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Radical Feminism: A demand for change rather than women’s equality

Updated on July 6, 2013

Unlike Liberal feminism which focuses on equal opportunities for women,radical feminism support change.Radical Feminism broke away from the Marxist feminism due to the frustration as a result of failure to applysocial class in analyzing gender oppression.They launched whole scale onslaught on the man and considered him the enemy and demanded radical transformation of the oppressive gender relations.

Their slogan”The personal is political” empowers women to analyze their lives as part and parcel of common experiences in patriachial society.They further put sexuality and reproduction and partriachy at the centre of political arena and changes women political consciousness.Gender, production, reproduction are the four domains of social life.The concept of partriachy differentiates the forces maintaining gender oppression and discrimination from other social forces such as capitalism or socialism.Partriachy is a specific form of male domination based on the powerful role of a further trend.In many communities however,the power of male is founded on their collective adult maleness as depicted by men’s lives,warfare and initiation ceremonies.This communities are highly oppressive to women but not partriachal.However, in matrilineal societies women do not necessarily have significant social authority.

Male supremacy rather than patriarchy is the definition for social system where there is riid gender division of labor.Gender studies should therefore cover male supremacy as well as patriarchy.The kingship system for example is a system of classification and status which regularly contradict actual genetic relationships.An analysis of gender oppression concludes that the essence of kingship system was rooted to the exchange of women between men.

To levi Strauss women were the most precious gift and exchanged during marriage thus rendering them powerless.The system gives men powers to organize women and through exchange men are made the beneficiaries.Women are in no position to give themselves away but must be disposed off.

Women are sent as tribute,given in marriage,traded,taken in battle, bought or sold, a practice that existed from colonial times but are only merely pronounced in the modern society.Men are also trafficked but only as shares, athletic stars,serfs rather than as women

Unlike the liberal feminists who want equal education opportunities, the radicals challenge the quantity of education being offered.The demand for changes in the curriculum.Studies in Botswana and Tanzania indicate new educational stereotyping in contributing to marginalization of women.For instance the pictures in textbooks reinforce gender stereotyping.In literature books too,men are portrayed as heroes and women as helpless individuals who can easily be manipulated.

The school environment too also contributes to gender inequalities and biases which impact on female academic achievement.Boys from well educated and high status families are more likely to do well unlike girls where not the families social class and status which necessarily contribute to performance but more basic factors such as career aspirations.Nursing,clerical work etc is viewed as female jobs while scientific,technical and production related are viewed as male occupations.Men have been seen as more suited to politics and law.The views on classification of gender were shared by both male and female students coming from both rural and urban women trended households and upper class homes.Girls from upper class homes have more liberal views on division of labour in the family.

Liberals fight for equal access to health while radicals argue that helath services must empower women.Medcalisation of health services has rendered women particularly poor ones and powerless in controlling their bodies and health.Reproductive rates are therefore particularly curtailed as it is a necessary prerequisite for women to control their own health and bodies.

The Botswana parliament after a heated debate passed the penal code amendment bill or the abortion bill in 1991.The amendments are to the effect that abortion is legal

a) When the pregnancy is as a result of rape,incest or defilement.

b) When a child is likely to be born with a serious physical or mental disease or abnormality.

c) When the physical or mental health of a woman is endangered by the pregnancy.

The amendment bill falls short of increasing women’s control over their bodies.Increased rights were the agenda but women were highly impressed by what appeared at first glance to be a very progressive move.


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