gender trumps class?

Xyxyxyyx (Xyxy) Xyyxyx xyxy at
Wed Aug 14 05:54:40 MDT 2002

That was the argument I was expecting someone to come back with. What
bothers me is that while this certainly speaks to the material wealth of
the wives involved, it deviates significantly from the classical Marxist
analysis of "class" which defines the individual's relationship to the
means of production. A wife of a CEO does not have ownership of the means
of production - her husband does. The wife of a factory worker is not
alienated from his labor - he is.

This is one of the fundamental reasons why we don't define class in terms
of how much one relatively "has". American workers, for instance have an
abundance of weath as compared to their counter-parts in the Third World,
and yet we define all workers as "working-class". The difference between
American workers and, say, Indonesian workers, is their relationship to the
Imperialist system. American workers live in an imperialist country, and
so, they reap the benefits of imperialist exploitation (to a certain extent
- to a certain extent it harms them too).

It's not directly analogous, but a housewife, for example who is married to
a CEO is not, in my opinion, a member of the "ruling class". She reaps the
benefits of ruling-class exploitation by living in the household with a
capitalist (but, like the American worker, she is in many ways "harmed" by
this relationship: she is dependant on him and loses a certain amount of
freedom because of that dependence, and she is relegated to a subservient -
and unpaid - role in the household economy).

To return to my question, why does Marxist literature refer to the
housewife (or wife, in general) in respect to her husband's profession and
not her own?

And if we are going to cite material wealth as the reason - how dare we not
distinguish between the "working-class" of the Western industrial
countries, and the Third World?


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