What Are the Variations of Radical Feminism?
Radical feminism is known for its activism. It popularized the slogan, “Personal is the Political”. Some of those actions can be seen as staged sit-ins, acted out dramatizations, and marches. There are essentially two forms of radical feminism:
radical-libertarian and radical- cultural feminists.
i) Radical-Libertarian Feminism
According to Tong, Radical-Libertarian feminists tend to hold the Radical feminist views of the 1960’s and 1970’s. They often argue that women’s reproductive capabilities and sexual roles and responsibilities serve to oppress them in a patriarchal society, and limit their ability to be full human persons. They long for androgyny and hence embrace reproductive
technologies as they can help women escape from the chains of motherhood and childbirth. As we shall see, radical-libertarian feminists are convinced the fewer women are involved in the reproductive process, the more time and energy they will have to engage in society’s productive processes. Beliefs stem from the idea that gender is an aspect that is separated from sex, and that male dominated societies place unyielding gender rules to control women.
Patriarchy is the primary oppressor, not individual men. They believe that deconstruction of the nuclear family in favour of the communal family and contracted motherhood would also break chains of mothering stereotypes.
ii) Radical-Cultural Feminism
This group of feminists sees femaleness as empowering and therefore believe women should embrace the values traditionally associated with femininity such as community, sharing, and body to name a few. Radical-cultural feminists see women’s power to create new life as the ultimate source of our power and believe it is in women’s best interests to procreate naturally.
Radical-cultural feminists theorize that women’s oppression is not caused by female biology and reproductive possibilities but rather by men’s jealousy of women’s reproductive abilities and their desire to control them through new reproductive technologies. Many earlier Radical feminists believed that reproduction was at the root of women’s oppression and that we would be emancipated if we could free ourselves from “the tyranny of reproduction”.
At that point in time, “Technology was viewed as liberating women”. Things have changed since those days, and today the more popular consensus is that technology is not the liberation Radical feminists thought it would be. Instead of freeing women, our bodies are simply being controlled by men in even greater capacities in the areas of in-vitro fertilization, artificial insemination and other technological methods of reproduction by predominantly male doctors and scientists. This however cannot be said for all Radical feminists.
Radical-cultural feminists conclude that the idea of heterosexuality is male domination over females, and it sets the stage for a number of vices such as rape, sexual harassment, abuse, and prostitution. They also believe that men should be educated about women, and shown that their attitudes are detrimental to women. Only after this could men and women band together to change patriarchy. Susan Brownmiller in her book, “Against Our Will” has done a threadbare analysis of rape.