Socialist Feminism

Socialist feminism emerged as a branch of the feminist movement during the 1960s and 1970s which focused on liberating women by restraining economic, cultural and political forces that oppressed women. The theory of socialist feminism expands the Marxist idea of feminism, which focuses on the role played by capitalism in the oppression of women. Socialist feminism has a different ideology as compared to radical feminism, which claims that patriarchy is the main source for the oppression of women. On the other hand, socialist feminism claims that the economic reliance of women on men is the main reason why they are unable to become independent.

They are not financially independent because of the unequal distribution of wealth. They believe that financial dependence is the main reason for women’s dependence on males. Moreover, socialist feminist believe that women independence is a prerequisite for their political, social and economic justice. They tried to integrate the women’s freedom struggle with the discriminatory system-based class, race, gender and financial status.[1]

Need for Socialist Feminism

The market and industry survive on unpaid labour that is done by women in the home and low waged work that is done by women. The discrimination that women face is further intensified with the second-class treatment they face and their misery is further exaggerated. This indicates the significant role that is played by women, especially women struggling for a revolutionary change.[2]

It is both men and women that play a vital role in the unequal relationship of women. The domination of women lays the foundation for the ruling or elite class to exploit the working class males and females belonging to different nationalities and sexual orientation. The capitalistic system must be overthrown for the independence of women, children and men for their economic independence. When the working-class men fight for the rights of women, they know that they are representing all people who are exploited inclusive of them.[3]

Socialist feminist believe that they would overthrow the capitalism and oppression of women would be overcome. It seeks to overthrow the current system of concentrated wealth with a system in which the need of people belonging to the majority is met. It also ensures that the fight for equality of women is done by people who are lowest paid and oppressed, it would ensure that there is a victory of everyone, it tries to ensure that there is economic equality and there is equal growth. Staunch supporters of capitalism believe that capitalism will survive forever and men and women have lived in communal societies, where they share their roles and their respective parts were equally valued.

Socialist Feminist Ideology

In the book Origin of Family, Private property and the state Frederick Engels put forward the idea of moderns’ socialist feminism. He said that before the rise of private property, class distinction, slavery and patriarchy there was a communal, matriarchal system that existed in the society. He even focused on the economic, social, cultural and political role played by women which highlighted the egalitarian form of society.[4]

The radical feminists focus more on imbalances that exist between genders. They believe that sexual disparity is the main basis of the oppression of women. Radical feminism may be intricately related to different forms of feminism. There are different types of feminism and there are identical concerns, but there are different remedies and solution varies.  But the socialist feminist claim that women are not able to become independent because they are financially dependent on males. These conditions are expressed through patriarchal and capitalist relations. Socialist feminism opposes the idea of separatism. The socialist feminism tries to focus women and men on an equal footing. Cultural feminism is referred to as pretentious by socialist feminists.

We accentuate personal circumstance since we feel that as of late the development has escaped from considering it or what moves women to act, or what moves us to act vision alone currently manages us dynamically. We contend it, we live it, and we see it. Be that as it may, we can’t generally depend on it. We raise the subject of personal responsibility to protect that we truly are addressing women’s needs.[5]

Be that as it may, we don’t underline personal responsibility in any restricted sense. The personal circumstance isn’t only the amassing of all physical and solid needs. We realize ladies don’t live by bread alone and need profoundly for themselves as well as other people the delight in culture and connections that express their expectations and achievements. It implies bringing into being and perceiving our awareness, culture and control of the general public.[6]

During the late 19th century and early 20th century, Eleanor and Clara Zetkin advocated a proletariat revolution and tried to overcome as many men- women inequalities as possible. According to Socialist feminist ownership of private property is the reason for inequality and domination and political and struggle that exists between the genders, it is the main cause for the oppression of women in the current scenario.[7]


In program theoretical social objectives are given solid structure. There is a need to pick issues for immediate effects for which women can come and join this movement. It was insisted by Marx that class oppression would be overpowered, then sexual discrimination would disappear simultaneously. This idea of the perspective of class oppression in very naïve as per the social feminists who claim that women are persecuted because of their financial domination by males and these practices started around the mid-1970s, the study revealed that the discrimination would end when women become economically independent. The communist women’s activist case that mistreatment is knowledgeable about endless ways outside of just sex. Accordingly, women of every single distinctive foundation cooperated to scrutinize their jobs in the economy and at home and discussion their conceptive rights.

At the same time, it embedded a communist idea of women’s minimization in entrepreneur financial structures into liberal women’s activist contentions proposing that changing laws and perspectives, however not monetary structures, would make equity for women.  For communist women activists, an examination that stands up to is that just male control on financial decisions is inadequate in clarifying or modifying women’s underestimated status.[8]

We should create approaches in such a way that matches the interests of women in accordance with our vision. With technique and battle for momentary objectives, women can come to see a long-haul personal responsibility. Theoretical social objectives are characterized and given solid structure in the program. We ought to pick issues for our immediate activity around which, women will join together, can win, and on which their perspectives on what is favorable to them will change.

[1] Why socialist feminism, last accessed 8 June 2020

[2] Catherine S, Socialist Feminism: Definition and overview,, last accessed 9 June 2020

[3] ibid

[4] Gordon, L. (2013). Socialist Feminism: The Legacy of the “Second Wave”. New Labor Forum, 22(3), from, last accessed 9 June 2020

[5] ibid

[6] Supra note 1 

[7] Hyde Park, Socialist Feminism,, last accessed 9 June 2020

[8] Harriss, Kathryn. “New Alliances: Socialist-Feminism in the Eighties.” Feminist Review, no. 31, 1989, pp. 34–54. JSTOR,, last accessed 9 June 2020

Bhavik Jain from Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: