Published in 1887 as a review of August Bebel's Woman: Past, Present and Future in Commonweal, then as a pamphlet, then reprinted in 1987 by International Publishers with an introduction by Joachim Muller and Edith Schotte.
It has been suggested that Aveling was a pro-forma co-author, and if so (and in view of her sad and needless premature death), the first paragraph seems a bit wistful. Bebel's book had been banned in Prussia, and Marx was conscious of the controversial nature of her views.
What tone characterizes the opening paragraphs? (a bit defensive, notes the criticism Bebel's book had received both in Germany and England, irritated at printing errors)
How long does she believe capitalism will survive? (12, will be gone in a matter of years not centuries--somewhat vague, but less than a century)
What does she claim as the basis of women's oppression? (their economic position) What is her attitude toward the women reformers of her day? (13) What have been the achievements of the women's movement? Its limitations? (14) What would be the result of the women's vote? (14, women can only be free under socialism)
How can women's position be changed? (women must help themselves) Is this a position which had been enunciated by prior male socialists or others of her period?
Why are there so many unmarried women? (middle class men don't marry until later, marriage expensive)
What seem her views on the necessities of sex and marriage? (marriage confining under present laws; singleness terrible; sex necessary for health and well-being)
What improvements in women's legal status have recently occurred? (between 1882 and 1886, laws changed to give some degree of child custody to mothers as well as fathers, to permit married women to retain property, and to raise the age of consent to 16)
According to Marx, what are some evils of the present marriage system? (prostitution, 18; unequal marriage and divorce laws--no divorce for women on grounds of adultery; convention that women cannot woo; delayed marriages; marriage a commercial transaction; women given double job of laborer and householder)
Does Marx believe that marriage laws should be abolished under the present commercial system? (no, because a lenient divorce law would hurt women under the present system, since they couldn't necessarily support themselves and their children)
What does she believe is wrong with Victorian conventions re: sex? (children separated, denied knowledge, 22, 23) What feminist forerunner had advocated co-education? (Wollstonecraft)
What are Marx's views on "unmanly men" and "unwomanly women"? Does this seem inconsistent with her prior view that male and female children should be raised together? Does she have evidence of their "unnaturalness"?
What does she see as the results of an unnatural system of sex segregation? (lunacy, suicide, etc., 23) Can you account for the melodramatic nature of these claims? (possibly current in "scientific" social science circles of day; in general socialists favored lessening restrictions on sexuality) Are there other possible explanations for the figures cited on the number of unmarried women in mental institutions? (women suffered greater poverty, a natural consideration for a socialist; women in mental institutions unable to marry, etc.)
Why does she believe women suffer more than men from sexual deprivation? (don't visit prostitutes)
What are Marx's ideals for the future? What kind of work will be performed in the new society, and how will men and women spend their time? (26, 27, only a small amount of time will need to be devoted to manual or practical labor, the rest can be spent in worthwhile activities)
In the world of the socialist future, how will marital or sexual relations be organized? (voluntary, but likely monogamy will prevail)
Why do you think she fails to mention the issue of children?
Are you surprised by the ending? Does it seem suddenly personal as well as romantic? May it reflect some personal anxieties?
What are features of the style of this treatise?
If indeed Edward Aveling contributed to the substance of this treatise, what passages or ideas might have been influenced or contributed by him? (he held a doctorate in biology; the statistical arguments and claims about the link between insanity and celibacy might have reflected his orientation)
In what ways is The Woman Question a pioneering text in socialist feminism?