Capitalism Has Led to the Exploitation of Women

The definition of capitalism, according to marxism, is a socio-economic system based on privatized production and the exploitation of the labor force. In the capitalistic society of today with a free market economy and little government control a group will always be exploited by the privatized sector. This is a flaw of capitalism that can be distinguished all around us if looking close enough. If the exploited are a marginalized group, affects are spotted in modern-day culture. Unpaid labor by women is supported by society; the notion of what a woman symbolizes is seen throughout American culture and for equality among genders to occur, a breakdown of capitalism has to happen. 

Slavery is the most notable example of an exploitation of labor. The economic success of the United States is built on slavery by the extensive exportation of cash crops and the plantation system. This contributes to having a developed and thriving economy, which has been part of society since the beginning of plantation systems. In this case of a prosperous economy, the exploited were the slaves. A group is always exploited under capitalism, particularly by the privatized businesses (the foundations of capitalism).

The idea of exploitation can be shifted to gender instead of skin color. In the past, women were seen as objects for reproductive capabilities. The industrial revolution and plantation systems were built by women. In an article called “The Women of History and Capitalism,” by Tom Cutterham, without the mothering and production of humans, the labor force to power boosts in innovations and economies could never have happened. Yet women in slavery still got raped and sexually assaulted with their rapists being able to get away with the breach in consent– and are still celebrated today. Thomas Jefferson is the third president of the United States and is a “Founding Father of America.” However, rapist and slave owner are often forgotten in his list of achievements. Thomas Jefferson sexually assaulted “his” slave, Sally Hemmings, yet is still seen as a hero of America. Women were looked at as a means of production in a way that failed to give inherent equality and justice to inhumane crimes.

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The unpaid labor of stay-at-home women in society thrives off capitalism. Household chores are unpaid labor; this includes reproductive and domestic standards women have to fill in our current society. Because of this, the gender inequity gap is increased along with a lack of economic empowerment, according to findings of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Women who spend more time in unpaid labor can’t go and get an education or job; doing household tasks, recreational activities, reproduction and working takes up an impossible amount of time. This leaves the female at a disadvantage to get educated and work in market-based activities compared to a man.

Because capitalism has been predominantly patriarchal, women have only been seen as a body. In times past and modern-day, women are essential to a man’s power; having a wife conveys stability, starting a family and settling down. This key idea has made a man seem mature and responsible because they now have to “take care” of a wife and kids. The males maturity in current society solidifies his power in the relationship and to the outside world. If you look at people such as Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton goes hand in hand, just like Barack and Michelle Obama. This isn’t negating the great things these women have done; however, they are always attached to their male counterparts rather than being individual. 

Feminism as a construct rivals capitalism. Feminism disturbs the system to get equitable rights for women and equal opportunities. With capitalism today, this has not worked. Feminism is trying to solve the issue of gender inequality that has plagued this society. The private sector that runs the corporations making the gender wage gap has yet to effectively address this issue in society. This problem has yet to be addressed by the privatized sector which leaves the government to get involved to create change, that takes away from capitalism as a construct. 

In no way is this an argument to move to socialism or communism. Capitalism is ingrained into all aspects of our lives; therefore, that argument would be null. In a perfect world gender inequality wouldn’t exist. That is not the reality of today. Instead, the question arises, when will this society truly have gender equality in a capitalist society?