The Personal Is Political

One of the things the last year has done for me is alter where I hear the emphasis in the slogan “the personal is political.” Coming up in third-wave girlpower retail feminism, it had been presented to me as an idea that meant individual choices about high heels and lipstick and turning off lamps were major political battlegrounds. (Which is not wholly untrue.) But what Carol Hanisch originally wrote was, “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.”

Faith says: So I shouldn’t buy the Burberry liquid lipstick?

Romie: Yes if you want your lips to be that color. No as the main strategy for influencing the French election.

Tim says: Certainly Sex & the City presented a class-driven political viewpoint.

Romie: In general, the same individualist consumer-driven solutions that seemed so appealing in other areas played out in this one. It’s the same kind of thinking that says “instead of going to town halls to support tougher environmental regulations, plant a tree in your backyard” and is quick to call for a boycott but suspicious of the idea of unionizing. Happened at the same time as the Bowling Alone phenomenon.