Feminist Theory and the Critique of Class

  • Robin Truth Goodman


From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, there was a vibrant debate within feminist scholarship in both the humanities and the social sciences about the relationship between Marxist theory and feminism. Following on Juliet Mitchell’s call in the late 1960s for a socialist criticism that took seriously “the subordination of women and the need for their liberation,”1 feminists tried to grapple with concepts like ideology, exchange, labor, and class struggle, and ask if and when they could be applied to oppressions in women’s social conditions, collected under the umbrella term of patriarchy, or if women’s forms of subordination were so culturally specific that they needed their own, independent rubric.2 Feminists also contested that the capitalist-proletariat relationship posed by Marx made class into a singular, overriding, and abstract concept for identity that wiped out both difference and experience. Heidi Hartmann, for example, famously reproves, “the categories of Marxism are sex-blind.”3 In about 1985, such inquiry lost its fervor.


Single Mother Feminist Theory Class Struggle Marxist Theory Unpaid Labor 
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© Ron Scapp and Brian Seitz 2013

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  • Robin Truth Goodman

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