Politics: Beyond Formal Politics

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Michael DeLong
Michael DeLong
United States

Beyond Formal Politics

"Politics" is often used as shorthand for what might be thought of as formal politics - political systems, governments, elections, etc. But the category is broad and can be thought of in many ways. For example, in her essay collection Evictions: Art and Spatial Politics, feminist art historian and urban geography critic Rosalyn Deutsche defines politics as the space of conflict and performs an intense analysis of women's representation in word and image -- just as vital and important as looking at women's representation in government.

When you think of women and politics, what kinds of politics do you find interesting beyond electoral politics?

Debates over Definition

Here is an interesting blog entry about whether or not politics should even refer to anything beyond formal politics, in the context of abolitionist history in the United States.


Everything is political

Fascinating conversation Michael. The feminist revolution taught us that the personal is political. Women and marginalized genders cannot separate politics from their daily lives because we live in a heteronormative patriarchy that seeks to control every aspect of our lives. French intellectual Michel Foucault coined the term biopolitics, which describes a sort of political power that seeks to organize every aspect of human life from the way we walk down the street to the way we procreate.

I think women and marginalized genders are especially prone to this because patriarchy seeks to regulate gender through biopolitics. There are so many examples: reproductive rights, sodomy laws, gay marriage... aren't these all private issues that have no place in the legal or political realm? Apparently someone decided they were not, which shows that politics has no bounds. I guess that makes us all politicians.

Olive King
Olive King
United States

Everything is politics

Although the "women’s liberation movement" is long over, the issues that movement stood for, issues that screamed "the personal is political”--such as ending economic discrimination against women, supporting equal pay for equal work, etc., as well as critiquing the personal spheres of marriage and the family, are still red hot issues in the U.S. of the 21st century:
* Women still make 30% less than men.
* Men do only 30% of the housework in "traditional" families.
* In November, California is likely to pass Prop 8, banning same-sex marriage.
Issues are clouded by hazy media-generated images of sexy shapely women “on top” having it all, while conservative special interest groups spend spend spend in order to buy the right to decide who can marry and who can’t. In reality, everyone struggles, and everything is politics.

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