What radical feminism actually is

Shulamith Firestone wrote the perfect explanation of what radical feminism is in the her book The Dialectic of Sex, and it helps to go back to this once in a while to remember, because we tend to get lost in stupid Internet drama and forget what we are actually supposed to be doing. Firestone wrote that we have to analyse sex-based oppression with the same analytic method that Marx and Engels used to analyse economic class oppression. Women and men form two distinct classes of people, and men as a class have the power to extract resources from women as a class due to our reproductive capacities. While women are pregnant, breastfeeding, and caring for children, we are dependent on other members of society for our survival, and this dependence on others, usually husbands, means we are subject to exploitation. That exploitation being that husbands (and men, as a class) do what they want with our bodies because they have the power to do so. The reason there are abuses such as incest, rape, forced pregnancy, forced marriage, sexual abuse and sexual harassment are because men, as a class, have power over women’s bodies. The reason there are multi-billion dollar industries selling the bodies of girls and women to men is because men, as a class, have power over women’s bodies. The goal of radical feminism is for the female sex class to take control over our bodies (the means of reproduction.)

“So that just as to assure elimination of economic classes requires the revolt of the underclass (the proletariat) and, in a temporary dictatorship, their seizure of the means of production, so to assure the elimination of sexual classes requires the revolt of the underclass (women) and the seizure of control of reproduction: not only the full restoration to women of ownership of their own bodies, but also their (temporary) seizure of control of human fertility – the new population biology as well as all the social institutions of child-bearing and child-rearing. And just as the end goal of socialist revolution was not only the elimination of the economic class privilege but of the economic class distinction itself, so the end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself: genital differences between human beings would no longer matter culturally.”

To be a radical feminist is to seize control over our female bodies. It is to control when and if we reproduce, and with whom; to control when and if we have sex, and with whom; and to control the trajectories of our lives. The strategies of radical feminism are those strategies that give women the ability to say no to men who wish to extract resources from us. These strategies may include giving women access to birth control and abortion, ending rape and other forms of male violence, giving women the ability to support ourselves instead of being dependent on men, making it socially acceptable for women to have careers or be spinsters or lesbians, helping women heal from trauma after enduring male violence against us, and everything else that gives us the power to control our own bodies and lives.

Radical feminism is NOT the act of yelling at other women on the Internet for having the wrong personal characteristics. It is NOT a social club for a select few, it is a revolution that all women can join. It is the elimination of the sex class system in order to liberate female humans from oppression. If you think you cannot be a radical feminist because you have the wrong personal characteristics, you’ve been reading the words of people who don’t get it. I suggest ignoring those people. If you are female, and you want females to be able to control their own bodies, and if you believe in a revolution where women take back control from men, then you are a radical feminist.

6 thoughts on “What radical feminism actually is

  1. Nice one. I’ve long felt that I don’t qualify as a radical feminist because a lot of crazy ideas get floated out under that banner, and I can’t sign up for all of them. (Actually no one can, because a lot of it is self-contradictory.) But I believe deeply that women should be in control of our own bodies! So I am a radical feminist!

    Good. Because this revolution has been delayed too long!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I dare say this post is quite thought-provoking. Whether I agree with it (at least in its entirety) is another question, but it is well written and as I said, gives one pause for thought.


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