Any radical woman may be considered to follow the rhetoric and beliefs of radical feminism. Radical feminism is a more extreme branch of feminism in that it examines the prominent system of power, the patriarchy, and its ability to organize society into many different relationships all based on male supremacy and the oppression of women. Radical feminists’ goal is to overthrow the patriarchy and female oppression through reordering the social classes and reversing the more traditional gender roles.
Many times, a radical woman, or radical feminist is also referred to as a militant feminist. All radical feminists tend to believe that society is made up of a patriarchy that oppresses women in every way. Any radical feminist seeks to overthrow the patriarchal standards of current society by attacking the underlying beliefs and causes of the patriarchy. Radical feminism aims to address the fundamentals of the patriarchy and to reorganize the components that make up society.
The basis of radical feminism derived from the Civil Rights Movement in the United States in the 1960s. It was born and certainly did not die during that era. Although there were several branches, or currents, of feminism that arose during the same time including liberal feminism and working class feminism, radical feminism got the most attention and the most slack. One of the fundamental arguments of radical feminism is that the middle-class nuclear family (traditional family with mother, father, and child or children) was oppressive to women and held women back.
Being a radical woman meant that you probably practice within one or more consciousness raising (CR) groups. These groups help to bring people, not just women, together to discuss, share, evaluate, develop, and put into practice different intellectual ideas and discussions. In the heyday of radical feminism, radical women decided and claimed that the only true way to reclaim femininity and equality was to destroy the patriarchy and achieve a truly free society. Many radical feminists were thought to be hardcore lesbians (or even dykes) and man-haters, which was not always true.
Although radical feminism is no longer as prominent as it once was in the 1960s and 1970s, it is still a present ideology, especially on college and university campuses across the world. While less women practice radical feminism, it is a highly studied movement and generates much discussion and thought, even in present day. Although the nuclear family was never truly destroyed, radical feminism did pave the way for many women today.