You may have thought that there was only one type of feminism, but ha! You’re wrong! I actually didn’t even know that there were more than two kinds (radical and liberal) until a few minutes ago, but hey, we’re all learning something. Today, I’m just going to be focusing on the difference between radical and liberal, one of which I’m pretty positive you’ve heard of.
When most people think of radical feminism, they usually think of women burning their bras, divorcing their husbands, and swearing off men for the rest of their lives. Sorry to break it to you, but this just isn’t what they are. Yes, some radical feminists have either done these things or variations of them, but it isn’t what they are at their core.
According to caragillis.com, radical feminism is made up of…
People who believe that society must be changed at its core in order to dissolve patriarchy, not just through acts of legislation.
According to the University of Alabama, Huntsville, radical feminism is…
the breeding ground for many of the ideas arising from feminism; ideas which get shaped and pounded out in various ways by other (but not all) branches of feminism.
Radical Feminists’ have a scary stereotype because they want to redefine society and society wants to do the exact opposite. Change is a scary thing for a lot of people when they are simply talking about themselves, but it’s sometimes even scarier when they realize that the community in which they live may be built on false moralities. People like to be comfortable, but the job of radical feminists’ oftentimes makes things uncomfortable, whether that’s intentionally or unintentionally.
An example of radical feminism can be seen in this image. I talked about the patriarchy in an early blog, so we all know it’s the “society run by men and for men’s benefit” (http://www.radicalfeminism.co.uk/). Radical Feminists believe that our society is indeed a patriarchy at its core and that we need to change it by changing our society.
Now, onto Liberal Feminism.
The University of Alabama Huntsville defines it as…
This is the variety of feminism that works within the structure of mainstream society to integrate women into that structure.
This means that they are not focusing on transforming society’s core and what it is built on, but they focus on how we as a society can improve. By improving I mean creating new legislations, laws, and policies. The women who conducted the suffragist movement from 1848 to 1920 were mostly all liberal feminists because they proposed changes to laws and policies of the United States government. Women like Abigail Adams and Mary Wollstonecraft were a part of this first wave of feminism.
The University of Alabama Huntsville also stated that liberal feminisms’ theories date back to the social contract theory. Defined by the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the social contract theory is…
the view that persons’ moral and/or political obligations are dependent upon a contract or agreement among them to form the society in which they live.
This theory was officially created by Thomas Hobbes, a moral and political philosopher born in 1588, but it was also noted that Socrates did have some arguments that reflected morals of the social contract theory.
No matter what feminism you identify with (and don’t forget there are so many more. You can read about some here.), every single opinion is valid and should be heard. Feminism accepts everyone and values everyone’s opinion. Just remember to be kind and respectful, and you’ll be okay.