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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?

Grennie Fri 08-Nov-13 15:48:57

Liberal feminists vary on their opinions in fairness. But the most common view, is if a woman "chooses" prostitution, then that is fine. We should stop women being trafficked and abused, but we should allow those women to carry on being prostituted.

Radical feminists say that the existence of prostitution is harmful and exploitative for all women. No man should be able to buy a women's body to use for sex.

curlew Fri 08-Nov-13 15:50:59

On Mumsnet, a "radical feminist" is what, in any other circumstances, would be a "feminist".

bigkidsdidit Fri 08-Nov-13 15:51:43


I guess I am becoming more radical in my old age.

Grennie Fri 08-Nov-13 15:52:48

True Curlew. But many think radical feminist means extreme. So if they see a woman who think is an extreme feminist, to them that means she is a radical feminist.

Radical feminism is actually a theoretical position.

Blistory Fri 08-Nov-13 16:08:39

Liberal feminism doesn't necessarily support prostitution.

The main difference between radical and liberal is how they view the role of the state and the individual. So whilst liberal feminists may believe that prostitution is a valid choice for a woman to make, it believes that more should be done to ensure that laws exist to afford her protection, employment rights, the right to at least the National Minimum Wage etc. For me, I support a woman's right to personal autonomy and to enter into prostitution if they wish only in theory as in practice, the protections for these women don't exist, the choice can't be seen to be a free one in light of our current society and it can only be a valid choice once woman are truly equal and exercise the same freedoms as men.

Liberal feminists tend to view the state as having a role in fixing things and from that women will gain the autonomy needed. Radical feminism, as I understand it, believe that the state itself is creates the inequality and therefore must be changed from the ground up.

Both strands of feminism are more in agreement about the issues involved but not in the causes or the solutions.

NiceTabard Fri 08-Nov-13 16:31:07

I would describe myself as a radical feminist rather than a liberal one, certainly.

This comes about from MN - while I always knew I was a feminist, since my teens, I didn't know much about stuff. Coming on here and meeting others, it felt like finding a place that had been missing somehow. Mainly due to Dittany, she was great and I really miss her.

I have been to a few feminist conference type things including a radfem one and really I felt what was said resonated with me in the main. Also a great bunch of women. Plus I am not even slightly gay and MARRIED of all things and I certainly didn't feel that was any kind of problem. Much of radical feminist theory is theory - everyone knows that women do what they must and what they will in the society in which they live. So eg while I understand the point about political lesbianism and why it is made, clearly it's not a road I'm going to go down.

The nicest thing about being in a meeting / conference like that is freedom from the male gaze which I never really experienced until I was in a place with all women smile - it was lovely.

On Kim's point yes I agree, that there is no reason or excuse for attacking others whether online or in real life. I do agree with the radical position on gender but totally disagree with any kind of action against individuals who are just trying to get by and frankly have a bloody awful time of it under patriarchy anyway. I don't see the actions taken by an extreme view as representative of the political movement as a whole, if you get my drift.

FairPhyllis Fri 08-Nov-13 16:31:13

To me, radical feminism is a branch of feminist theory that analyses gender as a social construct that is used by men (as a class) to oppress women (as a class). Not all feminisms have this view of gender.

It seems to me to differ from liberal feminism in that it is non-apologetic in naming male violence and male oppression of women (again in class terms). This is why it is called 'radical', because it goes to the root of the problem ('radix', from which we get 'radical', is the Latin for 'root').

I would say that its perspective is that of the liberation of women from oppression rather than that of women gaining 'equal rights'. While I don't think radical feminists are against the gains that have been made in legal rights for women, they would argue that pursuing a 'legal equality' strategy will never fully achieve the aims of feminism because you need a more profound cultural shift to eradicate misogyny. It's not enough to simply achieve legal equality within a social system that was formed by patriarchy. The whole society has to change too, otherwise patriarchy will continue to be perpetuated.

curlew Fri 08-Nov-13 16:32:34

Sex positive feminism (you know, the one men like) is pro prostitution.

NiceTabard Fri 08-Nov-13 16:47:37

YY phyllis.

I look at the world and think the whole thing needs a total fucking rethink.

The current situation is unacceptable. Not just for women - for everyone. However women and girls tend to get the shittier end of the stick and as I am one, and live it every day, that is where my total fucking rethink has its start point.

bigkidsdidit Fri 08-Nov-13 16:55:27

Phyllis, how can those aims be achieved? Or is it entirely theoretical?

