Although people do usually seem to think of feminists as being committed to particular ideologies and activities, rather than to a very general belief that society is unjust to women, what is also undoubtedly true is that feminism is regarded by nearly everyone as the movement which represents the interests of women. This idea is perhaps even more deeply entrenched than the other, but it is a very serious matter for feminism that it should be thought of in both these ways at once. This is because of what seems to be an ineradicable human tendency to take sides. While it would be ideal if everyone could just assess each controversial problem on its own merits as it arose, what actually happens is that people usually start by deciding whose side they are on, and from then onwards tend to see everything that is said or done in the light of that alliance. The effects of this on the struggle for sexual justice have been very serious. The conflation of the idea of feminism as a particular ideology with that of feminism as a concern with women’s problems means that people who do not like what they see of the ideology (perhaps because they are keen on family life, or can’t imagine a world without hierarchies, or just don’t like unfeminine women) may also tend to brush aside, explain away, sneer at or simply ignore all suggestions that women are seriously badly treated. Resistance to the feminist movement easily turns into a resistance to seeing that women have any problems at all.
Janet Radcliffe Richards, The Ssceptical Feminist: A Philosophical Enquiry, London, 1980, pp. 2-3