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Transcript of Radical Feminism
•They have origins in the new left movement that emerged in the 1960s that sought to emancipate all alienated groups in society in which women formed the largest groups. Other groups include ethnic minorities and very poor, gay and disabled people. What actually is Radical Feminism? •Radical Feminism is a philosophy emphasizing the patriarchal roots of inequality between men and women, or, more specifically, social dominance of women by men.
•They tend to be more militant in their approach.
•They oppose existing political and social organization in general because it is inherently tied to patriarchy.
•As a result, they support cultural change that undermines patriarchy and associated hierarchical structures. The solution to the problems of women in society cannot be achieved by male reform, but must involve a radical transformation of the structure of society. What do we think when we hear the term 'Radical Feminism'? •Patriarchy is extremely pervasive and it exists in all aspects of life, both the private and public spheres. Principles of
Radical Feminism •Although there are important biological differences between men and women there is no justification for suggesting that gender difference exist, or, if they do, that they are important. All relations between men and women are inevitably oppressive ‘Radical feminism believes that patriarchy originates in the private sphere and thus spreads to the public.’ •Radical feminism views patriarchy as dividing rights, privileges and power primarily by gender, and as a result oppressing women and privileging men.
•The value of the concept of patriarchy from a radical feminist perspective is that is highlights the systematic, institutionalised and pervasive nature of male domination, suggesting, in this process, that this stems from and reflects the dominance of the husband-father within the family. Challenging gender inequality therefore requires a sexual revolution or qualitative social change through the overthrow of patriarchy in the private realm as well as in the public realm. ‘Biology is not destiny’ •Radical feminists draw a basic distinction between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. How social conditioning in the private sphere of home and family inculcates gender roles into future generations. It is a social construct.
•They regard gender as the most important division in society and see that women are oppressed and disadvantaged within society due to their gender differences. ‘The Personal is Political’ •That society has its own hierarchical structure characterised by patriarchy.
•States that women’s oppression through patriarchy in family is the source of oppression in society.
•A belief that family attitudes must be changed not just those within a wider society barriers in both spheres must be broken down.
•Radical Feminists place emphasis on the sexual and psychological oppression that women suffer in the private sphere. It contrasts to social oppression in the workplace. The social situation will not be improved unless gender differences in the private sphere are resolved.
•Writers such as Kate Millett and Shulamith Firestone argue that patriarchy in the personal and private sphere of home and family has always been the first and most important power relationship in the human social system. They have effectively redefined ‘politics’ to apply it to this power relationship in the private sphere. Rejection of the ‘public and private split’. This is the divide between the public sphere of work and politics, dominated by men, and the private sphere of home and family to which women are largely confined.
For radical feminists; the priority is consciousness- raising amongst women towards a sexual revolution which will transform gender roles and eliminate private patriarchy. Criticism •They are nevertheless criticised by conservatives because conservatives believe that all feminists are denying the natural order of society whatever change they are proposing.
• A world where men and women are truly ‘equal’ is perfectly acceptable to conservatives. The issue concerns how the situation occurs.
•Conservatives can accept this change if it occurs naturally. On the other hand, it should be resisted if it is achieved through radical political action. Summary of Radical Feminism •Fundamental, revolutionary change needed to the nature of society.
•Belief that patriarchy does not recognise the boundary between private and public spheres.
•Firm rejection of the validity of gender differences, while accepting that biological differences are important
•In order to liberate women, a new society must emerge in which consciousness of gender difference is eliminated Exploitation •Radical feminist argue that all forms of exploitation are interconnected and should not be treated separately
•One example is that radical feminists criticise liberal feminists belief that economic equality and freedom is the key to all forms of women’s liberation. Radical feminists say that the economic exploitation of women does not stand in isolation from other forms of exploitation.
•They say that the exploitation that is entailed by pornography and prostitution or suffered by women who find themselves trapped in violent and alienating relationships with men, are part of the same system of patriarchy.
