Post-Marxist Feminist Reading on The Progress:
A Short Story by F. Sionil Jose
By Althea Kitz Gopez
Eng 62.1, 1st Sem, SY 2012-2013
Upon reading F. Sionil’s short story “The Progress”, my initial reaction was that the characters where described based on the stereotypes of Filipino working citizens. The author was able to highlight common Filipino economic problems. However, a female portrays the role of a breadwinner, instead of the usual male character. Marina Salcedo, a government employee from the province who has worked for twenty years, experienced oppression in her male dominated work place. The author was not specific with Marina’s character, but rather, described her stereotypically instead; focusing on the experiences and roles of Filipino women in the society. Although Filipino women have come to level with the working class society, there are still cues of their marginality, whenever and wherever a man is of higher rank than them.
Most of F. Sionil Jose’s story depicts economic and social issues. Studying his works in a Marxist approach is very relevant, since he himself also aims for equality in the hands of the economists, the government, and/or in the different social classes in the Philippines; he writes only aiming for social justice and change to better the lives of average Filipino families.
F. Sionil Jose is one of the most widely-read Filipino writers in the English language. He has written a number of novels, short stories, and essays (some of them are being studied in literary classes, and/or for thesis/dissertation papers). Jose was born in Rosales, Pangasinan, the setting of many of his stories. He is currently a columnist in a national newspaper company in the country. This study aims to determine the cause of oppression of women in the working class society. It is analyzed in a Post-Marxist Feminist approach, focusing on Heidi Hartmann’s ‘dual systems’ stance on patriarchy and capitalism. Sexual division between men and women is also analyzed in this study, focusing on answering Marxist standpoints to feminist questions.
A Post-Marxist Feminism is defined as a commitment to feminism that involves a critical preservation and transcendence of Marxism (Tormey, 2006: 114). Contemporary Marxist Feminists simply focus more on things like the concerns of working women. They help us understand how the institution of family is related to capitalism; how women’s domestic work is trivialized and not considered “real work: and basically how women are given the most unfulfilling, boring, and/or low-paying jobs. These are all offered as partial explanations for gender oppression.
Post-Marxist approach is used in this study, rather than sticking with Marxist approach alone, because it moves away from the traditional Marxist perspective of the upper/lower class base distinction, or inequality of power in the society. Post-Marxism restates and revises Althusserian and/or Foucauldian theories, and, unlike the traditional Marxism, that emphasizes the priority of class struggle and common humanity of oppressed groups, these scholars all reveal social life’s sexual, racial, class, and ethnic divisions and progressive import (Goldstein, 2005:2). Marxist-feminist approach on the other hand is a sub-type of feminist theory– among many other types – which focuses on the dismantling of capitalism as a way of liberating women. Marxist-Feminist analysis evolved as a feminist-inspired critique of the shortcomings of traditional Marxist approaches to the 'women's question' according to Cecilia Sardenberg (Sardemnerg, 1994). She views Marxist categories as 'sex-blind' and thus incapable of addressing the analysis of gender-related issues, authors such as Heidi Hartmann and Z. Eisenstein (who call themselves 'socialist feminists') argued for a combination of Marxist and feminist theory, coining the term 'capitalist patriarchy'.
My study will focus on Heidi Hartmann’s famous ‘dual systems’...
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