Sunday, July 1, 2007

Marxist Feminism

In order to understand what exactly Marxist Feminism is one must know some background information on Karl Marx and capitalism. Karl Marx is known as the founder of the conflict theory. The conflict theory is the idea that the parts that make up society do not work together in harmony, in fact all of these parts are competing with one another for resources. Social life is full of “disequilibrium and conflict (Henslin, pg. 37).” Karl Marx discovered this conflict theory while witnessing the industrial revolution. He noticed that the poor workers were working for meager wages and the men in charge were just getting richer. He concluded that life was a struggle for power. He noticed that one group was in charge and on top, while another group had little to no power and was oppressed. This idea was emphasized when capitalism began to take over. When the private owners gained control of a resource they had control of their workers, yet again giving them more power. This capitalism that emerged is what drives the idea of Marxist feminism.

Marxist feminism says that capitalism shaped economic inequality, some people had power and others did not, which created different levels of social class. According to Marxist feminism this economic inequality is the reason for the oppression of women. Men were given the power to run the means of production and women were not. Women were encouraged to stay at home and care for the children while the man was out working in the new capitalist economy. When women did finally enter the workforce they were mistreated and oppressed. Although today many women are more qualified than men for a position, they are not given it because they are stilled viewed as not as strong and capable as a man is. Many women do not earn the same high wages as men either. On average, women only earn seventy-six cents to every dollar a man makes, thus the oppression continues.

I do agree with the claims of Marxist Feminism. It makes sense to me that the oppression of women is rooted in the ideas of capitalism because in capitalism it’s every man for himself. It’s about who has the most power, who’s on top of the food chain, who gets to boss who around etc. Because many women did not even enter the workforce until many years later when the feminist movement began and demanded decent jobs and pay, women were behind in the capitalist struggle. We were on the bottom of the food chain and it took many years to work our way out of that bottom and towards the top. We still haven’t caught up from the years that many of us were stuck at home. Considering the fact that women still do not make as much as men and there is a rather large wage gap, it makes good sense to me that much of a woman’s struggle and oppression is rooted in the inequality of the workplace and the capitalist society.

As long as I can identify with more than one type of feminism I would say that yes, I can call myself a Marxist Feminist. I say this because there is a grass-roots feminist group called the Radical Women that identifies with the theory of Marxist feminism. They believe that if the capitalist society and private-property economy was diminished, then women would no longer be oppressed. This makes sense to me because there would be no person who had more power than another. Everyone would be on the same playing field because no one would have a more powerful job than another and no one would have more land than another and that would help alleviate the ideas of class and stop the oppression of women.

If you would like to learn more about Marxist Feminism, here are some resources:
1. Henslin, James M. Social Problems. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentic Hall, 2006. 37-38.
2. Karl Marx
3. "Marxist Feminism." .
4. "Marxist Feminism." Wikipedia. .
5. "Radical Women." Wikipedia. <>.

By: Katie Hartigan

No comments: