Who Runs the World? Not Girls.

United States women’s suffrage was fought for and achieved in 1920 under the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution. This was a time of revolution and change in the United States, beginning the long and continuous journey of equal rights under the law, which is still continuing to be fought for today. In the 1920’s in Russia, however, the gender question remained unaddressed and suppressed, through the ideological framework of “Revolutionary Manliness”.

The political configuration, the Komsomol(All-Union Leninist Young Communist League), formed in 1918, was an organization of the Communists in order to political socialize the youth. According to The Komsomol “It was composed of youth 14-28 years old…[and] as an organization, it had little to no influence on Soviet policies, but was an important propaganda tool for the regime.” The Komsomol allowed both sexes membership, however “male members outnumbered females eight to one throughout the 1920s. This was due to the social principle of “Revolutionary Manliness” struck through Russia in 1924, providing an environment that was hostile to women.

The organization created an “ethos of a young communist was coded masculinity, which created societal implications that women were “violations of nature itself”  when they attempted to “fit in.” This reinforces a gender taboo that is cross cultural, making women’s identification in society prone to criticism, whether it is too abrasively masculine or too daintily feminine.

“On the one hand outward displays of femininity were considered ideologically taboo and threatened to distract sexually charged boys from Komsomol business. On the other, girls’ efforts to erase their femininity were met with scorn.”

 

Other legislative reforms were developed in the late 1920’s in order to impose more strict “socialist consciousness” (Freeze, 333) on Russian individualism, with the goal from 1921-1929 to “build socialism” within society. (Freeze, 329). Freeze also suggests that “In any event, both the party and the Komsomol began to take a more direct interest in the personal lives of members” in order to influence their futures and the construct of individualistic rights in Russian society.

Education was a strong foundational tool of Lenin for the new generation, in order to educate the masses and encourage a proletariat lifestyle, which reinforced the ideology of its leaders. Gender roles are enduring, and can be seen today through the current and continued existence of the Leninist Young Communist League of the Russian Federation Website. This highlights the implication of use of social organizations on social constructs of societal interactions in the time of the “Great Turn”. Below is an image of the website. It is up to date (4/20/17) commenting on current events. The modern and propagandist tone to the writing is interesting, and give insight into politics from a different perspective.

Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 1.52.20 PM

Sources:

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12 thoughts on “Who Runs the World? Not Girls.

  1. Your post talks about an issue that makes sense (women not being treated equally during this time) and is easily overlooked. It is something that a lot of people would have an issue with but just don’t think about it as much as they perhaps should. Good post and cool picture!

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  2. I enjoyed the discussion of women’s rights in the United States and how that compared to the manliness of Russian culture in the 1920s. It is interesting that in an attempt to build socialism (group mentality), the indoctrination process first focused on the personal lives of the people as you noted. Nice work and thanks for hyperlinking your sources and image!

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  3. I thought it was interesting how you related the Soviet women’s struggle to the suffrage movement in the United States. The Soviet women were in quite a predicament at that time, especially with regards to the quote you included which stated that femininity, particularly in boys, was frowned upon, but on the other hand, girls who tried to act less feminine were also scolded. Interesting subject matter! And I thought your title was great!

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  4. I like how you included women’s suffrage in the United States as a comparison to the Soviet women’s struggle because it provides the reader with a more relatable perspective. Very interesting topic and also a very over-looked concept!

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  5. Similarly to some people above, my first thought was that I appreciated your contrast of women’s rights in the United States with women’s rights in Russia around the same time. It definitely gave us Americans a new perspective on the issue as a whole. I also really liked how you outlined more specifically what women struggled with- having to balance between not being too feminine and dainty, while also not getting involved in “manly” things. Great job giving us insight on such an underrated aspect of the “Great Turn”!

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  6. Love the title of this post! And comparing the changing attitudes toward women in the US and the Soviet Union in this period makes a lot of sense. But the Soviets promised (and legislated) radical reform in terms of legal relationships between the sexes. Women gained the vote, rights to property and inheritance, and much more legal autonomy than they had previously. How do you square those reforms (and the work of people like Alexandra Kollontai) with problems presented by “revolutionary manliness”?
    That image of the little boy marching with the Komsomol’s 80th anniversary is really compelling, but it might be more effective to use something more closely related (chronologically) to your topic.

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    • To answer your question- while there were legislative reforms under the regime, culture is very difficult to counter, especially what are viewed as “norms” within society. Therefore, revolutionary manliness posed a grand threat to the newly instated laws, that were not welcomed by all.

      I changed the image to show the link to the current Lenin Young Communist League, to shows it adaptability through time as an organization and its ongoing presence.

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  7. Your post reminded me of something else I saw in Seventeen Moments “The ultimate goal of the socialist society was to create a new person, the New Soviet Person, whose entire consciousness was shaped by the socialist environment. This new person would be enlightened, unburdened by psychological complexes, unblinded by distinctions of nationality and gender. They would live simply but cleanly, and their work lives and home lives would be stitched together seamlessly. ” I think this highlights one of the problems with ‘revolutionary manliness’. Society was supposed to be so synchronized and everyone so alike, but I still can’t quite figure out how exactly this impacted gender roles. It’s very controversial I think, interesting topic.

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  8. I think this topic ties in a lot with Russia’s developmental state at the time relative to other countries. I really liked how you used a comparison with the US women’s suffrage movement. Do you think that the backwardness of society and industry in Russia held women back even more (compared to other countries)? My thought was that maybe the quick jump into modern industrial economy and urban isolation from agriculture and formal traditions provided a rough road ahead for women in the years to come.

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    • To answer your question- yes, I feel as though the backwardness of Soviet society held women back further. It feels as though every time women take a step forward and gain more rights, a cultural movement takes place and changes the political stance from the government. This provides inconsistency and a lack of continuous identity for the citizens, let alone for the women.

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  9. Great title! I like that you compared the Soviets’ goal of equality to the rhetoric that they used. I thought the lack of female participation in the Komsomol was really interesting, and maybe it indicates that women were still limited by social norms.

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  10. I thought your post really highlighted the conundrum many woman in Russia faced. They were expected to not act like woman but were also punished for trying to be too “masculine”. The lack of rights Russian woman had compared to American woman is not unexpected but still interesting. The Russians thought that capitalist societies were patriarchal, but it is clear they didn’t value woman as much as they did men

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