“The personal is political” is a slogan of the student movement and the second-wave feminist movement from the late 1960s. It’s a way to remind yourself that your personal problems are connected to larger social and political structures. That is, if you change those social and political structures, your personal problems will go away.
It’s easy to see how such way of thinking can lead to wanting the state to solve all your problems. Are you a bored housewife? Make the state fix it. Somebody made you feel uncomfortable? Make the state fix it. However, I don’t think the slogan is purely bad. It’s reasonable to differentiate between purely personal problems, and those tied up with politics.
Say you can’t get laid, but it’s illegal for you to buy sex. This is both a very personal problem, and directly caused by politics.
Say you need an abortion, but it’s illegal where you live. This is also both a very personal problem, and directly caused by politics.
Yes, it’s reasonable to differentiate purely personal problems from the political and personal ones. And in my opinion, separating yourself from politics is also more mentally healthy. There is you, and there is the outside world. It’s comforting to know you have this personal space that’s reserved only for you, and no one else can control it. I believe taking “The Personal is Political” to extremes means that you always question whether your personal actions fit your ideology. Does using makeup aid the patriarchy, or hurt it? Does being fat and naked attack the patriarchy’s beauty standards, or does it just give the male gaze what it wants? Talk about performance pressure, and never truly owning yourself. It’s a way to overrate how much the tiniest of your actions affect the outside world, while you pointlessly dissipate your own energy. It’s mentally spinning your wheels. At least, this is the impression I got from many online feminists. One reason I’m writing this post is this quote by an autistic butch lesbian feminist with a BA in Women’s and gender Studies: (http://theothermccain.com/2015/03/31/gender-insanity-for-45078-a-year/ )
“Other times, honestly, I just don’t like to think about my gender as a conscious political undertaking at all. I know that “the personal is political.” I know that no action or belief can possibly be apolitical because every social institution on every scale is steeped in ideology. But sometimes I just get so tired. Sometimes I want to just be.”
Indeed, why not just be?