A frequently heard feminist rallying cry, especially during the late 1960s and 1970s, and a central doctrine of the second-wave feminists, who used its underlying meaning in their writings, speeches, consciousness-rising, and other other activities, the concept “the personal is the political’ is believed to have originated from Carol Hanisch‘s 1970 essay titled The personal is Political.
A common debate over the “personal” and the “political” questioned whether women’s consciousness-raising groups were a useful part of the political women’s movement. According to Hanisch, consciousness-raising was a form of political action to elicit discussion about such topics as women’s relationships, their roles in marriage, and their feelings about childbearing. These personal and domestic experiences of women had always been silenced and considered sinful and indecent for genteel discussions. Thus being relegated to the “personal” sphere, while the man belonged to the “public” sphere ensured women’s marginality and muted existence. Feminists believe that giving voice to such taboo experiences is itself a political act that pertains power relationships leading to women’s subjugation. The second and third wave feminists therefore undertook to write about their most intimate experiences, especially with their own body, as a powerful mode of resistance against patriarchal oppression. ‘Writing the body” also became associated with the French feminist concept of ecriture feminine.