Being a feminist, especially a “radical” feminist, has been frowned upon for ages. Even today, we still have our misgivings about the term “radical.” What exactly does it entail? It suggests women have gone wild, creating a movement so extreme it resorts to violence. It suggests chaos, marches in the streets that turn to rioting. It suggests extremity. “Radical” is a term reserved only for the minority — women who do not conform to gendered societal standards, who don’t shave or participate in painstaking beauty rituals, who post their frustrations regularly online, who dare to blissfully exist in their marginalized, over-sexualized bodies. It brings to mind bra-burning ceremonies and what those in power have deemed “savage” behavior. And more often than not, “radical” is used to describe those of us who venture outside the norm, either by not being white, heterosexual, able-bodied, “feminine” enough, etc. This is truly a failure in feminism – the failure of validifying the “radical” feminist and acknowledging feminism as something for all to participate in, as well as failure in that so much misinformation has been woefully spread to the masses.
How can such a terrible mistake, made over and over again, be amended? We must remove the implications of the word “radical” from our minds. For too long, Americans have associated the word with fascist and communist ideas, which are seen as blatantly anti-American. Our capitalist mindset does not allow us to see a “radical” as a validated person; rather, we see them as the bane of our society. Those who believe in “radical” as an extreme leftist propaganda forget a fundamental part of modern feminism – the movement concerns basic and essential human rights. No human should be considered lower than others, and so not only does feminism concern everyone, but it also extends to all matters in life. “Radical” feminists fight for change while the rest of us conform. In fact, we move beyond conforming. We uphold patriarchal values with extreme focus.
Let me give an example, one that we’ve all seen on the internet – especially in the Instagram comments of various womens’ profiles. They are flooded with comments by both men and women who put a Bible verse on love in their bios and yet preach only hate. “Radical” feminists point out what is wrong in the world, in America, in their communities, etc. They strive to create a just world where the Equal Rights Amendment has been fully ratified, where women can walk alone at night without a weapon on-hand, where powerful men don’t control what healthcare access a woman has a right to, etc. “Radical” feminists, perhaps above all else, want a world where any person can exist without having the fact of their existence constantly being questioned by other human beings.
So, how can we move forward? How can we learn to see “radical” feminism as not a violent, dominating harbringer of ruin when it is in fact a force of intersectional womanhood – and, beyond that, simple personhood – that aims to carve through the chaos and create a better world? You might be asking yourself how you as a reader, you as a single person, can change the mindset of those in power, those who turn a blind eye to discrimination or refuse to do anything about it. The answer is simple, at least to me. Uplift women to uplift women to uplift women, and don’t stop – reading, writing, thinking, reflecting, fighting, and, most importantly, striving for improvement.
We should all be radical feminists. As long as we keep questioning systems of power and abusers of power, one day we will be.