For Enloe, the personal is political because power relations determine aspects of our lives that we imagine to be private.Noticing power relations means that ‘the personal is political’ becomes a deceptively simple feminist insight – indeed, a ‘disturbing’ insight.In essence, the feminist insight that the personal is political (and vice versa) has had wide-reaching ramifications for how we go about understanding power within international politics. The notion that ‘the personal is political’ is a useful starting point for thinking about representation and subjectivity.
In response to these concerns, Hanisch wrote her paper – which was given the title ‘the personal is political’ by someone else – to point out that these sessions were hugely political and drew attention to the political power of all these (apparently) private worries, fears and hopes.
The aim of these sessions was to demonstrate that problems in women’s lives should not be dismissed as being merely ‘personal’ but that these apparently ‘personal’ issues were in fact systematic forms of oppression.
Disturbing because it highlights how patriarchal political decisions affect our personal lives.
For Enloe, the realisation that the personal is political enables us to make sense of international politics: ‘the personal is international’ and the ‘international is personal’.
The rest of this article expands on the notion of personal-political imaginations and briefly considers the broader significance of this framework for understanding how gender security discourse is configured in particular ways.
The Personal is Political: Feminist Perspectives and Insights The popular feminist insight, ‘the personal is political’, is derived from the title of Carol Hanisch’s 1969 essay (published in 1970).While television shows fill our private spaces (living rooms) and our private lives (leisure time), they should not be merely dismissed as irrelevant, “personal” issues.As Shepherd powerfully demonstrates, television shows have much to tell us about how ideas about gender and violence come about, and the profoundly political consequences of these ideas.Feminist organising in the US during late 1960s and early 1970s was characterised by consciousness-raising sessions, where female participants would share experiences of oppression from men and male-dominated structures.There were concerns that these second wave feminist consciousness-raising sessions were personal therapy rather than a form of political action.Through a perception that ‘gender security’ is a discourse that is performed and reiterated, I investigate the way in which activist articulations about UNSCR 1325 have been made.In the book, I investigate how activists reach their individual and organisational position on gender security by paying attention to their gender politics (a term that I use to describe the profile held by individuals or organisations about gender, feminism and feminist organising) and senses of security and insecurity.Critically, life, struggles, ambitions and history: forming an imagination.Imaginations conjure up a text about our world: guide images of our world, shape senses of our world and invoke conceptualisations of our world.I do not use imaginations to evoke a vivid make-believe world where we pretend to camp under a bed sheet draped over two chairs, or where we lie in the grass and look for animal shapes in the clouds (although these make-believe practices do matter as well).Rather, I use the word ‘imagination’ to indicate that we are making meaning.