Radical feminism is defined by Wikipedia as “current within feminism that focuses on patriarchy as a system of power that organizes society into a complex of relationships producing a male supremacy that oppresses women.” So, in simple English that would mean that the political system is set up so that men are the rulers and women are forced to be subordinate to the men. They want to overthrow the patriarchy because they believe the main oppressor of women is the patriarchal gender roles; and those roles need to be opposed in order to lose the oppression that has been plaguing women for so long. The main part of radical feminism is that they believe the political structure and the societal structure is focused on male-based dominance, and that women must change that to free them of their bonds. Unlike other feminism, which are rooted in race, class and so forth, radical feminism is focused on the patriarchy and patriarchal gender roles.
In the 1960’s when the wave first began Radicals called for sexual freedom and that women do not need to be tied to one partner. In 1968, during the Miss America pageant Radical Feminist threw high-heeled shoes into a “freedom can” and in the 70’s they organized a sit in at the Ladies Home Journal. As you can conclude from the actions presented by Radical Feminist, they tend to be more militant than other portions of feminism.
There were three types of Radical Feminist and I will describe in a nut shell; Red Stockings: held an anti-psychological view, and that oppression was continual and deliberate and that family was a male tactic used to oppress women. They also blamed women that were considered to be in collaboration with oppression. Feminists were idealist and agreed that marriage, family and prostitution should be destroyed. They acknowledged that genitalia focused sexuality on the male more so than the female. The New York Radical Feminist believed that the oppression was psychological and men only dominated because of ego. And that conditioning of women throughout the years had led to the reason why women were oppressed.
I have to say I don’t agree with radical feminist in any way. The idea that you should be able to have sex with whomever you choose, I agree; however, I do not agree on the idea that you should just sleep with whomever whenever. I also don’t believe that society has made men oppress women, I believe that women differ in their ideas of oppression. Many see the homemaker as an oppressed position whereas others would rather be the homemaker; it is a matter of choice not oppression. I also do not see the correlation of gender roles and women succumbing to males. To me, women and men are equal, either one can stay at home or work, make the big bucks or like to fish. I do not agree with the idea that society creates the environment for domination, in a society where women have shelters and options and women can be boxers and fighters I do not see how we are portraying women as weak people that cannot take care of themselves. I would never be able to say that I am a radical feminist, I do not agree on most of the issues.
Echols, Alice. American Culture #3: Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967-1975. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.