Generally, saying: ‘feminist’, is revolutionary enough in this day and age, it’s far more of a statement now than it was back in the eighties. And no, I wouldn’t say I was a Revolutionary Feminist now ‘cos I’m less separatist than I was at that time and I think it’s got overladen with such baggage that I’d have to spend about ten minutes defining what I meant. (Interview with Al Garthwaite, Leeds, 20 January 2012)
In this article, I shall explore some understandings, and misunderstandings, of the school or type of feminism known as Revolutionary Feminism, a uniquely British school of feminism, founded in 1977. The quote above is taken from my interview with a prominent and influential British Revolutionary Feminist activist named Al Garthwaite. The interview forms the basis of this article and the research was part of my PhD on the British Women’s Liberation Movement (WLM) from the 1970s to today. Among many of her legacies, Al founded the Reclaim the Night (RTN) marches in the United Kingdom in November 1977, traditionally women’s night-time, street protest marches against male violence against women (VAW). Also involved in the establishment and running of the UK WLM national newsletter ‘WIRES’,1 Al was at the hub of organising in the feminist hotbed that was Leeds, in Yorkshire in the North of England, in the 1970s and 1980s.