I decided that before I got really deep into the long breadcrumb trail of radical feminists working towards changing laws and policies inside Australia, I wanted to take a moment to discuss radical and mainstream feminism at its base level. At the bottom of the page, I’ll list out several popular books by radical feminists that discuss what their ideology is all about. But I’ve noticed a lot of discussion here on AVFM and other sites questioning just what radical feminism is and if there is any difference to mainstream feminism. I thought it important to give at least my take on feminist and radical feminist theory, as I think it is important to understand what exactly these people are talking about, and what they are so motivated to accomplish.
And, please don’t take my word for it, if you have the stomach, I suggest that you read what this movement’s ideology is, and the very bizarre thought process behind it.
Before I address the condensed list of radical feminist bullet points, I think it is important to touch on leading rad-fem writers position on individual choice. The quick and dirty is that the overwhelming majority of radical feminists don’t believe women have true individual choice. Instead, they think that women who are uneducated on radical feminist theory have no agency over themselves or their actions. According to doctrine, the individual choices of a woman regarding her own body and sexual practices, and even her own actions in life, are a tool of oppression and the patriarchy. No, seriously, they really believe this.
Shelia Jeffreys in her book Beauty and Misogyny (2005 2nd ed) explains this concept in detail:
“I suggest that beauty practices are not about women’s individual choice or a “discursive space” for women’s creative expression but, as other radical feminist theorists have argued before me, a most important aspect of women’s oppression. The feminist philosopher Marilyn Frye has written incisively of what makes a theory feminist, and why it is not enough to rely on women’s individual assurances that a practice is OK with them and in their interests” (p2)
Radical feminist Denise Thompson, in her 2001 book “Radical Feminism Today” expands on this idea of the harm of individualism a bit more:
“The ideology of individualism depicts ‘humanity’ as a set of isolated selves […] Desires, needs, interests, beliefs, actions, feelings, attitudes and behaviours, are perceived as personal properties intrinsic to each individual […] If relations of domination and subordination are interpreted as nothing but properties of individuals, they cannot be seen as relations of ruling at all. They become simply a matter of preferences and choices engaged in by discrete individuals who have no responsibilities beyond their own immediate pleasures and satisfactions. In this libertarian discourse, politics vanishes. If only individuals exist, political critique can only be seen as personal insult or annihilation of the self, and disagreement becomes assertion of the self against threatening and hostile others. ‘Freedom’ is reduced to the absence of constraint, either on the part of the self or of others.”(p43-44)
In other words, Thompson is saying that she believes individualism and individual choices of women are part of the collective oppression of the patriarchy. In Janice Raymond’s 1995 book, “Women as wombs: reproductive technologies and the battle over women’s freedom,” she takes it a step further; that a women’s body is the reproductive agent of the patriarchy.
“The assumption that any reproductive means should be a constitutionally protected procreative liberty ignores the real means used to bring about the desired end. Procreative liberty is not an abstract end, separate from an evaluation of the means. The central fact is that women’s bodies are the reproductive means to others’ reproductive goals.”(p78)
Did I warn you all that this was some very messed up logic? These people have doctorates for God’s sakes. And yes, just a warning, it gets worse.
Like any ideology, views vary greatly from one person to the next. However, these are the basic tenets, some more popular than others, that are seen frequently in radical feminist academic papers and other publications. As we have seen with Sweden, and now other countries devolving the system of laws to fit radical feminist ideology.
- Heterosexual relationships and marriage are deemed to be at the root of the Patriarchy, and therefore are shunned by almost all radical feminists.
- What radical feminists call PIV (Penis in Vagina) intercourse, or basically all heterosexual sexual activities, are seen as a tool of oppression and violence towards women.
- Homosexual relationships are seen as the only route out of their idea of an all encompassing male dominated oppression. (Important: this theory has nothing to do with the rights of LGBT people, and everything to do with literally viewing the male penis as the most oppressive tool of the patriarchy)
- As discussed above, radical feminists feel that women are not able to make individual choices for themselves that will enable their liberation from men, until they fully understand the theories of radical feminism. They believe that a normal woman’s agency is an illusion. According to this doctrine, while women think they have choice, any choice they make upholds the Patriarchy.
