Abstract In a time when socialism is in “crisis” and free-market policies remain influential, it is pertinent to reassess the relationship between feminism and capitalism. A large body of feminist literature argues that capitalism and patriarchy are, at least, highly compatible. Indeed, in Anne Phillips' view, there is now a consensus in the area of women and work. Phillips' believes that the two systems are closely intertwined that neither system should be privileged over the other in explaining the problems of women at work. Carole Pateman's work on The Sexual Contract challenges that consensus by suggesting that capitalism is virtually a form of patriarchy. This article takes issue with the analysis of both Pateman and those who stress the compatibility of the two systems by emphasising the tensions that exist between capitalism and patriarchy and by showing that the patriarchal form of the wage relation had to be fought for rather than being a foregone conclusion.