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Feminist Politics at the Local Level (1986)

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What are we really characterizing as politics here? In this context, the question seems to require renewed clarification. In numerous discussions with other women, we now observe a trend toward apprehending "politics" again as the concept was traditionally sold to us: parliamentary work, party politics, and governing. Is this a step backwards? The women's movement started out with the slogan "The personal is political." This slogan was thoroughly revolutionary, since it enabled us, after all, to comprehend and feel our existential problems within a patriarchally defined society not as a matter of individual failure, but as collective oppression – and therefore as collectively and individually changeable structures inside and outside ourselves. In the meantime, things seem to have gone back to the way they were before. The personal remains personal – conflicts with men at the level of personal relations are no longer a subject for discussion; quota-based access to public power, the whether and if, the how and when are the questions of the women's movement.

We, by contrast, are sticking to the idea that for the variety of questions and demands raised by the new women's movement there must be a corresponding variety of levels of action for feminist politics, requiring correspondingly different approaches. When it's a matter of pressing feminist demands during street actions, for example, we have different opportunities and obstacles than when it's a matter of the daily "private struggle" with a partner (in case there is one) about housework or family work or in university structures.

For us, parliament is one additional level of action that we are now trying out in order to broaden the sphere of influence of feminist politics and make it public.

What, then, do we characterize as feminist politics in parliament; more to the point, how do we orient ourselves in everyday municipal politics, where questions are raised and problems are on the agenda that previously had never arisen so concretely in feminist discussion.

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