•Granting women economic independences will not bring them true freedom
•Andrea Duorkin, an implacable campaigner against the exploitation of women through pornography, is known to have expressed anger a well as a desire for independence. Key Radical Feminist Thinkers Many radical feminist took inspiration from the writings of the French philosopher Simone De Beauvoir, especially her book ‘the second sex’ (1949). She argued that gender dominates women’s lives. The stereotypical ‘male’ image is portrayed as the desirable social norm, with the implication that the ‘female’ is therefore a deviation. Germaine Greer •Germaine Greer followed De Beauvoir’s work as she dealt with the imposition of male-created stereotypes of femininity on women. The term ‘women’s liberation’ probably applies more to Greer than any other prominent feminist.
•In her book, ‘the female eunuch’ (1970), she argued that women are socialised into passive sexual roles.
•Women, she asserts, have been oppressed and rendered powerless by their relentless exploitation by men. The key revolution is therefore not in the structure of society, but in the consciousness of both men and women. Kate Millett •Kate Millett’s object was to create an androgynous society in which there would be no significant gender differences between men and women- a state of genuine equality. Of course, sexual differences would remain, but gender would no longer be a significant element in society.
•In Millett’s ideal, androgynous world, power relationships between the sexes would end and true gender equality would emerge. The characteristics of men and women, having become identical, would lead to the end of patriarchy, or indeed and relationship of power. Male-female relations could then resume based on true equality.
•One of her most famous works was ‘Sexual Politics’ (1970). Shulamith Firestone •The most modern of all radical feminists (and arguably the most extreme in the modern era), Shulamith Firestone holds perhaps the most revolutionary beliefs.
•She sees the family unit, together with the biological differences between men and women, as having made women’s inferiority inevitable. She points out that, in the modern world, women can perform their reproductive roles without men.
•Artificial insemination means that sexual relations are outdated. This, she triumphantly announces, removes the main cause of male control – the reliance women have on men when they are rearing children. How they developed a more extreme view for radical feminism? •Greer believed that women must reassert their identity freeing themselves from all situations in which they fall under the control of men, including in the family, at work, in politics and in social life in general. Above all, however, Greer proposes sexual liberation. The traditional, male-dominated sexual relationship must end and be replaced by relations on a very equal basis. The family, which she (like Firestone and Millett) sees as a crucial agent of oppression, should be replaced by communal forms of living, or, possibly, women should live alone.
•For Firestone, this gives rise to the possibility of a women-only community. Women, she argues, are all capable of forming lesbian relationships, or, short of that, can certainly make life without men. Firestones’s more radical followers have suggested that the need for men will disappear altogether and the world will cease to recognise sex or gender differences. However, for Firestone the vision of a community of free women without the need for men was enough.
•Millett offers a radical solution to patriarchy. Women, she argued, must develop their own consciousness, which should be completely separate from men. They must have no relations with men, including sexual relations, and must instead form their own communities.
•Thus we could arguably say that this extreme view created the foundation of Lesbian feminism from the post-modern era. However it is shown that men and women are psychology equal, it is that gender has become a social construct What People Would Admit Extreme Potentially violent Revolutionary Strong female bias/dislike of men Opposition to patriarchy Social disorder Restructuring society Women’s liberation Germaine Greer Sadly misguided A blanket term to describe a large school of feminism fused with radical ideology e.g anarcho-feminism Strongly detest inequality between the sexes Radical feminists would do anything within their power to destroy the so called ‘patriarchal society’ Direct action Protest, demonstrations campaigns being the only methods that are able to achieve equality Women’s rights Androgyny Anti-men Want to not only have equality but superiority over men Extreme protests What People Think But Would Not Admit (can be) Psycho Results Crazy lesbians who want to eradicate men and somehow survive off sperm banks LEGENDS Lesbians Positive social movement Androgyny Crazy Over the top Bunch of mad lesbians Women are superior to men Men owe something to women for part oppression Scientific research into the ability to choose the sex of your baby, which would obviously be female Lesbian feminists/ man haters A mix of schools of thought I like (anarcho-feminists) to an assortment of misogynistic genocidal transphobic reactionaries (known on the internet as ‘feminazis’