Women in the U.S.S.R.

The problem of gender inequality has been an issue for years, and to this day it still hasn’t been solved. Gender equality has been widely ratified and established among european and American States over the past decade. But even though these countries have formalized and established gender equality by the law, there still is a big gap between women and men, economically, culturally, and politically. Unless people bring it into the practice, law will not have a function. It’s not easy to change culturally implemented ways, and even though Marx tried to do so, he still couldn’t fix it. This essay concentrates on the Women in Eastern Europe and the USSR, and the inequality in their time.

Tova Yedlin, the author of an amazing book titled Women in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union dives into the issue, discussing it thoroughly.

But why is that so? Why has sex equality been achieved only partially? The main reason would be rooted in the cultural understanding of gender roles. “The survival and state reinforcement of some traditional values of male supremacy” (17) are perceived as the core problem of gender inequality. For centuries males were seen as the supreme beings, while women were only the supporting characters. They were only created “from the rib” to pleasure their men, to raise the family, and never be a part of the inheritance. In the Soviet Union, according to Yedlin, “the relatively low level of economic development at the time of the socialist revolution” (17) was one of the main reasons for this disparity. The Stalinist model of economic growth concentrated way too much on the heavy expansion of heavy industry, and a very low priority to easing women’s burdens in the home. The problem was that now that women have become full-time workers, their home labor was not reduced . They were still expected to clean, do laundry, cook, take care of everything within the household on their own. Even though they worked, their domestic responsibilities didn’t get split among the family members, especially the spouse.

But this wasn’t the only issue, even though women started working their wages were not as high as men’s. “The resulting wage disparities between preferred (generally masculine) and nonpreferred (basically feminized) jobs” (17) created a gap among their pay. Women were only hired to do “feminine” jobs, such as typewriters, note-takers, etc. Due to this, women were still not taken seriously as workers. They were also paid a lot less compared to men, since they were only doing feminine jobs. It’s often that you can hear men say “women are not the main providers, thus their responsibilities at home should remain as they have been for many years”. But the government doesn’t give women the opportunity to be the main providers of the household, they can only make as much as they’re paid. Thus if there’s a gap between wages, women would always be expected to do home labor – seems like a very manipulated concept by men to avoid doing the dishes.

Besides from that, in the Soviet Union “the lack of educational campaigns aimed at breaking down sex-role stereotypes” (17) was also an issue. Talking about women and their stereotypes were a taboo, not because people knew what it really was – but because they didn’t. So lack of knowledge creates fear, and fear brings taboo in the USSR. Instead of talking about liberalization and freeing women, the stereotypes were never broken. Men still believed that women belonged in the kitchen. Peggy Orenstein had a wonderful speech about this subject in her TED Talk “What young women believe about their own sexual pleasure”. She talked about the unbroken stereotypes, and how they have become inherited in our culture because we just don’t talk about breaking them – because we feel uncomfortable. But boys call their genitals “pee-pees” while girls learn about theirs late in their adult lives.

The same kind of problem is still current these days, in much more “developed and progressive” countries of Europe. It is a tragedy to mention France as the country of unequal economic rights to women, when in reality the media Flashes Europe as most liberal nations unifications ever. “In May 2012, a Ministry for Women’s Rights was created in France. On 23 July 2014, France adopted the first law that addresses gender equality in the workplace, tackling stereotypes in the media, an improved protection from domestic violence, a reform on parental leave, and measures ensuring parity in politics.” Even after France establishes this law, there still is a continuous gap between men and women economically. Women are being payed 15.2% less in France than men. And this is in the cases of the same job, same company and same work hours. By the statistics analysis of the latest “Glass door” the average base pay per year for men is €53,026 and €45,060 for women. That amounts to a gender pay gap of €7,966, there are significantly more single mothers that single dads in France, women not only need equal pay for themselves but for their children and for basic life.

So what can be done, in the 21st century to break these rules and find a way to actual equality? The answer is – education. Men need to learn about women, as much as women get to learn about men. Sex has to become an open topic, not a taboo among our societies. Women should be able to receive pleasure just as much as men. Women must be appreciated just as much as men, and our work must not be overlooked just because we are the main reason families exist. We have to gain the respect of the “dominant species” just by showing them that we are no less than they are. In conclusion Ratification of gender equality doesn’t really have any use unless the population understands and accepts the ideology of Feminism that is “equal political, economic and cultural abilities for all sex”.

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