what are the main differences between rad fem and lib fem?
The main difference is that liberal feminism tries to work within the system to get women to achieve positions of power in it. Radical feminism wants to take the system down and rebuild it from scratch. This is why it’s called “radical”, because it grasps at the roots of oppression and tries to solve the problem from there. This is why, for example, libfems celebrate women CEOs and politicians, while radfems are skeptical, since the existence of CEOs by itself is a problem. Not everyone can be a CEO, not everyone can be rich and “successful”, since the capitalist, white supremacist, male supremacist system we live in needs to have poor, dispossessed people or it won’t sustain itself. And the majority of the poor are women. It ends up being innefective, since it only works for a minority of women who are already quite privileged in other ways.
Another good example of this is the discussion about prostitution and porn. Liberal feminists base themselves on the individual choices of every woman (“I choose to go in porn because I want and it empowers me!”), it completely ignores the whole machinery behind it. It ignores how trafficking of women exists, it ignores how women are forced into prostitution by poverty, it ignores how the majority of women in prostitution/porn are victims of sexual abuse. In short, liberal feminism focuses a lot on individual, personal choice and agency, but it doesn’t consider how the range of choices available for a woman is affected by things that are out of her control, like race, class, sexual orientation, among others.
It also ignores how some “choices” are not choices at all. For example, a woman has the “choice” of wearing makeup or not, of shaving or not, and they go around trumpeting about their “winged eyeliner sharp enough to kill a man” and how it empowers them, while willfully ignoring the fact that not wearing makeup (or performing femininity in general) causes the woman to be discriminated against in professional settings, for example.
There’s a lot more to be said about it, and I will reccomend you a few videos that explain it better than I could. I like the lecture “Neo-Liberalism and the Defanging of Feminism" by Dr. Gail Dines, as it gives a good, newbie-friendly explanation on how liberal sex-positive feminism is innefective. Lierre Keith’s lecture on Radfems Respond 2014 also talks about the subject in an easy to understand way. You can also use this little chart for a quick comparison:
Finally, if you want to learn more about Radical Feminism, RadFem.org is a good place to start. You can download a lot of books there that will give you a good perspective on the subject. I hope that helps, Anon!