Marxist feminism is a sub-type of feminism which focuses on the dismantling of capitalism as a way to liberate women. The theory states that capitalism, which gives rise to economic inequality, dependence, political confusion and ultimately unhealthy social relations between men and women, is the root of women's oppression in the current social context. According to this theory, the individual is influenced by the class structure of society which states that some classes are above others. These classes are categorized by who controls the modes of production. Women and men are seen as classes in the Marxist feminist point of view and therefore the oppression that goes on between them is a form of class oppression.
Marxist feminists believe that this oppression is maintained because it serves the interests of the ruling class. This is an expansion of the traditional Marxist theory, which was founded by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels and is based upon the bourgeoisie, or the ruling class, having control of the means of production and therefore being in power, while the proletariat, or the working class, is oppressed. The only way to get rid of this oppression and class control, according to Marx and Engels, is to abolish private property and make everyone equal. The Radical Women, a major Marxist-feminist organization, expanded Marx and Engels theory to include gender oppression.
Radical feminism came about in about the 1970s and critiqued Marxist feminism. They stated that “modern society and its constructs (law, religion, politics, art, etc) are the product of males and therefore have a patriarchal character. According to those who subscribe to this view, the best solution for women's oppression would be to treat patriarchy not as a subset of capitalism but as a problem in its own right. Thus eliminating women's oppression means eliminating male domination in all its forms. Like most feminists, however, radical feminists believe in replacing such domination with a culture and policy of equality” (pars 2).
Socialist feminists have also critiqued Marxist feminism for failing to find an inherent connection between patriarchy and classism. Socialist feminism focuses focuses upon both the public and private spheres of a woman's life and argues that liberation can only be achieved by working to end both the economic and cultural sources of women's oppression. This theory sort of combines the ideas of both Radical and Marxist feminism into one unique idea.
Karl Marx was a pretty smart person in my opinion. He pinpointed the problems of a class system and predicted the outcome of this type of system years before our society was formed, however, the way he describes it is pretty much true in our society I think. I do however, disagree with his ideas about the solutions to this type of oppression, which is to do away with private property altogether and then everyone would be equal. I think we tried that system over in other countries and that didn’t work either because then the people were all equal, but the government was sort of like the ruling class that Marx talks about oppressing all the people. I also do not think abolishing private property would take away the issues of oppression between gender. Just because you take away a man’s property does not make him realize that women are equal to him. Overall, I do not think that I would call myself a Marxist feminist.
There are several places where you can get more information about Marxist feminism. The information shared in this entry came from the following website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marxist_feminism. More links to information are found below:
Important people to this type of feminism include Margaret Benston and Patty Morton and you can find out more about them by following these links:
By Erin Harris