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What is Marxist feminism?

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Quick Answer

Marxist Feminism refers to a particular feminist theory focusing on the ways in which women are oppressed through capitalist economic practices and the system of private property. According to this theory, women are exploited in the home and in the workplace because much of their labor is uncompensated.

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Full Answer

The gendered division of labor is one of the most important issues in Marxist Feminism. It is recognized that there are two types of labor present in a capitalist economic system: productive labor and reproductive labor. Productive labor refers to labor or work resulting in services and goods that have monetary value within the capitalist economic system. As a result, the producers of these goods and services earn money for their labor. Reproductive labor (occasionally referred to as unproductive labor) refers to things that people do to take care of themselves rather than for the purpose of earning money. This is often defined to include cooking, cleaning and raising children.

What Marxist Feminism points out is that in capitalist economies, reproductive labor is usually considered to be exclusively women's labor. This creates a system in which women's labor is separated from men's labor, and is considered to be less valuable because it does not earn monetary compensation. Supporters of this theory believe that because women's labor is devalued, women as a group are devalued and oppressed. In order to overcome this system of economic oppression, Marxist feminists support a radical reconstruction of the capitalist economy.

There are several arguments against this theory of feminism. Opponents point out that many societies were structured around the idea of men as the supreme authorities long before capitalism came into the picture, so it seems wrong to cite capitalism as a cause of this societal structure. It is also difficult for this feminist theory to explain female oppression in countries that do not operate under a capitalist economic system.

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