Hmm, there is a lot to my path. So sorry if it seems a bit long/rambly.
I was raised by a third wave rad-fem and a fairly typical 'liberal male ally that tries but is still extremely patriarchal'. This never led to clashes between them as the mother was always deferred to in 'cultural' matters. She wasn't perfect, and a lot of the ways she expressed her ideology always put me off, but I grew up fairly feminist and radical as a person even if not expressly radical feminist.
Once I got older, I started questioning the patriarchy pretty intensely. More so in reaction to some of the patriarchal preconceptions of gender and 'how to gain power in the patriarchy' my mother had preached and aggressively asserted on me, giving me little control of my own self expression when it came to gender. Probably why I so adamantly drifted towards liberal feminism. To me the Patriarchy represented oppression. A constant historical power grab by those who already wielded power due to their physical 'superiority'. To me Feminism was and still is a system for watching, unearthing, understanding, and FIGHTING the patriarchy. The toxic culture. The shackles on economic prosperity and independence. The constant deriding and disrespect. Belittling those not privileged.
I've been an activist in my work places. Fighting for equal pay of my coworkers. Helping with community garden leadership. I've constantly harassed many of my friends in regards to voting. Did everything I can and could without police confrontation. But I was definitely still a 'liberal feminist'. For again, a largely male congress controlling what women can do with their bodies? @#$% that. Even as I grew more and more aware of the negatives of the porn industry, rape culture, and prositutions connections to human trafficking, I still held that view.
On top of that I never really knew any trans-inclusive radical feminists which itself was a huge turn off emotionally. To me to be trans-exclusive was basically 'unfeminist'. There is just too much cultural patriarchy wrapped up in the people I knew then's views for me to take the rest of what they had to say seriously, much like my rad-fem mother had pushed me away from it due to some of her own beliefs she attached to the concept.
I have been in dire poverty and very close to situations where I could have wound up into survival prostitution. I've known and have been close to strippers and sex workers. These experiences strengthened my liberal feminism. Why shouldn't they be allowed control of their bodies? Etc. You all know the drill I'm sure.
It was actually a friend of mine who changed my perception much later in life, fairly recently honestly. When it came down to it. I want women to be safe and in control of their own life. That's idealistic and impractical, but it's what I want. I want true equality, none of the half-butt stuff I've seen. Respect, economic equality, reproductive independence, REAL protection from domestic abuse, and from situations that could lead them to homelessness.
I believed that to protect women and empower women most would be to give them absolute freedom. I feared things like the Nordic model would just give even more power to the men and patriarchal powers who's money ultimately controls human trafficking and most sexual based 'entertainment'. And you know I'm still not actually sure 100% if it does that or not but my friend pointed out that they came to a different conclusion from the same data that I had previously had. That radical feminism would make women safer and that it'd defeat the patriarchy more effectively. I know I'm not really
So I introspected on it as that was quite surprising to me. I knew my friend was feminist but not radical feminist. After a lot of self reflection I came to a fairly simple conclusion. I want the patriarchy to crumble. I'm a progressive and a pragmatic being. But if we 'make prostitution legal' lets say, CULTURALLY how would we sanely make sure only women benefit from this? You can't. Culturally how would we sanely make sure that it didn't proliferate the patriarchal power structures even more? You can't. Politically how would we sanely make sure human trafficking doesn't use the legalization as a way to more easily diffuse their evil practices? It'd be extremely messy. Prohibition is bad enough at empowering it as is, but codifying the opposite without hurting women even more? Difficult. So much so that while I now support the Nordic model, I fear countries with less of a social support infrastructure who don't take that part of it into account. We need both the institutional support for the poor and the legal protection of sex workers while penalizing the Johns and patriarchal purchasers. And finally, Culturally how do you sanely mitigate the effects of legally allowing video and photographic pornography strip clubs et, institutions that cater so much to the patriarchal consumer base and give cover to sexual predators, pedophiles, toxic masculinity, destructive views of sexuality, etc, while allowing for forms that aren't toxic (which 'funnily' enough only seem to be made by women for women?) You can't, not until the Patriarchy is truly defeated and even then.
Point being all these things I supported ideologically as a liberal feminist, while idealic and something I could accept in a world where the patriarchy is truly defeated, it's just impractical and harmful to feminism as a whole to not fight from a radical feminist point of view when it comes to policy both politically and cultural.
So tl;dr I was brought to radical feminism by intensive introspective rethinking and careful analysis of my feminist ideology and preconceived notions of what a rad-fem was due to my up-bringing through a friend of mine breaking the 'stereotype' I grew up with from my own personal experience with them. My views are probably a lot more nuanced and not as hard liner as many of the people here seem to be on this forum, but make no mistake as 'soft' as I may seem due too my personal journey, I'm pro-Nordic model, anti-pornography, anti-sex trade and have been fighting as much as I can politically and financially (which unfortunately isn't much due to my socioeconomic status, position in life and amount of personal risk I am willing to take. Being a minority in America isn't easy, but still when has that ever stopped us?)
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