Socialist Feminism

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Socialist feminism is a branch of feminism that 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. Socialist feminism is a two-pronged theory that broadens Marxist feminism's argument for the role of capitalism in the oppression of women and radical feminism's theory of the role of gender and the patriarchy. Socialist feminists reject radical feminism’s main claim that patriarchy the only or primary source of oppression of women. Rather, socialist feminists assert that women are unable to be free due to their financial dependence on males in society. Women are subjects to the male rulers in capitalism due to an uneven balance in wealth. They see economic dependence as the driving force of women’s subjugation to men. Further, socialist feminists see women’s liberation as a necessary part of larger quest for social, economic and political justice.

Socialist feminism draws upon many concepts found in Marxism; such as a historical materialist point of view, which means that they relate their ideas to the material and historical conditions of people’s lives.Socialist feminists thus consider how the sexism and gendered division of labor of each historical era is determined by the economic system of the time. Those conditions are largely expressed through capitalist and patriarchal relations.Socialist feminists,thus reject the Marxist notion that class and class struggle are the only defining aspects of history and economic development. Marx asserted that when class oppression was overcome, gender oppression would vanish as well. According to socialist feminists, this view of gender oppression as a sub-class of class oppression is naive and much of the work of socialist feminists has gone towards specifying how gender and class work together to create distinct forms of oppression and privilege for women and men of each class. For example, they observe that women’s class status is generally derivative of her husband’s class or occupational status,.e.g., a secretary that marries her boss assumes his class status.

In 1972 the Chicago Women's Liberation Union published "Socialist Feminism: A Strategy for the Women's Movement," which is believed to be the first to use the term "socialist feminism," in publication.

Other socialist feminists, notably two long-lived American organizations Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party, point to the classic Marxist writings of Frederick Engels (The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State) and August Bebel (Woman and Socialism) as a powerful explanation of the link between gender oppression and class exploitation.

On the other hand, the Socialist Party USA is an example of a socialist feminist party which is not explicitly Marxist (although some members identify as Marxists). The party's statement of principles says, "Socialist feminism confronts the common root of sexism, racism and classism: the determination of a life of oppression or privilege based on accidents of birth or circumstances. Socialist feminism is an inclusive way of creating social change. We value synthesis and cooperation rather than conflict and competition."

Read more about Socialist Feminism:  Socialist Feminist Praxis, Socialist Feminism, Motherhood,and The Private Sphere, Theorists, Socialist Feminism Groups

Other articles related to "socialist feminism":

Chicago Women's Liberation Union
... be credited as the first organization to publish the term socialist feminism ... In 1972 they released a pamphlet "Socialist Feminism A Strategy for the Women's Movement." Nationally circulated, the publication is believed to be the ...

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