Marxism and Feminism

Every feminist generation has had its own link to Marxism. While the first generation of feminism was already an international phenomenon, the link between Marxism and feminism has been especially evident in the USA, the UK, Australia and Germany. It goes back to the days of Marx, Engels and the socialist labour movement, continued in the women's movement of the late 19th and early 20th century, then was renewed by the new generation of feminists associated with "second wave of feminism" of the 1960s.

The "second wave" of feminism engaged especially strongly with Marx and the history of Marxism, adopting elements of Marxism, distancing itself from others, supplementing Marxism and criticising it. The various debates about housework conducted during the 1970s were only a first step towards formulating a critique of the entire sphere of social and individual reproduction, of breaking with Marxism's fixation on certain areas of the economy, and on wage labour and production. This broadening of the perspective was groundbreaking and led to a fundamental shift that engagement with Marx benefited from in its entirety: relations of production ought to be understood from the point of view of their social reproduction. Social reproduction concerns biological reproduction and its associated technologies and politics as much as gender relations; it is related to ideological reproduction as much as to issues of ecological reproduction and of natural and social resources; it concerns population policy as much as immigration. Feminism has thus brought an intersectionality to the critique of society, ensuring that the autonomy, but also the overlap between various forms of inequality and oppression is taken into account. But feminism has also undergone a process of differentiation and is now intersectionally active both in the realm of politics and in that of academia, particularly in the fields of gender and queer studies, migration, racism and Postcolonial Studies.

An overview of feminist Marxists and Marxist feminists can be found here. Additional information can be found in our overview of "Parties and Movements Following Marx," under the heading of "Marxism-feminism and the queer-feminist critique of economics.