Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > European History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

European History European History Forum - Western and Eastern Europe including the British Isles, Scandinavia, Russia


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old November 10th, 2012, 10:32 PM   #1

Clendor's Avatar
Lecturer
 
Joined: Nov 2010
From: Herzliya, Israel
Posts: 258
Feminism in the Soviet Union


How, compared to its time, the Soviet women were treated compared to men? How many stayed in their traditional duties, and how many got deeply into man territory, like politics?
Clendor is offline  
Remove Ads
Old November 11th, 2012, 12:29 AM   #2

AlpinLuke's Avatar
Knight-errant
 
Joined: Oct 2011
From: Lago Maggiore, Italy
Posts: 9,170
Blog Entries: 13

Interesting matter to consider.

I would start from the head of the Soviet system to follow a process "up down".

First of all the Soviet Union has never been guided by a woman [while in the same period other countries knew this condition, for example just Israel with Galda Meir, but we can remember Indira Gandhi ...

Anyway, the number of chiefs of government in some decades is limited so that statistically this is not that relevant, it's an indication.

More interesting is to note that a few women had high position in the Soviet system. This makes me think to a functional involvement of the woman in the productive and social system because of duty more than right.

The conception of real socialism about all citizens was that they had to contribute to the life of the system. To work was a duty, to be socially active was a duty ...

But,

on the other hand, from a social perspective, the Soviet woman was quite free with less social conditioning that in some Western democracies. For example the Italian woman in many regions was still socially conditioned in the 70's. The Soviet social conditioning was equal for all and from an internal point of observation I doubt they noted differences.

The key of the social revolution carried by the Soviets was also the liberation of the women from the traditional [and overall rural and old] society of Russia. With this we have to keep in mind that the wars destroyed not only many industrial centers, but also killed many young men, making it obvious to encourage women to work in firms.

The ženotdely [female commissions] were well known as a model also in the West [in Italy communists made reference to similar social base organizations to ask more freedom for Italian women]. Their main purpose was to involve women, as possible, in the social and public life.

Traditional family is an enemy of the Revolution!


This thought, expressed in the years after the revolution explains how the communists wanted to destroy one of the symbol of old Russia, traditional family. The laws they issued, in 1918, were a real revolution.

* religious marriage was null [it became a simple "private matter" between two persons]
* only civil marriage was valid
* legal divorce became possible [in Italy this happened only in 1973!]

A very important point of that family code was the prohibition of adoption of children. It can sound odd, but it wanted to stop the tradition to "adopt" children to make them work as slaves in the country side [many of these "adoptions" involved girls].

In 1918, also school saw the social effect of the Revolution and, incredible, in the classrooms entered male and females pupils, students of any level. Separated classrooms for males and females disappeared.

Other two social revolutions for the Soviet women were:

* the introduction of domestic public workers [to set women free "from the slavery of their homes"]
* legal abortion [in 1920!]

About sexual habits, it's also interesting to remember the policy of the "glass of water", that is to say that to have sex in Soviet countries had to be easy as to drink a glass of water. It made the pair with the conception of the "free love".

The second step was at the time of NEP and the new legislation of family with the acceptation of the free union [out of marriage]. It was 1926! And to divorce becomes even more easy [a simple declaration of one of the members of the couple is enough].

Stalin

Stalin limited the social effects of the laws I mentioned before, changing the trend of the Soviet society.

Stalin went a bit back to the traditional family of old Russia

Abortion was extremely limited in 1936
Divorce procedure became more difficult

but a part this points, the emancipation of the women went on. Stalin forced Muslim female workers not to wear the veil in the firms [Soviets consider the veil a tool of discrimination].

In 1944 the return to the "regular family" produced a law according with only the registered legal civil marriages were protected by the laws of the state.

These are substantially the historical bases of the emancipation of the women in the Soviet society. I would say that in concrete the situation remain the same after WW II, since the fall of the Soviet Union.

The principals were there, the application was brave and modern [with decades of advantage on other countries, Western democracies included], but there have been periods of more or less "reduction" of this or that point.


AlpinLuke is offline  
Old November 11th, 2012, 02:32 AM   #3

Louise C's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2011
From: Southeast England
Posts: 7,241

The Soviet Union encouraged women to work outside the home, and also to have large families, but did not do anything to encourage men to share in housework, childcare etc. The result was that most married women worked, but were also doing all the housework, childcare, shopping, cooking etc. Soviet women were 'having it all' with a vengeance.

