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51%

We, as 51%-A Woman’s Place Is In Politics, habitually discuss the vocabulary we use to reference women and politics. We often find ourselves defining everyday word use in order to clearly state our experiences. When you consider the frequency with which we overlook the meaning of common words, and how we use them without agreed upon definitions, you wonder how we ever understand each other. It’s no wonder the mainstream straight world doesn’t always get the LGBT world when we talk about equal rights. Some folks only interpret “equal” as meaning “special” and there begins the debate.

The most obvious word we use in reference to politics, is “politics” itself. Affairs of the state are about more than elections. Politics is about your everyday choices and who makes them for you.

Technically, politics is a process by which groups of people make decisions – this includes any group, such as The LGBT Center, your own family, the city of San Diego, our non-profit organizations, the corporation you work for and the culture you’re in. It includes your church and school. Most would agree that the study of power, how it’s acquired, how it’s used, and who gets it, is inherent to politics. Beyond this, few agree on where politics start and end, or blend. Wikipedia.org claims there “is no academic consensus on the exact definition of ‘politics’ and what counts as political and what does not.”

Perhaps then, we could stress the integral aspect of politics in all that we do. Maybe then, more people would accept responsibility for influencing policies and everyday decision-making. Maybe then, more people would understand that someone or some group made decisions for the options we have through-out our day. Someone or some group, for instance, decided what chemicals clean the water you bathe in.

If we want our options to expand, we’d better get involved. Sometimes that means we have to protest limits placed upon us, such as with California taking away same-sex marriage rights. It was empowering that San Diego had the largest public turnout of any city across the nation for the 2008 National Day of Protest. A population refusing to succumb to the limits created for them is a population engaged in politics. Political upheavals, heave from the bottom.

When talking to women about 51%, sometimes we hear that politics isn’t enjoyable or easy to understand. Many women claim they aren’t political at all. Or, they’ll say they don’t see the relevance of politics in how they lead their daily lives.

We find ourselves explaining that politics are simple in their beginnings and more complex as they move up the chain of command. We explain that it’s a collection of people who have decided how women acquire and succeed in their careers; whether and how they can have a family and whether the interests and hobbies they enjoy are protected and accessible. We break it down by pointing out that policies and laws determine if we can afford gas to reach our workplaces, if the produce we feed our families is indeed organic, and whether we are safe to pursue our interests when we return home late from work.

Truly, nothing in our daily lives can escape politics and policies made in our favor are more desirable than those made against our will. It’s clear that politics is a waltz between what politicians do to protect our choices, and what choices we demand be protected. When a population acts up, those in power usually give in and provide the change needed to protect the voices heard.

In our common discussions, we show how politics is more than party lines. If groups define policy, and groups are made up of individuals, we hope that if individuals understand everything as political, more individuals will care to act upon their personal concerns. Surely if one has a need, it’s replicated in another.

Did you know there’s a group called Republicans for Choice? Not every Republican is against a woman’s right to chose whether or not to reproduce. When an individual speaks up she’s likely to find another with a similar cause. This is when a cause builds energy.

In every discussion of politics, it’s imperative that those who claim they aren’t political see that there is no escaping the political. We can accept the reality of its integrated influence in our lives, or embrace the opportunity to be one of the decision makers. It may be as simple as stating your needs. The plain act of speaking up may be the most powerful political act you ever need achieve.

Any way you see it, there’s no avoiding that the broad definition of politics proves it is embedded in all that we do, every day that we do it.