Marx and Feminism

  • Silvia Federici Hofstra University
Keywords: Karl Marx, 200th birthday, anniversary, feminism, gender


This contribution focuses on aspects of feminism and gender in Marx’s theory. Marx’s methodology has given us the tools and the categories enabling us to think together gender and class, feminism and anti-capitalism. However, his contribution is an indirect one because Marx never developed a theory of gender. It is important to include the role of reproductive labour, slave labour, migrant labour, labour in the Global South and the unemployed in the critical analysis of capitalism and its division of labour. Reproductive labour is the largest activity on this planet and a major ground of divisions within the working class. A different Marx was discovered in the 1970s by feminists who turned to his work searching for a theory capable of explaining the roots of women’s oppression from a class viewpoint. The result has been a theoretical revolution that has changed both Marxism and Feminism. What was redefined by the realisation of the centrality of women’s unpaid labour in the home to the production of the work-force was not domestic work alone but the nature of capitalism itself and the struggle against it. This meant to turn Marx upside down to make his work important for feminism.

Author Biography

Silvia Federici, Hofstra University

Silvia Federici is a Marxist-feminist theorist, writer and activist. She co-founded the Interna- tional Feminist Collective in the early 1970s and helped starting the Wages for Housework Campaign together with Selma James, Mariarosa Dalla Costa and others. She is the author of the books Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation and Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle.

Karl Marx @ 200: Debating Capitalism & Perspectives for the Future of Radical Theory