I call myself a ‘little p’ feminist not to be darling but because to me it’s a thing. Based on research into the works of those who came before, my notion of what is political draws from the slogan ‘the personal is political’.
The branding ‘little p’ feminist is different from how the term politics is used in its formal sense ‘officials doing official business in official places’ and deliberately so. I say it to re-position politics where it belongs for me, which is in the personal sphere.
The slogan ‘the personal is political’ refers to the belief that every aspect of a woman’s private life is affected by and can itself affect the political situation. With the rise of second wave feminism in the late 60s, women began to recognise common problems and experiences and used these insights to challenge existing ways of understanding the world. Popular uptake was such ‘the personal is political’ became the mantra of second wave Western feminism, which extended from the late 60s through to the late 80s. However the idea retains an important place in feminist contemporary thought (Hashim 2002).
Women’s concerns and interests have long been devalued and marginalised in the public sphere (Lovheim 2012). An important ideology here is the patriarchal notion of the private/public sphere dichotomy as it is associated with male/female (Harp & Tremayne 2006). Broadly speaking, this is the idea that woman are responsible for, best suited to, and belong within the private sphere of life (the domestic sphere of home, family, private relations and sexual reproduction). Whereas the public sphere (a place men inhabit and women desire to belong to), consists of the working world, politics, economics, the law and mainstream discourse).
The historical influence of the public/private boundary on gendered identities, however simple, continues to have an impact on women’s lives and potential (Harp & Tremayne 2006). Sadly this gender divide is also reflected in the stats. Currently only three per cent of CEOs of top Australian companies are women – one of the lowest rated in the Western world. With a national pay gap of 17 per cent the number of female executive managers has also declined by 18 per cent since 2006. Rubbish results!
As regular person, with limited political sway, blogging gives me a way to participate in the conversation about gender inequality. Feminism has shown there is no easy separation between individual experience and political perspective and blogging highlights this connection. The personal style of production, combined with the public style of display, reduces boundaries between private and public. And it is here, according to Australian theorist Melissa Gregg, that blogging reveals its ‘unique capacity to reflect experiences that have been trivialized, denigrated or ignored in the past’ (2007).
Blogging my truth, from the stated position of feminist with a ‘small p politic’ is my way to agree, as loudly as I can, the personal is political. To be political in this sense is separate from effect. These are the three-steps of my politicking. Join me, albeit with teensy weensy impact, and politicise your personal:
1. Produce a blog formed from personal experiences and reflections in a way said to be typical of women bloggers,
2. Insodoing deliberately relegate self to the private sphere of the public/private dichotomy
3. Publish your blog post that, with just one click, your private/domestic space is immediately and also rendered a public/political space.
Et voilà! Tip me over, pour me out.