Socialist Feminism

Feminism is one of the movements that had more attention in the last decades, and there are many variations. Socialist Feminism is only one of the many. 

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Where was created the socialist feminist movement “Pan y Rosas”?

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Complete the following statement: “Socialist feminism based on _______ ideas to assert that class oppression made women second-class citizens."

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When was the Freedom Socialist Party created?

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According to socialist feminists, which is the leading cause of oppressive structures, such as racism and patriarchy?

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Read the following statement and say if it's true or false: "Socialists and socialist feminists tend to disagree with the emphasis on class politics, rather than focusing on other issues such as racial or sexual politics".

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Mark the key features of socialist Feminism in the options below:

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Read the following statement and say whether it is true or false: "Socialist feminists seek to achieve a gradual change among the existing capitalist structures".

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Which famous feminist theorist first used the term “Intersectionality”?

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Complete the following definition: “__________ is the theory that traditional culture may damage men, women, and society as the structure of society favours men”.

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What is the Dual System Theory?

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How is socialist Feminism different from other branches of Feminism?

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Where was created the socialist feminist movement “Pan y Rosas”?

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Complete the following statement: “Socialist feminism based on _______ ideas to assert that class oppression made women second-class citizens."

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  • Mo

When was the Freedom Socialist Party created?

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  • Mo

According to socialist feminists, which is the leading cause of oppressive structures, such as racism and patriarchy?

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  • Immunology
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  • Mo

Read the following statement and say if it's true or false: "Socialists and socialist feminists tend to disagree with the emphasis on class politics, rather than focusing on other issues such as racial or sexual politics".

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Mark the key features of socialist Feminism in the options below:

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Read the following statement and say whether it is true or false: "Socialist feminists seek to achieve a gradual change among the existing capitalist structures".

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  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

Which famous feminist theorist first used the term “Intersectionality”?

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  • Mo

Complete the following definition: “__________ is the theory that traditional culture may damage men, women, and society as the structure of society favours men”.

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  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

What is the Dual System Theory?

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How is socialist Feminism different from other branches of Feminism?

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Contents
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    However, it may be one of the most radical, aiming to restructure society completely to overthrow the patriarchy. Do you want to know how they sought to achieve that? Keep reading.

    Definition of socialist Feminism

    Socialist Feminism is an off-shoot of mainstream Feminism that emphasises the importance of class struggle in addressing social inequalities. Socialist feminists believe that pre-existing political, economic, and cultural structures must be challenged and rethought to create more fair and equal societies.

    Socialism is a political and economic doctrine which states that the community should own or regulate the means of production

    Socialist feminists draw attention to how patriarchy and racism are systematically oppressive structures that create structural gendered inequalities for women and gender variant individuals. According to them, capitalism is the reason behind all these oppressive structures.

    Capitalism is an economic and political system where individuals own property according to their interests and therefore control the demand and supply, setting prices according to the market.

    The central focus of socialist Feminism is to highlight how capitalism exacerbates the detrimental impacts of patriarchal structures and how patriarchy fuels the negative gender consequences of capitalism. Therefore, to challenge gender inequality, Socialist feminists argue capitalism, as the root of all oppression, must be challenged and dismantled with a socialist economic system put in its place.

    Socialist Feminism bases its views on the theory of class oppression in Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto.

    It must be noted that socialist Feminism seeks to challenge and dismantle other forms of oppression, such as racism, which compound and feed into the harmful effects of the patriarchy.

    "Socialist Feminism" was first used when the Chicago Women's Liberation Union published an essay called "Socialist Feminism: A Strategy for the Women's Movement."1

    The Chicago Women's Liberation Union was a feminist organisation born in Illinois from 1969 to 19772 that aimed to end the oppression system of women by those in power. They believed they could achieve this by redistributing power by changing expectations, job opportunities, child care, and women's education.

    The difference between Socialist Feminism and other branches of Feminism is that Socialist feminists seek to completely restructure and redefine existing political, economic, and social systems which allow for the oppression of women and gender variant individuals.

    Key features of socialist feminism

    We already know the definition and the purpose of socialist Feminism. Now we will deepen on the critical features of this movement.

    Intersectionality

    According to feminist historian Linda Gordon, Socialist Feminism is different. After all, it’s intersectional at its foundation, at least to some extent, because it considers both gender and class.

    In Feminism, intersectionality acknowledges that everyone has unique experiences of discrimination and oppression. It is a must to consider everything and anything that can marginalise people – gender, race, class, sexual orientation, physical ability, etc.

    The term was first used by Kimberlé Crenshaw, who studied how intersecting social identities in minority groups related to systems of oppression and discrimination.

