If you are a Radical Feminist, do you really want to dismantle the patriarchy and rebuild society?

(45 Posts)

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 03-Oct-12 16:32:45

Maybe imperfectly happy Hully, but I agree.

Hullygully Wed 03-Oct-12 11:45:02

At least part of the problem is that an awful lot of women are perfectly happy with the way things are.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

I think rather that revolutions don't start very well -- destruction is messy and a lot of people die. But in the longer run, they often (not always) turn out to be for the best -- or would we rather be living under monarchies, dictatorships or colonial regimes? Whatever the problems in our current political order, there are many improvements as well.

That said, I don't think you really can have an old-style revolution against the patriarchy. It's not a political regime.

OneMoreChap Wed 03-Oct-12 10:12:26

kim147 ah yes, the "let's put women back as the gatekeepers of sex" approach. That will do wonders for the respect of both men and women grin

I can see as Himalaya suggests change by evolving; I thought, in my ignorance, that the radical approach suggested an inability to change the system from within [hence the women-only spaces, deep analysis, cadre approach].

That way, and the language used overthrow, smash etc. suggests an old style revolution. These rarely end well... cf. the Rose/Silk/Rainbow revolutions in Eastern Europe, on which the judges are still out to some extent.

Himalaya Tue 02-Oct-12 22:32:23

I tend to think that the roots of what we call patriarchy are so deeply embedded in our biology, and in the systems that we depend on - (governments, banks, economy, education, trade, everything etc... as Eleanor says) that it doesn't really make sense to talk about overthrowing, or dismantling, although we can reform stuff.

I think (predictably enough) that complex systems mainly change by evolving. Which is a lot of incremental changes, and a few disruptive ones. We don't talk about computers overthrowing typewriters, or modern english overthrowing Chaucer's english. But change happens.

The trick is working out how to steer it, accelerate it, give it a push in the right direction.

Damn, you caught me.

It's true.

They annoyed the Catholics by writing 'hun' all over the Bible, which is why the King James version has 'hun' all through the ten commandments in the first printed edition.

SuperB0F Tue 02-Oct-12 22:30:38

I thought the Lollards were the precursor to the nethuns? confused

summerflower Tue 02-Oct-12 22:26:34

I see the difference between liberal and radical feminism thus (bearing in mind that I am by no means well read on the subject and may well be wrong!).

Liberal feminism is indeed about ensuring legal and political equality so that women have the same opportunities and chances as men and are not discriminated against. Whether women then succeed or fail is an individual matter as the chances are the same (theoretically) for men and women.

With radical feminism, analysis of patriarchal society suggests that legal and political equality is not enough, one has to address the underlying values of society which privilege men, which give men power and status and which devalue attributes traditionally seen as feminine (caring, emotions, nurture and so on). When I hear the phrase dismantle the patriarchy, I don’t think it is meant in terms of an actual physical revolution, but challenging and changing those underlying values and attitudes.

However, I (depressingly) think that the only way to really dismantle the patriarchy is to convince men that it also harms them and that a more equal society benefits everyone. I am not sure that opting out works long term on a societal level, though it clearly is an option at an individual level to an extent. I tend to agree that the experience of thousands of years would suggest that change/dismantling is not going to happen in a hurry.

In terms of cataclysmic events, there was a brief period when the Berlin wall came down where it seemed in former eastern bloc countries that a new kind of social democracy could be founded. There were flourishing feminist groups. It didn't take long for the capitalist west to get in there and women to lose what benefits they had previously had.

Oh, I am probably being horribly pessimistic, doctrine.

I take your point.

I think I'm just thinking of all of those smug history books I've read, that present women's suffrage as a result of brave, good, impressive men fighting in WWI. You know?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 02-Oct-12 22:14:54

LRD I don't think it means women are secondary just that any
Major change has several factors eg the campaign for women's suffrage was speeded up by WWI and women undertaking more visible roles at work whilst men went to war.

RumbleGreen Tue 02-Oct-12 22:11:29

I wonder about this but I don't really see how a change from within could really work. Patriarchy is thousands of years old (if not tens of thousands) a system so part of us that at best you could probably only water it down rather than completely change it. Ultimately men would have to change so you have to reach out to men somehow. Or women can filter themselves into all the top positions and try to force change but that wouldn't work on a global scale.

