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Heather Brown, « Towards a Marxist theory of gender? », 2014

Heather Brown , Towards a Marxist theory of gender? (interview by Estelle Cooch), rs21: Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century, Autumn 2014.

Dans son livre de 2012, Heather Brown se situe dans un courant relativement anti-Engels. Ici, elle défend l’idée intéressante que le problème est qu’on exige du livre d’Engels plus que ce qu’il a jamais promis.

… it is not clear that Engels intended it [the Origin of the Family…] to have the importance for the women’s movement that it has. Perhaps Engels was just being modest when he wrote in the preface that this was simply to introduce Lewis Henry Morgan to European audiences, but it is still hard to make the case that Engels wrote this to explicate a fully worked out view of gender relations.

As some have argued, perhaps he was using this as a means to win over parts of the socialist movement that had been influenced by Bebel’s work. This is certainly a very strong possibility, but trying to win political points in the movement still does not mean that Engels expected this to be the treatise on matters of gender. In fact, he wrote it up very quickly and intended to go back to it later to revise for a new edition – something that never happened. Certainly, Capital and other matters occupied a good portion of his time, however, it seems highly questionable that this would be viewed by Engels in any other way than as a polemic, or as he says, as a primer on Morgan.