Actually existing socialism was so feminist, wasn’t it?

A list of jobs and professions prohibited for women in Russia is going to be amended in the near future, Russia’s Labour Minister Maxim Topilin told reporters on Friday.

The list contains 456 professions in 39 industries – mostly those requiring work with various chemicals, heavy machinery or complex vehicles – that are considered dangerous for women’s health. It was adopted in 1974 and last revised in 2000.

According to Mr Topilin, women will now be allowed to take jobs in six out of these 39 categories: bread-making, sea, river, air and railway transport, driving heavy trucks and specialised vehicles.

From memory, also not allowed to take a driving test while either pregnant or lactating.

Soviets weren’t in fact feminist at all, despite what we get told by all too many today and then. But perhaps more importantly, an example of how difficult it is to change the nuts and bolts of a society.

11 thoughts on “Actually existing socialism was so feminist, wasn’t it?”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    Hardly surprising, some of the strongest opposition to women joining the workforce in the late ‘60s and ‘70s came from the unions.

  2. “Hardly surprising, some of the strongest opposition to women joining the workforce in the late ‘60s and ‘70s came from the unions.”

    Well, they would. The idea of a union is to monopolise and reduce the supply of labour, keep out the competition, and thus raise wages. (Same as lefty nationalists trying to keep out immigrant competition for jobs.) They’re not going to welcome nearly doubling the labour force, are they?

  3. There is tons of Soviet-era legislation they haven’t got around to repealing yet. Too busy filling their pockets for the last 30 years.

    Did the Soviet leadership ever commit national kleptocracy on the same scale as the post-Soviet leadership?

  4. IIRC, the Lenin era was a lot more feminist and social justicey in general.

    Lenin said:

    “Petty housework crushes, strangles, stultifies and degrades [the woman], chains her to the kitchen and to the nursery, and wastes her labor on barbarously unproductive, petty, nerve-racking, stultifying and crushing drudgery.”

    Rather than skivvying in their own home for a husband and children who love them, the ideal Soviet woman was meant to skivvy in factories for an employer/the government who saw them as a tiny, interchangeable meat-cog in a vast, impersonal, socioeconomic machine.

    Does this sound familiar? It’s exactly what British “Conservatives” believe in 2018:

    To achieve this increase of women in the work force, the new communist government issued the First Family Code. This code separated marriage from the church, allowed a couple to choose a surname, gave illegitimate children the same rights as legitimate children, gave rights to maternal entitlements, health and safety protections at work, and provided women with the right to a divorce on extended grounds.[29] In 1920, Soviet government legalized abortion.

    This was, then as now, a recipe for disaster, even by the standards of a regime that starved and tortured millions of people to death, so Stalin rolled back a lot of the Leninist reforms around feminism, abortion and sexual license in general.

  5. Many years ago I was vaguely thinking about getting a Russian mail-order bride (Ukrainian women are the most beautiful in the world) and subscribed to a Russian cupid site. Almost all of the women there, the older ones in my age bracket anyway, were graduates and lots of them in STEM too.

  6. @Southerner

    At work, I met a Ukrainian mail order bride who had become a secondary school teacher. She was an older lady (50s, I think, though looked a decade younger – she must have migrated just as the Iron Curtain collapsed) who made no secret of her frequent partying in London where she had dozens of younger lovers. Her even-older husband, we were assured, knew nothing of it – she assuredly still cared about him and valued the marriage and all (my personal opinion is she cared about being in line for a very fat inheritance – something about being brought up in scarcity that might encourage someone to become a mail-order bride in the first place), but she very openly liked cute faces, big muscles, and lots of sex. I couldn’t work out why she was so upfront to everyone about all this yet fanatically secretive to her husband – how can you hope to keep someone in the dark if you tell literally everybody else? Their daughter, an on-the-up graduate-track civil servant was in on the whole thing, and would even provide her central London flat over weekends for her mum’s male-related activities (she liked them so young they’d not usually have a place of their own) while the lass would hop off on a city break or stay with her boyfriend. The whole thing was beyond dysfunctional. In retrospect, the odds that the husband had dutifully paid out for the expensive upbringing of an ungrateful young woman who wasn’t even biologically his daughter must be pretty substantial.

  7. @Pcar

    When I was writing that up, it was only when I got to “their daughter” that I realised I should probably have written “her daughter”…

    Used to wonder what the daughter’s motivation was in keeping quiet and providing the flat, actually. Wife’s claim was that the daughter was very liberal and understanding of feminine needs, and thought this was the best way to keep her parents’ very loving and caring marriage together. If I were to believe that at face value, though, I think it would make me as much of a mug as her hubbie.

  8. Russian wives, dating norms, a woman juggling a host of lovers, upbringing of modern kids…

    Tim N would have a field day with this thread!

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