Barbara Baird
Author Barbara Baird

This groundbreaking book is the culmination of a nine-year collaboration between the authors and offers a provocative history of gender, sexuality, and Australian political life from the 1970s until today.

The achievement of marriage equality in Australia in 2017 was hailed by many as the crowning event of a fifty-year story of hard work by activists, which began with campaigns to decriminalise sex between men in the early 1970s.

In that same five decades, feminist activism, including campaigns for abortion rights, the reform of family law and forms of welfare to support survivors of domestic violence, has similarly remade the rights and entitlements of Australian women.

But has that story been one of continual progress and success? And who has been excluded from the privileges of Australian citizenship in the process?

Personal Politics brings together the voices and campaigns of a diverse set of activists who employed ideas about gender and sexuality to remake modern Australia.

Beginning in the pivotal decade of the ’70s, when the ‘personal became political,’ this book critically examines the wins and losses of these new ways of imagining citizenship. It provides a revised political history of the past fifty years.

This is a story populated and propelled by outraged feminists, radical homosexuals, angry fathers, maligned stay-at-home mothers, distressed trans kids, happy lesbian and gay couples, and even a few from the local Men’s Shed. These issues and identities now dominate our public life: how and why did they emerge, and what kind of political life have they produced?

Associate Professor Leigh Boucher, Professor Michelle Arrow and Robert Reynolds (Macquarie University), and
Associate Professor Barbara Baird (Flinders University) is a groundbreaking historian of gender and sexuality in Australia. They have been working together since 2015 on a project that investigates the relationship between gender, sexuality, and citizenship in late modern Australia.

Personal Politics Cover

Their previous work has reshaped our understanding of gay life in Australia (Reynolds, From Camp to Queer and Gay and Lesbian, Then and Now), the social and political history of abortion (Baird, Abortion Care is Health Care), the remaking of Australian political and social life in the 1970s (Arrow, The Seventies) and gendered citizenship in Australia (Boucher, Settler Colonial Governance)

Listen/ watch our interview with Barbara Baird.