Notes on Gender in Marx’s Capital
As interest in Marxism and Feminism is reviving and Marx’s views on ‘gender’ are receiving a new attention, some areas of agreement among feminists are emerging that also shape my approach to the subject.1 First, while denunciations of gender inequalities and patriarchal control in the family and society can be found in Marx’s work from an early stage, it is agreed that Marx “did not have much to say on gender and the family” 2 and, even in Capital his views on the subject must be reconstructed from scattered observations. Nevertheless, Marx’s work has given a significant contribution to the development of feminist theory, although not primarily based on his direct pronouncements on the subject. Not only has his historical materialist method helped demonstrate the constructed character of gender hierarchies and identities.3 Marx’s analysis of capitalist accumulation and value creation have given feminists of my generation powerful tools to rethink the specific forms of exploitation to which women have been subjected in capitalist society and the relation between ‘sex, race, and class.’4 However the use that feminists have made of Marx has at best taken them in a different direction from the one he traced.
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