Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Political is Personal (with apologies to Carol Hanisch*)

The Women's March in Trenton NJ. ©2017 Noreen Braman
  To answer the question heard often after this weekend’s global Women’s Marches, Why did you march? 
 For me, it was not only a sincere desire to join together with other women to peacefully make a point about recent threats to hard-fought rights, protections and programs; it was also a way for me to exorcise some of the ghosts of the past. Times when, I, or a member of my family, was treated as “less than.”  Taking the political personally? Yes, I am.  I think we all should.


Because of the priest who told my mother she was doomed to hell
for a tubal ligation after life threatening childbirths,
and almost leaving three daughters motherless. 
Because of the man who cornered me in the boathouse
attempting to remove my clothes while laughing,
knowing my adolescent self would be too ashamed to tell anyone.

Because of the knife held to my throat
at the workplace where I was the only woman on the floor,
working too fast and making the men “look bad.”
Because of the men in the office addressed as “Mr.”
while women were addressed by first names,
and paid significantly less for doing the same job.

Because those same men felt entitled to grope women in the hallway,
make job security contingent on sexual favors they demanded,
or withheld them to punish your noncompliance.

Because of the insurance providers holding the key to healthcare
denying treatment for my children and myself,
until a protracted fight was engaged.

Because women who came before me fought so hard to get here
bequeathing me a country where I can raise my voice,
continuing to demand that we don’t go backward.

Because it is too easy to get comfortable
allowing erosion to do its deadly work,
destroying the firmament under our feet.

Because the women that come after me should never suddenly find themselves
back in the dark places that exist in cultural memory,
but rather go only forward,
reaching their hands down to pull other women up,
and with them humankind as a whole.

©2017 Noreen Braman

*Carol Hanisch is the author of a paper that came to be called “The Personal is Political,” an expression that came to be used in many different ways over they years. The interpretation that I like the most is that issues in women’s personal lives, such as childcare and healthcare, were actually political issues that were being ignored.



  1. And we all need to reach our hands down to pull other women up and humankind also.

  2. Three years out from this and I continue to explore the life I have lived as a woman in a world where my voice and my value can not be taken for granted.