Marxism, Feminism, and Epistemological Dissonance

  • Abigail Bakan
Keywords: Marxism, feminism, gender, epistemology, socialist-feminism.


The analytical relationship between Marxism and feminism has engaged critical scholarship and leftist practice since the time of the foundational contributions of Marx and Engels. Socialist feminist analysis has profoundly advanced contemporary Marxism. However, some strands in Marxist theory and left practice continue to be resistant to feminist contributions. It is this resistance that animates this paper, which is theorized as epistemological dissonance. While not in any way universal, such dissonance is pervasive and suggests an epistemological framing. This is suggested to include four dimensions, regarding: (i) temporality; (ii) idealized masculinities; (iii) specific views of totality in relation to class, race and gender; and (iv) the relationship between activism and the academy. Collectively, these elements maintain and advance not only certain tenets understood as “knowledge”, but also generate a kind of problematic left common sense that can inhibit constructive Marxist and socialist feminist investigation.