Marxism and Feminism: False Friends or Subtle Bedfellows?

Meredith A. Scalos


Despite the considerable development and evolution of, the Western feminist movement during the 21st century feminism still faces great problems and questions such as the following: How can the goals of feminism be consistently achieved in a way that transcends social pressures and influences? Is there a particular political regime that facilitates gender equality, and if so how can we create a political formula that will foster the greatest amount of gender equality possible? Through a close examination of Marx and leading feminist writers of the 20th century, this paper illuminates some of the complicated ways in which feminism and Marxism fit together. Marxist theory creates a context whereby feminist goals and ideals can not only be achieved, but also become a part of the social order. Marx parallels the original division of labor within the family and its facilitation of the capitalist processes that created the norms of exploitation and oppression of women through class. This paper will interpret Marxist theory through portions of The German Ideology and will use this to critique and draw conclusions in tandem with contemporary and modern feminist thinkers. In effect, I utilize primary texts to support feminist theory and goals from an integrated standpoint instead of as a separatist social movement. The effect that this conclusion has on modern political theory is the realization that true gender equality can only be realized by a shift in social norms through a change in the political goals of a regime—i.e. socialist goals of social equality, efforts to dissolve class distinctions and rights to equal opportunity. Therefore, Marxist theory and goals provide a context through which feminist ideals can be integrated into the social fabric of a culture and become part of a transcendent social order, which is governed by the political system.



Feminism; Marxism; Feminist Theory

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