Marxist and socialist feminism


Socialist feminism is a young feminist movement, born in the 1970?s. But despite the three hundred-year age difference, socialist feminism retains many of the same goals as the first feminist movements. We will outline the major themes found within socialist feminism, including its analysis of women?s oppression, its ideas for activism, and its similarities to other kinds of feminism, specifically its synthesis of Marxist and Radical feminism.

"How can you say Mrs. Henry Ford IV is really in the same class as a Guatemalan peasant woman? We socialist feminists see the problem as a combination of male domination and class exploitation - our fight is against both! Real liberation is impossible as long as power and wealth in the world is monopolized by a tiny minority, and economic and social life is ruled by their lust for profits." -Introducing Feminism, Watkins, Reuda & Rodriguez

To understand socialist feminism, one must understand praxis. Praxis is a Marxist concept meaning the ability humans have to consciously change the environment in order to meet their needs. Socialist feminists, like Marxist feminists, hold that praxis is the one thing universal to all humans. Unlike Marxist feminists, socialist feminists hold that praxis has gender specific forms and extends to the private sphere of life. The private sphere of life is that of the home and the work that the woman (typically) does in giving birth to children, raising children, and maintaining the household.

Socialist feminists agree with radical feminists in the idea that gender roles need to be abolished. But they see gender and sexuality as social constructs both capable of transformation. While they acknowledge that biology does play a role in determining personality (as previously stated), anatomy does not confine or limit our capabilities as human beings on an emotional or a physical level.


What is Marxist feminism?

Traditional, or liberal, feminism is concerned exclusively with issues pertaining to gender. Perhaps the earliest women’s movements were ones concerned with women’s suffrage (i.e. right to vote) and reproductive issues (access to birth control and abortion). Another major focus of...

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