Sociology Index


Socialist Feminism, Feminism, Women's Movement, Women's Liberation Theory

Radical feminism is relatively recent and differs from traditional Marxism in arguing that women's oppression is historically primary, harder to transform, causes more harm and is more widespread than class oppression. Similarly it is argued that women's oppression provides a model for understanding other forms of oppression such as racism and class domination.

Radical feminism and radical feminists claim that women's oppression is rooted in biology and its elimination will require a biological revolution transforming women's relation to reproduction. Within criminology, radical feminism and radical feminists focus on documenting and analyzing ways in which the content of law and practices of law enforcement have served to entrench and strengthen male dominance in society.

To radical feminists, women’s oppression is the most fundamental form of oppression. Radical feminism focuses on men as oppressors, yet says little about the possibility of the woman being an oppressor of other women or of men. According to radical feminism and radical feminists, prostitution is not a harmless private transaction. Radical feminists believe that prostitution reinforces and perpetuates the objectification, subordination, and exploitation of women.

Liberal feminism and radical feminism contrast sharply in certain of their fundamental views.

Liberal feminist thinking is a more reasoned, intellectual perspective than the radical feminist position, which has both emotional and political centering in its logical expressions. 

It has been said of the radical feminists that their tactics and their philosophy are inseparable.

B Burstow - Sage Publications, Inc.
Abstract: According to the author, "radical feminism" views "oppression against women as connecting with but not reducible to all other systemic oppressions and places special emphasis on the physical violation of Woman as Body." The central focus of this book is violence against women. One premise of the book is that women are violently reduced to bodies that are for men, and these bodies are further violated. A second premise is that violence is integral to the experience of being a women. A third premise is that extreme violence is the context in which other violence occurs and gives meaning to the other forms. The final premise is that all women are subject to extreme violence at some time or live with the threat of extreme violence. The author addresses childhood sexual abuse, rape, and battery continuums, as well as women's responses to this violence (depression, cutting, splitting, troubled eating, and protest). The book includes a detailed exploration of feminist ways of working with women, with attention to the specific needs of Native women, Jewish women, women with disabilities, prostitutes who are battered by pimps, women who self-mutilate, psychiatrized women, women with drinking problems, and women who are considering killing themselves.

Against the Dividing of Women: Lesbian Feminism and Heterosexuality 
Denise Thompson -
I am arguing for a continuity of interests between lesbians and heterosexual women, and that lesbians and heterosexual women have common experiences which enable them to understand and empathize with each other. I document the history of the feminist critique of heterosexuality from early radical feminism to the contemporary arguments of Rich (1980), Raymond (1986) and Penelope (1985a, 1985b, 1985c). From a lesbian feminist standpoint, I suggest that setting up an oppositional dichotomy between `lesbian' and `heterosexual' divides women from each other and perpetuates the heterosexual hegemony. The continuing revaluation and redefinition of lesbianism is essential in order to achieve the political priority of feminism: an end to male domination. 

Radical Feminism and the Subject of Writing. Rhodes, Jacqueline
The radical feminists of the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as their online counterparts today, offer provocative examples of networked textuality, a discourse dependent on the constant and visible contextualization of self and writing within the discourses of hegemony. Given its potential use for liberatory writing pedagogies, it seems curious that radical feminism has yet to influence composition studies in any substantial way. This paper discusses composition and radical feminism, particularly radical women's sites online. The paper makes some of these sites "visible" to look at how activist women online move toward collective action through textuality, combining the relative permanence of a resource site and archive with the ever-changing association of hypertext links, visitor input, and guest commentary. It notes that the tension between fixity and fluidity in radical feminist writing mirrors another key tension in discussions of textuality and pedagogy, the tension between liberatory pedagogies and material conditions.


Masculine domination, radical feminism and change 
Clare Chambers, University of Oxford
Abstract: Feminists are starting to look to the work of Pierre Bourdieu, in the hope that it might provide a useful framework for conceptualizing the tension between structure and agency in questions of gender. This article argues that Bourdieu's analysis of gender can indeed be useful to feminists, but that the options Bourdieu offers for change are problematic. The article suggests that Bourdieu's analysis of gender echoes the work of earlier radical feminists, particularly Catharine MacKinnon, in important ways. Consciousness-raising, one of MacKinnon's strategies for change, sits well with Bourdieu's concept of habitus, despite Bourdieu's own scepticism.


Defining Feminism - John Hoffman
Feminism is sometimes seen either as multiple or singular as though we have to make a choice along ideological as well as philosophical lines. Feminism, I shall argue, is both multiple and singular, since 'liberal', 'socialist' and 'radical' feminisms are distinctive feminisms that can and should be assessed according to the extent to which they contribute positively to the development of a post-patriarchal society. The same holds for the philosophically differentiated varieties of 'feminist empiricism', standpoint and post-modern theory. Each represent differing feminisms within a single body of argument unified by its commitment to the emancipation of women.