The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.
This article asks the question of whether the personal is still political in Australia. Through the 1960s, 70s and 80s, feminism was at the forefront of new ways of thinking and defining social and political relations. Making the political personal meant that women's experiences were deemed as worthy as men's of being translated into literature, politics and the public domain. Many contemporary Australian women writers produce writing encompassing this personal as political approach. As marginalised identities, female voices may offer alternative perspectives that undermine the stakes prized by dominant western powers. However as the expansive spaces forged for minority voices diminish in the current political context, with Anne Summer's The End of Equality (2003) exposing the hypocrisy of equality of opportunity, women's right to abortion back in the headlines and publications such as Keith Windschuttle's Fabrications of Australian History (2002) indicating conservative groups are re-instigating what should be long out-of-date battles, this article aims to chart the relationship between the personal and political. Drawing on interviews I conducted with women writers including Hilary McPhee, Drusilla Modjeska, Leah Purcell, Melissa Lucashenko, Gig Ryan and Hannie Rayson, it examines how some women writers have been silenced in the political public space with the 'War on Terror' and a backlash against the feminist argument that the personal is political which echoes the silencing of women's public voices from the Second World War to the Cold War. It investigates ideas of political responsibility as writers and examines the way new technology has allowed subversive voices to enter public debate as with the online publication New Matilda. (Author's abstract)