Radical feminism is a political, ideological movement whose aim is the real liberation of women. In most parts of the world, women are more or less enslaved, they have no or very little political and economic power, they have no culture for themselves, no history, little or no sexual freedom (more precisely no sexual life for themselves), and even no body autonomy. They are forced into different kinds of prostitution (including marriage and heterosexual relationships based on survival), and their right to abortion is limited. Recognizing all these aspects means recognizing patriarchy, a social system based on women’s economic and sexual exploitation.
Radical feminism is the only feminist current which opposes patriarchy and aims to destroy it, it goes to the roots of women’s oppression, that’s why it is called “radical”.
Radical feminism started in the ’60s in the US, being part, at least at the beginning, of the second wave feminism.
The influence of radical feminism on women liberation was very important. The laws against domestic violence, sexual harassment, equal pay, were inspired by it. Inside radical feminism, radical lesbianism plays a crucial part, and lesbian politics, culture, and art represent the most important expression of women liberation.
On the history of patriarchy, which emerges, without being clearly named and analysed, from any history handbook, historians like Gerda Lerner, Maria Gimbutas, and Max Dashu shed a little light.
But an essential part of history of radical feminism is the history of lesbian communities in the 60’s and 70’s. First of all, this is important because it describes radical feminism in action. Then, this important part of women’s history is systematically erased from history books and culture.
A short list of books about the history of radical lesbian communities in the US:
- Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold by Liz Kennedy, that chronicles the life of a working class lesbian community pre Stonewall
- Separatism and Women’s Community from 1995, by Dana R. Shugar.
- A Simple Revolution by Judy Grahn
- The Disappearing L by Bonnie Morris
- It Takes an Uprising by Patricia Jackson
- Love and Politics by Carol Anne Douglas
- Lesbianism, sexuality and power: the patriarchy, violence and pornography by Julia Penelope; Sarah Lucia Hoagland
- The lesbian community by Deborah Goleman Wolf
Films about lesbian history
Lesbian sites and magazines