Breanne Fahs on What “Radical Feminism” Really Means

Breanne Fahs (Women and Gender Studies, ASU) has a smart essay over at Signs (here) called The Urgent Need for Radical Feminism Today. Here is an excerpt:

Though in some ways short-lived, and certainly not without its limitations, second-wave radical feminism opened up new understandings of gender and power, reimagined solidarity between movements, made space for angry and impatient agitators, and embodied notions of feminist praxis. For example, radical feminists demanded the outright abolition of abortion laws and argued for a constitutional amendment that guaranteed women the fundamental right to bodily autonomy. They also demanded deep-seated revisions to the economic distribution of resources and the commutation of prison sentences for women who acted in self-defense against domestic violence. Far more than their liberal counterparts, radical feminists understood the role of race and class in women’s liberation, and that the links between the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and labor movements were critical. * * *

Given the rich and varied histories of radical feminism and their ties to other radical movements, it is all the more tragic that radical feminism is now seen, particularly online, as synonymous with the figure of the TERF: an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. Indeed, most of the time radical feminism is mentioned on social media is in the context of the rejection of TERF-dom. This fusion links the histories, ideologies, and practices of radical feminism to the figure of the TERF, reducing the complexity of radical feminism to trans exclusion. This not only falsely represents radical feminism, it also promotes the false narrative that trans activism and radical feminism do not have common origins, goals, and enemies. The belief that one must either be for trans rights or identify as a radical feminist has problematic implications for trans liberation and women’s liberation.

The full piece is here.

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