Feminism by definition is “the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). But did you know that there is a broader spectrum of what feminism is? In fact, there are multiple types of feminism still in practice today. The four main archetypes of feminism are radical, Marxist, liberal, and difference. Though all archetypes deal with the basis of equality for all people no matter the gender they identify with, the archetypes all have differing views on what feminism is and what causes the need for it in our society. While many people believe that feminism is just the belief that men and women are equal, they fail to recognize the deeper issues rooted within society that cause the need for feminism in our world. It is these issues that are used to create the different ideas of feminism and represent what they stand for.
The first type of feminism mentioned is radical feminism. Radical feminism is heavily based on the belief that society is patriarchal and males dominate society. Many radical feminists believe that women are oppressed in order for males to gain more dominance. This belief stems from the concept that removing social norms would help make society more equal for all, and the only reason males have power is because of the oppression women face. A common issue discussed by radical feminists is the issues of sexual assault and violence, along with the idea that women should be in control of their own lives. Some radical feminists propose solutions for male-related problems by suggesting separatism, or women-only communes, or Matrifocal households. The belief that society is patriarchal and dominated by men, is what separates radical feminists from the other types of feminism.
A second type of feminism is liberal feminism. Unlike radical feminism, liberal feminism addresses the issue of equality for both men and women. Liberal feminism emphasizes the idea that both men and women are harmed from existing inequalities, and that society would be better if gender norms weren’t so heavily important. Liberal feminism also works to make women equal to men and advocates for things such as equal pay, the right to vote, and the right to be viewed as a person. Rather than seeking revolutionary changes, liberal feminists focus more on reforming the existing structure by eliminating sexism from things like TV shows and books, all the while being successful while doing so. It is liberal feminism that has done the most and created the most change in women’s lives during the past years. Liberal feminism is believed to be the most successful form of feminism to exist.
Along with radical and liberal feminism, there is Marxist feminism. Marxist feminism is based on the belief that women are exploited more due to capitalism rather than the patriarchy. The ideas that Marxist feminism stems from are traditional beliefs that support the idea that women are meant to keep their families going and keep their husbands happy. Marxist feminists recognize that women are usually forced to partake in reproductive labor, which includes doing things such as cleaning, cooking, and caring for children. Because women are not compensated for doing these tasks, they are usually seen as not as “valuable” and are also deemed inferior to men. In order to create change, Marxist feminists believe in a radical reconstruction of the current capitalist economy. Rather than stemming from more modern problems, Marxist feminism more commonly argues against traditional beliefs that put women at a higher disadvantage than men.
The fourth and final type of feminism to be discussed is socialist feminism. Socialist feminism, like Marxist feminism, believes in the fact that capitalism is a large factor in women’s oppression but is not the only contributing factor. This type of feminism that started in the 1960s-1970s, believes that a woman's work in the household doesn’t only benefit their home life, but society as a whole. In the past, by doing household chores and caring for children, women allowed men to go out and earn money to provide for their families. These outdated social constructs are what socialist feminists believe to be a major cause of women’s oppression. In order to create change, socialist feminists believe that working together alongside men would be more beneficial than rather supporting ideas like separatism, one commonly supported by radical feminists. Socialist feminists also strive to change society by showing that a woman’s work is just as valuable as any man’s work. Like Marxist feminism, socialist feminism heavily supports the claim that women are just as valuable as men in the work field.
Though the course of feminism has changed quite drastically throughout the years, there has always been one common goal shared by all feminists; equality. Over the years, feminism has branched out into many different archetypes that all have differing views and opinions as to what feminism really is and how society should go about solving it. Feminism is a broad spectrum of beliefs that all differ in many ways, but all share a common interest in bettering society as a whole.
Four Types of Feminism – Better Left Unsaid (wordpress.com) What Is Marxist Feminism? (reference.com)
Feminist Theory: A Summary for A-Level Sociology – ReviseSociology Socialist Feminism Definition and Comparisons (thoughtco.com)