Another reminder: what radical feminism is

Some of us on Facebook were trying to decide what the definition of radical feminism is. I provided my recent blog post where I say that Firestone’s definition is excellent. A friend gave this wonderful response to it:

I don’t think the Firestone explanation goes far enough, and I think that’s because she is sticking too close to Marx’s ideas about means of production and so forth. She gets the main point that men as a class control womyn as a class, and that a primary goal of radical feminism is for womyn to take back control over our bodies, our sexuality and reproductive capacity. Having sovereignty over our bodies, our fertility and all of our labors is the first step in our achieving liberation from male control, but it’s not the only issue or step.

Radical feminism starts with the understanding that we live under the worldwide religion of patriarchy, where men have dominance and womyn are subjugated to their rule. However, male control of females is by no means limited to our sexuality and procreative ability. In patriarchy, men have taken violent control of womyn and the rest of material reality, creating a culture where every institution is by, about and for men. They have appropriated not only the means of material production, but also the development of language, of knowledge and even of perception and meaning; of government and law, of education, the sciences, marriage and family, philosophy, spirituality, architecture, agriculture, *all areas of understanding and creativity. Men have appropriated and colonized every single aspect of existence (including non-humyn life and Earth itself). They identify themselves as The Standard of Humyn-mess and view females as an incomplete or flawed– lesser–versions of themselves. Male rule enforces our dependence upon them–not just materially, in terms of our survival as mothers (with our children), but also intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, creatively.

In patriarchy, men have relegated females to the sex class: womyn, solely by virtue of our biological sex, don’t just exist to serve men as fuck toys and breeders, but as servants and nurturers of men’s bodies, their offspring, their ideas and institutions. Womyn’s voices were silenced in the creation of patriarchal culture, our active, creative, fully empowered participation was (and is still) violently suppressed by men. Radical feminism is the liberation of womyn from male rule. This is definitely about gaining body sovereignty and full control of our fertility; it is also about achieving full voice and participation in the creation of a social order and all areas of life. (—Jai Kalidasi)

I completely agree with this summary.

This weekend I was browsing the “radical feminist” tag on WordPress and found a post from someone who seemed to have a sincere interest in feminism and understood the meaning of the different strands, but then added in that radical feminists want to abolish “chivalry” because we hate having doors opened for us.


In my near decade of reading about radical feminism from both published books and personal blogs I have never seen anyone suggest that common courtesy is a problem. I have no issue with someone opening a door for me. In this world full of human rights abuses against women I don’t have the luxury of caring about something so trivial.

People just make up whatever shit they want, ya know?


9 thoughts on “Another reminder: what radical feminism is

  1. The only problem I see when men open doors for women (particularly using my experience as an example, so when men open doors for me) is that it’s like a little microcosm of all of patriarchy. He does something nice and now I have to smile and say thank you, thus opening up the lines of communication. I now feel obligated to speak with him. I feel better when I’m the one opening the door because the “he did something nice, now I must respond appropriately” power play is out of the equation. It kind of puts us on a bit more of an “even” level. Opening doors for women or having other women opening the doors for me has a completely different feel. I actually have quite a bit of anxiety when a man and I are approaching a building at the same time.

    Now, the number of times I’ve actually had a man strike up a conversation with me after my saying thank you, or the reverse, him thanking me for opening the door, is zero. But all individual instances of male-female interaction has the entire collective weight of this female-oppressive male supremacist culture behind it. By all definition, this is view is extremist, but I find I can take nothing for granted in patriarchy.

    Liked by 6 people

    • There are other examples of this. Women say “excuse me” in tight spaces in grocery stores much more frequently than men. It’s a clear display of submission, but I can’t help doing it because why should I sink to their level of rudeness? Pisses me off, though.

      Liked by 5 people

  2. I love this so hard. All of this. I just wish Inhad any energy left after a battle royale for my rights in a situation where my medical condition was being largely ignored and when I spoke up, second in command condescended to me in the nastiest way. Thankfully, top dog is almost fully evolved and put #2 in his place once I made him aware of what #2 did.
    Yay, Patriarchy.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. With regards to opening doors…this is a point of contention thrown up by men in the early days of the Womens’ Liberation movement. There were a lot of stupid remarks and jokes made about men not opening doors for women, that if they ‘didn’t need a man,’ they could open them for themselves. Men would deliberately stop short from a door just to watch a woman open it for herself, then ‘razz’ her with comments about her ‘liberation’ and if it made her feel ‘manly.’ Really charming guys…real ‘princes,’ if you will. Their fragile little egos were only offset by their fierce disgust for anything and anyone who challenged the ‘status quo.’ And, frankly, worse than the men today because they weren’t afraid to put their hands on a woman, giving her a shove or a slap on the back with an ‘attaboy!’ No one ever intended for good manners or common courtesy to be thrown by the wayside, but that’s what happened when the little bastards couldn’t deal.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. @bullydawg, what a bunch of pricks.

    My housemate actually tried to take over my door opening when I had opened it for him, even though he was holding a good deal too much in his hands and I was holding nothing. I told him plainly this was silly. It doesn’t have much to do with common courtesy when men are doing it, or they would not feel ashamed or emasculated when a woman opens the door for them.

    I don’t care if a man opens the door for me but I sure as hell aren’t going to feel I owe him something for it. If he wants to inconvenience himself he can be my guest.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. People seem to love to pretend that feminism is about equality. Equality with who? Men are not equal to each other, so which category of men should women be equal to? The whole concept is very confused. Feminism has never been about equality. It’s always been about patriarchy. Reversing the particular path of woman-hating that has been laid since the rise of capitalism.

    Liked by 1 person

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