Radical Feminist or just Feminist?

(26 Posts)
msrisotto Tue 06-Jul-10 21:56:08

The social Marxist feminism thread starts off by saying Mumsnet has a radical feminist flavour and this has stuck in my mind so I thought I'd gauge your opinions.

What makes a radical feminist versus what makes a more pedestrian(?) feminist?

I mean, this person is wrong because there are loads of us feminists on here, all with different opinions on different aspects of feminism so to call us, as a group, radical is a generalisation. But I'm interested if I might have been included in their idea of a radical feminist!

So, what is one? What radical ideas do they have?

MitchyInge Tue 06-Jul-10 22:02:43

my only feminist roots are Dworkin at an impressionable age, she was definitely a radical

not sure if I am or not, or if it is even a helpful distinction? think we should be looking for and promoting common ground rather than lapsing into disputes about lipstick or whatever

sethstarkaddersmum Tue 06-Jul-10 22:05:41

great, I was thinking of starting a thread asking 'are you a radical feminist or a liberal feminist?'
not sure which I am.... does anyone know of a good definition?

MitchyInge Tue 06-Jul-10 22:06:57

are the liberal ones the ones who think feminism about choice, including the choice to adopt behaviours that are rooted in oppressive historical beliefs?

dittany Tue 06-Jul-10 22:10:15

Radical in radical feminist means going to the root, so it's not radical in the sense of extreme.

The main difference between radical feminism and liberal feminism is that radical feminists want to overthrow the whole system of patriarchy whereas liberal feminists want to work for reform and equality within the system as it stands.

sethstarkaddersmum Tue 06-Jul-10 22:10:58

I know Naomi Wolf is a liberal feminist in 'Fire with fire' because Sheila Jeffreys (a radical) says so in 'Beauty and Misogyny'.

I am probably a radical as long as that doesn't mean we want a violent revolution.

msrisotto Tue 06-Jul-10 22:14:50

I was thinking that Mitchy, is it a helpful label?

MitchyInge Tue 06-Jul-10 22:34:29

I dunno, was just a thought

personally think am erring on the side of radicalism because any other approach just seems to end up with us pretty much back where we started, if not worse

sethstarkaddersmum Tue 06-Jul-10 22:48:21

interesting q about whether the label is helpful.
I think it's probably a better idea to say 'Hello I'm a feminist' rather than 'Hello I'm a radical feminist' but knowing that there are different positions that are all feminist and where you fit into the picture can be helpful.

MitchyInge Tue 06-Jul-10 22:53:21

think it would help provide framework for what sort of action might best suit you and where your feminist energies might want to go

would like to know more about these things too

ElephantsAndMiasmas Wed 07-Jul-10 00:41:33

Probably way off the original meaning here, but depending on your background what might seem pretty tame to some of us would be radical for others. So for me the idea of going to university has always been open, no-one ever thought of telling me to forget it because I'm female. But I know other women whose families were dead against it, thought it was a waste of time when they would just get married etc etc. So they are being radical in rejecting that idea of themselves as purely domestic with no "outside world" potential? Is this making any sense? It's been a long day...

Prolesworth Wed 07-Jul-10 00:46:45

Message withdrawn

msrisotto Wed 07-Jul-10 09:15:53

Dittany, I wonder if it is common knowledge that the radical part refers to going to the roots etc? I didn't, I associate radical with extreme.

Elephants - You make perfect sense. They might be seen as radical feminists for going to uni but i would say their families are radical/extreme sexists for having the opinion that they shouldn't I suppose the sticking point for me is, is there such thing as having radical desires for equality? It sounds silly when it's the sexists that are being extreme.

Oh don't worry Prolesworth, no offence taken at all, you just got me thinking! I hate people who try trip others up in arguments by picking up on generalisations they know no one is making, it's just a way of talking. I don't want to make conversation stilted by getting everyone to qualify EVERYTHING with (I know not everyone falls under this category blah blah blah).

