Study Guide

The Communist Manifesto Women and Femininity

By Karl Marx

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Women and Femininity

In the Communist Manifesto, Marx uses the lens of class struggle to help us see how women's lives have been shaped by their place as an underclass within a class (the proletariat), since most of the labor performed by women is underpaid or unpaid care work (including sex work). Marx isn't sure if there are any genuine differences between men and women, differences that would exist no matter what kind of society existed. He thinks a lot of female behaviors are actually survival mechanisms for getting through class struggle rather than fixed differences.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. What differences have you observed in the workplace for how women workers are treated versus male workers? What about differences in the ways male bosses versus female bosses act? Do you think the differences are due to class struggle or something else, like personality, race, or culture? What would Karl Marx say?
  2. How does class struggle affect individuals who are transgendered? How does it affect individuals who identify as genderqueer (neither male nor female)? Marx didn't talk about any gender categories other than male or female.
  3. How might Marx's political views differ if he'd considered cooking, childbearing, and childrearing as the model for labor instead of factory work?

Chew on This

Women experience class struggle very differently from the way men experience it.

Women experience class struggle in mostly the same ways men do.

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