Saturday, 30 January 2016

Types of Feminism - Radical and Socialist

EgaFem the Enterprise Series:
Campaign Stakeholders:

Types of Feminism:
Libertarian and Egalitarian Feminism:
Liberal and Marxist Feminism:
Radical and Socialist Feminism: This article
Intersectional Feminism:
Transnational Feminism:
Other Types of Feminism:

Author: Blaise Wilson

Name: Radical Feminism
Alternative names: Outcome, Gender, Politics, Women’s Liberation Movement

Radical Feminism is called so because they believe in the radical restructuring of society in order to remove male supremacy in all social and economic context. Radical Feminism believe that men are systematically and purposefully privileged while women are oppressed and dominated using social, institutional, and legal systems [2, 4, 10, 11, 12, 14 20]. They call this oppression ‘patriarchy’ [18].

They argue that the oppression of women is the foundation form from which all other oppression, such as race, are based [14, 15, 17].

It tries to challenge patriarchy by changing current social norms and institutions, rather than through legal change, including the complete dismantling of gender roles, going as far as to remove the concept of gender entirely. This includes opposing the sexual objectification of women and raising awareness of gendered issues that predominately (but not uniquely) affect women. Their opposing to sexual objectification often makes them sex-negative, standing against pornography and prostitution [3, 15, 16, 17, 20].

Radical Feminists tend to be more extreme than other versions of Feminism [2, 13], often being the centre of controversy and this has caused the perception of them to be the dominate voice of feminism since the 1970s (although Intersectional Feminism is growing within the media coverage) [0].

Although some Radical Feminist admit that gender is a biological one, they try to remove it as a social concept [13, 19]. Radical Feminists recognise that childbirth is the predominate cause of their oppression and actively seek technology to allow artificial wombs in order to free women from this biological commitment. This creates a tendency for them to be very negative towards motherhood, seeing it as a key cause of the oppression of women and going so far as to portray the traditional heterosexual family structure as part of the oppression of women [3, 11, 14, 18].

However, recently Radical Feminists have been influenced by Intersectional Feminism and some now believe that gender is a social construct. This hasn't  made much impact on their goal of removing gender as a social concept but provides additional support for that goal [0].

Similar to Marxist forms of Feminism, Radical Feminism takes a collective approach, rather than an individualist one, to the oppression of women, making them a form of Outcome Feminism [0]. Radical and Marxist also share the ideology that the current social and economic system is unacceptable, however Radical Feminists are not inherently anti-capitalist as Socialist Feminism is. However, Radical Feminism is sometime referred to as a form of Marxist Feminism [18].

Definition of Equality:
Equality of Outcome for the Collective.

Although some agree that gender is biological, other see it as a social construct. Either way, they wish to remove the social concept of treating them differently by removing the idea of gender.

Root cause of problems:

Patriarchy, which is defined as the purposeful systematic oppression of women by men.

Radical Feminism is part of 2nd Wave Feminism, becoming dominate from the 1970s [7].

Andrea Dworkin
Catherine MacKinnon
Kate Millett

Radical Feminism became popular in the 1970s [7] and is considered to be a form of 2nd Wave Feminism. Due to their extreme tactics they were perceived to have a greater impact than previous incarnations such as Liberal and Libertarian Feminism, which increased their popularity [0].

Their ideological history is based in a collective, Marxist, grouping rather than an individual one.

Radical Feminism is seen as the most extreme form of feminism [13], with the highly emotional claims that all men are purposely oppressing all women they are often seen as ‘man haters’. They often have a very negative view of men as a whole, causing the group to be extremely sexist against men, to the point of misandry [11, 18].

By placing all men as oppressors and perpetrators, and all women as oppressed and victims Radical Feminism essentially disregards individual male and female victims of individual women [17]. This creates a problematic situation when simultaneously claiming that the concept of gender should be removed, while also insisting that women can only be victims [0].

By discounting female perpetrators, this essentially tells women they have no agency in the current system, and should not face the consequences of their actions by taking personal responsibility for their choices, with Radical Feminists often blaming men for the crimes of women [0].

Postcolonial Feminism is critical of Western forms of feminism in general, including Radical Feminism, for claiming all women suffer the same oppression rather than taking local culture, experience and history into account [16].

Intersectional Feminism has criticized Radical Feminism of excluding the oppression of race [19].

By Radical Feminists accepting that gender is influenced by biology, yet also insisting that there should be equal outcomes within society it makes a confusing statement about the impact of the choices of men and women, especially within a free market. Although Radical Feminists wish to tear down current society, it is unclear what they wish to replace it with [0].

The very extreme nature of Radical Feminism and the resulting fanatical support put the ideology at risk of being labelled a religion, with indoctrination tactics being employed to convert people to their cause [0].

Radical Feminists have been accused of having an emotionally driven ideology with no basis in reality and lack intellectual scholarly debate [17].

There is a lot of infighting within Radical Feminism, with small sub-groups splintering off (see below).

