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The Personal is Political

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This is a principle of Feminist Therapy that took root in the late sixties and early seventies. Questions arose as to whether the women’s consciousness-raising groups were an integral part of the wider women’s political movement. The phrase should not be taken to expressly mean that all the personal choices of a woman reflect her political standing. Rather, the aim is to show that most of the personal problems experienced by women are a result of political machinations that have created an oppressive system.

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“Consciousness raising” refers to the early women’s liberation movement activity of women getting together in groups to discuss their own oppression (Napikoski, 2011). Feminist author Carol Hanisch, in her essay “The Personal is Political” argues against calling the groups “therapy” as their aim was not to solve the personal problems of women, but rather to ignite political action discussions on issues directly affecting women like marital roles and issues of childbirth.

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One good example is the issue of childbirth. For a long time, the societal expectations of women in the family were to get give birth and raise children. To contemplate any alternative was considered bad. The feminists then came up with “alternative lifestyles” and the “liberated” woman. Hanisch argues that whether women choose to get married or remain single, have children or not, choose celibacy or lesbianism, there are no bad or “more liberated” choices.

All that is there is good and bad things about every situation and women ought to be left free to pursue what they feel makes them happy. Choosing to follow any of these alternatives does reflect a woman’s personal feelings, and should not be misconstrued as a definitive political standing. On the whole it is a political victory for the women to be able to make such free choices, as it reflects the strides they have made in their feminist struggles.

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