From among the multitude of political and social activist movements of the 1960-70’s emerged the radical feminist group Radicalesbians. Radicalesbians were radical in the sense that they sought to radically transform the conditions of existence for women and they were lesbians in the sense that they viewed loving relationships between women, not necessarily sexual relationships, as necessary for a true feminist movement. In the article “The Woman-Identified Woman,” Radicalesbians first demonstrate how “woman” has been defined solely in relation to “man” and secondly demonstrate how “woman” can be redefined from the perspective of woman. In this sense, Radicalesbians draw our attention to how society and cultural feminism has created and propagated Friedrich Nietzsche’s slave morality in regard to the dominated class of women. Further, Radicalesbians offer insight into how women can overcome Nietzsche’s slave morality in order to authentically redefine and create themselves to become Überfrau.
Radicalesbians’ “The Woman-Identified Woman”
Radicalesbians begin by defining what a lesbian is. A lesbian, according to the feminist group, is any woman who seeks to be a “freer human being than her society” commands by having “not been able to accept the limitations and oppression laid on her by the most basic role of her society – the female role.” The term lesbian is used in “a sexist society characterized by rigid sex roles and dominated by male supremacy” in order to define and sustain gendered sex roles through assigning appropriate roles and punishing deviation from those roles. Radicalesbians state “Those sex roles dehumanize women by defining us as a supportive/serving caste in relation to the master caste of men.” “Lesbian” is linguistic weaponry used against “any woman who dares to be his equal, who dares to challenge his prerogatives […], who dares to assert the primacy of her needs” in order to command acquiescence to gendered social norms. Deviation from sexual social norms is not only met with this label, but also “any woman who was successful, independent, not orienting her whole life about a man” would find herself labeled a lesbian. “Woman,” the gendered role, is essentially defined relationally as being merely an object to be used sexually by “man.”
In a male dominated sexist society where gendered sex roles define “woman” as merely an object to be used sexually by men, women who give “primacy to anything other than men and family” are labeled as being not a “real woman” and such a designation manipulates women’s actions through the use of gender roles in order to enforce domination. In other words, in a society where a woman is merely an object to be used sexually by men, women who try to assert their humanity and autonomy are shamed into acquiescing to their socially defined objectified and dominated position. Women need to “begin disengaging from male-defined response patterns,” because “if we are male-identified in our heads, we cannot realize our autonomy as human beings.”
Women have been socialized in a male-oriented system and as such have “internalized the male culture’s definition of” womanhood. To be a woman has been to be a relation to man, defined by man in order to be used by man to suit man’s purposes (sexually and otherwise) and this objectified “slave status” legitimizes women in society. To be a woman has been to be a non-person. To be a woman needs to be defined solely from the perspective of women, a definition free from the dependency on the male-oriented system, with the aim of affirming the personhood of women. Such a revolutionary redefining of “woman” can only occur through women; “Only women can give to each other a new sense of self. That identity we have to develop with reference to ourselves, and not in relation to men.” The redefinition of what it is to be a woman needs to break free of the male-oriented system in order to reject all male-centered definitions that necessarily place women in objectified roles, sexual or otherwise.
Cultural Feminism and Nietzsche’s Slave Morality
Radicalesbians are indeed proposing a radical and revolutionary redefining of womanhood. It is not merely a redefining of feminine values through an inversion of the male-oriented value system, but an entirely new creation of values oriented around womanhood. Ellen Willis points out how radical feminism morphed into a cultural feminism whereby feminists tried to redefine themselves by inverting the male-oriented value system. Ellis states:
The “female values” cultural feminists proclaimed […] were none other than the traditional feminine virtues. Once again we were alleged to be loving, nurturing, in tune with nature, intuitive and spiritual rather than genital in our eroticism, while men were violent, predatory, alienated from nature, committed to a sterile rationalism and obsessed with genital sex […] Thus “radical feminism” came full circle, from challenging the polarization of the sexes to affirming it and even embracing a reverse sexism.
