chapter  six
28 Pages

The Feminist Standpoint: Developing the Ground for a Specifically Feminist Historical Materialism

WithNancy C.M. Hartsock

This chapter explores the Marxian argument that socially mediated interaction with nature in the process of production shapes both human beings and theories of knowledge. It suggests that the sexual division of labor forms and argues that on the basis of the structures which define women’s activity as contributors to subsistence and as mothers one could begin, though not complete, the construction of such an epistemological tool. The chapter shows how just as Karl Marx’s understanding of the world from the standpoint of the proletariat enabled him to go beneath bourgeois ideology, so a feminist standpoint can allow to understand patriarchal institutions and ideologies as perverse inversions of more humane social relations. The differential male and female life activity in class society leads on the one hand toward a feminist standpoint and on the other toward an abstract masculinity.