Friday, March 10, 2006

March, 8 and Equality

I know that most of American and European women view the way Russians celebrate the 8th of March as machismo and anti-feminism. Why on earth human species with ovaries get gifts from human species without them? Before sneering at Russian women (and men) being so retrograde and so far behind from modern gender equality I would note that Russian women came to this “inequality” voluntarily and the hard way.

In the 1930’s the Soviet Union was far “ahead” in gender equality than any other country on earth. Being a housewife was almost a felony. Three months before birth of a child, three months after – and back to work. Salaries were strictly equal for men and women. Women were CEO’s, pilots, drivers, construction workers and heavy machinery operators. The 8th of March actually was a Soviet holiday to promote feminism and to glorify working women. Such capitalistic things as makeup, perfume or fashionable clothes – intended to keep women in imperialistic kitchen slavery – were frowned upon.

One of the things that surprised me greatly at American universities was that so few women (almost all of them foreigners) study engineering, accounting or medicine. I thought that American women, being so feministic, would love to study engineering. At school we were always told by our teachers that girls are better at mathematics and chemistry than boys.

Understanding that traditional gender roles were not capitalistic or imperialistic started in the USSR in the 1960’s and soon the 8th of March became, first, a kind of Mothers’ day and then as a holiday for every woman. Soviet women didn’t like the idea of being just human species with ovaries.


cp said...

Feminism is not about being similar to men, but equal in rights. I'd like to have the right to decide what kind of job or husband I want. The fact that teaching is a "lady-like" profession doesn't mean it's bad. Why women should become rocket scientists if they don't want to? Why do they need to prove they are good in maths and ignore other fields?
In my opinion there should be a balance. If I want to do brain surgery or fly into space, it's my choice, if I want to stay at home and cook or be a professor in world history it's my choice again. As long as I have a salary I don't have to marry a man I don't like only to get some food on the table. That's teh point. Feminism is about being able to leave a violent husband, have less children if you don't have money for more, follow the career that suits your interests and do all teh small things that make you happy every day, like wearing (or not wearing) make up without having to apologise to anyone.

Aurelius said...

Thankyou. It's nice to hear such frankness from the old Empire.

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