Dominique Meeùs
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Heidi Hartmann, « The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism », 1981

Heidi Hartmann , The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism : Towards a more Progressive Union, Women & Revolution (Lydia Sargent, ed.) Black Rose Books (Montréal, Canada) , 1981, p. 1-41 (of xxx + 373 pages).

Earlier drafts of this essay appeared in 1975 and 1977 coauthored with Amy B. Bridges. Unfortunately, because of the press of current commitments, Amy was unable to continue with this project, joint from its inception and throughout most of its long and controversial history. Over the years many indiviuals and groups offered us comments, debate, and support. Among them I would like to thank Marxist Feminist Group I, the Women’s Studies College at SUNY Buffalo, the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Michigan, various groups of the Union for Radical Political Economics, and Temma Kaplan, Anne Markusen, and Jane Flax for particularly careful, recent readings. A version substantially similar to the current one was published in Capital and Class in the summer of 1979. I would like to thank the editors of Capital and Class, Lydia Sargent, and other members of South End Press for their interest in this essay.

Bas de la page 2.

Dans la common law anglaise, l’homme et la femme ne font qu’un… et ce un-là, c’est l’homme, dit-on. Hartmann examine si on peut mieux équilibrer le mariage entre marxisme et féminisme, qui, le plus souvent, chez les marxistes, ne font qu’un : le marxisme. Certains efforts d’intégration marxistes du féminisme conduisent à subordonner les luttes féministes aux luttes contre le capital.

Many marxists typically argue that feminism is at best less important than class conflict and at worst divisive of the working class. This political stance produces an analysis that absorbs feminism into the class struggle. Moreover, the analytic power of marxism with respect to capital has obscured its limitations with respect to sexism. We will argue here that while marxist analysis provides essential insight into the laws of historical development, and those of capital in particular, the categories of marxism are sex-blind. Only a specifically feminist analysis reveals the systemic character of relations between men and women. Yet feminist analysis by itself is inadequate because it has been blind to history and insufficiently materialist. Both marxist analysis, particularly its historical and materialist method, and feminist analysis, especially the identification of patriarchy as a social and historical structure, must be drawn upon if we are to understand the development of western capitalist societies and the predicament of women within them.

P. 2-3.

Pour Marx dans le Capital, l’échange gomme tout caractère concret du travail et le concept marxiste de travail abstrait est donc bien, parce que c’est un trait essentiel du capitalisme, « sex-blind ». Marx parle assez bien du travail des femmes dans le Capital, mais on n’y trouvera pas explicitement de féminisme marxiste. (Un concept fondamental pour un féminisme marxiste qu’on trouvera dans le Capital, c’est la valeur de la force de travail.) Cependant, c’est une erreur de débutant de réduire Marx et le marxisme au Capital. Hartmann le dit plus loin :

Marxism is also a method of social analysis, historical dialectical materialism. By putting this method to the service of feminist questions, Juliet Mitchell and Shulamith Firestone suggest new directions for marxist feminism.

P. 11.

1. Marxism and the woman question

The woman question has never been the “feminist question”. The feminist question is directed at the causes of sexual inequality between women and men, of male dominance over women. Most marxist analyses of women’s position take as their question the relationship of women to the economic system, rather than that of women to men, apparently assuming the latter will be explained in their discussion of the former.

P. 3-4.

Elle dit sans doute à juste titre « most marxist analyses », mais il y a cependant des exceptions notoires. Dans The Woman Question (1886), Eleanor Marx (avec Edward Aveling) considère dès le début les relations entre hommes et femmes, par seulement des femmes au capital.

Engels argued further that as the extension of wage labor destroyed the small-holding peasantry, and women and children were incorporated into the wage labor force along with men, the authority of the male head of household was undermined, and patriarchal relations were destroyed3.

For Engels, then, women’s participation in the labor force was the key to their emancipation. Capitalism would abolish sex differences and treat all workers equally. Women would become economically independent of men and would participate on an equal footing with men in bringing about the proletarian revolution. After the revolution, when all people would be workers and private property abolished, women would be emancipated from capital as well as from men. Marxists were aware of the hardships women’s labor force participation meant for women and families, which resulted in women having two jobs, housework and wage work. Nevertheless, their emphasis was less on the continued subordination of women in the home than on the progressive character of capitalism’s “erosion” of patriarchal relations. Under socialism housework too would be collectivized and women relieved of their double burden.

The political implications of this first marxist approach are clear. Women’s liberation requires first, that women become wage workers like men, and second, that they join with men in the revolutionary struggle against capitalism. Capital and private property, the early marxists argued, are the cause of women’s particular oppression just as capital is the cause of the exploitation of workers in general.

Though aware of the deplorable situation of women in their time the early marxists failed to focus on the differences between men’s and women’s experiences under capitalism. They did not focus on the feminist questions-how and why women are oppressed as women. They did not, therefore, recognize the vested interest men had in women’s continued subordination.

3.
Frederick Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1958 [1968: 386 pages] See esp. pp. 162-66 and p. 296. [Mais je n’ai pas cette édition. Les p. 162-166 pourraient être les passages déchirants du chapitre Single Branches of Industry (MECW 4:436…), Les différentes branches d’industrie.]
P. 4-5.

Elle résume pas trop mal une partie des idées marxiste, mais, dans le même élan, elle en fait une critique qui correspond mal à ce qu’elle expose.