Gender and Society: Radical Theory: Introduction and Solutions Offered by Radical Feminists

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Radical feminists view society as fundamentally a patriarchy in which men dominate and oppress women.


The concept of radical family feminism is based on two central beliefs:

  • Women are of absolute positive value as women
  • They are oppressed everywhere by the system of patriarchy it creates guilt, repression, sadism, masochism, manipulation and deception - all of which drive the men and women to other forms of tyranny
  • According to the radical feminists, patriarchy is the least noticed and the most significant structure of social inequality
  • Patriarchy is the violence practiced by men and the male dominant organisations and institutions against women
  • There are complex practices of exploitation like control in standards of fashion, beauty, sexual harassment in the practices of gynecology, obstetrics, psychotherapy and household drudgery
  • Low wage work, monogamy, chastity. ideas of motherhood,
  • violence exists whenever one group controls in its own interest - the life chances, actions, opportunities of another group
  • Like patriarchy does to women
  • Radical feminist focus on the patriarchal family as the key or major site of domination and oppression
  • They came up with the idea that women must create separate institutions that are women centered and rely on women
  • Because any male dominated system or institution will not solve their problem
  • Radical feminists link patriarchy to violence
  • Violence practiced by men and male dominated organizations and institutions
  • It could be sexual abuse, mental abuse, rape, forced prostitution, spouse abuse, sadism and pornography, etc.
  • Which includes persecution of lesbians , female infanticide, Chinese foot binding, abuse of widows etc.
  • It exists as a near universal social form because in order to establish control men picked the most basic power resource that is physical force
  • Once the physical force has been established the other power resources like economic, ideological, legal and emotional power can also be sustained
  • Therefore, violence is used as an instrument to protect patriarchy from womenีšs individual and collective resistance

Solutions Offered by Radical Feminists

Patriarchy serves the real interest in making women serve as compliant tools and as useful labour force

Women are also looked upon as ornaments of male status and power

Therefore, radical feminist tried to:

  • Rework womenีšs consciousness
  • Reject patriarchal pressure
  • Establish sisterhood of trust
  • Support appreciation and mutual defense
  • Establish women run business and institutions
  • Household community centers of artistic creativity
  • Safeguard lesbian love relationships etc.
  • Lesbian feminism also stands as a major Strand


1. Match the List โ€“ I (Thinkers) with List โ€“ II:

Match the List โ€“ I (Thinkers) with List โ€“ II
List โ€“ IList โ€“ II
(a) John Stuart Mill(i) Marxist feminism
(b) Jane Flax(ii) Radical feminism
(c) Clara Zetkin(iii) Liberal feminism
(d) Shulamith Firestone(iv) Socialist feminism


(a) (b) (c) (d)

(A) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv)

(B) (iii) (i) (iv) (ii)

(C) (ii) (i) (iv) (iii)

(D) (i) (iv) (iii) (ii)

Answer: (B)

2. Which group of thinkers belongs to Radical feminism?

(A) Kate Millet, Mary Daly, Shulamith Firestone

(B) Kate Millet, Mary Daly, Juliet Mitchell

(C) Mary Daly, Juliet Mitchell, Cixous

(D) Shulamith Firestone, Mary Daly, Cixous

Answer: (A)


#Gender and Society

#Radical Theory

#Theories of Gender Relations

โœ Manishika