Radical feminism is a philosophy emphasizing the patriarchal roots of inequality between men and women, or, more specifically, social dominance of women by men. Radical feminism views patriarchy as dividing rights, privileges and power primarily by gender, and as a result oppressing women and privileging men.
Radical feminists tend to be more militant in their approach (radical as “getting to the root”). Radical feminism opposes existing political and social organization in general because it is inherently tied to patriarchy. Thus, radical feminists tend to be skeptical of political action within the current system, and instead support cultural change that undermines patriarchy and associated hierarchical structures.
Radical feminism opposes patriarchy, not men. To equate radical feminism to man-hating is to assume that patriarchy and men are inseparable, philosophically and politically.
Patriarchy is a social system in which the father or eldest male is head of the household, having authority over women and children. Patriarchy also refers to a system of government by males, and to the dominance of men in social or cultural systems. It may also include title being traced through the male line.
Patriarchy is a society where women are dominated by men.
I like to split it into three categories:
Male Domination: Men run the show. They have hierarchical power (and privileges) over women institutionally, socially and on an individual basis. Sexism, in this day, is not gone by any means.
Male Identification: Acting out a gender role as a typical “man”. Masculinity is often viewed as better than or more powerful than femininity. Women are subjugated and therefore identifying as a man, and acting out rigid male gender roles is contributing to patriarchy.
Male-centricity: Society is centered around male needs. It’s all about pleasing men, becoming what they find to be desirable. You can see this just by looking at any Women’s magazine! : “What do men find sexy?” “How to snag your man.” etc. I believe that many women contribute greatly to patriarchy by being very male-centric and also by believing that men should dominate and that sexism is natural or normal. When we see images in the media of how women “should look” according to male desire, those of us who collude with patriarchal ideals will never achieve these unrealistic ideals of female beauty.
Patriarchal relations can be viewed in many different facets: sexuality, the household, male-on-female violence, paid employment, cultural institutions, and the state. These are not mutually exclusive sites of exploitation: historically, the state has tolerated male-on-female violence within the household, for example.