Unfulfilled Promises to Women

Wendy Z. Goldman’s article explained how the regime hid behind an elaborate mask which portrayed them as women’s rights activists, however in reality strived for a single-minded approach to production and progress.  The focus of Goldman’s article began with an analysis of Soviet legislature concerning beznadzornost, and how to solve the problem of homeless soviet children through the strengthening of the Socialist family.  It then shifted towards the effects of abortion and divorce on women and how the steps toward a more equal woman and man were taken under false pretense.  She concluded that the regime had successfully “brainwashed”, or convinced, the women of the Soviet Union that they had actually experienced a revolution or change in policy.

Women seemed to be affected by each law passed concerning the Soviet family, and whether it was in a good way or not did not concern the Soviet Union who were able to feed off of the good outcomes and ignore the unsatisfactory ones.  Even the legalization of adoption, meant to cope with the growing numbers of homeless children, indirectly changed a woman’s role in society.  As the implementation of adoption and its effects slowly abated, the regime placed a large piece of responsibility on the paternal figures and family, transferring it from state hands.  Women then had to take on a much larger part in responsibility for the children, as the men were needed for industrialization and collectivization.

The increase in family responsibility rested heavily on the women’s shoulders, as their social status transformed and they were coerced into labor.  Pregnancy leave and other legislation was passed which lessened the effects on women, however in a seemingly male dominant society, the regime was still able to convince its women that their lives had been made easier and they had experienced a surge in women’s rights.

Pronatalism and the Soviet Union

Pro natalism

After the First World War, empires, both big and small, were trying to rebuild themselves to become stronger. Their economies were extremely weak and their population had greatly decreased due to all of the deaths during the war. Nations wanted their economies to be stronger by increasing industrialization and in order to do this, governments focused on family planning and parenthood.

All of Europe and the Soviet Union were focused on re-boosting their populations looking closely at birth rates. In Wendy Goldman’s text, Revolution and the Family, she goes into great detail about the issues surrounding family planning and parenthood just before the Second World War, specifically in the Soviet Union. The government outlawed abortion, created incentives for child bearing, and made it extremely difficult to divorce your partner. In Russia however, women entered the work force, which increased industrialization, but decreased birth rates. Due to both women and men being outside the house working all day, children were abandoned and neglected at home and would turn to petty crimes. The government then really focused on the family life and required parents to focus more attentively on their children and their education.

The picture attached to this blog is propaganda in Russia trying to get families to have more children. Families that had a certain amount of children were given incentives by the government and the more children you had the more they would pay you. The Soviet Union ran into the issue of there not being enough space for all of the children, especially in detention centers where they were sent when they got into trouble.

Due to strong government opposition and propaganda, birth rates did increase and the Soviet Union did find a complete balance between the work force and families.


Image source: http://takimag.com/article/motherland/print#axzz2fO2NkSzJ