Pogleswood Wed 07-Jul-10 12:09:24

"The main difference between radical feminism and liberal feminism is that radical feminists want to overthrow the whole system of patriarchy whereas liberal feminists want to work for reform and equality within the system as it stands."

According to this I'd be liberal then.
Reading Dittany's post here,I can easily understand "what working for reform and equality within the system" might mean,and visualise an end result - reading about overthrowing the system of patriarchy I think,yes,good idea - but I cannot visualise what overthrowing patriarchy would mean,how it would be achieved,or what the world would look like afterwards.Is this just me?

MitchyInge Wed 07-Jul-10 12:55:44

I think a radical mindset that finds liberal expression is what would work for me, as is just too easy to alienate the very people who need to be influenced/educated if the radical message is just too far away from their existing beliefs or understanding of the issues

you do have to sort of meet people where they are already at and start from there, most men (understandably) and some women will just hear 'all men are rapists' and be repelled and even less likely to take feminist views on board

MitchyInge Wed 07-Jul-10 12:56:14

(even when 'all men are rapists' is not what is said)

ElephantsAndMiasmas Wed 07-Jul-10 14:40:03

TBH I don't even know what type of feminist I would be under those definitions. But I can think about that when the daily grind of battles is won. When "women bishops - more trouble than they're worth" is not an acceptable topic for a bbc debate. When women can walk the streets safely. When the pay gap is closed. Etc etc etc etc etc etc. I know it matters to some people the framework in which these things are happening, but I just want them to happen. I am willing to fight for them (metaphorically), but I don't want to have a massive violent upheaval - women always lose out when things get violent anyway. I just want to eradicate the nonsense that is sexism. <pauses for breath>

ElephantsAndMiasmas Wed 07-Jul-10 14:40:17

TBH I don't even know what type of feminist I would be under those definitions. But I can think about that when the daily grind of battles is won. When "women bishops - more trouble than they're worth" is not an acceptable topic for a bbc debate. When women can walk the streets safely. When the pay gap is closed. Etc etc etc etc etc etc. I know it matters to some people the framework in which these things are happening, but I just want them to happen. I am willing to fight for them (metaphorically), but I don't want to have a massive violent upheaval - women always lose out when things get violent anyway. I just want to eradicate the nonsense that is sexism. <pauses for breath>

ElephantsAndMiasmas Wed 07-Jul-10 14:43:03

Sorry about that. Meant to say also msrisotto that you are right. Sexism is extremist bullshit. The idea that people are basically people, with individual differences that you have to actually ask them in order to find out about, rather than guessing based on physical attributes - that should be common sense.

I want sexism to be regarded like phrenology, that thing where doctors thought skull shape influenced personality. Outdated and embarrassing.

Prolesworth Wed 07-Jul-10 15:54:31

Message withdrawn

sethstarkaddersmum Wed 07-Jul-10 16:10:24

I love Elephant's phrenology post, and what a glorious, glorious idea about museums of sexism. smile

I often think of what feminists of the future will think of us now.

dittany Wed 07-Jul-10 18:47:48

Mrsrisotto, no I don't think most people are aware of that definition. The thing about radical feminism is that it is very intellectually consistent and rigorous, so radicalism in feminism isn't about crazy extremism, it's about going deep into analysis of the patriarchy and misogyny and the use of the word radical is accurate.

Me I think radical feminism is just common sense, logic and a lack of denial about the extent of male violence against women and its effects on society. Most people don't want to think about how much women's lives are affected by men's violence towards us, particularly sexual violence. I suppose it's why feminists often get called man-haters because we hold men accountable for their behaviour towards us.

A museum of sexism would be a great idea.

Prolesworth Wed 07-Jul-10 18:51:46

Message withdrawn

ElephantsAndMiasmas Wed 07-Jul-10 22:59:26

Is it worth it if we don't live in the area though? Councils barely listen to their own constituents IME

Love the museum of sexism - it would be a great installation for someone to do. Is there an international women's week or something? I know there was women's day back in....april.

Prolesworth Thu 08-Jul-10 00:38:52

Message withdrawn

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