What Ellis is describing of cultural feminism is nothing more than Nietzsche’s slave morality. Nietzsche states:
The slave revolt in morality begins when ressentiment itself becomes creative and gives birth to values: the ressentiment of natures that are denied the true reaction, that of deeds, and compensate themselves with an imaginary revenge. While every noble morality develops from a triumphant affirmation of itself, slave morality from the outset says No to what is “outside,” what is “different,” what is “not itself”; and this No is its creative deed. This inversion of the value-positing eye – this need to direct one’s view outward instead of back to oneself – is of the essence of ressentiment: in order to exist, slave morality always first needs a hostile external world; it needs, physiologically speaking, external stimuli in order to act at all – its action is fundamentally reaction.
In embracing as good the “womanly” virtues as defined and propagated by a male-oriented society, cultural feminism simply inverts the already created system. Cultural feminists are dominated within the male-oriented system and as such are denied true creative capacity. Their capacities are hindered by the already constructed system from which they have emerged. Instead, they take the values given to them and call these values truly good while at the same time calling the dominating values bad. Such a value inversion asserts the already defined values associated with “woman” are truly good because they are different from the dominating values defined as associated with “man.” Further, cultural feminism’s creation of values through inversion can only occur within a hostile, male-oriented, external system. In other words, cultural feminists are still defining “woman” in relation to “man” instead of affirming womanhood from the perspective of itself. Such a move cannot give women autonomy. It valorizes the very attributes that make women useful to men as objects and it perpetuates the male-oriented value system.
Nietzsche asserts “Slave morality is essentially a morality of utility” in that “qualities are brought out […] which serve to ease existence for those who suffer” and “pity, the complaisant and obliging hand, the warm heart, patience, industry, humility, and friendliness are honored – for here these are the most useful qualities and almost the only means for enduring the pressures of existence.” Further, the dominated give themselves “the appearance of being the only permissible kind of [human], and glorifies [their] attributes, which makes [them] tame, easy to get along with, and useful to the herd, as if [their attributes] were the truly human virtues.” The cultural feminist values Ellis noted are glorified, seen as the only permissible values and make women more complaisant to defined gender roles. Psychologists Shannon K. McCoy and Brenda Major have found that the practice of assigning positive values to a lower status group, or positive stereotyping, simultaneously “reinforces the belief” that lower status groups “are best suited for subordinate roles” while justifying the high status group’s position in the status hierarchy. Such a practice “allows low status group members to feel good about their group identity while simultaneously keeping them from attempting to advance in the status hierarchy.” The values advocated by cultural feminism are useful to women by easing the pain of dominated existence. The values are useful to a male-oriented society by assigning women a more passive and complaisant role. Ultimately, the values are useful to a male-oriented society in perpetuating domination because women take on a role more accommodating to objectification.
Pierre Bourdieu points out “It must never be forgotten that the working-class ‘aesthetic’ is a dominated ‘aesthetic’ which is constantly obliged to define itself in terms of the dominant aesthetics.” Bourdieu is explaining how the dominated define themselves, make value judgments, in relation to the dominant which is similar to Nietzsche’s slave morality. Bourdieu explains how in a system of domination, the dominant define the terms of and assign what is taken to be objective values. Socialization instills in both the dominant and the dominated a sense that the values are indeed objective. The dominated then define themselves in accordance with what the dominant have deemed to be objective values. The dominated take the defined values as objective then assign worth to themselves based on those values. The dominated by accepting such a definition of themselves condemn themselves to the objective values defined by the dominant and thus consent to and perpetuate their own domination.
Linda Alcoff would appear to agree with Bourdieu. Alcoff asserts, in line with Alice Echols, cultural feminism’s “effect is to ‘reflect and reproduce dominant cultural assumptions about women,’ which not only fail to represent the variety in women’s lives but promote unrealistic expectations about ‘normal’ female behavior.” Further, Alcoff states “There is a self-perpetuating circularity between defining women as essentially peaceful and nurturing and the observations and judgments we shall make of future women and the practices we shall engage in as women in the future.” In line with Bourdieu, Alcoff asserts to take the “womanly” values as defined by the male-oriented dominant society and promote these values as being objectively inherent and of higher worth is to perpetuate the domination of women by manipulating women’s actions and perceptions to be in accord with such values. The values advocated by cultural feminism are indeed beautiful values, but such values have been formed out of utility in response to domination. Alcoff is clear about the dangers of cultural feminism to the feminist movement. Alcoff asserts women, as other oppressed groups, developed positive attributes in order to adapt to their domination. Cultural feminism’s valorization of attributes developed under oppression promotes the conditions of existence of domination and reinforces sexist oppression by promulgating the “the belief in an innate ‘womanhood’ to which we must all adhere lest we be deemed either inferior or not ‘true’ women.”
