Re: International Women's Day

Tue, 10 Mar 1998 01:53:48 -0800

>On Mon, 9 Mar 1998, T R Young wrote:
>> Martha Gimenez has written that the Manifesto paid little
>> attention to women and women's issues. I have just checked
>> the Red Feather Manifesto for Praxis Societies and have
>> found it lacking as well.

He continued: "It does note that capitalism externalizes costs to women
and it does call for alliance with feminist movements but
the kind of analysis which Martha, rightly, makes is lacking."

Martha replied:

>I am afraid you misunderstood my point; your interpretation is precisely
>the opposite of what I meant. This is what I actually said and I added
>some capital letters, explanations and quotation marks to make the point
>even clearer:
>I COULD indulge in a literal (meaning simple, atheoretical, common sense)
>and postmodern feminist reading of the Manifesto and ask, but what does it
>say about women? practically nothing. Marx is "obviously" sexist because
>he refers to men only and writes very little about women and what it says
>is related to women's position in the family, not in the workplace.
>BUT I DO NOT READ this document expecting a 19th century intellectual to
>write with late 20th century political sensitivities or political
>correctness. This is why I find charges of sexism as unproductive as
>charges of "eurocentrism."
>The Manifesto in fact paid a lot of attention to working women; I read it
>theoretically, not literally; given most women's place in the relations
>of production and the differential mortality between men and women, the
>majority of the world's propertyless waged and unwaged workers are women,
>so the Manifesto is certainly about them and for them.
>I will be happy to collaborate with you in revising your paper, but it
>should be clear that my view of the relevance of Marx's work for advancing
>the theoretical and political understanding of the "woman question" is

To charge Marx with sexism would indeed be unproductive; however, to analyze
how his sexism affected his work is a very needed project. I salute the Red
Feather Institute for their recognition of the necessity to ally with women,
and their willingness to put effort into incorporating feminism into their

With many other feminists, I have determined that Marx's analysis of
reproduction (the family) places it in a position subordinate to production
(labor). To me, such an analysis does not provide a basis upon which to make
common cause with the workers' movement.

I commend the Red Feather Institute for raising the idea that capitalism
externalizes costs to women. This idea is part of my re-definition of value,
i.e., that value is that which the capitalists accumulate by (1) taking
advantage of the exploitative practices and teachings of their institutions,
the church, the state, the family, and the school (racism, sexism, ageism,
etc.), and by maintaining a reserve army of unemployed; and (2)
externalizing the real costs of production to the family, nature, and the poor.

If anyone is interested in reading a 72K essay in which I begin to make my
argument, please email me and I will promptly send it to you.

Best regards,

Nancy Brumback
Core Faculty
New College of California
741 Valencia
San Francisco, CA 94110

P.S. To charge Marx with Eurocentrism would also indeed be unproductive, but
the same argument holds: in what way(s) has this bias affected his analysis
of history?