The popular feminist slogan “The personal is political” conveys a groundbreaking insight of feminism in the 1960s and 70s. In discussing their personal lives with one another, feminists began to realize that issues they had considered individual and private – conflicts in relationships, obstacles at work, frustrations meeting gender expectations – were actually shared by many women. These personal issues had structural causes, and therefore needed to be addressed in political terms, not on an individual basis.
What does my family look like? What kinds of expectations does my family have for husbands and wives, sons and daughters? How do we share responsibilities? How do we deal with our problems? The feminists featured in this section explore the social significance of such questions.
Does my body belong to me? Who decides how it is treated? Do I have access to information about my health and body? Can I make my own choices about my health care? These questions have taken center stage for many feminists, who believe that women cannot control their lives until they can control their own bodies.
My Body Image
Do I have an attractive body? Am I thin enough? Is my nose too big? Many women struggle to live up to the restricting and often unrealistic social expectations of femininity. Feminism has helped women reject these limited models of acceptable physical characteristics and feel comfortable in their own skin.
“Women can’t do that!” “But there’s never been a woman rabbi before!” The pioneers in this section often heard such exclamations, yet steadfastly pursued their chosen careers despite having few precedents and facing much opposition. In doing their work, they have created new images of what women can do.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "The Personal is Political." (Viewed on September 19, 2021) <https://jwa.org/feminism/themes/the-personal-is-political>.