While the values promoted by cultural feminism are positive and should be promoted in society, to promote such values as inherently tied to the gender of “woman” is a dangerous mistake. Such values were formed out of utility in response to domination in order to ease the pain of existence and ensure self-preservation. The promulgation of such values as inherent only serves to perpetuate the dominating conditions of existence that gave rise to them. Such values reinforce the status quo of the male-oriented system and manipulate women’s actions by coaxing women into behavioral acquiescence to socialized gender roles in fear of being deemed inadequate. Thus cultural feminism is not the radical and revolutionary redefinition of “woman” required to radically change the conditions of existence for women.
Radicalesbians revolutionary redefinition of “woman” cannot come from an inauthentic value inversion of the male-oriented value system. Women must define and create themselves in order to achieve autonomy. So, the ultimate question is: How do women define woman from the perspective of woman? Radicalesbians asserted the redefinition of woman can only occur through only women in relation to each other and themselves. Admittedly, I do not have a complete answer to this crucial and complicated question. However, whatever the solution, I propose it must originate from Nietzsche’s concept of the Übermensch. Nietzsche’s Übermensch is an authentic, self-creating, and autonomous individual who rejects slave morality in favor of a self-affirming morality. Such a noble morality, states Nietzsche, “develops from a triumphant affirmation of itself” and “acts and grows spontaneously, it seeks its opposite only so as to affirm itself more gratefully and triumphantly.” Richard Schacht explains Nietzsche envisioned “exceptional human beings capable of an independence and creativity elevating them above the level of the general human rule […] and through Zarathustra proclaimed the Ubermensch […] to be ‘the meaning of the earth,’ employing this image to convey the ideal of the overcoming of the ‘all-too-human’ and the fullest possible creative ‘enhancement of life.’”
Such exceptional human beings are not simply men. Ruth Abbey argues Nietzsche’s misogyny has been misread. Abbey grants that Nietzsche alternates between appearing to advocate inherent gender attributes for both men and women and appearing to advocate historicized and socialized gender attributes. Ultimately, however, Abbey asserts the self-creating capacity for Nietzsche resides in both men and women, but that women have been historically socialized to take on a more passive role thereby making it harder for women to overcome in order to self-create. Lewis Call argues Nietzsche’s criticism of women originate from his criticism of the Enlightenment. Call asserts the Enlightenment propagated a “tremendously dangerous concept of the female” based on the “ideal of freedom and emancipation” for both men and women and such an ideal “simultaneously reinforces the Enlightenment tradition from which it draws these ideas.” Nietzsche criticisms of women are the same criticisms he has of men in that “Both are corrupt, sick, and weak; neither can produce the kind of world Nietzsche desires.” Call asserts a feminism that can produce the kind of world Nietzsche desires conceives of woman existing:
as a positive possibility, beyond the modernist mockeries that too often are all that can be seen of her. She is more an ideal than a reality, of course: “All at once we believe that somewhere in the world there could be women with lofty, heroic, and royal souls, capable of and ready for grandiose responses, resolutions, and sacrifices, capable of and ready for rule over men because in them the best elements of man apart from his sex have become an incarnate ideal” (Gay Science 70) […] these “lofty, heroic and royal souls” certainly seem far removed from Nietzsche’s misogyny. Stripped of her modernist dross, woman displays all the strength, the power that is so much a part of Nietzsche’s superior individual. There are hints of “Überfrau” As David Krell puts it, “The liberation of the woman in woman is to be something utterly new and unheard of: it is to be the very matrix of Übermensch” (30).
