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Socialist and radical feminism

             This essay will explain the key features of both socialist and radical feminist thought. As there are many conflicting ideas about what constitute both, I have tried to focus on areas that seem to belong to one group and not the other. There are however, many theories and assumptions taken by both, that overlap and are claimed as a part of "their" ideology. This is also somewhat compounded by the fact that many socialist feminists call themselves radical, but are generally referring to something other than the extreme theories and actions associated with the traditional notion of "radical feminism". I will discuss the direction that these organizations have been and are taking, as well as some contemporary arguments aimed toward feminism. .
             Socialist feminism, often referred to as second wave feminism, came into prominence in the 1960's when women started to apply Marxist ideas to the issue of women's inequality. At its core socialist feminist see the inequality of women as a function of class exploitation through the capitalist structure of our economy (Sawer & Simm, 1984, p179). This can be characterised by the hierarchical structure of capitalism as well as that of all exploitation. For example, one group (the minority) control the means of production and the other (majority) does not. As Hartmann (1981, p.15) states, " those at the higher levels can "buy off" those at the lower level by offering them power over those still lower". Women, because they perform the greatest amount of unpaid work (domestic duties) and have the worst working conditions, can be seen to be at the bottom of this hierarchy. Socialist feminists share many ideals with liberal feminism, as well as other women's movements; they advocate "consciousness raising" in the form of women's discussion groups and campaigns; there is a strong link with theory building and push for solidarity between all women. .
             Socialist feminists main goal is not to reform society, as liberal feminists advocate, but to rebuild society.

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