Radical feminism is feminism's rotten core and the source of feminism's life. Without radical feminism, feminism at large would amount to little and scatter to the four winds.
That is the whole truth and nothing other. However, it is a truth that plenty of people won't square up to. It is quite fashionable nowadays, especially in the wake of the Agent Orange scandal, to brush aside radical feminism as outdated and popularly disregarded. When people do this, they are trying to change the subject and reassert control of the conversation so as to remove the feminist project, at large, from the critical spotlight.
Radical feminism - by which I mean chiefly the man-hating kind - is a standard which sets the measure for feminism as a whole. All brands of feminism are either more or less relevant depending on how closely they approximate radical feminism.
Radical feminism is 100 proof, and a radical feminist takes her feminism neat. Others take theirs watered down - but it's all the same drink.
People love to tell you that the radfems are "just fringe extremists" - as if we were standing in a field and the radfems were some tight little cluster, cut off in their own world on the perimeter. What the speaker fails to consider is that all feminism is on a continuum whose unifying principle is disaffection toward men and things male. That's all it is, and if you study feminism objectively you can form no other conclusion.
There is no break, no gap, no discontinuity, between radical feminism and the rest of feminism. It is a moral plenum, fully packed. For every foul man-hater, there is a slightly less foul man-hater, then a slightly less foul one than that . . . and down the line it goes, shade by shade. For example, Amanda Marcotte is only half as bad as Mary Daly - but comparatively speaking, that's still pretty damned bad! So is Mary Daly unacceptable while Amanda gets a pass? Where should we set the cutoff?
If we were to address the radical man-hating gangrene as a serious issue, we would morally amputate the phenomenon. But in order for THAT to happen, we would need to establish a moral threshhold, to effectively quantify how much systemic man-hating we can theoretically "live with".
Anything above the cutoff might be denounced and ostracized, but there would still be a boundary of acceptability - and that is just the problem. The stench of misandry wouldn't be quite so overpowering any more, but it would still be present, and permanent, and tolerated. And it would still taint feminism as a whole.
Eventually, we might feel obligated to repeat the whole process; to hack off more of the rotten end and set the cap a little lower. If we were moved to do this time and again, there would soon be precious little of feminism remaining.
That ought to teach us that the apologists and deflectionists are right: we oughtn't be so fixated on the extremists. The rot extends clear through the feminist organism to some degree, and examples closer to home (of casual misandry or mere perverse ignorance) are never lacking. Every chance we get, we should point out the pervasive anti-male bias - be this subtle or brazen.
Anti-male bias - whether in the form of hating men, or looking the other way when evidence of man-hating crops up, or simply the prevalence of double standards which favor women - is recognizable as the core principle which makes feminism feminism. This principle, more than anything, binds the feminist project together, moves it forward, and explains the complex reality of its evolvement through time.
The feminist project seeks to expand the power of women with no limit, and anything like ethical regard for men and maleness would impose a formidable barrier to such expansion. Remove that ethical regard, and the frontier is wide open. Hence, so far as the feminist project is concerned, ethical regard for men and maleness has got to go - and what better why to shuck off ethical regard for anything, than to HATE it?
Since the world always contains X number of women who hate men. . .and even MEN who hate men, feminism's inner cadre always has a sufficient recruitment pool. Hate is a tremendous motivator, and we can hardly account for feminism's vitality on the theory that the real movers-and-shakers are only mildly annoyed with men.
In the end, if feminism did not harbor a kind of moral black hole of infinite disaffection toward men and maleness, it would quickly reach the limit of its possible development. . . . and begin to dissipate.
So once again, radical feminism - to wit, the man-hating kind - is the CORE of feminism. By contrast, it is the liberals, the moderates, the humanists, and the "fun" feminists who make up the fluffy fringe on feminism's perimeter. They are the useful idiots who serve mainly as camouflage and as ideological pack mules.
Those who say that radical feminism is marginal to feminism at large, are lying - either to you, or to themselves.