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The Different Types of Feminism: How They Differ from Each Other

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

types of feminism

Society loves to give labels and stereotype 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 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 most people who consider themselves a feminist. [Read: Misconceptions about dating a feminist all men must know]

When you simply ask someone, “do you believe that men and women should be treated equally? Paid equally? And 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 over what feminism actually is.

It’s also because the word has gotten such a negative meaning over the last few decades. There are so many misconceptions of the word 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. [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 a negative connotation. Basically, true feminism is the desire for equality. It’s not about bashing men or trying to suggest that women are better for any reason. That’s why it has such 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 pigeon-holed simply as baby carriers. We’re so much more than that! That’s what feminism is too – the need to be accepted as an equal part of society as men, 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. However, when you call yourself a feminist, it is helpful if you know which kind you are, because 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 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 is one of the types 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 their desires for change are just downright radical, to say the least. For example, some want technology to be developed so human fetuses don’t have to be grown inside the mother’s body. They think this will promote gender equality. In fact, radical feminists think that the whole traditional family is inherently sexist. But, this movement has been slowly dying in recent years. [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 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 embrues it, release it and increase it]

5. Socialist feminism

Unlike radical feminists, social feminists don’t think that male domination *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.

Social 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 economical than the others. They 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 the race, class, and sex factors. However, black feminists are quite aware that it’s 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, Kaitlyn 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 trangenderism, but it 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 to are very real and there are some similarities between the types. However, it comes down to specifics and the ways in which awareness is raised.

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

[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 face women 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...