So how would you dismantle something which makes up the foundation of our society without it needing some massive event which would result in suffering for many atleast for a time? Also if such an event happen you would have to be quick often in power vaccums it is the most power hungry and willing to use any means necessary that end up on top unless people are prepared for that.

MiniTheMinx Tue 02-Oct-12 21:58:24

grin had to be, behind every great man there is an even greater women.

Hullygully Tue 02-Oct-12 21:56:30

Educate sons and change the laws.

Much more peaceful and a lot less effort than storming the bastions.

I find that a depressing parallel.

(Not having a go, you understand, just because it suggests women will always be secondary to some other event)

I actually don't think we can dismantle the patriarchy peacefully. You're talking about a system thousands of years old, with very powerful interests seeing any challenge as an existential threat that they will respond to forcefully.

This is why I'm more of a change from within person, because I think you need to sort of 'trick' the powers that be and also be patient and wait for the more bigoted generations and regimes to die off.

FWIW I think the patriarchy will disappear in the wake of some other cataclysm, like a global uprising against the capitalist order (which is not doing too well at the mo). In the vacuum that follows, we have a chance to institute something new. Sort of like in Iceland -- on a small scale obviously! -- when the economy fell into the ruins and they put a lot of women in charge to fix everything.

Yeah, I reckon Marx nicked it all off Mary Wollstonecraft! grin wink

MiniTheMinx Tue 02-Oct-12 21:20:42

Women are the revolutionary class grin I didn't know about the church and the women priests.

I think there are great similarities between the Rad and marxist thinking in terms of how change happens. From my understanding Radical feminists try to raise the consciousness of women, so that ALL women can see and understand their oppression. Only when women are aware can they act. Marx spoke about raising the consciousness of the working class, only when people were conscious of their class and their relationship to the "other" class would they act. So if you use the same reasoning " A class in itself and a class for itself" it is possible to see that if women were not just the sex class "in itself" but "for itself" then change could happen.

[Boring history bit, since you mentioned in mini - the Peasants' Revolt has a shedload of causes, including taxes and people's sense of social order changing, but it also has causes in religion. There was a movement to make the Bible available in English for everyone, not just Latin, and the peasants' revolt is seen as part of this move. It didn't get all the results that were hoped for ... but I've seen arguments saying that, without it, we'd still be nowhere. So, y'know ...

FWIW, the Lollards (the religious movement involved with the Peasants' Revolt) wanted to ordain women priests. So ... social change and feminist change get caught up together, even in this situation where it wouldn't be obvious for 500 years that the idea of women priests was both revolutionary, and achievable.]

kim147 Tue 02-Oct-12 20:49:24
EatsBrainsAndLeaves Tue 02-Oct-12 20:47:50

Agree LRD. And i agree though that we are not talking about 1 bloody revolution. That is what people sometimes imagine - that we are going to stary handing out the guns and train an army. It wont happen that way.

YY, I agree, I don't think the idea of non-peaceful campaigns bothers me.

It would be very hard to be a Saudi woman and not do things that were illegal, or disturbed the peace of that society - the fact is that women are living under a legal system where basic rights are not legal rights.

MiniTheMinx Tue 02-Oct-12 20:26:27

I think Eats makes a great deal of sense on this, I don't see change as happening out of nowhere with one big bloody battle either. I think the conditions social and economic must be right. In the case of the peasants revolt, it came about because of some tax?? (I think) the revolt itself didn't actually over throw the feudal lords but because the peasants were in revolt at a time when there was a shortage of labour, the elite had to pay attention. So the social conditions of their lives were grim and the economic situation was one of empowered labour. Which makes me think that if anyone single act where to eventually "smash" the patriarchy without the support of allies women would already have to be in quite an empowered position, at least in some respects. As LRD points out in years to come they might look back and see just one single event as being the catalyst.

EatsBrainsAndLeaves Tue 02-Oct-12 20:17:55

Certainly there might be individual campaigns that are not peaceful. For example a demonstration that turns violent. But overall I think it will be a process of change over a few years. Because patriarchy is such an overarching system, its not like the bloody overthrow of a Government. It needs to be tackled on so many fronts.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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