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(Okay, I hope nobody saw what I posted before this. I somehow managed to hit the wrong button. Damn WordPress, much more confusing than Blogspot.)

I think it it absolutely necessary to consider the importance of individual change in making collective change happen. In sociology, there is a very helpful theoretical framework called “methodological individualism”. Here, phenomena on the society (macro) level are the result of aggregated individual motives and the resulting actions.

As an example I have drawn this amateur Photoshop graphic:

The first level is that of society. I assumed that radical feminism leads to collective female empowerment. However, the first cannot will the latter into existence. So what precisely might radical feminism accomplish within a society’s populace? When we want to look at the behaviour of a populace we must look at its individuals. So: an ideology of radical feminism inspires desire for freedom. For the sake of demonstration I have assumed that a desire for freedom will motivate an individual to engage in separatism. Feel free to replace this with a more fitting or differentiated action. A mass of individuals all making the same decision to engage in separatism will then lead to collective female empowerment in society.

I used the question marks to show where explanations for the cross-over from micro into macro and vice versa must be given. The interaction shown in the graphic only exists if these cross-overs are caused by certain mechanisms. This is where political strategies come into play – use them as mechanisms. You can draw models like mine to try to think up strategies (to replace the question marks) which might lead to the results you desire to see in individuals and in society.

However, it really is a simple model. So we add another factor:

Patriarchy is added as a context. Although the arrow seems to indicate that radical feminism results in patriarchy, this is absolutely not the case. I have not gone over the deep end yet, people. The arrow is supposed to show that the impact radical feminism has on actions of separatism is affected by a context of patriarchy. Every individual choice a woman makes will be influenced by patriarchal structures which in turn has an effect on the ability & motivation to engage in separatism.

When you consider that patriarchy is a very constricting social system which punishes non-followers of gender norms, its effects on women’s willingness to resist is great. I think I do not need to mention that it has a detrimental and stifling effect.

If you consider this fact while looking at the model above it becomes clear that prevention of collective female action is achieved by targeting women as individuals. However, since every woman is targeted in a more or less similar way women as a whole react very similarly to being discriminated against. This then negatively influences the amount of collective female empowerment in a society by reducing separatist action.

The bottom line: patriarchy works because it works on the collective and individual level at the same time. However, since everyone women is targeted because of her sex, she will never be unaffected regardless of individual differences. It is ultimately best to focus on structures seeing as we cannot escape them and it is best to eradicate them if they should harm us instead of concentrating too much on personal coping mechanisms and strategies.*

*(Mobilization, however, seems to require a certain amount of conscious individual initiative against oppressive structures which in turn might put harsh pressures on a woman and her living situation. So here it really comes down to an individual’s or a group’s will to set other people into motion but that’s another cup of tea.)

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