    Under this term, Socialist Feminists incorporated the Black Feminists movement in the hands of Claudia Jones. Jones worked on the theory that women of colour experienced oppression based on race, class and gender, calling this "Triple Oppression"3.

    Jones's theory also highlighted how white women neglected to introduce women of colour in the socialist feminist movement effectively and proved deficient in this aspect.

    Gender roles and the division of labour

    Socialist feminists claim gendered division of labour is unnatural and a source of oppression. To foster more equitable societies, Socialist feminists aim to challenge social and economic systems which enforce gender roles. Below are some examples of socialist feminist critiques of gender roles:

    Reproductive gender roles: Motherhood and the gendered division of labour, according to socialist feminists, are the reason for women's exclusion from the public sphere and produce women's economic dependency on men.

    The heavy expectation that women perform all or most reproductive labour, such as childbirth, cleaning, cooking, and other tasks necessary to support human life, denies women the ability to participate in economic activity outside the home.

    Socialist feminists such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman considered the professionalisation of housework as critical to their liberation from the circumstances of work as a mother and homemakers.

    Relationship with men

    It is crucial to note that while socialist Feminism opposes patriarchy, it does not oppose men. It is a commonly misunderstood element of Feminism in general. In the end, socialist feminists don't hate men. Instead, they oppose patriarchy and capitalism as two oppressive systems.

    According to socialist feminists, toxic masculinity harms individuals across society regardless of their gender identity. Pressure on males to conform to gender roles, particularly a gender binary, contributes to the crisis of rape culture and the normalisation of violence against women.

    Toxic Masculinity is the theory that traditional culture may be damaging to men, women, and society as a whole as it is structured in favour of men. Its goal isn't to blame male individuals but rather the explain the negative consequences of a patriarchal system.

    Socialist feminist politics argues that this normalised behaviour is another element of the patriarchy's gender construction designed to damage women.

    Socialist feminists seek to restructure all economic and social foundations of patriarchal and capitalist systems

    So on, the socialist feminism theory advocates for a radical change of the oppressive structures to liberate women to end the negative consequences of the patriarchal system, which makes women economically dependent on male individuals due to an uneven balance of wealth.

    Socialist feminism theory

    Socialist Feminism is based on Karl Marx's ideas to assert that class oppression made women second-class citizens and, with the change of the capitalist system, they could regain their rights. Frederick Engels, a famous political theorist, echoed Marx, arguing that women would be oppressed if they kept their roles within the nuclear family construct.

    However, socialist Feminism went even more profound, saying that gender oppression isn't due to being part of an oppressed class but rather a Dual System theory.

    The Dual System theory combines features of marxism and radical Feminism into one idea. It believes that social power degenerated into a patriarchal system of gender oppression and a different system of economic class exploitation, capitalism.

    The concept that the cause of women's subjugation is systems connected to race, social class, gender, sexuality, and nation is at the centre of socialist feminist philosophy. As a result, socialist feminists are concerned with a broad spectrum of oppressions rather than only the sex/gender system.

    However, socialists and socialist feminists tend to disagree with the emphasis of socialism on class politics, which is the core of its ideology, rather than focusing on other issues such as racial or sexual politics.

    Examples of Socialist Feminism

    The most remarkable example of Socialist Feminism is the books and essays that backed the theory. The most popular are:

    Author

    Title

    Year of Publication

    Mary Wollstonecraft

    A vindication of the rights of Woman

    1792

    Carol Hanisch

    The Personal is Political

    1969

    Hyde Park Chapter (Chicago Women’s Liberation Union

    Socialist Feminism: A Strategy for the Women’s Movement

    1972

    Table 1 – Examples of Socialist Feminism.

    However, several movements put the theory into practice. We will deepen about them in the following section.

    Socialist Feminism groups

    In the last decades, many socialist feminist groups have aroused to fight for women's rights. Below, we will talk about some of the most remarkable groups:

    Pan y Rosas (Bread and Roses)

    Organisation Pan y Rosas Socialist Feminism Examples of Socialist feminism StudySmarterFig. 1 – Organisation Pan y Rosas.

    Pan y Rosas is a feminist organisation created in Argentina which advocates for women's liberation through a socialist approach. The organisation has 3,500 active members in Argentina4, most of whom are Worker's Socialist Party members.

    The name "Pan y Rosas' 5 recalls a protest produced in Lawrence, Massachusetts, whose name was "Bread and Roses". The bread symbolises a decent wage, while roses symbolise a dignified life for women.

    Its foundation dates to 2003, the 18th National Women Convention in Rosario[6], Argentina. The organisation has already spread through the rest of Latin America and Spain.

    Freedom Socialist Party

    Freedom Socialist Party logo Socialist Feminism StudySmarterFig. 2 – Freedom Socialist Party logo.

