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date: 20 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter traces the history of and various meanings captured by the phrase “the personal is political” in the United States. It begins with an explanation of the use of the phrase by young civil rights activists who were struggling with the abstraction of critical theory and the authoritarian qualities of culture. The chapter tracks the phrase through into the early days of feminism in the late 1960s and early 1970s when second-wave feminists began to challenge the violence and oppressions experienced by women in the private realm. The chapter then highlights how “the personal is political” is related to the emergence of identity politics and the theorizing of difference within feminism. The conclusion offers some observations about contemporary uses and abuses of the phrase by those who identify as feminists in the popular sphere.

Keywords: feminism, civil rights movement, identity politics, intersectionality, choice feminism, personal is political, radical feminism, Marxism

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