Today I will talk about radical feminism and what it means for us in the present struggle. Not just feminism at large, but the radical kind in particular.
Elsewhere, I have defined radical feminism differently than a feminist would define it. It is my critical non-feminist prerogative, after all, to view feminism through an objective lens, from the outside looking in. It is axiomatic, in counter-feminist terms, that feminism is what we say it is — and we must never stop reiterating this. There is no infallible “Pope of Feminism” who can issue any papal bull upon that subject. The whole question of “what is feminism?” (radical or otherwise) is up for grabs, because feminism looks wildly different from different angles. (Besides, I have never seen a feminist definition of feminism that didn’t deserve a good, stiff unpacking.) So again: feminism is what we say it is.
So I have defined radical feminism as the man-hating version of feminism — it’s just that simple. Disaffection toward men and maleness is demonstrably feminism’s root component, and this insight is helped along by the fact that “radical” is derived from the Latin “radix”, or root. Radical feminism is the root version of feminism, from which all of feminism grows. As such, it is closer to summing up feminism as a whole.
This makes radical feminism is the “true” feminism, while other feminisms fall more or less short of the mark. Any manifestation of feminism can be gauged by its level of anti-male feeling. The more (or less) man-hating it is, the more (or less) quintessentially feminist it is. (I do not lapse into andronarrativism by merely pointing these things out.)
Radical feminism, in our non-feminist view, is not a bounded category but rather a thing manifested on a continuum of radicalness. In other words, it’s relative, but in the end radical feminism is the singularity around which all of feminism swirls.
But that is only my non-feminist take upon the topic. So on the principle of “know your enemy”, let’s have a drive-by look at what feminists themselves mean by “radical feminism”, and explore how this dovetails with the points I have been discussing.
At a core minimum, radical feminism means any version of the feminist ideology which defines women as a political sex class.
There you have it. Any feminist who can be pegged (on feminist terms) as a radical feminist, will either implicitly or explicitly harbor the belief that women are a political sex class.
AGAIN: The foundation of radical feminism is the idea that women are a political sex class.
You will not find a radical feminist anywhere who does not believe that women are a political sex class. That is the preeminent marker which differentiates a radical feminist from a liberal feminist, a moderate feminist, a coffee-shop feminist, a bubblegum feminist, a unicorn feminist.
A liberal feminist is chiefly a reformist, one who would pass a few laws and then integrate women into the institutional framework of liberal bourgeois democracy and Western jurisprudence. Feminists have an expression for this: “add women and stir.”
On the other hand, a radical feminist wants to break the frame of existing institutions altogether, in the belief that those institutions are inherently stacked against women and cannot be made to serve women without a radical perestroika to their deep structural core. (Can you say “smash the patriarchy?”)
This is where radical feminism (in the feminist usage, mind you!) begins its journey. From here, it grows. It mutates. It branches off in many directions. Yet always it commences with a radical break, a rupture, a discontinuity, from the bourgeois liberal tradition.
Radical feminists have correctly realized that if feminism stayed within the confines of the bourgeois liberal tradition, the whole feminist project (to increase the power of women) would eventually stall dead in its tracks.
Are you with me?
In order for the feminist project to remain viable, it must remain in motion by continual expansion. (We call this “perpetual revolution”. It broadly resembles the “permanent revolution” which Leon Trotsky wrote about.) And yet, the feminist project in its bourgeois liberal form cannot grow beyond the bounds of possibility which the bourgeois liberal tradition permits.
I repeat: the feminist project in its bourgeois liberal form cannot grow beyond the bounds of possibility which the bourgeois liberal tradition permits. One sees that is logical.
So if the feminist project would remain viable, it must effectively dismantle the bourgeois liberal tradition. In other words, feminism as a whole would have no future if it did not evolve into more and more radical forms.
Radical feminism is feminism’s only viable component, so next time somebody tells you that radical feminists are “only the extremist fringe”, you may discount that speaker as an intellectual lightweight, a person of small understanding.
Assuming that no external force intervenes, radical feminism embodies the trajectory of the feminist future. Hence, listening to radical feminst conversation is like gazing into a crystal ball. Radical feminists are the feminist vanguard. They aren’t the majority, but . . . they don’t need to be!
Let’s turn back to our non-feminist definition of radical feminism. Once again, we define radical feminism as man-hating feminism, and we consider man-hating to be the root of all feminism. So when you attack or undermine radical feminism, you cripple the feminist project altogether because you attack all feminism at its root.
The bourgeois liberal tradition, as we have discussed, sets an institutional barrier on how far feminism can grow. Similarly, the requirement to treat men and boys
decently sets a moral barrier on how far (and in what direction) feminism can grow. In either case, a barrier gets imposed and growth of the feminist project gets constrained. Hence, in either case, feminism would wither on the vine.
So if feminism is to remain viable, it is necessary to dismantle both liberal bourgeois institutions and the requirements of morality.
Very well, let us recapitulate. Even though all feminism may be defined in terms of disaffection toward men, and the most extreme man-haters may be classed as “radical”, it remains true that in feminist terms, radical feminism is distinguishable from liberal feminism because it names women as a political sex class. Furthermore, radical feminism holds that the female political sex class can only be served if the bourgeois liberal tradition be abrogated.
So finally, this means that relations between men and women have become politicized, that the sexes now face each other, in principle, as adversaries. Women are named as a political sex class, which makes them a political interest group. That is unfortunately the case even if a lot of them don’t want this.
In the meantime, (non-feminist) men are in a kind of limbo. They must either start viewing themselves as a political interest group also, and standing up for their interests, or frankly they will get run over. And indeed, thanks to feminist innovation on many fronts, that is already happening.
Briefly stated, men and women have been engineered into what you may call a “political dimorphism”, meaning a co-existence of the sexes in asymmetrical and mutually dysfunctional political forms. Well it ought to be self-evident that this is an unhealthy, unsustainable condition culminating in a zero sum game, and that a house divided against itself cannot stand. And a world where men and women are competing political interest groups, is precisely that — a house divided. That is what feminism has so far given us, and as this develops further it can only pound the wedge deeper.
So in conclusion, I would recommend that we of the non-feminist sector begin to classify feminists as a political class. Not a political sex class, since both women and men can be feminists, but a political class pure and simple, with interests that run counter to everybody else’s interests.
From this it follows that we activated non-feminists, women and men both, should define ourselves as a political class also — with interests that run counter to those of the feminist political class.
Feminist v. non-feminist sounds more healthy than man v. woman, don’t you think so? A house frog-marching an unwanted guest off the property looks more sustainable than a house divided against itself.
Remember, from here on out, the foundational narrative is feminism v. the rest of us — which sounds like winning odds.
Political dimorphism has got to go.