‘The personal is political’ is a slogan widely known and effectively used to discuss the core questions addressed by feminist politics; one of the more interesting being, the traditional distinction between public and private spheres. Politicians working under the discourse of feminism have acknowledged this distinction as one way of legitimizing the oppression and exclusion of women from public spheres.
“The real inspiration for new thinking, was radical feminism, which called into question the conventional understanding of the scope and nature of politics, rejecting its distinction between private and public spheres, and highlighting the ubiquitous role of male power or patriarchy and the masculine character of mainstream political institutions.” (Randell, 2010)
Exploring the private and public spheres, feminists have argued that the two are highly interdependent, and thus issues coded conventionally as private have now been brought to the attention of those in the public spheres, such as abortion rights and domestic violence. This has been accomplished using a ‘second order’ methodology, meaning an ‘outside’ perspective, much like that of sociological discourses. For this reason, the relationship between sociology and politics comes to an interesting intersection when looked at from a feminist point of view; many of the same topics such as sexual behavior and family relations are closely analyzed in both fields of academia. This somewhat of a disciplinary ambiguity, results in a rather captivating normative question- should the political expand to embrace the social, or is the problem that of a more fundamental one, specifically in reference to patriarchy? In other words, should mainstream politics evolve so that the border between the public and private spheres is dissolved? Or is the issue raised here only of that with the system of patriarchy- meaning once an egalitarian approach (equality) takes hold, the borders between the public and the private can stay intact?
Keeping consistent with the relativist ontology decided upon in my previous article, the answer to this questions can only be found within an individual’s own political perspective and agenda. However, as the slogan stated at the beginning suggests, the widespread of feminist political ideology, and scientists, point toward a more homogeneous mix between the public and the private; holding the belief that an increase in fluidity between the two would be in the best interest of the populace. That is not to say that feminist belief holds egalitarian ideals lower on the agenda, on the contrary, ideals of equality are at the most fundamental roots of feminism. It does however point so some complications within the feminist discourse itself, particularity between several nuanced versions of feminism that answer the question-are men and women really different?-in contesting ways. My next and final article will explore this controversy and its importance further.
Theory and Methods in Political Science-Third Edition: Edited by David Marsh and Gerry Stoker-2010: Published by Palgrave MacMillan