PeggyCarter Fri 08-Nov-13 17:07:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Grennie Fri 08-Nov-13 17:27:17

Joyful, it depends what you mean by transphobic? I agree with the views about the theory on this blog. I don't agree with calling trans people names or being shitty to them.

scottishmummy Fri 08-Nov-13 17:34:59

radical feminism is a false divide,another tool to divide by creating false ideological split
I've seen radical used as an insult in same way liberal is used as slur too
imo,there are wide range opinions and we don't need to agree or divide in false constructs

Bunnylion Fri 08-Nov-13 17:59:06

Really interesting thread, I'm learning a lot here.

But I do like the interpretation of it as "extreme feminism" that I've seen it often referred to as a slur - people fighting for "extreme equality" grin

MooncupGoddess Fri 08-Nov-13 18:01:58

Oh hello SM, nice to see you again.

I dunno, I think it is useful to put a name to significant ideological divides (whether in feminism or any other political ideology). But probably the majority of feminists (including me) don't explicitly identify as either radical or liberal feminists and that is absolutely fine.

Grennie Fri 08-Nov-13 18:02:26

NiceTabard - Do you know about radical feminist groups on places like facebook?

Beachcomber Fri 08-Nov-13 18:28:56

I think one the key aspects of radical feminism is that we identify women's struggle as being one for liberation (from female oppression/male supremacy) rather than being for equality (which radical feminists analyse as being unobtainable and a fundamentally flawed concept within patriarchal society).

NiceTabard Fri 08-Nov-13 18:31:23

oooh good stuff beachcomber smile

grennie I know there is stuff there, and I even set up a facebook in one of my old MN names to join with them, but TBH I don't really "do" facebook. My computer time is spent on MN. BBC and reading fanfic blush

PeggyCarter Fri 08-Nov-13 18:46:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Grennie Fri 08-Nov-13 19:03:06

No not all radical feminists are insulting of transgendered people. Some radical feminists at one time identified as trans themselves.

Cis though is a term that I think all ? or certainly nearly all, radical feminists reject. The point of being trans critical is about theory. It is not about insulting people who are just trying to live their life in the best way they can.

FloraFox Fri 08-Nov-13 19:09:42

Grennie I don't think of myself as a radical feminist but when individual issues come up, I generally agree with the radical feminist position on it. What do you think is a good overview of radical feminism?

TheDoctrineOfWho Fri 08-Nov-13 19:12:03

Hmm. I believe changes can be made within the current structure, so thought i was a liberal feminist . But I certainly agree with the "as a class" approach to analysis.

To be fair, I just consider myself a feminist except when specifically asked to distinguish.

Do not consider that pro-prostitution is a libfem viewpoint - with Blistory on that one.,

NiceTabard Fri 08-Nov-13 19:22:35

I agree with grennie.

Gender identity is a really rough subject for many feminists. I don't "identify" as cis. I don't "identify" as "feminine". I don't actually "identify" as "woman". I'm just a person. If gender is all that matters, then my sex is not female. But I am female, I was born female, I have been treated all my life as female, often to my detriment. The appreciation that there are things that happen to females because they are identified as female at birth is important, and is in no way taking a pop at trans people. If we say that people are only their gender - well I'm a bloke, I guess. But physically, I am very "feminine". And that's OK to me - I think it is OK for people not to conform to very constrained views of what they are based on their genitalia.

Otherwise what is someone like me? I was born and raised a female, with all that entails. My appearance is very "feminine" - not something I would change, or could really. The things that I enjoy, my approach to sex, the way I feel about my children, loads of things, are all stereotypically male.

So I don't "identify" as cis, as that would be to identify as feminine, female, surely.
I don't identify as trans, I don't feel a need to change my body or how I am.

What am I, under the new code?

Grennie Fri 08-Nov-13 19:28:46

Here are some blogs that explain what radical feminism is.

Grennie Fri 08-Nov-13 19:32:54

NiceTabard - I have no idea what you are under all the many labels that now exist. I think you are a woman and NiceTabard.

Women should be able to be who they are. It doesn't matter how you dress or behave - as long as you are not an idiot.

And yes, women get treated as girls i.e. second class citizens, from the day they are born. It doesn't matter what they think internally, they are treated in a certain way because of their bodies.

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