There were very few women in politics or in positions of power.
Louise C is offline  
Old November 11th, 2012, 08:46 AM   #4

Silkroad's Avatar
Archivist
 
Joined: Nov 2012
From: USA
Posts: 158

Richard Stites’ book “The Women’s Liberation Movement in Russia” is an excellent source of information about the changes that the Revolution—sort of—brought for Soviet women.
Like it has been stated before, while women were now supposed to become equal with men according to political agenda, the purported equality was not what we understand it to be.
It meant that women were now “allowed” and expected to enter the workforce in order to build the new empire, they were given access to education, and they gained some sexual freedom that came along with the fact that women who could pay their own way and were not utterly dependent on a man could also take a more autonomous role in their sex lives.
This did not change the expectation that women were in charge of the household, were subservient to men in general and simply earned the right to add an additional workload onto their domestic duties, since men did not change their attitude that domestic drudgery was the privilege of women.
Women rarely, if ever—and then it depended mostly on family connections in the tried and true fashion of the paternalistic nepotistic system that had been part of the Russian social system since before Tsarist Russia—earned high ranking positions anywhere, where there was real power to be had.
That follows along the same pattern we observe in the west today. Women are allowed to run for minor office, are appointed to minor ministries, but are rarely in a position to exercise significant power. Yes, I am aware of Bhutto, Meir, Gandhi, Clinton, and others. I am talking about women having power proportional with men in numbers and impact.
Silkroad is offline  
Old November 11th, 2012, 11:56 AM   #5

MinoanGoddess's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: May 2012
From: New York City
Posts: 1,638
Blog Entries: 4

It would be nice to hear real views from the standpoint of a Russian woman's perspective. I know there are lots of Russian men on the forum not sure any women from Russia are members. Very interesting question though.
MinoanGoddess is offline  
Old November 11th, 2012, 01:22 PM   #6

arras's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Apr 2010
From: Slovakia
Posts: 13,653

Quote:
Originally Posted by Louise C View Post
The Soviet Union encouraged women to work outside the home, and also to have large families, but did not do anything to encourage men to share in housework, childcare etc. The result was that most married women worked, but were also doing all the housework, childcare, shopping, cooking etc. Soviet women were 'having it all' with a vengeance.

There were very few women in politics or in positions of power.
This actually is complete distortion of situation. First of all, state did not prescribed or enforced how couple should share housework. Second state created generous conditions for institutional care for children (crèche, kindergarten, after school care, free time activities -all free or very affordable). State also provided unreturnable loan for household equipment for young couples (washing machines, refrigerators etc.). And last, people in general had much more free time.
arras is offline  
Old November 11th, 2012, 01:27 PM   #7

arras's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Apr 2010
From: Slovakia
Posts: 13,653

I do not think that any other country employed women in such a scale and in regular manner in combat units as USSR. It was actually first country to allow women to fly air combat missions and established women air combat units (among them fighter regiment, night-bomber regimen and bomber regiment). Many women served also as snipers.
arras is offline  
Old November 11th, 2012, 01:29 PM   #8

arras's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Apr 2010
From: Slovakia
Posts: 13,653

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clendor View Post
How, compared to its time, the Soviet women were treated compared to men? How many stayed in their traditional duties, and how many got deeply into man territory, like politics?
I do not think "feminism" is right term here. More correct one is emancipation. Feminism is more Western phenomenon.
arras is offline  
Old November 11th, 2012, 02:00 PM   #9

Louise C's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2011
From: Southeast England
Posts: 7,241

Quote:
Originally Posted by arras View Post
This actually is complete distortion of situation. First of all, state did not prescribed or enforced how couple should share housework. Second state created generous conditions for institutional care for children (crèche, kindergarten, after school care, free time activities -all free or very affordable). State also provided unreturnable loan for household equipment for young couples (washing machines, refrigerators etc.). And last, people in general had much more free time.
Well, that's not what I've heard. What I remember reading some years ago is that Russian women were sick of 'having it all' and wanted to be able to lead less stressful lives. Possibly this was not true, but that was the impression I got.
Louise C is offline  
Old November 11th, 2012, 02:17 PM   #10

arras's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Apr 2010
From: Slovakia
Posts: 13,653

Quote:
Originally Posted by Louise C View Post
Well, that's not what I've heard. What I remember reading some years ago is that Russian women were sick of 'having it all' and wanted to be able to lead less stressful lives. Possibly this was not true, but that was the impression I got.
This might come from very subjective feelings. For record, roles of women and men inside family were viewed as to some extend different. But that was more result of tradition than state policies. Also it did not mean men were not participating in household and child care. It just meant some division of labour.

What I see as negative is that there was no chance given for women to choose her living style. There was no possibility that woman could stay at home and care about household and children only if she wanted. There also was no way woman could choose how long she will stay at home with newborn baby. Maternity leave was set to half a year if I remember correct. Quit low by today standards.
arras is offline  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > European History

Tags
feminism, soviet, union


Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Who was the leader of the Soviet Union? Qymaen General History 2 July 15th, 2012 06:28 PM
Housing in the Soviet Union Earl Byrhtnoth History Help 0 October 13th, 2011 07:20 AM
Collapse of the Soviet Union Isoroku295 General History 43 June 12th, 2011 01:09 PM
Attitude of Soviet Union towards Japan in WWII as Japan tried to seek Soviet mediation? curiositay History Help 3 February 22nd, 2010 02:40 PM
Soviet Union collapse Jazze History Book Reviews 8 September 22nd, 2008 05:33 AM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.