Carol Hanisch: “Personal problems are political problems. There are no personal solutions at this time. There is only collective action for a collective solution.” It was an important and fruitful idea in February 1969. It helped people to see that things that happened in the quiet of personal life, and yet happened over and over again at the scale of the system, and happened because of forces that no individual was powerful enough to counteract alone—that these things had to be seen as and acted on politically, grandly, holistically, and, above all, in the places where the power was. A man beating a woman wasn’t just one man beating one woman; he was part of a system of male supremacy and laws and a culture of looking away that put the problem beyond solution by the woman in question. The shame one felt in getting an abortion wasn’t a feeling cooked up by the feeler; it was engineered and constructed through public policy and the artful use of religious authority. The feminists helped us to see problems in this way.
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