Radical Feminism

(185 Posts)
Grennie Fri 08-Nov-13 13:07:01

I see so many myths about radical feminism. So what does radical feminism mean to you?

chocoluvva Fri 08-Nov-13 13:16:23

I am someone who is aware that we live in a patriarchy, to the disadvantage of women - though ultimately not in anyone's interest - and saddened and angered by the oversexualisation of females in western culture. I've never actively campaigned or done any reading (unless you count signing and sharing e-petitions).

My (very limited understanding of rad fem) is that it involves actively rejecting gender stereotypes including personal grooming done by only women eg removing body hair, wearing ' women's' clothes associated with being sexually available eg high heels.etc.

Blistory Fri 08-Nov-13 13:40:30

Essentially to me, radical feminism is just a different way of achieving the same end. So as a liberal feminist, I believe you can work with the system instead of it needing to be dismantled.

On the more nuanced points of radical feminism, I agree with many of them but don't necessarily agree with how it's aims would be achieved.

Unfortunately radfem has been taken over by others, particularly MRAs to mean hard core, man hating nutters. Something that doesn't describe any of the radfems I know.

Bunnylion Fri 08-Nov-13 13:50:28

My understanding of rad fem is that it's the active side of feminist thinking. So setting up DV shelters, campaigning against prostitution and for female reproductive rights, against fgm etc. ["campaigning against fgm" just autocorrected to "campaigning against fun")

Not sure it has anything to do with shaving your pits chocoluvva confused

As far as I know it's more focussed on taking apart the patriachy and rebuilding from scratch, rather than adjusting the current system.

So based on that I wouldn't define myself as radfem as I feel that the aim is a little too out of reach.

Blistory Fri 08-Nov-13 13:57:28

They also eat baby boys which I think is a step a little too far. Us liberals feminists just humiliate and emasculate them

MooncupGoddess Fri 08-Nov-13 14:04:11

Yes, 'radical' comes from 'root' so it's about analysing/changing society from its foundations.

There are lots of non-radical feminists who do great campaigning and activist work, Bunnylion. Though radical feminists generally oppose prostitution in all its forms, whereas liberal feminists don't always.

Radical feminists tend to focus on violence against women as the most crucial feminist issue and very aware of the structural prejudice against women that still exists in society; whereas liberal feminists were traditionally focused on the law and so many of their demands were granted in the 1970s with the Equal Pay Act etc.

Radical feminists mostly argue that gender roles are imposed by society, and are therefore less likely to follow culturally imposed grooming expectations... but I have never known any rad fems who do shave their armpits get a hard time for it! (Though anyone turning up at a rad fem event in TOWIE get-up might feel rather out of place.)

All in my experience of course.

kim147 Fri 08-Nov-13 14:09:56

My view of rad fems has been based on the actions of certain prominent ones and some of the websites they run. But that maybe the views of some of them.

chocoluvva Fri 08-Nov-13 14:12:52

Ah - now I understand more smile

Wasn't sure whether Grennie was asking for perceptions of radical feminism or asking for informed viewpoints. Clearly the latter.

One of the reasons I'm not actively involved in any campaigning group is my (mis(?))perception that the campaigners will be humourless and think I'm shallow.

(Happy for anyone to do whatever they like with their 'pits'.)

NeoFaust Fri 08-Nov-13 14:16:36

Radical feminism as a specific movement, rather than simply radical feminists, stated that women should all be lesbians.

As is stated in this article by a self described radical feminist

NeoFaust Fri 08-Nov-13 14:18:50

Oops, ignore me, that's revolutionary feminists. So hard to keep all this schisms straight.

People's front of Judea, Judean peoples front...

MooncupGoddess Fri 08-Nov-13 14:34:26

I have to say, chocoluvva, that most of the rad fems I meet are excellent company and v. funny. Don't let the media stereotypes put you off.

Blistory Fri 08-Nov-13 14:39:31

Chocluvva, I've found that it doesn't matter what particular theory of feminism you ascribe to as anyone who opposes feminism will accuse you of being a humourless radfem anyway.

The more extreme radical feminism is mostly theoretical and can be challenging to follow and upsetting but there's always merit in being forced to examine your own views and it certainly does that.

