What is Marxist Feminism and What Does It Mean?

What is Marxist Feminism and What Does It Mean?

June 29, 2021 Off By Felso

Marxist feminism is a feminist faction that emerged as a synthesis of Marxism, which is the generalization of the philosophical system of the great German philosopher Marx, and feminism, which is used in the sense of advocating for women’s rights. Apart from other types of feminism, Marxist feminism is a movement that has carried out serious studies on the social rights of women.

The main aim of Marxist feminism is to overcome the capitalist economic system and not to defeat women by capitalism.

The views of Marx and Engels have a great importance in the development of feminist theory. The influence of Marxist historical materialist views, especially in raising the consciousness of women, is beyond doubt. This effect gave birth to the understanding of Marxist feminism.


Marxist feminism is based on the idea of ​​materialistic determinism, which argues that culture and society are rooted in material and economic conditions. Engels, on the other hand, grounds Marx’s view as follows: In the historical development process, there was a division of labor between men and women in primitive societies, but he argues that there is no gender antagonism. In primitive society, the means of production inside the home were under the control of women and those outside the home were under the control of men.

Later, Engels says that production is concentrated outside the home (cattle breeding, mining, weaving, etc. development). This was seen in the productivity of labor in men’s domain, which led to the creation of a surplus that could be acquired as wealth, which allowed men to gain new economic power over women. The obtained economic power enabled men to substitute paternity law (inheritance from the father, paternity right, etc.) instead of maternity law against women. The fact that the surplus-value is in the production area of ​​the man has created the condition for him to be the owner of the property at the same time.

August Bebel comments on this: “With the establishment of personal property, the subordination of woman to man became certain. As a result of this attachment, woman was seen as an inferior creature and despised. Matriarchy brought forth communism and equality of all. Patriarchal personal property, inheritance, and bondage and bondage of women constituted. brought.”

Feminist theory is influenced by Marxist theory, but the basis of its ideological structure is gender discrimination instead of material conditions. What labor is to Marxism, sexuality is to feminism. The dialectical materialism method of Marxist theory is interpreted by feminist theory as consciousness raising. Because the dominant assumption of contemporary feminist theory is that consciousness raising is itself a revolutionary praxis. The concept of revolutionary praxis also means the development of some alternative arrangements. This is based on creating forms of reorganization in practice by avoiding monotonous jobs that do not require skills, and by turning to jobs that will improve the self-development of productive people.


Marxist feminism is a feminist theory that sees the relationship between the capitalist organization of labor and the economy and the family as the cause of women’s oppression and inequality between women and men, emphasizing class differences among women.

Marxist feminists do not think that women are exploited only in the capitalist system, they also accept that women have a secondary status in pre-capitalist societies, therefore they argue that the emancipation of women is not possible only with the abolition of capitalism (Ecevit, 2011, p.16).

However, according to Marxist feminism, women face a oppression peculiar to capitalism in the capitalist mode of production because they are excluded from the field of wage labor and limited to domestic labor (Ecevit, 2011, p.16).

Even if they enter the labor market, on the one hand, they have to work in non-skilled jobs with lower wages and status than men, and on the other hand, when they return home, they have to do household chores such as cleaning, cooking, childcare and more, this domestic labor is confiscated by the men at home. .

Socialist feminism is a theory that accepts Marxist theory, but is also influenced by radical and psychoanalytic feminisms, and argues that it is necessary to question both the economic and cultural bases of women’s oppression by making use of these theories. Socialist feminists, who argue that Marxist theory neglects the issue of domestic labor and sees the ties between patriarchal relations and capitalism as unchanging, focused on issues such as the role of the house in society, domestic labor, the contribution of domestic labor to capitalism, the role of home and family in ideological socialization, and the bond between women and class (Donovan, 2001). , p.148).

The domestic labor debate started with Margaret Benston’s work “The Political Economy of Women’s Emancipation” published in 1969. According to Benston, who argues that housework should be taken seriously in the analysis of the economy, the fact that the labor spent at home is not considered a job because it is not paid labor is the material basis of women’s secondary status. In other words, the value of