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socialist feminism


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A synthesis of radical feminism and Marxism (particularly its New Left inflection) that challenges feminism's neglect of class and the Left's neglect of gender. Socialist feminism rejects radical feminism's central claim that patriarchy is the sole and universal source of the oppression of women, just as it rejects Marxism's claim that class and class struggle are the only determining factors in understanding the present situation. Socialist feminism argues that class and gender are mutually reinforcing systems of oppression (later critics of socialist feminism would add the reminder that race must also be taken into account). This is clear in the phrase ‘women's work’ which designates a type of work that only women can or should do and at the same time justifies the lowly pay scale assigned to it. Socialist feminism does not share, therefore, Simone de Beauvoir's foundational claim in Le Deuxième Sexe (1949), translated as The Second Sex (1952), that the transition to socialism predicted by historical materialism would in and of itself free women from their subordination to men.

Further Reading:

J. Mitchell Women: The Longest Revolution (1984).

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.


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