Grennie Fri 08-Nov-13 15:03:52

Sorry, had to pop out. I wasn't intending to start a thread and run.

NeoFaust - Yes I have heard a small number of radical feminists say that all radical feminists should be lesbians. It doesn't appear to be a majority view though. Catherine MacKinnon for example, lives with a man.

There are a proportionaly large number of lesbians in radical feminism, but I think that is because the movement tends to be much more genuinely welcoming to lesbians, than other types of feminism such as liberal feminism are.

Choco - It does involve questioning gender stereotypes, and I would say more radical feminists don't shave, wear make up, etc, than women in the general population. But I have attended RadFem conferences, and there were some women wearing make up, heeled shoes with dresses, etc. Nobody cared. I think the key is understanding that patriarchy teaches us that we are supposed to dress and behave in a certain way, to constrict us and make us look "sexy". In reality, we should be able to dress however we want.

Grennie Fri 08-Nov-13 15:06:03

Mooncup - I have met brilliant funny radical feminists, serious ones, quiet, loud, etc radical feminists. The women vary enormously. I think there are a far higher proportion though, who won't take any shit, especially from men.

MooncupGoddess Fri 08-Nov-13 15:17:31

This is true, Grennie. Anyone coming to a radfem space and saying 'My husband needs sex at least twice a week or he gets really arsey' or 'Men just aren't designed to notice what needs cleaning' would benefit from some intense consciousness-raising grin

Grennie Fri 08-Nov-13 15:24:38

Yes I can just imagine the reactions to that!

Although one of the radical feminists I know that I really like, first discovered radical feminism when she went to a conference, and in all ignorance asked a question in the plenary as to why trans womens needs weren't being addressed in any of the discussions.

Women very nicely explained the radical feminist analysis to her on this issue.

kim147 Fri 08-Nov-13 15:25:21

I just wish some rad fems would be more understanding and tolerant. They have their beliefs but just maybe what they think about some stuff could actually be wrong.

Grennie Fri 08-Nov-13 15:25:42

kim - Sometimes the women who shout the loudest, are not necessarily those who present the most nuanced understanding of radical feminism.

Grennie Fri 08-Nov-13 15:30:37

And everyone can be wrong about their beliefs I agree. But most people are not very good at admitting that. Look at how vehement people get on here about the most unimportant views.

bigkidsdidit Fri 08-Nov-13 15:34:51

This is very interesting. I thought I was becoming more radical as I age but perhaps not - I didn't realise the dismantling the patriarchy bit was key.

Can I ask, how in practice do radical feminists believe it can be dismantled?

Blistory Fri 08-Nov-13 15:35:52

Kim, I know some of the things that you find particularly upsetting but I don't think you can call their views wrong anymore than they could call yours wrong. Their manner of expressing it can be utterly vile but you get extremists at every end of every political spectrum.

It's like every theory, people forget that it's peoples lives and choices that are being dissected and ridiculed. The internet certainly allows a voice to those who don't stop to think of the damage they do but equally, it allows a voice to those who would otherwise go unheard. I don't know how you balance it but I simply stay away from the extremists. I think discussions on here sometimes show a bit more compassion and humanity when touching on difficult subjects but it can still be raw if you're a poster who's directly experienced something while others are blithely discussing it from a theoretical viewpoint.

Blistory Fri 08-Nov-13 15:37:52

Sorry, whilst my initial sentence was addressed to you, Kim, the rest of it was aimed at 'you' in general.

Grennie Fri 08-Nov-13 15:40:16

Yes radical feminists believe the only way to end the oppression of women, is to dismantle patriarchy. Some radical feminists think thsi can never be achieved. Others think it will take centuries of struggle to dismantle it, and they point to improvements that have already been made.

Another key difference, is that radical feminists view things from a class position. So for example, when looking at issues such as porn, they look at what is best for women as a class or group. Liberal feminists look at individuals.

bigkidsdidit Fri 08-Nov-13 15:45:54

What does that mean, grennie? Eg web cam work. I thought liberal feminists would be against all forms of prostitution but do you mean if a woman genuinely is a 'happy hooker' then it's ok for her?

Apols if daft question.

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