As opposed to cultural feminism’s inauthentic value inversion of male-oriented definitions of “woman” and “man,” a noble and radical redefinition of woman would begin from womanhood affirming itself by creating for itself what it seeks to be. Woman redefined would only seek its opposite (as in what it seeks not to be) to reaffirm to itself the triumph of what it is, not to define itself. Nietzsche questions “Are you a new strength and a new right? A first motion? A self-propelling wheel?” Woman redefined would originate from its own strength to offer a new conception of itself, solely propelled by its own force. It would not be an opposition force, its strength would not emerge as counter force and it would not be propelled to act as a counter force to the male-oriented system. A merely reactionary force is a dominated force. Nietzsche continues, “You call yourself free? I want to hear your ruling thought, and not that you have escaped from a yoke.” Woman redefined is truly free in that it is ruled only by itself; its ruling thoughts are its own creations. Its thoughts are not dominated by remnants of the historicized and socialized domination of gender roles. Nietzsche questions again, “Can you give to yourself your evil and your good and hang up your will above yourself as law? Can you be judge for yourself and avenger of your law?” Woman redefined would be a surpassing of the socially defined good and evil in socially defined gender roles. It would define for itself its own attributes, thereby rejecting society’s characterization of such attributes as being masculine or feminine along with any associated value judgments with such a characterization. It is through such a radical and revolutionary redefinition of woman that the Überfrau emerges.
If Radicalesbians are correct in asserting women need to define womanhood from the perspective of women in order to overcome domination, then the slave morality value inversion of cultural feminism fails to provide a path to overcoming domination. Cultural feminism simply takes the values defined in a male-oriented system and inverts their value judgments. Nietzsche’s concept of the Überfrau offers a radical and revolutionary path to overcoming domination through autonomous self-creation and self-affirmation. Nietzsche’s Überfrau would be an autonomous self-creating individual who is truly free because their strength, values and thoughts all emerge from within themselves. What remains to be considered is the relation between individual Überfrau, women as a dominated group and the male-oriented society. Radicalesbians argued for autonomy for women and asserted “woman” needs to be redefined from the perspective of woman which could only be done through relationships between women. Nietzsche’s Überfrau however is an individual process whereby the individual creates from only themselves. It could be argued that if individual autonomy for women is sought, then Radicalesbians is wrong to assert women ought to redefine themselves through relationships to women. However, women exist as both dominated individuals and as members of a dominated group within a male-oriented society. Nietzsche’s Überfrau offers a path for individual women to redefine themselves within a dominating society. Even if the domination of the group continues to exist, the Überfrau is the freest an individual woman can be in male-oriented society.
 Radicalesbians, “The Woman-Identified Woman,” Documents from the Women’s Liberation Movement , Duke University Special Collections Library, http://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/scriptorium/wlm/womid/
 The use of this term is taken from Lewis Call, “Woman as Will and Representation: Nietzsche’s Contribution to Postmodern Feminism.” Call credits David Krell with the term.
 Radicalesbians, online.
 Ibid. Radicalesbians state: “For in this sexist society, for a woman to be independent means she can’t be a woman – she must be a dyke […] It says as clearly as can be said: women and person are contradictory terms. For a lesbian is not considered a “real woman.” And yet, in popular thinking, there is really only one essential difference between a lesbian and other women: that of sexual orientation – which is to say, when you strip off all the packaging, you must finally realize that the essence of being a “woman” is to get fucked by men.”
 Ibid. Radicalesbians state: “By virtue of having been brought up in a male society, we have internalized the male culture’s definition of ourselves. That definition consigns us to sexual and family functions, and excludes us from defining and shaping the terms of our lives. In exchange for our psychic servicing and for performing society’s non-profit making functions, the man confers on us just one thing: the slave status which makes us legitimate in the eyes of the society in which we live. This is called “femininity” or “being a real woman” in our cultural lingo. We are authentic, legitimate, real to the extent that we are the property of some man whose name we bear. To be a woman who belongs to no man is to be invisible, pathetic, inauthentic, unreal. He confirms his image of us – of what we have to be in order to be acceptable by him – but not our real selves; he confirms our womanhood – as he defines it, in relation to him – but cannot confirm our personhood, our own selves as absolutes. As long as we are dependent on the male culture for this definition, for this approval, we cannot be free.”
