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Feminism: What It Is, 5 Different Types & How They Differ From Each Other

What is feminism to you? Maybe you have the wrong idea about it, or you’re already a feminist yourself. Did you know there are many different types of feminism?

types of feminism

Society loves to pin labels and stereotypes on things and people. The problem is, they’re not always accurate. When asked if they are a feminist, most women scream, “oh heck no!” But that’s because they’re not really aware of the fact that there are many different types of feminism, and they don’t really know what it all means.

Many people think that feminists are bra-burning, man-bashing, lesbians who are just plain angry. But that is an extreme stereotype that doesn’t hold true for the majority of people who consider themselves a feminist.[Read: Misconceptions about dating a feminist all men must know]

Simply ask someone: “Do you believe that men and women should be treated equally? Paid equally? Overall, have equal rights?”

Most people would reply with a “yes.”

So, if so many people believe this, why don’t they call themselves feminists? It all comes down to a total lack of understanding of what feminism actually is.

It’s also because the word has accumulated a negative reputation over the last few decades. There are so many misconceptions too – such as the idea that men can’t be feminists.

Believe it or not, they can! Any human being who believes in equal rights for men and women is technically a feminist already. [Read: 19 inspiring male feminist ideas from around the world]

Let’s break it down – What is feminism?

We’ve already mentioned that feminism has gained negative connotations. Basically, all true feminism means is the desire for equality. It’s not about bashing men or trying to suggest that women are better for any reason. People who (wrongly) think that’s the meaning give the term a bad name.

Feminists just want things to be equal. Of course, we’re going to talk about the different types of feminism. But, it’s also about respecting the different needs and roles that a woman embodies.

For instance, the mother, the daughter, the worker, the wife. Women wear many different hats at many different times. Some women are married with children, others aren’t. There is a whole lot of difference between those two extremes too. It should all be respected and accepted regardless. [Read: Sex positive feminism – What it is & why we must embrace the movement]

Women don’t want to be pigeonholed simply as baby carriers. We’re so much more than that! That’s what feminism is – the need to be accepted as an equal part of society to men, and respected for the same reasons: as hard-working, intelligent, and strong individuals.

The different types of feminism

The first thing we all have to realize is that it’s okay to be brave and admit you are a feminist. In fact, it’s good!

However, when you call yourself a feminist, it is helpful if you know which kind you are! There are a lot of different types of feminism. Let’s explore. [Read: The opposite of feminism – A new generation of women?]

1. Liberal feminism

This is one of the types of feminism that works within the regular structure of our mainstream society. People who are liberal feminists want sexual and gender-based equality, and they work to make that happen through political and legal reform.

Therefore, they believe that our culture should change laws (such as employment laws) to make sure that no one is discriminated against because of their gender.

Liberal feminists also work to make sure that our society respects women in general. [Read: Male privilege – What it is and what it looks like in real life]

2. Radical feminism

Okay, now this type of feminism that might be one that people generally think of when they hear the word “feminism.”

People who call themselves radical feminists think that sexual discrimination is so deeply integrated into the world that the only way to make things equal is to completely get rid of the whole concept of gender.

That’s a very difficult concept to handle for many people, which is what makes the whole subject so confusing and contentious for many. [Read: Gender bender, stop trying to convince me my gender doesn’t exist!]

Some of them hold more extreme desires for change. For example, some want technology to be developed so human fetuses don’t have to be grown inside the mother’s body.

In fact, some radical feminists think that the whole traditional family is inherently sexist. This movement has been slowly dying in recent years, as feminism becomes more mainstream. [Read: 50 signs you’re a radical feminazi and don’t even know it]

3. Separatist and lesbian feminism

Separatist feminism is a form of radical feminism. It thinks that part of the problem of inequality between men and women is rooted in heterosexual relationships. That’s why separatist and lesbian feminism are very similar.

These types of feminists believe that because of the sexual differences between men and women, our issues of power are simply not able to be resolved.

They (wrongly) don’t think that men can possibly be feminists and can’t make any contributions to feminist movements. [Read: Lesbian stereotypes – 15 Common cliches we hear about all the time]

In fact, some of the people with this belief system think that women should quite literally separate themselves from men and start their own society. Extreme? Yes. But that’s what some in this category believe.

4. Cultural feminism

This type of feminism is rooted in radical feminism, but they do have some different views. Cultural feminists want to celebrate all the positive characteristics of women. As radical feminism started to fade, cultural feminism got its foot in the door.

The movement of cultural feminism believes that we should encourage and promote femininity, and not masculinity.

For example, they believe that females are naturally kinder and more loving than males. They believe that if women held more social power than men that the world would have fewer wars and violence. [Read: Feminine energy – How to embrace it, release it and increase it]

5. Socialist feminism

Unlike radical feminists, social feminists don’t think that male domination (or *patriarchy*) is the only *or main* source of gender inequality. Instead, they think that the oppression of women stems from the fact that some women are financially dependent on men in society.

Socialist feminists also believe that, because males dominate the business aspect of our capitalistic society, that leads to an uneven gender balance. They want to put an end to economic and social inequality between men and women. [Read: What feminists want to hate in bed but totally love]

6. Eco-feminism

Eco-feminism is more of a political and social movement that attempts to combine feminism and environmentalism.

The ideologies of eco-feminists include harmony with one another. Just as nature is harmonious if left alone by human beings, they think people can and should also be harmonious, just like nature is.

This type of feminism is more spiritual and based in nature; it’s less economic-focussed than the others. Eco-feminists think that patriarchal attitudes and actions destroy the Earth without thought of the long-term consequences. They might even “worship” the goddess, Mother Earth. [Read: 10 foolproof tips for dating a nature lover]

7. Black feminism

Black feminism thinks that classism, racism, and sexism are all tied together. Other forms of feminism don’t really look that deeply at race, class, and sex factors in combination. However, Black feminism is *intersectional*, meaning it’s aware that these other factors are nothing to be ignored.

The National Black Feminist organization (NBFO) was founded in 1973, and it was formed in an attempt to fight all types of inequalities related to sexism.

8. Transfeminism

This is one of the types of feminism that probably not a lot of people have heard of. In fact, transgender issues are relatively new to the public discourse in general.

As we all know, Caitlyn Jenner *formerly known as Bruce Jenner* has made transgender issues more well-known and discussed in our culture. [Read: Definition of queer – What does the Q in LGBTQ really mean?]

This is a category of feminism that is known for the application of feminist beliefs to transgender issues. Some of the major concepts include diversity, body image, oppression, and misogyny, to name a few.

It’s not just about merging feminism with transgender discourse, but applies feminist ideologies to social issues that trans people face in society today.

Understanding the aim of feminism

Now you know the different types of feminism, you can understand what feminists are fighting for. The issues they’re trying to raise awareness of are very real, and there are some similarities between the types. However, the differences come down to specific focusses, and the ways in which awareness is raised.

Now you know all of this, do you consider yourself a feminist? You should!

[Read: How to understand the differences between men and women]

So, there you have it. Now you know that there are many different types of feminism, and these are just a few of them. Hopefully from now on, you will have a better understanding of all the issues that women face in society today.

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...