CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

The Woman Question in Revolutionary Cuba: Is Marxism Really Working for Women?

Lillian SK Gomperts, The College of Arts and Sciences - University of Pennsylvania

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Nancy Hirschmann

Date of this Version: 01 April 2013



Since the 1959 revolution, there has been substantial advancement towards women’s equality in Cuba. But the progress is incomplete. Though Marxists argue that this indicates that the revolution’s work is not yet complete, I take a different stance: the fact that the problem is not solved means that a targeted attack on women’s oppression is needed.

Cuba has adopted a traditional Marxist or Marxist feminist approach to women’s equality, which helped produce some positive changes for women. However, the limitations of the theory – namely, the ideas that women’s equality should be subsumed to a larger Marxist revolution and that patriarchy is a historically specific situation that would dissolve with the change to a communist mode of production – mean that Cuba cannot adequately address gender inequality. Because Cuban leadership prioritizes the revolution and does not believe that patriarchy needs to be directly attacked, women’s oppression to continues. Even though they acknowledge that the progress is incomplete for women in Cuba, leaders stand by Marxist theory – the only way for the “remnants” of past societies to disappear is to keep the revolution pressing forward.

Contrary to the position of the Cuban state, I argue that more revolution alone will not generate full women’s equality. I present evidence in the areas of health, work, and politics that illustrate that patriarchy persists. Rather than dissolving with a change in the material base, Cuba’s patriarchy has evolved into Marxist machismo. Women’s equality cannot be a secondary goal of the Cuban revolution: in order to achieve full equality in Cuba, a women’s movement that directly attacks women’s oppression as women is imperative.

Suggested Citation

Gomperts, Lillian SK, "The Woman Question in Revolutionary Cuba: Is Marxism Really Working for Women?" 01 April 2013. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 13 May 2013




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