Where have all the radicals gone? When feminism gets moderate.

I’ve decided to post this podcast as part of a blog in order to encourage discussion and dialogue around the topic. I wonder what others think about the state of feminism, or 3rd wave feminism today? Are we in need of a re-radicalization? Are we too focused on making feminism palatable? On making sure we don’t scare anyone off? We sure do seem to spend a lot of time trying to make feminism seem ‘fun’….And, of course, feminism is fun. To me. But it is also difficult. Everyone is not going to like it. Are we ok with that? Or are we trying so hard to make feminism ‘fun’ that we are re-framing sexism as empowerment, instead of actually challenging that which is oppressive?

This podcast was created, not only because it is something I am interested in exploring further, but as part of a graduate project. It is, therefore, a little longer than my regular podcasts, as well as, perhaps, a little more academic. I’m hoping this doesn’t alienate those who may not have a background in radical feminist theory, but rather that it maybe provide such a background and clarify some misconceptions. Of which there are many.

It is not uncommon for, not only mainstream media as well as many feminists to instantly write off Andrea Dworkin, for example — one of the most moving and revolutionary feminist writers of all time. Her work is misunderstood, often, before it is even read. Not once have I, in any one of the dozens of Women’s Studies courses I have taken, been assigned to read anything by Dworkin. Kate Millett is largely ignored in the academy, as is Jeffreys. Some may argue that these radical feminist texts are outdated, but we still read hundreds of outdated texts written by men. Radicals even! We memorize them, we cite them, we are made to know them. But radical feminism, it would seem, continues to be erased from the cannon.

The second half of the podcast features an interview with Sheila Jeffreys. I love this interview. Sheila Jeffreys is an incredible intellectual and a powerful voice in radical feminist discourse. She is the author of some of the most exciting and controversial  feminist texts and is one of the few who continue to make radical arguments and challenge dominant discourse, regardless of the fact that these arguments often make her the subject of vicious attacks from the right, the left, and from other feminists.

While the 3rd Wave has come leaps and bounds in terms of it’s willingness to be critical of the movement and it’s flaws and work towards that which went, largely, unaddressed during the 1st and 2nd waves, there is also a relatively anti-feminist trend that runs throughout the movement. It’s like we so badly want to be liked that we are afraid to say anything unpopular or *gasp* radical. We also spend an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to discredit and ostracize other feminists, as Jeffreys discusses in this interview. I imagine that many of you have experienced or witnessed the kind of bullying that happens online among feminists, the name-calling, the dog-piles, the attacks, the boycotts. Do we really want to intimidate one another into shutting up?

In any case, I hope to address some of these issues in this podcast. There is much more to explore, and much that was left out, of course. Please do feel free to let me know your thoughts.

You can listen to the podcast below.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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