Who’s a Radical Feminist?

by Sekhmet She Owl

 

Something I’ve noticed about so-called “radical feminist” online spaces and self-identified “radfems,” is that a majority of them are not, in fact, radical or feminist. For the sake of clarity, let me define radical feminism: a political movement in pursuit of global female liberation from all forms of male oppression, which recognizes that females are oppressed by males because of their biological sex. Radical feminism is often categorized as “second wave” feminism, but in reality, the first and third “waves” don’t qualify as feminism according to the definition I just gave, and radical feminism’s goals and principles haven’t changed since the 1970s, when the feminist movement was most alive in the US and UK. So-called “first wave” feminism of the late 1800s and early 1900s focused on women’s right to vote in the US and the UK (in addition to some Western European countries and Australia), which was limited to class privileged white women, and achieving legal rights for women within heterosexual marriage, without fundamentally challenging or analyzing heterosexuality or marriage. The “third wave” is actually just an anti-feminist backlash to the movement of the late ‘60s and the 70s, a backlash that has been dragging on since the mostly heterosexual anti-feminists left the movement in the 80s to become advocates of porn and BDSM. This is what we typically call “liberal feminism,” but I refuse to pretend that anti-feminism is actually an alternative version of authentic feminism, so usually I refer to popular pseudo-feminism as “liberal anti-feminism.” Nowadays, liberal anti-feminists use the term “feminism” as a synonym for the broad “social justice” conglomeration of issues that include men, all in the name of “intersectionality”—which is a concept they have bastardized in order to justify including and centering males in their fake “feminism.”

Anyway, back to the fake “radical feminists.” There are women who call themselves “radical feminists” or “radfems,” who gather on Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and Reddit in spaces that they label “radical feminist,” who are about as far away from radical feminism as the rest of the world that openly rejects it. The problem is radical feminism is presently the only political movement on the Left that rejects gender identity dogma and openly criticizes porn and prostitution. As liberal anti-feminists recognize gender identity for the bullshit that it is and wake up to the fact that the trans cult is a grave threat to basic female rights, more and more of them go looking for a new political camp because mainstream liberalism and Leftism excommunicate anyone who rejects, criticizes, or even questions the trans cult and the sex industry. They end up finding radical feminism and, because so many of them formerly identified as “feminists” anyway, they decide that this is the camp they belong in because they oppose gender and paid rape but are not Right Wing.

The thing is, though, radical feminism is not and has never been about opposing gender identity and the porn/prostitution industry alone. As I said, radical feminism is about global female liberation from all forms of male oppression. Gender and the sex industry are only two forms of that oppression. Liberal women who call themselves “radical feminists” simply because they oppose gender identity and the sex industry are not only contributing to the false reputation of radical feminism but co-opting and attempting to water down the real thing.

You can’t choose the parts of feminism that you like, reject the parts that you don’t like, and call yourself a feminist. It’s okay to be a student of feminism, and it’s definitely fair to say that consciousness-raising can be a long and gradual process. But if you’re a woman who isn’t trying to move past gender identity and the sex industry, into the rest of radical feminist philosophy, then you are not a radical feminist, and you shouldn’t call yourself one. Your false political identity makes it more difficult for radical feminists to find each other and move forward in our cause.

Liberal women who oppose the trans cult and the sex industry should create their own spaces to discuss those issues and organize political action to achieve their goals. Some radical feminists may even be willing to work with those women on the gender and sex industry issues. But liberal women falsely calling themselves “radical feminists” and attempting to twist radical feminism around to suit their lifestyle, politics, or worldview is harmful and obstructive to genuine radical feminism as a movement.

Radical feminism is:

  • Anti-capitalist
  • Anti-racist
  • Anti-classist
  • Anti-imperialist
  • Against the hatred and oppression of lesbians
  • Critical of heterosexuality, marriage, and the nuclear family
  • Anti-patriarchal religion
  • Anti-war
  • Focused on female power, freedom, and independence, not on the reformation of males
  • Anti-gender (including and especially the performance of femininity by women)
  • Anti-rape, including paid rape in the porn and prostitution industries
  • Anti-BDSM and all forms of abuse generally
  • Recognizes and condemns male violence against women, children, animals, and the earth
  • Supportive of female separatism and female-only spaces
  • Morally absolutist/culturally universalist on issues relative to female oppression

The way you know what radical feminism’s true positions are on the above issues, is to ask this question: does this thing I’m considering contribute to female oppression or to female liberation from the male oppressor? That’s the measuring stick. One cannot be a radical feminist and a racist, because racism harms all women of color. One cannot be a radical feminist and lesbian hating, because lesbians are women, and lesbianism is a direct threat to male power over females. One cannot be a radical feminist and a believer in gender, because gender is a tool men use to oppress women and girls. You get the idea. When you want to find the feminist opinion of an issue, ask the central question: does this contribute to female oppression or female liberation from oppression? Nothing is sacred. Everything is subject to political analysis and criticism.

