In the recent sexism thread, there was a bit of a side-debate on whether people should call themselves “feminists” if they believe in equality of the sexes, but not in the man-hating vitriol that the term has come to connote. If the “mainstream” feminists want to “take back” (i.e. redefine) the term, do they have an obligation to actively reject the Dworkins-Steinams types? More broadly, how should any movement deal with the inevitable lunatic fringe?
In my opinion, if a group wants to direct its public image, it better be ready to disown the loonies. It is unfair to try to take advantage of the energy of the fringe, and then try to play to the middle by claiming that the movement unassociated with the fringe. If you want to shape your identity, you have to first clean house.