Gilman’sTheory and Marx’s Theory
Gilman’sTheory and Marx’s Theory
CharlotteGilman (1860-1935) was a prominent American sociologist, feminist,novelist, and a lecturer for social reform. During her adulthood,Gilman served as a role model to the young generation due to herunorthodox concepts and lifestyle. She was also a utopian feministwith extraordinary accomplishment (Appelrouthand Edles, 2008).She focused most of her work on gender stratification, and shebelieved that the American economic arrangement were responsible forthe gendered division of labour. She argued that the economicarrangement produced “sexuo-economic arrangement.” This meansthat males were the master class of economy while women weresubordinate class of the economy. On the other hand, Karl Marx(1818-1883), was an American economist, philosopher, journalist,sociologist, and revolutionary socialist (Appelrouthet. al., 2008).Marx theories are commonly based on the society, politics, andeconomics. Marx believes that a society progress through classstruggle the conflict between ownership and labouring classes thatcontrol production and provides labour production respectively. Thisessay compares and contrasts Gilman’s theory as to the oppressionof women in patriarchy with the Marx’s theory as to how and whyworkers are oppressed under capitalism.
BothGilman and Marx’s theories share similar views to conflicts andclass struggle. Gilman saw gender conflict between men and womenwhile Marx saw conflict between owners of production (bourgeoisie)and the workers (proletariat). In this two context, women and workersare seen as inferior and are demeaned. The two theories advocate forsocial reforms for the women and workers (Ritzer,2011).Marx urged that eliminating privilege would increase the overallwelfare of the society. Correspondingly, it would enhance trueequality between the two classes. It was so unfortunate that theowners of productions (privileged group) worked to maintained theirprivileges while the workers (disadvantaged group) work to attainmore. The privileged group makes all the profits while the workerstrade their labour for basic needs such as food, shelter, andclothing.
Similarly,Gilman advocated for women social reform. She was against theinequalities intrinsic in the society that excluded women from jobopportunities. The society confined them to stay at home, do housechores, and take care of their husband and children. In return, theywere only compensated with a roof over their heads. They solelydepended on their husbands since they had no income. Gilman believedthat both men and women should be treated equally without any kind ofdiscrimination. Both Marx and Gilman saw the power struggle in thesociety and they both advocated for equality (Allen,2011).Marx theory analyses class conflict in capitalist society where maleis the capitalist or bourgeoisie. Similar to Gilman theory, mencontrol most of the society power, prestige, and wealth. Besides,women are classified as proletarians that are equivalent to workersaccording to Gilman theory. Likewise, women follow dictation toacquire valuable wealth. Gilman argues that division of labour isinherently problematic since it only makes women entirely dependenton men. Women economic and social value is derived from men. Asworkers, labour benefits the owner of production, so does the wifelabour benefits her husband.
Inaddition, both Gilman and Marx believed that the essence of humanself-realization is a substantial work. For instance, Gilman believesthat gender discrimination lead to neglect hence, women may fail toutilize their full potential. To prove his argument, Gilman analysedeconomic and political factors that produced gender inequality.Unlike Marx, he did not focus o the negativity of capitalist. Heemphasized how discrimination leads to gender inequality.
Incontrast to Marx, Gilman theory focuses more on women and theirisolation from the society. According to Ritzer(2011),women are isolated since their work is non-productive. He believesthat the modern sexuo-economic arrangement is wasteful in terms ofproductivity and efficiency. She is against the ideas that women arehomemakers while men are breadwinners. According to her, the onlysolution is economic emancipation of women, which involves openingjob opportunities for women in the public sphere. Additionally, thereshould be rational dismantling of the household. In other words,there should be professionalization of household work for instance,food service and childcare. Women should leave household chores andbecome wage/salary earners.
Onthe other hand, Marx idea of capitalism is that anything can becommodity if it makes a profit. He believes as long as everything andanything have a price then, money should be equivalent to power(Allen,2011).He argues that although money cannot buy everything, one cannot getanything without it. He believes capitalism is a form of exploitationagainst the working class. Therefore, working class should beoverthrown. He argues that turning labour into a commodity for salealienates workers by amputating the power of production. In addition,it collectivizes workers into mass assembly lines hence, offeringthem an opportunity to unite against the capitalists. Further, Marxtheory argues women requires feminist to fight against capitalism.Women and workers are the disadvantaged and marginalized grouphence, there is need for them to gain reverence from men and thesociety.
Allen,J. A. (2011). Charlotte Perkins Gilman. TheWiley-Blackwell Companion to Major Social Theorists: Classical SocialTheorists, Volume 1,283-304.
Appelrouth,S., & Edles, L. D. (2008). Classicaland contemporary sociological theory: Text and readings.Los Angeles, Calif: Pine Forge Press.
Ritzer,George (2011). Classical Sociological Theory, (6th Ed). Boston:McGraw Hill. (ISBN: 978-0-07-802665-2) (pbk). E-Book.