The differences between Liberal and Radical Feminism

Charles Rae outlines some obvious and critical differences between two sects of Feminism in the 21st century.

Raleigh, North Carolina. (TFC) – There have been some hairy online debates lately between two formed sects of feminism. Many people think that these women should set aside their differences and find a way to come together in working towards the same goal of ending patriarchy. Unfortunately, these two sects of feminism’s ideologies are antithesis to one another, and that is why the divide has become so well-established, and seems irreparable.

Here are bulleted lists (which directly correspond with one another), outlining some obvious, modern differences between the 3rd wave (Liberal Feminism), and the 2nd/4th wave (Radical Feminism).

Liberal Feminism

  • Definition of feminism: “equality of the sexes”
  • Fights for equality in political and private sphere
  • Demands opportunity and empowerment
  • Says patriarchy hurts men, too
  • Mainstream
    • Celebrity endorsed
    • National platform
    • Well-known messaging such as: marriage equality, religious equality, equal pay, pro-choice
  • Seeks to reclaim gender
    • Identity politics
    • Non-biologically based
    • Asserts that one should be able to choose a gender
    • Views criticism of ‘femininity’ as misogyny
    • Wants to claim femininity as empowering
  • Transwomen inclusive
    • Seeks to open the feminist movement to males who identify as female
  • Wants all women-only spaces to be open to transwomen/transgirls
    • Locker rooms, bathrooms, sports teams, etc
    • Women-only domestic abuse shelters, women-only safe spaces
    • Conventions, festivals, gatherings
  • Sex work supportive
    • Cites sex work as a means of female empowerment
    • Views sex work as a viable economic alternative
  • Far-reaching Intersectionality
    • Extends feminism as a movement for all- meant to help men, those female identified, to open space for male allies, non-politically active women, etc.
  • Taglines: “transwomen are women”, “feminism is for everyone”, “feminism is cool”, “support your sisters, not just cis-ters”, “feminism is humanism”, “feminism is not a dirty word”
  • Terminology: transmisogyny, cisgender, terf (trans exclusionary radical feminist), non-binary, agender, slut-shaming, whorephobia, rape culture, sex-positive, glass ceiling, mansplaining, bad feminist, third wave, cotton ceiling, trans lesbian

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Radical Feminism

  • Definition of feminism: “women’s liberation from men”
  • Fights for liberation in the political and private sphere, insists they do not want the freedoms to violate and oppress that men have had-deny the ‘equality’ paradigm
  • Demands space and authorship
  • Says patriarchy does not hurt men, rather, they benefit from patriarchy
  • Underground
    • Not celebrity endorsed
    • Nationally de-platformed
    • Controversial messaging such as: marriage abolition, religious criticism, the restructuring of the workforce, pro-abortion
  • Seeks to abolish gender
    • Social politics
    • Biologically-based sex/gender analysis
    • Theorizes that gender is a method of female socialized subordination
    • Views criticism of ‘femininity’ as feminist theory
    • Wants to disown femininity as subservient practices of maintaining the female body
  • Transman inclusive
    • Seeks to liberate female-born bodies from male supremacy
  • Denies any kind of male/transwoman access to female-only spaces
    • Bathrooms, locker rooms, sports teams, etc
    • Women-only domestic abuse shelters, women-only safe spaces
    • Conventions, festivals, gatherings
  • Sex work abolitionists
    • Sites porn as a part of the normalization of violence against female bodies
    • Views sex work as exploitation forced on women by oppressive environments
  • Theorized intersectionality
    • Extends feminism to those who have basic theoretical analysis- feminism as a movement and not as an identity or personality choice, historically based, intersectionality dependent on analysis of racism and other cross-cultural female experiences
  • Taglines: “Name the problem” (ie: male violence), “the personal is political”, “prioritize women”, “I’m a radical feminist, not the fun kind”, “end male violence”, “women only”
  • Terminology: equity, gender-critical, pedophile culture (Coined by: Alicen Grey), rape culture, sex-critical, glass ceiling, mansplaining, male terrorism, fourth wave/second wave, peak trans



Charles Rae writes about social justice. For more women-centered news follow TFC’s new faction The Fem Column on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr.