Critiques of Radical feminism stem largely from what Radical feminism premises itself upon, the idea of a sisterhood. Radical feminists are often charged with being essentialists (Mandel, p.34). Critics claim Radical feminists simplify the issues and therefore tend to suggest that men are the victimizers and women the victims. Of course we know that not all women are victims and not all men corrupt so by taking an essentialist standpoint Radical feminists run the risk of "doing unto others that which they do not want done unto themselves and other oppressed groups." (Tong, p.88) Radical feminists have built their camp on the notion of 'woman', of one universal experience for all women, remember the crux of their standpoint is that the reason women are oppressed is because we are women living in a patriarchal world. Many critiques of this standpoint pay attention to the fact that early Radical feminism often ignored race, class and sexual orientation differences. Postmodern feminists are Radical feminists' strongest critics in this area. "If, as the post-structuralists argue, experience is multiple, fractured and diverse, whose experience counts as 'real'?...Generalizing from one point of view erases, ignores or invalidates the experiences of others." (Mandel, p.34). Although the critiques were sometimes quite harsh they were necessary and in the end they have led to a greater body of radical feminist writing that pays attention to them.

The very place that Radical feminism finds its strength, it also finds its weakness - the sisterhood of all women. It is easy to be drawn into Radical feminism because of its notions of a sisterhood, of a bonding between women and its love for women. "Even where women only partly identify with radical feminismıs analysis of patriarchy, celebration of womanhood and separatist programme, the emotional appeal of much radical feminist writing continues to offer an inspirational dimension which is lacking in much other feminist writing." (Weedon, p.50). The achievements of Radical feminism have been many. Women-centred cultures such as feminist art, spirituality, mothering, reproduction and sexuality are the result of Radical feminism at work. Radical feminism from its beginnings in the 1960's right up to today has proved to be inspirational and empowering for many women, it celebrates what has previously been put down; women's sexuality and our bodies, it helps us to celebrate ourselves.








Amy Saracino
Honours B.A. Women's Studies and Communications Studies
York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M3J 1P3