- All forms of prostitution are seen as both violence against women and as an agent of patriarchy and oppression. Hence, why in Sweden, the laws were crafted so prostitution was only a crime a man could commit. Men are seen as the only side of the transaction with real choice, since in radical feminism, women’s individual choice is actually just the choice of her oppressors, and therefore men should be the only party criminally charged.
- Almost all spectrum’s of feminism believe that “gender” is learned and not biological in any manner. Transgendered people are seen as deviants, not because they believe it is morally wrong, but because they are either seen as attempting to be a traitor to their sex and join the patriarchy in Female-to-Male cases, or are attempting to infiltrate women only spaces in Male-to-Female cases. It is almost impossible to describe the violent hate that radical feminists have towards transgendered people.
- Pornography is seen as violence against women and another tool of oppression. Radical feminists believe pornography is not morally wrong, but rather as a show of male deviancy derived from the Patriarchy. Some Radfem’s do create their own pornography, which is obviously lesbian porn, preformed by feminists for the sole intended use of other feminists.
- Any suffering that men incur during their lives is a product of Patriarchy, and is nothing to be mourned. Indeed, many radical feminists have stated that increased suffering in men is a good thing as it may begin to show them how the Patriarchy hurts them too.
- In radical feminism, and indeed some more moderate versions of feminism, it is impossible for men to be oppressed. To them, there is no such thing as sexism or bigotry towards men, because men are the ultimate benefactors of privilege, therefore and hatred or animosity towards men simply because of their sex is seen as a positive fight against their oppressors.
- Radical feminists believe that there should be no difference as a matter of state law between private lives and public lives. They argue that the Patriarchy continues to oppress women in untold numbers behind closed doors.
- Sexual jokes or crude humor, heterosexual scenes played out in the media and even romantic advances toward women by men is seen as violence against women by radical feminists.
- As we have seen in the last couple of weeks, some radical feminists believe that the male sex is a biological accident, and that the Y chromosome should be considered a type of defect. (Of course these people ignore the rest of the animal kingdom, and the biological differences between the sexes in other species)
- Destruction of the “male” gender (not sex, though many have advocated extermination of the male sex) is seen as the ultimate way to freedom.
There is more, a lot more, but I think I’ve conveyed the gist of their ideology. When you start to read these works of radical feminism, which by the way are a lot more popular than almost any ‘mainstream’ feminist, the amount of victimization they place upon themselves is beyond disturbing. You begin to see a pattern quickly emerge, that ultimately attempts to justify any bad action that a woman does as a product of patriarchy, but immerses the reader into desensitizing trance that ignores any harm or suffering that occurs to men or boys above the age of puberty. This model of patriarchy is what is being taught in almost every gender studies class around the world, and has seeped out into the mainstream conscious that men are expendable cogs of oppression.
The big ideological difference between radical feminism and mainstream or liberal feminism, besides the obvious fact that most mainstream feminists completely ignore what absolute vile hate merchants radfems really are, is this idea of choice and free will. While many mainstream feminists believe in both the notion of the all encompassing oppressive patriarchy and also believe that they have real choice in their lives that can do harm or do good, radical feminists think that the proposition for excepting both as true is impossible. What never occurred to either of them is that this myth of patriarchy might just be total horseshit, since it backed up by neither empirical evidence nor statistical data. Furthermore, radical and mainstream feminists are all guilty on some level of marginalizing the suffering of men and boys as something that is less than human. I’ve heard the saying “the patriarchy hurts men too.” I’ve got a new one for them; ‘feminist ideology hurts everyone’.
I think I need a week or two off after writing this, as I don’t think I have encountered so much stupid hatred and ignorant and dehumanizing rhetoric, that not only goes ignored by the majority of our society, but also gets justified by “fun-fems” as just harmless banter. Do they really think that these hate mongers that are in positions of power and prestige, don’t or haven’t influenced law to conform to their agenda? Perhaps they need a trip to Sweden…and maybe Australia soon as well.
Then again, maybe they secretly agree with them.
References for those with a high tolerance for crazy (I refuse to link to any of their books)
Spinster and Her Enemies, Sheila Jeffreys
Politics of Reality, Marilyn Frye
Sister/Outsider, Audre Lorde
Life and Death, Andrea Dworkin
Feminism Unmodified, Catharine MacKinnon
The Whole Woman, Germaine Greer
Female Sexual Slavery, Kathleen Barry
A Passion for Friends, Jan Raymond
Beyond Power: On Women, Men and Morals, Marilyn French