One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. – Plato
“The personal is political” is a phrase that was tossed around freely in my women’s studies circles during university. Made popular by Carol Hanisch’s essay of the same name, it examined how women gaining greater consciousness in their lives affected the political landscape. Hanisch noted that “political refers to any power relationships, not just those of government or elected officials.”
Applying this idea to my life has helped shape my interactions- seeing my experiences as a woman, not as only my experience, but as a comment about the experience of being a woman in general. This same principal can be applied to the experiences of immigrants, men, seniors, Mexicans, Canadians etc. What does our individual experience say about our collective experiences?
I recently attended a meeting in the community where I live, ironically it was held the day after International Women’s Day. The room was mostly filled with men- about 130 by the sign up sheet, and less than 10 women. I had gained admittance to this meeting by being ‘husbandless’ and therefore counting as head of my own household. When I arrived at the meeting there was some controversy about the presence of a woman whose husband could not attend and so she had come in his place. Hearing some of the men from my community say things like “we don’t want women here” was disheartening. Several women and children stood by the windows outside the town hall listening as those in charge went down the agenda. I recounted this story recently while out for dinner after someone at our table stated that they believe women have attained equality. While women have come a long way in recent generations, the overall climate for women’s equality is still developing in most of the world.
This issue our writers explored politics, from Canada’s visa regulations for Mexicans, to the history of the US-Mexico border, to the system of usos y costumbres still used in many communites in the state of Oaxaca.
Being political doesn’t have to mean going to marches, protests or binging on news channels to be informed. It means being open to having your voice heard, knowing that your experience has validity and that each of us has the right to be heard and play a role in how our lives are governed.
See you next month,