The differences between Mainstream 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 or Mainstream Feminism), and the 2nd/4th wave (Radical Feminism).

Liberal/Mainstream Feminism

  • Definition of feminism: gender equality
  • 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 (gender is not defined)
    • Views criticism of ‘femininity’ as misogyny (see: femmephobia)
    • Wants to claim femininity as empowering
  • Transwomen inclusive
    • Seeks to open the feminist movement to males who identify as female
  • Wants all female-only spaces to be open to men who identify as women
    • Locker rooms, bathrooms, sports teams, etc
    • Women-only domestic abuse shelters, women-only safe spaces
    • Women’s leadership roles, opportunities, funding, and scholarships
    • Conventions, festivals, gatherings
  • “Sex-positive”, aka pro-kink
    • Cites “sex work” as a means of female empowerment
    • Views prostitution as a viable economic opportunity for women (and girls)
    • Supports sexual sadism as a healthy sexual impulse (BDSM)
  • Far-reaching Intersectionality
    • 3rd wavers theorize that feminism is a movement meant to include all people in the world- meant to help men, gay or straight, those female identified, to open space for male allies, to take on all social justice issues for all people. (see: taglines)
  • 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”, “this is what a feminist looks like”, “punch TERFs”,
  • Terminology: transmisogyny, cisgender, terf (trans exclusionary radical feminist), swerf, non-binary, agender, slut-shaming, whorephobia, rape culture, sex-positive, glass ceiling, mansplaining, bad feminist, third wave, cotton ceiling, translesbian, truscum,

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Radical Feminism

  • Definition of feminism: female class liberation from men
  • Fights for liberation in the political and private (cultural) spheres, insists they do not want the freedoms to violate and oppress that men have had-they 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 (LeftForum, Vancouver Women’s Library, Writer Natasha Chart, ACLU director Maya Dillard, many reports of threats of violence, etc.)
    • Controversial messaging such as: marriage abolition, religious criticism, the restructuring of the workforce, pro-abortion/pro-menstrual extraction, pro-natural birth, anti-infant formula, and pro-Nordic Model
  • Seeks to abolish gender
    • Uses the original definition of gender as a system of oppression, of hierarchical socialization based on sex, called sexism
    • Resists gender conditioning from subordinate and passive personality traits to sexualizing clothes and paraphernalia in women
    • Condemns masculine socialization, machoism, and narcissism, which makes up the conditioned male gender role
    • Biologically-based sex/gender analysis
    • Views criticism of ‘femininity’ as feminist theory
  • Transman inclusive
    • Seeks to liberate all females 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
    • Women’s leadership roles, funding, and opportunities
    • Conventions, festivals, gatherings
  • Prostitution and porn (paid prostitution) abolitionists
    • Sites porn as a part of the normalization of violence against females
    • Theorizes “sex work” as oppression and exploitation forced on women by oppressive and male supremacist environments, which objectify and comodify females for male consumption
  • Intersectional
    • Uses a class analysis of how sex-based oppression intersects with class and race-based oppression
    • Feminism is for all females to fight sex-based class oppression in a male supremacist world
    • Says men cannot be feminists, only allies (including men who identify as women)
  • 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”, “transwomen are men”, “porn is paid rape”, “female is not a feeling”.
  • Terminology: equity, gender critical, gender abolitionist, pedophile culture, rape culture, sex-critical, glass ceiling, male terrorism, fourth wave/second wave, peak trans, gender doctrine.

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