    The Freedom Socialist Party is a Marxist organisation based in the United States. It advocates for racial freedom, women's liberation, LGTBI equality and universal civil rights.

    This party was created in 1966 in Seattle6, at the peak of the protests against the Vietnam War. The organisation currently has sections in the US and Australia and members in England, Germany and New Zealand.

    Radical Women

    Radical Women is a socialist feminist movement founded in the US that believes in multi-issue organising around the needs of the most marginalised. It is the extremist wing of the US feminist movement.

    Radical Women has an international chapter in El Salvador called "Mujeres Radicales Cuzcatlecas" 7.

    It emerged in Seattle, United States, as a grassroots movement backed by a group of revolutionary feminists in 1967. In its early years, the campaign organised strikes against low wages and worked alongside African-Americans in social programs.

    Socialist feminism criticism

    Socialist Feminism is a revolutionary wing of the feminist movement. We now have discussed its theory and examples of groups representing this doctrine. Now we will explain all we need to know about the criticisms and flaws of its theory.

    Socialist feminists created the dual systems theory, explained above, and it's the source of most criticism, as this theory fails to define other types of oppression, such as racial oppression.

    Socialist Feminism has confronted the issues of class and gender head-on, but it has often been blind to race, sexuality, and disability. Critics say that to comprehend our society, other forms of oppression must consider, including the causes of inequality and the heterogeneity of women as a class.

    To the detriment of other aspects of women's lives, such as sexuality, violence, or abortion, socialist Feminism has emphasised the economic part of gender inequality. The focus of this feminist movement has been on economic oppression because autonomous feminist struggles have been perceived as bourgeois and likely to produce conflicts between poor women and men.

    Although socialist Feminism is intersectional, many feminists, particularly women of colour, criticised the movement for issues connected to racial equality.

    Socialist Feminism - Key takeaways

    • Socialist Feminism is a theory of Feminism that emphasises the importance of class struggle in addressing social inequalities.

    • The key features of Socialist Feminist are intersectionality, women's relationship with men and the women's position in the workplace.

    • Socialist Feminism is based on Karl Marx's ideas to assert that class oppression made women second-class citizens and, with the change of the capitalist system, they could regain their rights.

    • An example of Socialist Feminism is the Socialist Feminism: A Strategy for the Women's Movement essay of the Chicago Women's Liberation Union.

    • Socialist Feminism has confronted the issues of class and gender head-on, but it has often been blind to race, sexuality, and disability.


    References

    1. Chicago Women’s Liberation Union, “Socialist feminism, a strategy for the Women’s Movement” (1972).
    2. Chicago Women’s Liberation Union HerStory, “Feminism Curriculum and Archive” (2022).
    3. Wills, "Claudia Jones' "Triple Oppression" Concept" (2022).
    4. Gomes, “Socialist Feminism in practice: learning from Pan y Rosas” (2017).
    5. Gomes, “Socialist Feminism in practice: learning from Pan y Rosas” (2017).
    6. Gomes, “Socialist Feminism in practice: learning from Pan y Rosas” (2017).
    7. Freedom Socialist Party, “About Us”, (2022).
    8. Radical Women, “History and Ideas” (N/A).
    9. Table 1 – Examples of Socialist Feminism.
    10. Fig. 1 – Pan y Rosas (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d5/Pan_y_Rosas.png) by Adriel Ricardo Morales (https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Adriel_ricardo_morales&redirect=no) licensed by CC-BY-SA-4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en).
    11. Fig. 2 – Freedom Socialist Party logo (visible) (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a6/Freedom_Socialist_Party_logo_%28visible%29.png) by Freedom Socialist Party (https://socialism.com/) licensed by PD textlogo (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Template_talk:PD-textlogo).
    Frequently Asked Questions about Socialist Feminism


    What is socialist feminism?

    It is a theory of Feminism that emphasises the importance of class struggle in addressing social inequalities.

    What is the main idea of socialist Feminism?

    The main goal of the Socialist Feminist movement was to rebuild a more equally inclusive society,  not only for women but for other genders.


    What is the difference between a Marxist feminist and socialist Feminism?

    The main difference between Marxist Feminism and Socialist Feminism is that while Marxists believed women’s oppression was due to a capitalist system, Socialist Feminists thought it was due to a patriarchal system.

    What is an example of socialist Feminism?

    An example of Socialist Feminism is the Socialist Feminism: A Strategy for the Women’s Movement essay of the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union.

    How is socialist Feminism different?

    Socialist Feminism differs from other branches of Feminism because of its revolutionary views about women's liberation against patriarchal oppression.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Where was created the socialist feminist movement “Pan y Rosas”?

    When was the Freedom Socialist Party created?

    According to socialist feminists, which is the leading cause of oppressive structures, such as racism and patriarchy?

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