So, um… what’s a radfem?

Here I was believing I’m a radfem, because I’ve certainly been called a radical feminist, usually whenever I’m truthful a total meanie about how men actively look for excuses to continue patriarchal oppression, and also when I then proceed to remain unmoved when a man protests, “But not all men,” because I should not have to add that disclaimer after every sentence when (1) you’re the one with male privilege and (2) if you said something about women no one would whine, “But not all women,” especially if what you’ve just said reinforces a stereotype and (3) you are trying to slow me down and silence me.
I’ve also been called a radical feminist not only whenever I defend a woman’s right to have a child, but also whenever I defend her right to have an abortion (because a woman with an opinion is radical, no matter what it may be), her right to maternity leave (which should be at least a year and a half) and equal wages for equal work, and whenever I emphasize that gender is a spectrum, and whenever I’ve dared to suggest that motherhood and “feminine work” should not be viewed as a gaping hole in a resume but a career as prestigious as what that woman would have made in wages had she been paid for her work. (about $500,000 a year) Basically, whenever I’m being fair.
The ideas of Elizabeth Cady Stanton are still, today, considered radical. I’ve also been accused of radicalism for posting work by Gloria Steinem. Feministe and Feministing–sites that make all the sense in the world to me–have both been called radical. And when I write here, I’ve been indirectly called a radical, because I am “full of myself” and women are not allowed the degree of pushiness to which men are socially entitled.
So I called myself a radfem, and was pretty content with calling myself a radfem, until I stumbled across implications that radfems are of the opinion that a woman having sex with a man is always being raped and that the man is always raping her.
Sources were trustworthy, but I haven’t actually spoken to a woman who believes this, so I have no idea what her logic is. Though I’m pretty sure that if she explained, I wouldn’t buy it. I’d accuse her of being both a misogynist and a misandrist, or else of seriously exploiting evo psych (have I documented my extreme distaste for evo psych? let it be known).
So I went around reading, and found they were pretty messed up when it comes to the rights of transgendered men and women, because according to them trans women are not “complete women” who have suffered oppression for their entire lives, and therefore… I don’t know. It makes no sense to me, because women are not a monolith. Do radfems believe that white women and women of color have endured equal degrees of oppression, thereby concluding that trans women are in their own category because everyone else’s oppression is even? And if not, then by that logic, aren’t white women also “not complete women” because they have not suffered the same degree of oppression? Am I missing something here?
Also, I’m pretty sure that being cis means you’re privileged, last I checked, so the whole balance of oppression thing doesn’t even result in those measurements. And then there’s that annoying implication that trans women have not been women all their lives, and that suddenly one day they wake up and choose to be women.
I want to headdesk again.
Trans women are women, who have always been women. (If any non-Muslims are wondering, being transgendered is not against Islam, and neither is undergoing necessary sex changes. [Just a warning for the link, the pronouns are all masculine even when it is being said that these are women, probably because this was like trillion years ago.]) I understand that the argument here is that if they have not been considered women, known as women to the rest of society, they have not been treated as women and oppressed as women, but that brings me back to my first point. Also, cissupremacy. More than makes up for it.
Of course, I know that no two radfems will agree on every point–that no two feminists will agree on every point–which is why I’m still content calling myself a radical feminist. But it seems that everyone has different definitions.
I think I’ll go with Wiki’s?

12 thoughts on “So, um… what’s a radfem?

  1. I make a distinction between "radical feminist" and "radfem." A radical feminist is the Wiki definition and a valuable ally in the struggle even if they might disagree with my social constructionist sex-positive socialist feminist self.A "radfem" is someone who's all: "men are teh evulz! BDSM IS EXACTLY LIKE SLAVERY! Let us ban trans women from our music festivals!" A lot of them comment on Twisty's I Blame The Patriarchy, although to her credit Twisty has no tolerance for transphobia.


  2. *is going to be shallow for a minute*But the word radfem sounds so much cooler than radical feminist. =( The irrational ones always get cooler names.*end of shallowness*That makes sense. I was wondering for a minute if one just wasn't just a shortened version of the other for the sake of convenience and if there was actually a difference.


  3. Agreed. Off all things, why would someone choose oppression to identify women?I disagree. I would whine if someone stereotyped women. Plenty of other people would too. There is never any justification for stereotyping. Based on our past discussion, I know you don't mean "all men" but it does come out that way. Hence the whine :).


  4. Essentially radfem is a pejorative term for radical feminist but, you know, you need something to call the not-well-connected-to-this-plane-of-existence ones. :) Radfem is a cool name. I keep being depressed that 'funfeminist' is the pejorative for sex-positives. I'm a feminist! I'm fun! I can be a funfeminist, right?


  5. @ Humayun, Off all things, why would someone choose oppression to identify women? Yes yes yes! I was just thinking this.And I would whine if someone stereotyped all women too. I wasn't counting my own whining, because I guess I was seeing it from the rest of our culture's point of view. And I guess I expect it to be obvious that I don't mean "all men" because I'm not getting the upper hand here and the rest of the world is on the dude's side.@ Ozy I kind of want to continue to refer to myself as a radfem to steal the term from them. Perhaps we can do it with funfeminist as well?


  6. If you do reclaim radfem, remember that when I refer to 'radfem' I don't mean you. :)The problem is that funfeminist implies a certain amount of "I run around half naked and sleep around because it's empowering!" that I don't agree with. Half-nakedness and sleeping around aren't empowering or degrading. They have exactly as much moral relevance as playing Pokemon.


  7. Of course. =) I only want to keep using it 'cause it's shorter to be honest. =P Although, to make it easier on everyone, I could just keeping using plain "feminist." *shrug*


  8. "There is never any justification for stereotyping."REALLY? After she spent all that time explaining this to you in your previous conversation?"But I'M NOT LIKE THAT." Shut up. We're not talking about you. No one cares, your defensiveness doesn't solve any of our problems. Stop repeating the same shit we've already heard.


  9. loriadorable

    Radical feminism is really just believing that a) there are systems that keep oppression in place and b)radical action is necessary to undermine them (unlike, say, liberal feminism, which is all about seeking legal remedies to structural oppression.) That's it. Certainly MANY radfems have done fucked-up things under that label, but I'm out to reclaim it, and I'd like to see others do the same.


  10. curiouserandcuriouser

    Loriadorable, I’d go further. Radical feminism says that men oppress women on the basis of our sex. It’s our reproductive ability that men not only fear, but also envy. And that’s where our oppression stems from.



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