Soviet Women In The Early U.S.S.R.

2455 words - 10 pages

The Soviet woman can be compared to a matryoshka. Like a nesting doll, the Soviet woman has a tough exterior, yet she is beautiful. Inside she has many different pieces that she is responsible for. It is her obligation to the secure the household, raise the children, cook, clean, while maintaining a job. Her ability to balance all of these responsibilities and uphold the “pieces” makes the woman a true Soviet woman.
The Soviet Union was revolutionary in regards to women’s rights. It achieved exceptional successes in bringing women into the construction of the state. The Revolution of 1917 removed all the legal restrictions that had placed women in an inferior position and recognized their equality with men. It also promised to provide them with economic employment on an equal basis with men. In the first Soviet Constitution of 1918, Article 22 stated the equality of all citizens (regardless of sex, nationality or race) in the republic. In addition, Article 64 granted women the right to elect or be elected to the Soviets on an equal standing as men (Schuster 260) . Based on Friedrich Engels’ postulate, when the means of production became collective property there would be complete equality of men and women; however equality in law did not always suggest equality in life (Schwartz 68) . Vladimir Lenin sought to defend the Soviet government’s legitimacy in its early years by proclaiming, “In the course of two years of Soviet power in one of the most backward countries of Europe more has been done to emancipate women, to make her an equal of the ‘strong’ sex, than has been done during the past 130 years by all the advanced, enlightened, ‘democratic’ republics of the world taken together.” (Warshofsky Lapidus 58) . He emphasized the commitment of the Soviets to sexuality equality and argued that despite formal proclamations of political equality, no bourgeois governments had actually granted full citizenship to women.
Prior to the Revolution, the social position of a woman was determined by the position of the man who supported her. The position of the man was influenced by his family’s standing in society or wealth, rank in the workforce, or salary. These positions were liquidated with the sweeping Revolution. Suddenly a new concept of the social position of a person developed as the new ruling class, the Communists, grasped power (Kurganoff 39) . Although women were technically equal with men under the law, men in society were still above women on the social and employment ladder for several decades. For example, in 1966 a list of the current candidates for election to the Academy of Sciences of USSR showed that out of 247 candidates, only 3 were women (Kurganoff 40) .
Beginning in the late 1920’s, women gained rights in various areas. They acquired the right to own property, act as heads of households, participate as full members in rural communes and were paid as individuals rather than as part of a household for collective farm labor...

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