What is a Radical Feminist?

Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee
Radical feminism is believed to have played a role in bringing to light issues of domestic violence that are rooted in sexism.
Radical feminism is believed to have played a role in bringing to light issues of domestic violence that are rooted in sexism.

A radical feminist is typically a follower of radical feminist philosophy. This philosophy usually states that women are oppressed physically, sexually, economically, and in other ways by men, and that these patterns of oppression spring from deep-seated patriarchal beliefs within many human cultures. Generally, a radical feminist believes that modern social and political systems tend to place men in positions of privilege and authority over women, and that many modern cultural and political constructs may therefore be flawed. Radical feminists generally believe that men and women are equals, and that the belief that men may be somehow superior to women probably springs from the perception that there are fundamental differences between the two genders. Most radical feminists wish to eradicate beliefs that women may be inferior to men, by changing the social and political systems that they believe foster misogynistic behavior.

Feminists paved the way for women to move into traditionally male-dominated careers.
Feminists paved the way for women to move into traditionally male-dominated careers.

The political philosophy referred to as radical feminism is considered to have its origins in the second-wave feminist movement of North America and Europe. Radical feminists are said to differ from liberal feminists in that they are perceived as more willing to actively agitate for social and political changes in line with their philosophy. Many believe that radical feminism is largely responsible for helping to equalize female roles in many Western societies in the decades since the second-wave feminist movement began in about 1960. Radical feminism is believed to be at least partially responsible for the tightening of laws to protect women from rape, domestic abuse, and other dangers believed rooted in sexism. It is also believed responsible for the increasing freedom of women in many Western societies since the second-wave feminist movement began.

Not every radical feminist is a woman.
Not every radical feminist is a woman.

The typical radical feminist probably believes that women have been oppressed by men throughout history, in almost all societies. Some radical feminists believe that the oppression of women by men is not only the oldest type of cultural oppression in existence, but also the most damaging to people, families, and communities. Acts of oppression attributed to misogynistic beliefs include rape, abuse, prostitution, and domestic abuse. Many radical feminists believe that they also include such constructs as rigidly defined gender roles that dictate dress and behavior for both men and women. Ideas that men and women are suited for different lifestyles, that women may be more fragile or more emotional than men, or that men may be stronger and more aggressive than women, are also believed to form part of the oppressive structure radical feminists typically rally against.

Not every radical feminist is a woman. The philosophy does not typically claim to exclude or punish men. Many radical feminists believe that men, too, are victims of sexist cultural ideas and political systems, and that they, too, suffer as a result of female oppression. Most radical feminists feel that the systemic oppression of women can only end when all members of society are able to perceive the genders as equal.

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Discussion Comments


@anon941934: No, that's radical feminism. Big R radical feminism as a philosophy. This article entirely neglects the fact that second wave radical feminism absolutely endorsed queer oppression. Sexuality was a choice, therefore, to be gay was a rejection of women, therefore misogyny. To choose to be a lesbian was to engage in sisterhood, therefore appropriating queer oppression for a mainly straight movement, and being trans was either trying to buy into privilege or trying to get into women only spaces to rape women.

Furthermore, they utterly ignored racial issues and how multiple systems of oppression can intersection, aka intersectionality.

Rather than ignoring the past (especially when TERFs still exist), you should recognize it and try to move past it. More modern radical feminism is trying to address these issues, but that was explicitly why third wave liberal feminism rose to prominence, as a rejection of these problems radical feminism had.

But most of what defines radical feminism has been adopted by modern liberal feminism; it just maintains a more individualistic focus. Modern liberal feminism still talks about patriarchy as a root cause of sexism and all that entails, but it adds intersectionality and queer issues because queer issues are directly caused by misogyny.

Modern liberal feminism doesn't incorporate criticism of gender as a concept however, rather it argues against inequality between genders.


Except they call themselves "radical" even knowing what "radical" is. As the first anon thought, radfems are "the feminists close to the root". That's what the "radical" part means. Some even point out problems with their issues, while liberal feminism in general is the most widespead on social websites.

What you quoted here was the straw feminist. Not the radical one.


I agree with the conjoining post here. Radical feminism is not a movement for liberation; it's a movement to conquer and crush the male half of the species.

I've seen "radical feminists" who claim that in order to be a true feminist you must, not just should, you must be a lesbian. And that to be attracted to men is abhorrent, evil and low.

Do they even realize that without men, none of us would exist? If their crusade was a success, our race would go extinct. And likewise the same vice versa.

Also, I consider myself a feminist.. But I am undoubtedly, unapologetically attracted to men. Even though I am asexual, I find them more visually appealing than females, and to force me to say that I like females better in order to support a cause that, in its native state, is righteous, is pretty damn ludicrous.

It's a slap in the face to male feminists as well, whom we should rightfully appreciate and welcome with open arms. Male feminists are living proof that the cause is working. So, to automatically discount them simply because of a sack of flesh dangling between their legs is just stupid.


This is not Radical feminism, rather, it is true feminism. I have mingled amongst my sisters in the radical feminist movement, and I can tell you it is nothing like what is written here. That is why I distanced myself from them.

Radical feminism is the notion that women must rise up and conquer men to pay them back for centuries of oppression. There is a well known radical feminism social hub online, where you can see their true goals. Most are extremely unbelievable until you read them yourself, such as aborting fetuses when you learn it is a boy. Then there is this gem, exactly quoted, "We don't have to kill baby boys, just not nurture them. We are forced to *birth* baby boys, but beyond that, a Female's physical actions are her own. Males will die without the constant infusion of female energy that they get from our wombs, and from our lives. Females need not be emotionally invested in a male future." Another quote, "We need to make it unfashionable to have boys, then they would be aborted before they ever saw the light of day... I think that secretly many womon (her spelling) already abort the boys and keep it quiet because of the outcry it would initiate. I often hear wommon lamenting having boys and making a conscious decision not to have any more for fear of having a boy... violent revolution is the only answer. I am foot tapping for the time that I can sneak up and catch them unawares." These are the norm amongst RadFems, and not the exception.

When I encountered Radical feminists the first time, I was excited, as I considered myself the same -- until I found out their beliefs. I then became chilled to the bone. I believe the patriarchy must be smashed, but holding beliefs like this makes us no better, and maybe makes us worse, worse than the patriarchy that we fight against.

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    • Radical feminism is believed to have played a role in bringing to light issues of domestic violence that are rooted in sexism.
      By: LoloStock
      Radical feminism is believed to have played a role in bringing to light issues of domestic violence that are rooted in sexism.
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      Feminists paved the way for women to move into traditionally male-dominated careers.
    • Not every radical feminist is a woman.
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      Not every radical feminist is a woman.