History of radical feminism

Radical feminism: what it is and why we're afraid of it

Swedish Director of Prosecution Marianne NyAlongside the obvious questions of freedom of information and criminal justice, the Julian Assange affair has also made visible a multitude of contemporary anxieties concerning sex and gender. This was brought into sharp relief by claims that Assange's prospects of a fair trial might be compromised by the possibility that Sweden's chief prosecutor Marianne Ny is a "malicious radical feminist" with a "bias against men".

But what exactly is radical feminism? If popular attitudes to feminism are anything to go by, it's clearly something pretty terrifying.

Research suggests that, in the popular imagination, the feminist – and the radical feminist in particular – is seen as full of irrational vitriol towards all men, probably a lesbian and certainly not likely to be found browsing in Claire's Accessories. As an academic working on issues concerning gender and politics, I've had the good fortune of meeting lots of inspiring feminist women – and men – but despite searching I've yet to locate a feminist matching that particular description. Perhaps I haven't looked hard enough. A more likely possibility is that the popular insistence that radical feminists – and often by implication feminists in general – are all man-haters reflects wider misunderstandings about the history of feminism and its impact on contemporary gender relations.

So what is radical feminism? Historically, radical feminism was a specific strand of the feminist movement that emerged in Europe and North America in the late 1960s. Distinctive to this strand was its emphasis on the role of male violence against women in the creation and maintenance of gender inequality (as argued by the likes of Susan Brownmiller, Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon). And while a minority of radical feminists – most infamously Valerie Solanas – were hostile to men, radical feminism was much more instrumental in generating widespread support for campaigns around issues such as rape, domestic violence and sexual harassment.

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FAQ

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What is radical feminism?

A radical feminist has both emotional and political centering in its logical expressions.Women’s oppression is the most..MORE

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What Is Radical Feminism?

Radical feminism is a philosophy emphasizing the patriarchal roots of inequality between men and women, or, more specifically, social dominance of women by men. Radical feminism views patriarchy as dividing rights, privileges and power primarily by gender, and as a result oppressing women and privileging men.

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