Female Oppression and Capitalism

Topics: Feminism, Sociology, Marxism Pages: 7 (2706 words) Published: November 14, 2011
Female Oppression and Capitalim

With the protestant work ethic and faith in capitalism that we experience in society, it is no longer questioned that a person can advance socially as well as economically according to their skills and the output that is placed on developing these skills. As children we are taught that when we grow up we can be doctors, lawyers and even prime ministers; however, the myth that there are no barriers or social factors that of these barriers is the notion of gender, as restrict the mobility of certain groups as well as their ability to advance economically and socially, is exactly that, a myth. The most significant males have dominated history and to this day continue to occupy most of the key roles in society. Women have been viewed as being submissive as well as powerless to their male counterparts, which in turn has put them in a situation of greater economic, political and social exploitation. Society has created images and formed perspectives as to what is considered a “role” for a woman, and this image has evolved from the vantage point of male-centred thinking. Marxist theorists view women as being oppressed in the bourgeoisie family and demonstrate that family creates inequality between men and women; it demonstrates that the entire structure of society, including the nuclear family, must be reshaped in order for there to be real equality in gender relationships (Hooks, 1984). The partnership between patriarchy and capitalism has dominated women’s labour and sexuality by reinforcing and developing the ideologies that rationalize the oppression of women. This paper will examine how Marxist Feminism defines and identifies the source of discrimination, oppression and inequality. It is fair to say that Marxism sees the family unit as a result of the economic shape and form of society. The capitalistic system has shaped the structures by which sexual relations, as well as other aspects of life, are defined in today’s general public. Capitalism, therefore, necessitated the oppression of women and yielded the Marxist belief that the family was really the site of the reproduction of labour power (Duffy, Mandel & Pupo, 1989). Women were exploited to create workers and thus became commodities in turn causing female oppression in the economy. Marxist feminism sees the root of oppression lying within the very economic system. It views the subordination of women in society through the class structure lens. The main concern here, as Marxist feminists see it, is that capitalism keeps women subordinate and stuck in positions which are dependent on men. It argues that the very foundation of the bourgeoisie family rests in the inequality between husband and wife, where the wife is viewed as an unpaid prostitute, producing heirs for the transmission of property in exchange for board and lodging ( Engels, 1845). Many Marxist Feminism theories are based on the literature of Karl Marx, who also saw marriage as a form of prostitution, within which occurred the production and reproduction of life (Marx & Engels, 1987). Marx argues that production of the means of existence, as well as the reproduction of the people who produce these goods had to exist in society; therefore, while men became workers and were exploited for their labour, women were exploited for their sexual identity and unpaid labour in the family (Marx & Engels, 1987). The very notion which capitalist policies are based on are founded on certain ideologies, which were created by the economy in order to be able to keep women in these inferior positions and confined to the nuclear family. This belief is connected to Karl Marx’s view that culture and society are rooted in material, economic conditions and that human beings are essentially social creatures. His work calls for the obliteration of the bourgeoisie family; for Marxists, the bourgeoisie theory seeks to reform the system to the advantage of some women, rather than get...

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