Socialist Feminist: Introduction, Basis and Role of Historic Materialism

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  • 1970s
  • Women՚s subordination due to social relations
  • Dual knowledge i.e.. mix of Radical (patriarchy is the cause) and Marxian theory
  • Called Capitalist Patriarchy based on domination or Subordinance by Dominant
  • Patriarchy + economic resources lead to oppression of women
  • There is something timeless and universal about women՚s oppression
  • Analyzed the connection between the oppression of women and other oppressions in society like racism and economic injustice.
  • class and gender are symbiotic


  • Oppression of women
  • Location and experiences to know about domination
  • Men command women in family
  • In primitive society, women enjoyed more autonomy doing small work

Role of Historic Materialism

  • Hallmark of this theory
  • Linked with Patriarchy and domination
  • In old times, privileged women oppressed poor women
  • Confrontation of prejudices and oppressive practices

Role of Capital

  • Due to surplus produce, economic factor changed
  • Men gained strength and physical power by hunting, farming and herding
  • Biological root of male supremacy
  • Gained systematic advantage over women
  • Led to emergence of ‘male class’ and ‘property’
  • Men became property owners and women became labours and slaves
  • Led to domination of labour through exploitation
  • To counter this, Marx suggested destruction of property rights, class consciousness and a revolution
  • Origin of patriarchy is property relations (one group claims, other produces)
  • Men had control over resources
  • Owners gained: capital wealth Infrastructure
  • Source of oppression – Class relation under Capitalist economy
  • Humans are not just producers of goods
  • Exploitative arrangement
  • E. g. in family. Unpaid, invisible
  • Focus on social inequality
  • Cultural materialism: Role of media

Dorothy E. Smith

  • Stand point theory
  • Relations on ruling
  • Controlling women
  • Ideal body, ideal wife.
  • Male dominated society ignores the women՚s world
  • Women՚s duties seen as natural parts of society not as an addition to culture.
  • Asking questions from a female՚s perspective
  • Issue to adapt to the view of the dominant group
  • It creates oppression and leads marginalized group feeling alienated from their “true” selves.
  • Other thinkers: Clara Zetkin, Emma Goldman, Donna Haraway, Silvia Federici, Selma James, Sheila Row Botham, Sylvia Walby, etc.


  • Global solidarity
  • Safety net of education, health care, etc.
  • Awareness and visibility
  • Reduce social inequalities based on sexuality, reproduction, etc.
  • Aim to work with men to achieve a level playing field for both genders.


Q. 1. Which feminist theory is characterized by the belief that patriarchy is the major and universal cause of women՚s oppression?

(A) Socialist Feminism

(B) Liberal Feminism

(C) Cultural Feminism

(D) Radical Feminism

Ans. D

Q. 2. Which feminist thought suggest that gender equality can be realized by eliminating the cultural notion of gender?

(A) Post-modern Feminism

(B) Radical Feminism

(C) Neo-classical Feminism

(D) Socialist Feminism

Answer: (B)

Q. 3. Women are highly concentrated in low paying jobs ________ this exemplifies

(A) Matriarchy

(B) Sexual Harassment

(C) Feminization of Poverty

(D) Institutional Sexism

Answer: (D)