What is “radical feminism”? I see peculiar definitions here and there – or not so much definitions, as ad hoc explanations apparently pulled out of people’s…imaginary reference materials. The definitions or ad hoc explanations are crafted in such a way that they appear to fit feminists the crafters dislike, unless you actually know anything about the feminists in question.
There’s Vacula’s definition for example.
Secular Woman is an organization, launched in June of 2012, which aims to “amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious woman.” I was initially supportive of the organization and helped promote it because I had hoped that this organization would provide a fresh breath of air to the discussion about women’s issues – something much different than what many have already heard from the likes of radical or gender feminists in the secular community who seem to believe that men, ‘the patriarchy,’ and misogyny are responsible for all or most of the problems women face.
Mmm. Yeh. Except we don’t.
Not even close.
A straw definition if ever I saw one. I don’t talk about “the patriarchy” for example; I don’t even talk about it much without the definite article. I also don’t think anything as stupid or crude or off the mark as that. I don’t think even actual radical feminists think anything as stupid as that. Most of the problems all people face are just part of being a mortal animal! There are core human problems and challenges that feminism can’t possibly touch. Feminists aren’t so stupid that we don’t know that.
And even if we improve the definition by specifying social problems or political problems or the problems of being seen as subordinate, they still don’t boil down to making “men, ‘the patriarchy,’ and misogyny” responsible for all of them.
The sources of sexism and misogyny (and no, I do not treat them as identical; that’s a later post) that interest me most are cultural; memes, if you like. Women are responsible for them too! I don’t think there is a cabal of patriarchs running a meme factory that keeps women down. I think it’s a lot more complicated than that.
I do also think it matters. That, I think, is what people mean when they call us “radical feminists” – that we think cultural crap matters. But that’s not radical feminism. Second wave feminism always thought cultural crap matters. All second wave feminism. That was the point of it.