Wikipedia has this definition of "radical feminism":

Radical feminism is a perspective within feminism that calls for a radical reordering of society in which male supremacy is eliminated in all social and economic contexts, while recognizing that women's experiences are also affected by other social divisions such as in race, class, and sexual orientation.

What does this 'radical reordering' include? It is not socialism, as radical feminists aren't Marxist feminists.

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    I don't think this is a technical terms and degrees of "radicalism" vary widely, from the Bolsheviks' early institutionalization of equal rights for women to the incomparable "SCUM Manifesto" of Valorie Solanas, highly recommended for a look at the outer edges of feminist chauvinism! Jan 9, 2021 at 20:47
  • Just pipping in with today's NYT link to "I Hate Men" and other recent books on the topic: nytimes.com/2021/01/10/books/… Jan 10, 2021 at 19:36
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    While Wikipedia is a good source of general scientific information, I wouldn't touch their articles about political ideologies with a ten feet pole.
    – vsz
    Jan 10, 2021 at 20:08

2 Answers 2


Feminism, broadly put, is a political/philosophical movement that seeks to address institutional differences between men and women in society. When feminism began, of course, these institutional differences were far more significant: women were largely excluded from the workforce, completely excluded from positions of authority, discouraged from voting, unable to get credit cards or personal bank accounts, even obliged to give up their names on marriage (i.e., it was expected that Jane Smith would become Mrs Bob Jones as soon as she said "I do"). Great progress has been made these issues — enough so that the average millennial is shocked hearing about them — but there's still a way to go to achieve the kind of institutional equality that feminism asks for.

Radical feminism extends that line of thought from practical (institutional) concerns to philosophical/metaphysical issues of equality. They don't merely want women to have equal pay, or to break down professional glass ceilings. They want the social, political, and economic worlds to be free of gender biases. Sometimes this is (wrongly) interpreted as a 'gender-neutral' society in which socially constructed concepts of masculinity and femininity don't exist, but the more sophisticated (and difficult) understanding is that radical feminists want a society where women have the same rights, privileges, and abilities to determine when an interaction is or is not gendered/sexual that men have traditionally enjoyed.

Mary Wollstonecraft (way back in the 18th century) said: "I do not wish [women] to have power over men; but over themselves." 'Having power over oneself' means, first and foremost, establishing oneself as a metaphysical equal to others in society, and this is the philosophical conundrum that radical feminism tries to work through.

  • So 'radical reordering' is misleading as there is no physical 'reordering' but it mean ideological change. I thought 'radical reordering' meant redistributing wealth and changing political systems. What is the difference between liberal and radical feminism.
    – user716881
    Jan 9, 2021 at 16:47
  • By metaphysical equal you mean equals in equality of opportunity as well as being equal in their perception, right? I'm used to seeing metaphysical as God (although it is not necessary that).
    – user716881
    Jan 9, 2021 at 16:50
  • @user716881: 'metaphysical equality' literally means that males and females are taken to be one class of items (humans, perhaps) not two classes of items. In a weird way, 'metaphysical equality' is self-destroying, because if it were achieved there would be no differences between the conceptual object 'man' and the conceptual objects 'woman' that might raise a problem of equality. It's an extremely troublesome philosophical concept (and has been since the dawn of history), but well worth reflecting on. Jan 9, 2021 at 17:05
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    I would just add that "radical feminism" need not rest with gender equality, as in the marvelous "SCUM manifesto" by Valarie Solanas and similar "out-there" theses. Jan 9, 2021 at 20:51
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    @NelsonAlexander: There are always people 'out there,' no matter which direction we look. We can't really understand those people until we understand the more stable core of such movements (any more than we can understand, say, people who murder abortion doctors unless we grasp the heart of mainstream Evangelical Christianity). Crazy people are crazy within a context, and context is impossible to see if we just look at crazy. Jan 9, 2021 at 21:42

By "radical reordering", they just mean "dismantling of the entrenched patriarchy".

In other words, a radical feminist would tell you that our society is so entrenched with ideals, principles, laws, constructs, etc. designed to keep women down that in order to achieve true equality of the sexes, radical deconstructionist action is required.

The specific goal of this reordering is not specified or implied. It could be Marxist feminism, but not necessarily. It could be calling for gender neutrality, it could be calling for matriarchy, or anything else in between.

The point is merely that things are so bad, and have been so bad for so long, that radical, disruptive change is going to be required in order to achieve the goals of feminism, whatever those goals may be.

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