Is Feminism Yet a Theory of the Kind That Marxism Is?
On Catharine MacKinnon’s view, feminism aspires to be a theory of the kind that Marxism is: a theory of the organisation of the social world as sex hierarchy, just as Marxism is a theory of the organisation of the social world as class hierarchy. In 1982, MacKinnon observed that feminism was not yet such a theory, and set out to make it one. She did this by developing a theory of sexuality as to feminism what work is to Marxism. If one shares MacKinnon’s view that feminism aspires to be a theory of the kind that Marxism is, then one sees MacKinnon as, with her theory of sexuality, creating, albeit in beginning form, a feminist theory. One thus considers MacKinnon’s theory of sexuality a definitive moment in the history of feminist theory. Yet, for all its importance, no one, neither critics nor proponents, has analysed this theory on its own terms. It is therefore not clear whether MacKinnon’s theory of sexuality succeeds, and so whether feminism is yet a theory of the kind that Marxism is. In the spirit of progressing MacKinnon’s project, in this paper, I return to her theory and consider whether it succeeds.
Phelan, Kate M.. 2017. "Is Feminism Yet a Theory of the Kind That Marxism Is?." Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 3, (1). Article 2. doi:10.5206/fpq/2016.3.2.