That the personal sphere of sexuality, of housework, of child care and family life is political because the underpinning of most feminist thought. We have strong and persistently challenged the long-standing underlying assumption of almost all political theories: that the sphere of family and personal life is so separate and distinct from the rest of social life that such theories can justifiably assume but ignore it.
Susan Moller Okin, Justice, Gender, and the Family,1987
In 1987, political theorist Susan Moller Okin, known for challenging giants of the Western philosophical tradition such as Aristotle and Rousseau for their unenlightened views on women, published a provocative book in which she argued that women in America have foolishly fought for equality in the public sphere– suffrage, equal pay, the Equal Rights Amendment– while keeping the private sphere– the home– free from public evaluations of justice. According to Okin, “’How political is the personal?’ and ‘In what ways is the personal political and the political personal?’ are important questions within the feminist argument.”1 They are also important questions for the historian examining past claims about justice, gender, and the ideal society. Continue reading