In A Sense, the Individual Became the Site of Political Activity in The 60s
The historian Alice Echols wrote: of the 60s and the 70s: “In a sense the individual became the site of political activity in the 60s.” Discuss.
The 1960s was a period of radical changes in the society. The main characterization was formation of various activist movements such as human rights movements. This reveals a growing society that was conscious of its rights and more involved in the development of the society. Women’s aggression became more evident in raising the issues affecting the society and this led to formation of various women movements and formulation of numerous slogans in protection of human rights. Behavioral revolution in the society characterized this era.
In a sense, the individual became the site of political activities after The Women Liberation Movement adopted ‘the personal is political’ slogan (Echols 16). This was due to the perspective that there was a political aspect to every person’s individual life. There is no politics without the people since politics is and the people go hand in hand. Therefore, politics is dependent on the people and not the other way round. For one to understand politics, he must first understand the people who have significant influence on political activities. The influence of the citizens determines the direction that the politics of a nation take since politics exists for them. This is why the liberation movement adopted this slogan to ensure its effectiveness in transforming the whole society.
The individual became the focus of political activities since the activists in the 60s believed that transformation of a society must first begin with the individual transformation. For one to change a group of people, focus must be to first change the individuals at their personal capacities so that in the end one has a group of transformed people. This approach is the most effective way of transforming a society since education of an individual leads to information of every member of the society without leaving out anyone. Individuals behave differently when alone than when in a group. This is because when people are in groups, they lose their personalities due to the influence of the other group members and they eventually forget to address their personal issues now until they are all alone. Using this information, the movement found it necessary to involve the women individually so that they do not lose their identity as individuals and for them to identify with the problems of other women and be able to support one another.
Political activities shifted their focus to individual enlightenment in their attempt to make the whole society become politically active (Echols 10). There was a need to make citizens practice their democratic rights and this was only possible if they became active in politics. One way of becoming politically active was to educate the society on their rights and to make sure the people know the channels to use in addressing issues. Education of the society is the education of the individuals in the society since if every member were educated then we would call the society an educated society. Participatory democracy was an effective way of molding the politics at that time. Radical changes affected politics at that time and it was important that every individual in the society was actively involved in politics to ensure consideration of their rights. Various revolution movements formed promoted the active participation experienced during the period. The individual became the site of political activity in feminism era. During this time, the feminists became aggressive in addressing their issues (Freedman 20). Various movements addressing issues facing women at the time erupted. However, there were some conflicting movements due to differences in views but there was a common ground. The women wanted to feel appreciated and needed equal treatment to men. It became necessary to face the women’s issues from a personal perspective in order to ensure that they felt appreciated in every aspect of their lives since this is the only way they would feel that their voice mattered. This included emphasizing that the role of a woman in the family setting is as significant as her role in the political arena. This meant that every individual woman’s role was important to the society and therefore her rights were not negotiable (Hannam 5).
The individual became a site in political activities in an attempt to address personal problems by viewing them as political issues. Women faced these problems at that period. They included alienation from the society where women subordination to the men was evident (Tolleson-Rinehart and Jyl 6). This was a personal problem since each individual woman faced this problem at her homes, workplaces and other areas. Politicizing the problem would help every individual get involved in dealing with the problem not just as an individual but as a group in order for any kind of solution to be termed as effective. The women revolution movement opted to view the powerlessness of women as a political problem since it affected the women collectively though at personal levels. Viewing the personal problems as political would motivate the women to be more actively involved in politics since they are aware of the source of their problems. This would also ensure that they fight for their rights using the right channels. Therefore taking politics as a personal affair would help a lot in the revolution of a society.
Echols, Alice. Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967-1975. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989. Print.
Echols, Alice. Shaky Ground: The ’60s and Its Aftershocks. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002. Web. 20 March 2013.
Freedman, Estelle B. No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women. New York: Ballantine Books, 2002. Print.
Hannam, June. Feminism. Harlow, England: Pearson/Longman, 2007. Print.
Tolleson-Rinehart, Sue, and Jyl J. Josephson. Gender and American Politics: Women, Men, and the Political Process. Armonk, N.Y: M.E. Sharpe, 2000. Print.