The personal is political. When I first heard this phrase I had to stop and catch my breath. What is political? How does it fit? If you’ve clicked the link then no doubt you’ve found Carol Hanisch explaining this very idea, in 2006, discussed in a paper she published in 1969.
What this phrase means, according to Carol, is that the inequality that happens to women in their daily lives, and to oppressed minorities, is not their personal fault or blame, but a political symptom.
One of the first things we discover in these groups is that personal problems are political problems. There are no personal solutions at this time. There is only collective action for a collective solution. I went, and I continue to go to these meetings because I have gotten a political understanding which all my reading, all my “political discussions,” all my “political action,” all my four odd years in the movement never gave me. I’ve been forced to take off the rose colored glasses and face the awful truth about how grim my life really is as a woman.
We can apply this in modern day situations because sadly, these issues that affected women and minorities in 1969 continue to this day. Childcare, lower salaries, myths about our competency, insistence on behaving a certain way are still issues that are political for women. And they are still issues deemed unworthy of the title political, by men.
I say they are deemed unworthy but we see people all over the world taking the time to berate women and minorities for the impact society has on their personal lives. How dare women in America have abortions! How dare people state Black Lives Matter. How dare you think your trans existence be acknowledged and protected in our prisons. How dare you come to our country with your domestic violence conviction adding a weight to your lyrics that sinks into our lives and suggests this problem is everyone’s.
Politicians have power over education, over funding for parents, over laws that protect women and children and equity/equality, laws and procedures over ethnicity and immigration- all factors that personally affect people from a wide range of backgrounds, ages and genders. These powers are reflected in the daily struggles that women, children, minorities and diverse genders deal with every damned day.
So it is with sadness that I see the voices of women, of minorities, of diverse genders or even of indigenous people remain unacknowledged by ‘political’ blogs. They are not the ‘top’ political blogs, by way of statistics, by way of content, by way of a complete lack of knowledge of what being oppressed and demeaned really is.
It is not the sly banter of infamous men that attracts me to politics. I am not destined to lead. I am not statistically significant in the blogosphere. No. What attracts me to politics is seeing parents struggle with educational change and expectations that have been inexpertly demonised by successive governments. What attracts me is the idea that we have the capacity to change inequity, and to become more successful as a society, but men-and women, thanks Aunty Helen- in power decline to make the changes necessary to do it.
In a world where history makes light of the contributions of women, it is embarrassing to see the potential of social media and its influence on politics reduced to an ellipses- a continuation of power imbalances that have for centuries already existed. Surely a political blog is one that challenges the status quo’s idea of politics and amplifies minority voice rather than giving power continuously to those who are well used to it.