Allies and enemies:
Due to the very extreme nature of Radical Feminism’s ideology it spurs intense responses, both for and against.

Radical Feminist accuse men of the deliberate enslavement of women, which creates a lot of tension between Radical Feminists, and men and women who support men and do not believe in the intentional oppression of women by men.

Women who choose to fulfil traditional family roles and become mothers and dependant on their partners are told by Radical Feminists they are contributing to the problem. This creates animosity between them.

Radical Feminist believe that Liberal, Liberation and Egalitarian Feminists contribute to the concept of patriarchy by wishing to work within the current system, rather than tearing down the current establishment and creating something new.

Radical Feminism’s very negative portrayal of sex created a backlash in the early 1980 known as ‘The Feminist Sex Wars’ (or sometimes, ‘Lesbian Sex Wars’, or ‘Porn Wars’) by Sex-Positive Feminism (aka pro-sex feminism, sex-radical feminism or sexually liberal feminism) [39, 40, 41].

Sub-Types of Radical Feminism

Radical-Libertarian Feminism
Radical-Libertarian Feminism is the belief that women should reject all forms of femininity and become more androgynous [4].

Radical-Cultural Feminism
Radical-Cultural Feminism is the belief that women should embrace all forms of femininity, as this is inherently superior to masculinity [4].

Radical Lesbian Feminism
Rising out of political lesbianism, Radical Lesbian Feminism believes that lesbianism is an act of resistance against the status quo of heterosexuality. They claim that heterosexuality is not only enforced, but is violent and oppressive towards women [9, 20], with growing academic theories on the subject [8].

Idealist Radical/ Biological Feminism
Idealist Radical/ Biological Feminists believe the biological differences between men and women make it impossible for them to understand each other, with emphasis on men being incapable of understanding women and thus being inappropriately suited to represent them in areas such as politics [14].

Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF)
One of the key areas of conflict within Radical Feminism is the Trans community. While some Radical Feminists support the Trans-gender community, others accuse them of perpetuating patriarchy gender norms and claim it to be incompatible with the Radical Feminist idea that gender should be removed from society completely and attempt to exclude transgender individuals from their organisations, women’s spaces, and female facilities [20, 37]. These are called Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERF), and they believe that gender is binary, innate, and immutable meaning that a male-to-female trans person should eternally be consider male, and to call them female is to encourage a delusion or mental illness [37].

Sex Work Exclusionary Radical Feminist (SWERF)
Sex Work Exclusionary Radical Feminists (SWERF) consider any form of sex work such as pornography or prostitution, even done by choice, as incompatible with the ideals of equality and perpetuating the oppression of women by men [38].

Name: Socialist Feminism
Alternative names: Outcome, Marxism, Material, Gender, Politics

Socialist Feminism is a sub-type of Marxist Feminism, believing that capitalism is the root cause of the patriarchal oppression of women [14, 21, 22, 24, 27, 29, 30, 34, 34]. However, they do not believe that gender is the bases of all other oppression like Radical Feminism does .They specifically call for a socialist/ communist economy, believing this will end all oppression but especially the oppression of women [22, 23, 24, 28]. They use the state, even if it is a patriarchal one, to enforce this [27].

This takes a collective view of society, rather than an individual one, and includes other forms of oppression such as race [23, 24, 26, 28], however they also believe that the oppression is mutually reinforcing, and that ending male supremacy is the key to social justice [24].

Socialist Feminism believes that gender is a social construct, and that biology does not influence choices [23, 24]. Due to this, some Socialist Feminists are keen to work with men to achieve their aims [23], however, others see the oppression based on biology and thus men and women as natural enemies [27].

They have observed that women tend to derive their status from their husbands, rather than be independently considered and believe that women should become financially independent [9, 24].

One method Socialist Feminists have suggested of providing women with finance independence is to pay them for their current traditional duties by hiring a professional nanny and housekeeper [7, 24].

Definition of Equality:

Equality of Outcome for the Collective.

Gender is a social construct.

Root cause of problems:


Part of 2nd Wave Feminism, popular from the 1970s.


Shulamith Firestone [29]

Radical Women (RW) [25]

The term ‘Socialist Feminism’ was first used in 1972 by the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union [25], around the same time Radical Feminism split off [26] creating two distinct streams of Feminism within the 2nd Wave.


The same critiques of Marxism Feminism can be applied here.

Allies and enemies:
Although Radical and Socialist Feminism agree that society needs to be fundamentally destroyed and replaces, they disagree that gender is the primary source of oppression, with Socialist Feminism accepting that there are other forms of oppression at work, and Racial insisting that gender is the original, fundamental oppression that all others are based on [30].

Due to the collective versus individualist viewpoints Marxist/ Outcome Feminists in general conflict with Opportunity Feminism (Libertarian/ Choice/ Equity/ Egalitarian/ Liberal etc) [27].


Edit 18/06/2016: Edited and added the section about some Radical Feminists believe gender is a social construct. Also removed Anarcha-feminism from the Radical section and place it in the 'other' section of feminism.

No comments:

Post a Comment