Marxism is the political and social views of Karl Marx (1818 – 1883). His main theory revolves around the fact that he saw Capitalist society as being split into two groups, the Bourgeoisie (the Upper class) and the Proletarius (the Lower class). He described Capitalism as where the lower class sell their labor to those in the upper class in return for a wage that allowed them to purchase items sold by the upper class, thus increasing the profit of those in the upper class. Marx saw many problems with this kind of society, not least of which that he believed it was unfair. Marx layed out his ideals for a fair society in his book “Manifesto of the Communist Party” (1847). Marx believed that all Captalist societies would eventually evolve into fair communist or socialist societies.
Feminism began in the early 1960s in America, given a voice by the writer Betty Freidan, in her book “The Feminine Mystique”, though she didn’t give the issue a name. In 1961, The then-President of the USA commissioned an advisory report on the status of women’s equality in education, under the law, and in the workplace. Though the report – known as the Peterson Report – didn’t bring about immediate changes when it was published in 1963, it did give details of discrimination against women and all of these areas, and the many subsequent reports that followed helped to promote economic opportunities for women. Eventually, these ideas began to drift to other continents, and reached Britain in the mid 1960s, around 1967.
At the time that the beginning of feminist arguments reached Britain, British women were living in a very male-dominated state. On average, women earned only 54.8% of what their male counterparts earned, and often needed signatures from their fathers or husbands in order to take out credit, or purchase particularly expensive items. The debates in Britain intensified when, in 1968, female workers at the Dagenham Ford plant went on strike for equal pay. Around this time, articles and reports began appearing on how women were practically used as slave labour, and how their skills and were being wasted. A combination of these factors led to the Equal Pay act in 1970, and the Sex Discrimination Act in 1975. From here on, the feminist movement has snowballed.
In modern Britain, the gender equality gap, although significantly decreased, still exists. Women are paid on average 20% less than their male counterparts. Although there are now laws in place to prevent discrimination, and punish those that discriminate, there is still a large number of people who see women being below men, although this gap is closing.
Santi Tafarella (2012) Karl Marx for Beginners [online] Available From: https://santitafarella.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/karl-marx-for-beginners/ [Accessed: 11th February 2016]
Kira Cochrane (2013) 1963: the beginning of the feminist movement [online] Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/may/07/1963-beginning-feminist-movement [Accessed: 3rd March 2016]
Encyclopaedia Britannica (2016) Presidents Commission on the Status of Women [online] Availbale from: http://www.britannica.com/topic/Presidents-Commission-on-the-Status-of-Women [Accessed: 3rd March 2016]
BBC (2016) Firms forced to reveal gender pay gap [online] Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35553573 [Accessed: 3rd March 2016]