Marxist view on domestic violence
A pattern of physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and financial abuse in a relationship constitutes domestic violence. A partner uses such an abuse to either intimidate or maintain control over another partner. Women experience the highest percentage of these abuses that sometimes result to death. In most instances, the battered women lack access to resources or some forms of discrimination in society arising from gender inequality.
Marx addresses the issue of domestic violence from the class struggle and gender inequality view. According to him, partners or family relationships exhibit a similar characteristic as the proletarian and bourgeois dependence-relationship. The woman just like the proletarian has no ownership over resources while the man and the bourgeois have the power and control. Thus, a man views the wife as an instrument of production. However, he depends on a woman to care for the household as the woman looks upon the man to provide.
Male supremacy is evident in communities with few women having access to power. Therefore, Marxist stipulate that women’s oppression can only be eradicated with the overturning of the capitalist social system that promotes and sustain it. Marxists assert that the liberation of women from oppressions such as domestic violence is bound in the struggle against capitalism. For instance, issues like sexual oppression serve the ruling class’s material interests. Moreover, female exclusionism is highly practiced in the labor market with the existence of sex-based pay. These differentials benefit the men enhancing their job security and material well-being.
The capitalism view of the family is largely on the financial dependence of women or wives on their partners. Women undertake unpaid domestic work such as child care, cooking, washing and much more. Also, most jobs taken by women pay low wages. Women are socially termed as inferior and thus have been socialized to maintain that status quo. The division of labor preserves women in domestic spheres of a family while the workplace remains for men.
Moreover, Marx indicates that the wife’s household role produces no value with no surplus gain. She is likened to a slave who is subordinate to relations of capital and labor power. They are the reserve army of labor who get hired with an increased demand for goods but dismissed during an economic recession. The economic aspects surrounding the female gender makes them vulnerable to abuse, especially at a family level. Their male counterparts experience high levels of economic stability and independence. Most women remain in abusive relationships due to their dependence especially on financial issues on their male partners. This exemplifies a perfect bourgeois and proletarian relationship with the ‘haves’ exploiting the ‘have nots’ who offer their labor in exchange for wages. However, these vices have been institutionalized in families making men control women’s sexual activities and labor. Hence, the existence of gender oppression in the face of domestic violence.
Reproductive and productive labor also contribute to domestic violence. Under the capitalist scheme, productive labor has monetary value through paid wage while reproductive has none. In essence, the socially constructed gender-based activities, roles, responsibilities, and norms have contributed to the differential factors facilitating domestic violence. In the traditional context, a woman has to be submissive to the husband regardless of the issue in discussion. Opposing a husband’s opinion is seen as disobedience and battering to rectify the wife’s behavior is acceptable. Such practices integrated with the male-capitalistic nature as the breadwinner leaves women with no option but to remain subordinate. Therefore, Marx suggests that the solution to domestic violence lies in empowering women economically.