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Nice to have a clear definition, no?  Notice not a word about equality or making choices because both those strains of feminism are functionally equivalent to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  Neither foster the systemic change necessary to challenge patriarchy and change society.

 

The word “radical” literally means “root,” so radical feminism is the feminism that gets to the root of women’s oppression, which is the system of patriarchy. Radical feminism is an entire well-developed political theory, but here’s a pretty good simplified summary from Radfem Collective:

“Radical Feminist theory analyses the structures of power which oppress the female sex. Its central tenet is that women as a biological class are globally oppressed by men as a biological class. We believe that male power is constructed and maintained through institutional and cultural practices that aim to bolster male superiority through the reinforcement of female inferiority. One such manifestation of the patriarchy is gender, which we believe to be a socially constructed hierarchy which functions to repress female autonomy and has no basis in biology. Radical Feminists also critique all religions and their institutions, and other practices that promote violence against women such as prostitution, pornography and FGM. The subjugation of women is a social process that has no basis in biology or any other pretext, and thus can and should be challenged and dismantled.

Radical Feminists see that our oppression as females is closely linked to and bound up in our roles as the bearers of new life and male hatred of our female reproductive power. Radical Feminists take an unequivocal stance on the right to female reproductive justice.

Radical Feminism increasingly recognizes that females from different oppressed groups experience a combination of oppressions. Class, race and disability have systematic structural impacts on different women’s lives in different toxic combinations.

Radical Feminists believe in an autonomous women’s movement as the path to women’s liberation. We believe in the importance of female only spaces where theory and action is developed from the lived reality of females who have been socialised into womanhood.”

  Interesting article from the folks over at JSTOR.

 

     “According to Willinsky, “The schooled representation of meaning sets language in the hands of those who hold the proper definitions.” In other words, appeals to the dictionary serve a political purpose; they preserve existing power structures, and fortify the way things are at the expense of the way things can be.

     It can appear trivial to expend so much energy on worrying about how we speak, because speech seems less tangible than physical action. But definitions always matter. In the judicial system, for example, they are key in assigning blame. The “reasonable person” standard is applied in self-defense cases to determine culpability; in this context, “reasonable” means average, ordinary. As legal scholar Jody David Armour writes in Negrophobia and Reasonable Racism, this definition of reasonable “takes the merely typical and contingent and presents it as truth and morality, objectively construed,” a pretty low bar for justice. Consider how a “rational person” test or an “omniscient person” test might change the meaning of criminality.

     Similarly, there was a time in the American South when blackness, that thing that determined where one could eat, drink, and sit, was codified into law as having “one drop” of black blood. And migrants fleeing violence in Central America are rarely granted asylum in the United States because of the legal definition of “refugee.” There are profound consequences from definitions, and they should not be ceded to the staff of a reference book.

     Even words without legal import can hold incredible power. Speech can’t bruise skin, but it can break a spirit. Is a feeling any less real because it happens “under the hood?” Is heartbreak not real pain? Why do we describe hurtful words as a punch to the gut or a slap to the face? For so long, the free speech debate has been built upon an incoherent premise: that speech is powerful enough to solve social ills, but can’t inflict as much damage as a fist.

     When is speech violence? It depends on how we define it. If we define violence as a physical act, then speech is never violence. If we choose to define violence as causing harm to a person, then speech is often violence. If we choose to define violence as intentionally causing harm, then sometimes speech is violence.

     If there is to be one takeaway from the work of Wittgenstein, it’s that nothing is essential in language. He spent his entire life feeling around for the atoms of speech, only to discover that he was grasping at an illusion. Language is what we say, what we mean, and what we understand—different meanings for different people in different contexts.”

Interesting stuff.  I think I’ll have to read some more Wittgenstein.

So many discussion centre around this notion.  It would be nice if we could agree on a basic set of facts rather than arguing from completely different frameworks.

 

[Source]

  One of the problems while debating misguided 3rd wavers, or gender/qu**r activists is that lack of definitional rigour when it comes to the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’.  What is chilling is that these activists often refuse to define their terms, yet as demonstrated here in Canada want these same terms enshrined into Canadian law.  Obviously, this should not happen if clear guidelines and expectations are supposed to be part of our legislative goals.

Canadian focus aside, lets look at Auntie Wanda and krismichelle429 tackle the situation of defining sex and gender in a more general sense.

 

     “In my experience talking to gender/qu**r activists, when they say “sex,” they can mean either “the biological differences between men and women” or “the behaviors that society expects from each sex,” or both at the same time. When they say “gender,” they can mean either “personality” or “the behaviors that society expects from each sex” or “the biological differences between men and women,” or all three at the same time. Oftentimes they switch between definitions without telling you, and then expect you to read their mind and just know which meaning they’re using at that moment. And no matter how many times you explain your definitions to them, they never acknowledge it and choose instead to project their definitions onto your words (or to put it more simply: they hear what they want to hear instead of what you’re saying).

     Like, we have explained our definitions of “sex” and “gender” thousands of times on this site. We have used them clearly and consistently. We don’t change them. When gender critical feminists use the word “sex,” it ALWAYS refers to the biological differences between sexes. When we say “gender,” it ALWAYS refers to the behaviors forced on men and women by a sexist society.

     And yet, we constantly get into arguments with gender/qu**r activists who think we believe that sexist expectations for behavior are biological. We have to explain that we don’t over and over and over again, even though we’ve been very clear about our beliefs and definitions, even though those beliefs and definitions have not changed since we last explained them 5 minutes ago. And that’s because when we say “sex” and “gender,” gender/qu**r activists hear their own definitions instead of ours, and because the words “sex” and “gender” can mean absolutely anything to them, they can hear anything that they want to hear.

     Oftentimes they switch between definitions without telling you, and then expect you to read their mind and just know which meaning they’re using at that moment. And no matter how many times you explain your definitions to them, they never acknowledge it and choose instead to project their definitions onto your words (or to put it more simply: they hear what they want to hear instead of what you’re saying).”

  – See the whole post on [Blackswallowtailbutterfly].

How weird is it that such basic concepts can cause so much furor? It is almost like a certain category of men have decided they strongly dislike a particular objective fact, and expect the rest of the world to fall in line with their new orthodoxy (because they say so).  Conveniently, when it come to basic biological definitions,  all of their the hard-headed skepticism and critical analysis is tucked away.  However, the critical thinking boom is lowered almost instantaneously to repudiate those quaint feminist notions of sex-based oppression, patriarchy,  and rape culture – now there friends, are some legitimate topics for serious Debate (because we disagree with them and it doesn’t affect us much)!

 

If there is a better description that leads to a more accurate description of objective reality let’s hear it. Until that time, and with general scientific consensus, the current definitions look pretty rock-solid to me.

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