• The Feminist Times

"Personal is Political"

नारीवाद का ये नारा है ;व्यत्तिकगत राजनीतिक है


Firstly what is the distinction between public and private realm considered by society?

Politics is seen as an arena of public sphere rather than private life. Things that happen in a familial context are related to the private realm and considered ‘non political’ in nature. The public- private dichotomy is one of the fundamental issues. It stands for the deliberate attempt of patriarchal societies to exclude women from the public sphere, the site of power and authority by restricting them to the walls of domesticity.

This divide is the root cause of most gender troubles and gender inequality.

POLITICS IS NOT MERELY CONFINED TO THE AFFAIRS OF GOVERNMENT OR PUBLIC

BODIES. Female oppression ought to occur in all walks of life and in many respects originates from the family itself. It becomes necessary to challenge this distinction because the power distribution among males and females within the four walls of a house is very much influenced by the public sphere in the society because the things which happen in law boards or the war grounds deeply affect and define private domain. The decisions taken at the public domain influence things happening at the personal level as well. Also actions or decisions people take in the sphere of public whether it is in form voting, political activity or holding any title, their character, their trust, and ideologies develops in the reference of private and familial relations.

Sexual division of labour within the household; i.e unequal distribution of domestic labour, promotes the idea that a workplace of women restricts to only domestic work and household chores within the house of family unit. The sexual inequality has been preserved precisely because sexual division of domestic labour that runs through society has been thought of as ‘ natural’ rather than ‘ political’. If politics only takes place within the public sphere, the role of women and the question of sexual equality are issues of little or no political importance. Women restricted to the private role of housewife and mother, are in effect excluded from politics. When a woman enters the sphere of public realm then the inequality of private domain follows up as a hindrance for them.

In such cases formal equality becomes meaningless. Formal equality and equal rights are not just obtained by the equality law, discrimination for women have been still witnessed and one of the main reason for it is inequality in the private domain which we have neglected.

There is a lot of controversy regarding the slogan “Personal is the Political” thus it becomes important to understand what it doesn’t mean:-

● When we question the traditional notions of public and private divide it doesn’t mean we do not accept any kind of difference between both the spheres, neither we agree that

private and public realm are the same.

● We also don’t believe that personal sphere isn’t important nor do we want interference in each and every aspect of familial relationships of private domain. We also do not agree that the private and public sphere can be differentiated on the grounds of

appropriate moral values set by the society.

Then what is the meaning of challenging private and public domain?

It means that all the work or behavior which we witness in the public realm have roots in the private domain as well. The power distributary of society starts from a small level and society’s small units of families are those spheres which influence and get influenced by the public domain.

We aren’t unconcerned about the privacy rights of women. We accept the importance of

privacy. We believe that the privacy which women actually need is denied to them and

unnecessary intervention in privacy is bashed over them. According to Anitha Allen the main challenge is that women are deprived of the privacy which they want on the other hand needless stepping onto privacy and to acquire this is the pivotal concern or challenge.

Recently ‘the tatva india’ highlighted this horrifying incident that happened in delhi in broad daylight, a man murdered his wife with a knife on the street. And why did the incident happened? A PATRIARCHAL EGOISTIC MINDSET. Since the wife denied to be a housewife and leave her job the man kissed her to death. The most surprising part is that no one stopped to help because it was a matter between the husband and wife! They didn’t feel like meddling in private affairs. Again we couldn’t neglect the fact that helping her was a mere act of humanity, which yes; one of the important things feminism teaches us - to become a better human.

Another amusing thing is that when it comes to abortion instead of women having her right over her body, old men at decision making positions will decide for her whether she could have an abortion or not after inquiring to their fullest which includes her sexual life, whether she is married or not etc. On the contrary in our country there is no legal rule for martial rape, society believes it to be a personal issue and hence meddling in the matter is overstepping onto the privacy. In both the situations the right of women on her very own body is denied to her. Similarly in the cases of domestic abuse, people tend to hesitate to help women as they believe it to be a familial thing which comes under personal realm.

Which is why I cannot emphasize this enough- Personal will always be Political- not only when it deems fit for society!


-Dhanushya

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