How the personal became political

the gender and sexuality revolutions in 1970s Australia

Michelle Arrow (Editor), Angela Woollacott (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportEdited Book/Anthology


How the Personal became Political brings together new research on the feminist and sexual revolutions of the 1970s in Australia. It addresses the political and theoretical significance of these movements, asking how and why did matters previously considered private and personal, become public and political?

These movements produced a series of changes that were both interconnected and profound. The pill became generally available and sexuality was both celebrated and flaunted. Homosexuality was gradually decriminalized. Gay liberation and Women’s Liberation erupted. Activists established women’s refuges, rape crisis centres, and counselling services. Crucially, in Australia, these developments coincided with the election of progressive governments, who appointed women’s advisors and expanded the role of the state in the provision of childcare and other services. It was a decade of contestation and transformation.

This book addresses the political and theoretical significance of these 1970s revolutions, and poses key questions about the nature of sweeping change. What were the key policy shifts? How were protests connected to legislative reforms? How did Australia fit into the broader transnational movements for change? What are the legacies of these movements and what can activists today learn from them? Scholars from several disciplines offer fresh insight into this wave of social revolution, and its contemporary relevance.

This book was originally published as a special issue of the journal, Australian Feminist Studies.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages169
ISBN (Electronic)9781003034421
ISBN (Print)9780367472528
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

First published in 2018 as a special issue of the journal Australian Feminist Studies, Vol 33(95).


  • Feminism
  • Gay liberation movement
  • Australia

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