, too narrow, too personal, or too public to affect individuals in a way that causes them to seek change. In the same way, I believe all issues can be feminist issues. This is especially true with the idea that “the personal is political”, meaning that all issues have the capability of being politicized.

Blog Five

The term "the personal is the political" was popularized in the late '60s. It was basically the idea that all of the personal problems women had and were discussing in consciousness raising groups were much bigger problems than any one women realized. These problems were the problems of most women in this period, and by coming together and voicing their concerns they realized that their personal lives were collectively a political issue. The way I understand it, it means that the personal issue of one women doing most of the housework becomes a political issue when being saddled with the majority of domestic work disadvantages millions of women.

Following along with this definition, I would say that for an issue to be a political issue, it would have to affect a large number of people similarly. A corollary of this definition is that the issue would also have to have negative consequences and require social change. Once awareness of the undesirable situation is raised, organizations and politicians can push for a change in the situation. If so many women hadn't voiced their similar concerns about birth control, sexual harassment, and domestic work, social change wouldn't have happened as quickly. A feminist issue is one that affects a large group of women. Feminist issues may involve only women of a certain age, socioeconomic class, or race, or they may encompass all women. What is important to remember about feminist issues is that they are not restricted to the women who are the face of the feminist movement (white middle-class women), nor are they restricted to women who identify as feminists at all. Any issue, even if perceived as personal, that affects many women similarly and negatively must be considered a political one.

personal politics

It seems to me that the fact feminism has evolved in a fashion that makes the personal political is what makes it so difficult to define or unify in a cohesive voice. In this class specifically I have heard people talking about their struggle to understand what feminism actually is, or what makes an issue a feminist one.

Continue reading "personal politics" »

Blog 5 "Politic"

Someone in class says something about the personal things is "political' in the sense that the personal issue is something that needs or can be pass to be a political issue. I agree. For example the personal issue does not have to be personal in a sense of one's private matter, but like one's culture vs. mainstream culture such as getting marry early. It is an individual choice to get marry early or whenever he/she is ready, which is a personal matter, but this problem has become political when there are restriction to age marriage such as at least the individuals has to be at least 16 years old. It is political when the government gets involve in someone or an individuals relation with others. It is something of small matter that government makes it big such as making it into a court case where everything has to be documented and where the husband or male is being put to jail for marrying someone of not the legal age because the government has set an age limit for us to get marry. The way governement setting restriction for some personal matter like this is like going about seeing new things that does not have a name to name it such as weird potteries or rocks or anything. For personal matter where there has never been set a limit to an age where one can marry, in the modern time the government has to name this personal matter as the "legal age" for "marriage".

Blog 5

Political. Who gets what, when and why? Politics is typically stereotyped as something bigger than it really is. “The political” is usually considered to be the movements of larger groups or something that is legislative and involved in the governing of people. However, who is to say that political doesn’t involve the actions of every person every day. Thus the idea that the personal is political. Politics is a broad term with an idea that can be cyclical. Every group of people that is organized has politics. It is argued that people’s personal lives should be kept out of politics. Within our society politics in unavoidable, however. From a high school sports team to our government’s legislation the idea behind politics is extremely personal. Who gets what, when and why? Politics revolves around the individual wants and needs, the issues arise when those wants and needs are fulfilled for just one specific side of the matter. The political is personal because it means something to everyone and it affects everyone in some way. No matter what the scale of the political issue, it has an individual consequence one way or the other. Ideally, we would like to believe that we keep politics out of our personal lives, but realistically politics shape how we live every day.

Response to Erika's post

I completely agree with Erika’s assessment of the political/personal debate as presented in most of our readings so far this semester. The discourse surrounding women’s role in work and their role in family reflects a much older conception of women’s needs and limitations and yet our society continues to replicate these ideas and expectations. I agree, Erika, that every issue is both personal and political. But are some issues more political than personal or visa versa? Is it our duty as feminists to change public perceptions of problems that are seen exclusively as one or the other? As feminist I feel we must attack issues that do not seem on the surface to be feminist issues because they are so tied to the personal issues that effect women’s lives. As feminist, however, we fall into a trap of using a personal example to make a political statement but then do not necessarily take personal experiences and demand they be translated into political discourse. There are many issues we are addressing successfully, but there are still many more issues that need airing in public debates and especially in public elections and on major party platforms. The personal is political but we must make those experiences more important within a political landscape that still denies importance to women and their issues.

March 6, 2009

The political...

I think that most of the pieces we've read thus far indicate that the distinction between personal and political is artificial - the personal is always political. Even the smallest issue, like what clothes we put on in the morning, becomes political when you consider who made the clothes (most likely someone who was not being paid a livable wage, or did not have the power to unionize, or who works in a developing country with which the US has an exploitative relationship) and what the clothes mean (baggy jeans don't send the same message as skinny jeans). I was particularly struck by the pieces on abortion. The legal justification for the right to choose is privacy, but no abortion is ever private, by virtue of women's place in society, the color of the woman's skin, the relationship she has or does not have with her partner, etc. Women with disabilities must contend with a long history of eugenics and dominant notions of the "valued" life (which for women includes not just being a mother, but being a "good" mother). Housework is another good example - not only must one consider not only if the work itself is valued, but if the person doing the work is valued (this, i would say, is the difference between paying your kid $10 per week to do the laundry and take out the trash versus paying a domestic worker that wage: it means something entirely different to deny adult women who have families and must support themselves, and who have a history of being denied proper compensation in America, a living wage, and it speaks to the value we assign them as people, as women, and as women of color). For these reasons, I think pretty much every issue is political, and every political issue is a feminist issue, and that's how it should be. When you live in a society that has been so thoroughly permeated by patriarchy, as ours have, it's impossible for any significant issue to have been shielded from it. But once we recognize that an issue is both political and a feminist issue, then resistance can be articulated (a la Betty Friedan).

March 5, 2009

Blog #5

Term: the Political

Since we don’t have any readings for this week, I thought you all could respond to some more open-ended questions that are central to our discussion of feminism, feminist debates, and feminist strategies for social justice.

How have the feminists that we have read so far defined the political?
What is meant by the feminist idea, "the personal is political"?
How broad (or narrow) of a term should “the political” be?
What makes an issue a political issue?
What makes an issue a feminist issue?