The Feminist Standpoint: Developing the Ground for a Specifically Feminist Historical Materialism

  • Nancy C. M. Hartsock
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 161)


The power of the Marxian critique of class domination stands as an implicit suggestion that feminists should consider the advantages of adopting a historical materialist approach to understanding phallocratic domination. A specifically feminist historical materialism might enable us to lay bare the laws of tendency which constitute the structure of patriarchy over time and to follow its development in and through the Western class societies on which Marx’s interest centered. A feminist materialism might in addition enable us to expand the Marxian account to include all human activity rather than focussing on activity more characteristic of males in capitalism. The development of such a historical and materialist account is a very large task, one which requires the political and theoretical contributions of many feminists. Here I will address only the question of the epistemological underpinnings such a materialism would require. Most specifically, I will attempt to develop, on the methodological base provided by Marxian theory, an important epistemological tool for understanding and opposing all forms of domination — a feminist standpoint.


Female Experience Marxian Theory Sexual Division Commodity Exchange Class Society 
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    Alvin Gouldner has made a similar argument in his contention that the Platonic stress on hierarchy and order resulted from a similarly learned opposition to daily life which was rooted in the young aristocrat’s experience of being taught proper behavior by slaves who could not themselves engage in this behavior. See Enter Plato (New York: Basic Books, 1965), pp. 351–355.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy C. M. Hartsock
    • 1
  1. 1.The Johns Hopkins UniversityUSA

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