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"What does that mean?" That's what an NYU student asked me when I used the phrase "the personal is political" in describing my many years as a vegetarian feminist who thought of her own dietary choices as an expression of purely personal sentiment and hadn't even considered becoming vegan. Why, I wondered, did I think that one choice -- unlike every other choice -- wasn't a political question? Why didn't I extend the right to reproductive self determination to hens and cows, or even think about how the cows felt to be robbed of the milk meant for their calves? I'll get back to those questions another day, because we must stay in touch with what we used to think and feel if we want to communicate effectively with people who think and feel as we used to do. But, today, let me address the basic question raised by that student. What do we mean by "the personal is political"? The phrase arose out of the that fed into the resurgent feminist movement of the late sixties and early seventies. Meeting together to talk about their lives, women began to discover the true incidence of cialis trazodone crimes such as rape, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. (We now know that one in three women worldwide, and here in the United States, has been beaten or raped by a male partner or family member. ) In speaking of these things, group participants developed a class consciousness of women as a political class collectively held back by the cumulative effects of individual acts of male violence against women. Previously, assaults occuring within families or dating relationships were considered purely personal problems. Isolated in their houses and families and often ashamed of their experiences, survivors of sexual and domestic violence had no way of knowing they were not alone. But, when women began to break the silence, to talk and listen to each other, powerful feelings and ideas emerged. One of those ideas is that "the personal is political. " That means not only that "personal" crimes like date rape and domestic violence are, in fact, political acts by which men collectively supress women but also that all of the choices we make turn out to have political repercussions. It's easy to see that individual choices like whether or not to buy shade-grown fair trade coffee or whether to go shopping on the day after Thanksgiving (hint: ) collectively have a political impact. People sometimes have a harder time appreciating the fact that individual choices like whether to be honest with our romantic partners or whether to share credit with our coworkers also add up. But cultures are nothing other than the collective beliefs and behaviors of their participants. If we want equitable and peaceful communities, then we can't be going around lying to our friends and tailgating strangers for driving too slow. If we want equitable and peaceful communities, we have to participate in equitable and peaceful families and relationships. We have to be accurate and honest in expressing our own thoughts and feelings. We have to listen carefully and with empathy when others express theirs. We have to be reliable, trustworthy, and respectful in our most intimate relationships, first because it's just wrong to treat people otherwise and secondly because those personal relationships are also political relationships. Cialis trazodone when we insult [cialis trazodone] or demoralize a friend, family member, or partner, we also degrade a fellow citizen, somebody whose health and well being we should be promoting. I had an interesting conversation touching on this with some of my students last week. After one group of students gave an informative presentation on rape cialis trazodone, the class discussion turned to the issue of consent. As I reported in , one study found that one in 12 male college students had already committed acts that fell within the legal definition of rape or attempted rape, often without realizing they had done so. This can happen, for example, when a man mistakes silence for consent. The discussion became very spirited, with some young men expressing outrage that a woman might later "cry rape" if she hadn't actively resisted a sex act initiated by her male date. I reminded everyone that silence does not mean "yes" and that the responsibility for obtaining consent lies with the person initiating the act. Since we had just heard that statistic, I reminded them that one in four girls is sexually molested before the age of 18. Many survivors of sexual abuse freeze and say nothing when they are sexually uncomfortable. "Do you want to be the guy who later finds out that what he thought was a great date was one of the most traumatic events in the life of a woman he likes?" I asked. After class, I and three male students continued the conversation. I asked them to quit thinking about potential legal repercussions for a minute and just think about how they want to treat the women in their community, especially the women they call themselves loving. Coming again to the fact that some women, especially survivors of molestation or rape, freeze when they feel uncomfortable, I asked, "Don't you want to know for sure that your partner really wants you to do what you're doing?" They agreed that they did. That led back to the question of how to know when you have consent, which led to the relatively surreal situation of a white middle-aged lesbian schooling three straight, black male teenagers on the fine art of making sure you have consent without breaking the mood. I'm going back to that class in a few minutes. We're having a party today. I used the lure of cupcakes to tempt my students to come to class today (many skip the whole week of Thanksgiving) and, before I knew it, students had jumped in offering to bring juice and chips to make it a party. I was kind of touched by that. A lot of my students come from neighborhoods where you have to carry yourself in a guarded manner to stay safe. I'm always really happy when they feel safe enough to quit being so cool and act like the kids they still are (at least from the vantage point of people my age). My so-called cupcakes, on the other hand, are not making me happy. . . Bringing us back to the topic at hand, I've been thinking about the personal in relation to the political because someone treated me umempathically over the weekend. Whenever that happens, I struggle to find a way to say my feelings and stand up for my right to empathy without falling into the trap of not having empathy for the other person. Because, heaven knows, I make mistakes too. Often. And, whenever I do, I'm very aware that my personal failings have political impact. The trick is to be motivated by that knowledge to try to do better next time, rather than becoming mired in guilt and shame. Come to think of it, there's somebody I owe an apology. . .


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