Reply: to MindAphid re feminist castigation Engels: In V1 #4880

Hari Kumar hari.kumar at
Fri Aug 2 17:19:35 MDT 2002

> Many & sincere thanks for your listings. It seems pretty comprehensive.


> Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2002 12:02:22 EDT
> From: MindAphid at
> Subject: feminist castigation of engels
> In a message dated 8/1/02 9:23:34 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
> owner-marxism-digest at writes:
> > 3) I have heard many feminists castigating Engels & Marx, & when asked
> >  for a specific refutation, have not been able to provide a decent text.
> the penguin edition of origins has an excellent introduction by michele
> barrett with a number of references and an overview of various arguments
> against engels (even takes on leacocks introduction to the international
> publishers edition).
> references:
> peter aaby, 'engels and women', critique of anthropology, vol 3, nos 9/10
> argues that engels was wrong for holding that 1) men were responsible for
> procuring the necessities of life in hunter/gather societies and 2) the
> development of herds preceded the growth of horticulture
> kate young and olivia harris, 'the subordination of women in cross-cultural
> perspective' in mary evans (ed.), the woman question (fontana, london, 1982)
> argue that engels was wrong in positing a connection between the
> hunter/gather form of production and a favorable status of women based on a
> survey of hunter/gather societies.  also argue that matrilineal systems
> cannot be seen as residual forms of matriarchial social organization, because
> in matrilineal systems inheritance goes from a man to his sisters son rather
> than from a mother to her daughter
> rosalind delmar, 'looking again at engels's origin of the family, private
> property and the state' in juliet mitchell and ann oakley (eds.), the rights
> and wrongs of women (penguin, harmondsworth, 1976)
> argues that 'none of the distinguishing categories engels [gave] the
> proletarian family in capitalist conditions are discernible today'
> felicity edholm et al., 'conceptualising women', critique of anthropology,
> vol. 3, nos. 9/10 (1977)
> michele barrett, women's oppression today: problems in marxist feminist
> analysis (verso, london, 1980)
> rosalind coward, patriarchial precendents: sexuality and social relations
> (routledge & kegan paul, london, 1983)
> argues that "engels used the family as an articulating concept between
> classes and the state, but by accepting it as a pre-given category he was
> prevented from looking at precisely what the notion of 'the family' always
> conceals: 'the analytic priority of the family subsumed any separate
> consideration of the division between the sexes as an antagonistic division.'"
> barrett also mentions sebastian timpanaro and his critique of the 19th
> century idea of inexorable progress in marxist thought which can be found to
> some extent in the origins scheme of barbarism-savagery-----civilization
> taken from morgan

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