NOW and Women’s Rights

During the World Wars, there was an influx, unlike any other time in recent history, of female workers. Since most men, both in Europe and America were off fighting the wars, women were needed to work the factories in order to provide weapons, clothes, and other provisions. It was during this time that women proved that they could take on “traditional” male roles and fulfill them successfully. However, after the wars ended, and the men returned, the women were encouraged to take on the role of the housewife once again.

One could say that this enhanced the tension between the sexes, and is manifest in NOW’s Statement of Purpose: “…we do not accept the traditional assumption that a woman has to choose between marriage and motherhood, on the one hand, and serious participation in industry or the professions on the other. We question the present expectation that all normal women will retire from job or profession for 10 or 15 years, to devote their full time to raising children, only to reenter the job market at a relatively minor level.”

Though the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made discrimination in the workplace illegal, it had hardly helped the woman’s cause. Most women had limited job, education, and pay prospects, despite the fact that most of the gender norms of society no longer applied to the modern world (such as the need for muscle to do work). Now that women had experience and a possible chance to level the gap between the sexes, an engine was needed to push the cause forward.




Professor Qualls’s article, “Who Makes Local Memories?  The case of Sevastopol after World War II” discussed who created memories of Sevastopol and how they were created after World War II. In his piece, Professor Qualls argued that despite central authorities attempts to paint Serastopals history in a certain way, it was the “municipal and naval officers” who chose to write the history of Serastopal in a “deeper Russian Historical” way, thus creating a “localized mythology.”  ((Professor Karl Qualls, “Who Makes Local Memories?: The Case of Sevastopol after World War II”  Carlisle: Dickinson College Faculty Publications, Paper 1, 2011. 3))  Citing important authors such as David Brandenberger, Karen Petrone, and Matthew P. Gallagher, Professor Qualls used his argument to show how local communities within the Soviet Union created their own mythical like images to advertise their cities.

One of the most interesting points that Professor Qualls brings up was his connection of the myths used with Sevastopal following World War II with the use of heroism in Soviet Propaganda during the 1930s.  He noted that “the military and local officials took the lead in crafting a myth of Soviet Sevastopol and its citizens as an extension of the great Russian defenders of the Motherland who sacrificed everything for a greater good.”  (Professor Karl Qualls, “Who Makes Local Memories?: The Case of Sevastopol after World War II”  Carlisle: Dickinson College Faculty Publications, Paper 1, 2011, 12)) Qualls noted here how the leaders Sevastopol took the methods of heroism in 1930s. He explained how the myths that were created had a heroism type feel to it so that the memory of Sevastopol would stand out.  I found Professor Qualls to be very effective in using 1930s Propaganda and its use of Heroism to discuss the memory of Sevastopol.  His comparison of two different periods split by World War II and his use of a variety of different scholars, showed how he was effective in writing about the memory of Sevastopol.


Vagrant Minors in Post War USSR

Fürst’s article concerning the orphans and those who were living on the streets aims to distinguish the USSR’s claim of trying to save the children, while also subtly hiding this problem and keeping it out of the public eye.

Fürst begins by declaring that the the original ideal of the Soviet Union was to save the children and relieve them of their horrible state.  Fürst claims that this position was most prominent during the 1930’s and the beginning of the war period.  However, the problem became more about solving the issue, rather than the issue itself near the war’s end.  Fürst states the Soviets wanted this “-as a phenomenon- […] to be liquidated” as subtly as possible, as the mere fact that children existed in this state was “an embarrassment to the government” (233).

Fürst first looks at the 1930’s and how children were vital to the USSR, as the new generation that will become productive and helpful members of society.  While education had significant undertones of communism and the Soviet party, students nonetheless excelled in academic and artistic endeavors.  This devotion to the next generation continued until the end of the Second World War.  ‘Saving’ the children was of utmost importance, and those who had their parents killed during the war were to be saved by other members of society.

At the end of the war, it was clear to the Soviet government that the children were going to be a hindrance to the populace.  With tens of thousands of children being orphaned, many resorted to street gangs and criminal activity, which mostly consisted of theft.  Fürst points out that a large number of these children had already been ‘saved’ once and were, in fact, trying to run away from the  orphanages, factory schools or foster places”, where the children had previously been residing.  The Soviet government became increasingly frustrated with its failed efforts, as well as the embarrassment of being unable to uphold one of its core ideologies: that children were one of the most vital part of the USSR.  Fürst describes the decline into ‘liquidation’ of the soviet police, which she equates to “animal hunts” (250).  These raids resulted in a substantial number of arrests made on homeless children, resulting in being sent to their parents, factory schools, and sometimes labor camps.

Do you agree with what the Soviet Union did, in terms or resorting to arresting these vagrant children?

Do you think the Soviet government exaggerated the embarrassment they felt with this ‘black mark’ on both a national and international scale?