 Ellen Willis, “Radical Feminism and Feminist Radicalism,” Social Text, p. 112. Ellis discusses the conflict between lesbian feminist groups and heterosexual feminist groups; how lesbianism was promoted as the “vanguard” of feminism due to a full break with any association with men. Members of the group Radicalesbians advocated this view as well as a view that lesbian sexual relations were superior to heterosexual relations because heterosexual sexual relations were necessarily dominating. See Yamissette Westerband, http://sitemaker.umich.edu/lesbian.history/lesbian_feminism. I agree that women need to define and create their identities outside of the restrictive conditions of existence defined within the male-oriented society. However, I do not agree that heterosexual relationships are necessarily dominating and that only lesbians can truly be feminists. Heterosexual relationships may have historically been dominating due to the gender conditioning of males to uphold socialized gender roles, but just as women can redefine themselves by breaking out of gender roles, there is no reason to think men cannot break out of such gender roles also. If so, then there seems to be no reason why heterosexual relationships cannot be as loving and nurturing as lesbian relationships are claimed to be.
 Friedrich Nietzsche, “Genealogy of Morals,” Basic Writings of Nietzsche, ed. Walter Kaufmann, pp. 472-73
 Ibid., “Beyond Good and Evil,” Basic Writings of Nietzsche, ed. Walter Kaufmann, p. 397.
 Ibid., p. 301.
 Shannon K. McCoy and Brenda Major, “Priming Meritocracy and the Psychological Justification of Inequality,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 43 (2007), p. 347.
 Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Jugement of Taste, trans. Richard Nice, p. 41.
 Although Bourdieu is referring to aesthetic value judgments, the parallels between aesthetic value judgments and gender value judgments as relates to domination seem, prima facie, as different outcomes of a slave morality sort of mentality because in both cases the dominated can only define themselves in relation to the dominant and as such invert the worth of the value judgments.
 Ibid., p. 471. Bourdieu asserts: “Dominated agents, who assess the value of their position and their characteristics by applying a system of schemes of perception and appreciation which is the embodiment of the objective laws whereby their value is objectively constituted, tend to attribute to themselves what the distribution attributes to them, refusing what they are refused […], adjusting their expectations to their chances, defining themselves as the established order defines them, reproducing in their verdict on themselves the verdict the economy pronounces on them, in a word, condemning themselves to what is in any case their lot, ta beautou, as Plato put it, consenting to be what they have to be, ‘modest,’ ‘humble’ and ‘obscure’. Thus the conservation of the social world is decisively reinforced by what Durkheim called ‘logical conformity’, i.e., the orchestration of categories of perception of the social world, which, being adjusted to the divisions of the established order (and thereby to the interests of those who dominate it) and common to all minds structured in accordance with those structures, present every appearance of objective necessity.”
 Linda Alcoff, “Cultural Feminism versus Post-Structuralism: The Identity Crisis in Feminist Theory,” Signs, p. 413.
 Ibid., pp. 413-414.
 Ibid., p. 414. Alcoff states: “Under conditions of oppression and restrictions on freedom of movement, women, like other oppressed groups, have developed strengths and attributes that should be correctly credited, valued, and promoted. What we should not promote, however, are the restrictive conditions that gave rise to these attributes: forced parenting, lack of physical autonomy, dependency for survival on meditation skills […] To the extent cultural feminism merely valorizes genuinely positive attributes developed under oppression, it cannot map our future long-range course. To the extent that it reinforces essentialist explanations of these attributes, it is in danger of solidifying an important bulwark for sexist oppression: the belief in an innate “womanhood” to which we must all adhere lest we be deemed either inferior or not “true” women.”
 Nietzsche, p. 473.
 Richard Schacht, “Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm,” The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999, p. 616.
 Ruth Abbey, “Beyond Misogyny and Metaphor: Women in Nietzsche’s Middle Period,” Journal of History of Philosophy, 34:2, April 1996, pp. 233-256.
 Ibid., p. 238; 248.
 Ibid., pp. 239-241; 246
 Lewis Call, “Woman as Will and Representation: Nietzsche’s Contribution to Postmodern Feminism,” Women in German Yearbook 11, 1995, p. 122.
 Ibid., p. 125.
 Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, p. 56.
 As noted earlier, I am taking these relationships to not just be sexual relationships. As Radicalesbians have noted, “Affixing the label lesbian not only to a woman who aspires to be a person, but also to any situation of real love, real solidarity, real primacy among women, is a primary form of divisiveness among women: it is the condition which keeps women within the confines of the feminine role, and it is the debunking/scare term that keeps women from forming any primary attachments, groups or associations among ourselves” (online).