Radical feminism, like any legitimate political movement, bases its analysis, methods, and goals on the question of power. Power is what politics are all about. Who has power over whom and how is that power used? Power manifests itself materialistically, which is why any political school of thought worth a damn is materialist in nature. Feelings are not material. The same criticism that gender-critical and porn-critical women make about the liberal anti-feminist/SJW crowd can be applied to radical feminism itself: your feelings do not overrule or determine the truth. You don’t get to pretend that radical feminism is anything other than what it is, just so you can call yourself a radical feminist or preserve your personal comfort about the choices you make. If you’re not willing to deal with your own racism or think critically about the heterosexual lifestyle or turn your back on the US capitalist/imperialist/war machine, but you do strongly oppose gender identity and the sex industry, that’s fine. Acknowledge that you are a gender abolitionist, anti-porn, anti-prostitution liberal who wants women to have basic human rights and move on. Create spaces for other women like you and call them gender-critical or gender-abolitionist or anti-porn/prostitution. But don’t claim to be part of radical feminism.

You don’t have to be a radical feminist to oppose gender and paid rape. You definitely don’t have to be a radical feminist to believe in pay equity for women or to oppose male violence against females. Just as you can be a Right Wing woman who opposes porn, prostitution, and the trans cult, you can be a liberal woman who opposes these things for different reasons. (Anyone with a clue knows that the Right Wing opposes gender identity, porn, and prostitution for very different reasons than radical feminists and abolitionist liberals.) When it comes to freedom from male violence, you can be anywhere on the political spectrum and believe in that for women. Being a woman who believes that males raping, abusing, harassing, and killing females is terrible and unacceptable, doesn’t make you a feminist. It makes you a woman who believes in basic human decency. Radical feminism doesn’t stop at the belief in women deserving physical, sexual, emotional, and mental safety. Radical feminism recognizes that violence is the tool men use to maintain their power over women and girls, and it is methodologically willing to do whatever it takes to set females free from that violence, up to the point of female separatism and withdrawal from heterosexual relations.

Most people in the world, including all of the liberal and Leftist misogynists that go around calling women TERFs and SWERFs, have no idea what radical feminism actually is. They’ve never studied it, and they’ve never spoken to a real feminist long enough or seriously enough to have civil discourse. This is one important reason why gender abolitionist and sex industry abolitionist liberals should not call themselves radical feminists. There are enough lies about this movement out there already, without a whole new group of well-meaning women muddying the waters even further.

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6 responses to “Who’s a Radical Feminist?

  1. I’m going to hazard the guess that you’ve got this exactly and specifically right down to the sharpest nicety. I’m basing that on the strong probably, judging from your tone and some of your allusions, that I am your enemy…and still I find your description of these toxic wave radfems to be 100% accurate.

    Well and bravely done.

    Like

  2. Have you read Matilda Joslyn Gage’s “Woman, Church, and State” from the late 1880s? So-called first wave feminism wasn’t actually all about white women (or pro-het, necessarily, and she took on a huge array of topics), but like radical women everywhere, Gage was written out of history. Maybe you’ve heard of the two women who worked closely with her, Elizabeth Stanton and Susan Anthony? You probably haven’t heard the actual names of the Haudenosaunee elderwomen with whom she worked and learned; she drew heavily from them, and passed on knowledge to her son-in-law, who wrote the Gift Economy (non-white, non-capitalist) into his rather famous book called “The Wizard of Oz.”

    Radical feminists have for ages had our history buried or misrepresented, so I wanted to point out this rather important detail. Our foresisters, North American (colonizers and non-) and European and Asian and African and more … have rarely gotten good press, and certainly enduring press is even more rare.

    Anyway, thank you for this writing!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Though I appreciate your article, it’s importance and I mostly agree, i do think we radical feminists should be open to welcoming women who have newly discovered the importance of radical feminism even though they may not yet understand it’s complex and all encompassing vision. Lists are problematical. I can quibble with you on not using the word (and opposition to) patriarchy in your list of what makes a true radical feminist. We may all have some different emphases and choices as to how we understand radical feminism, and if women who are reaching peak trans, and are newly learning how the phony “gender identity” crap greatly endangers females, want to call themselves radical feminists, i see that as a positive first step. In time they will hopefully grow and expand in their understanding and appreciation of how rich, how life changing, how necessary radical feminism is for the liberation of all females and the planet.

    Liked by 1 person

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