One is not born, but rather becomes woman. No biological, physiological, or economic fate determines the figure that the human female presents in society; it is civilization as a whole that produces this creature, intermediate between male and eunuch, which is described as feminine. But what was really position of woman in 1950s – 1960s. I overlook different women positions in western and communist nations.
During wartime western nations women had been out in the work force to fill the jobs off the men who were off to war. These jobs were important to the country and wartime, and women were valued for their contribution. After the war men came back home. The jobs that women had been holding during wartime were either given back to the men returning or were no longer required. It returned back to a man’s world. Husbands started to work and were the head of the family. Typical, or most respected, professions for women were teacher, seecretary and nurse. But still, it was expected for the woman to put family first. Often women would have to quit her job in time of family callings or pregnancy – thus it could be difficult to advance to higher level in
It was totally different situation in the USSR. The Soviet public went through a “sexual revolution. Initially this became evident in the work force. In the history of the world, never has there been such a large influx of women into the work force. The Sooviet economy was boosted by the injection of over 10million women into the work force, contributing 39% to the overall work force. Special programs were created, through which women could be recruited to help realize the Soviet Union’s industrialisation goals. During Stalin’s reign, the conditions for women improved only slightly . Women had to continue working a “double shift” – in their official job and in the home. The dominance of men in the work force remained unchanged, due
to the fact that men ra
interest, it’s worth mentioning that the wife of the half illiterate Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the US
On the one hand, family life in western and communist nations were different. Western woman’s job of the 1950s was to strive to be and look the perfect housewife. Women were judged not only on how well her home looked, but also on how well sh
In Soviet Union abortion was legalized 1955, but the contraceptive pill was not available for women. Family life was harder for women in USSR than in western countries. Women had to work and look after the family. Also, military development priorities, resulted in the limited construction of Laundromats, cafes and kindergartens; all of which were essential in assisting women perform their home keeping duties – yet another hardship that the working woman had to endure under Stalin’s reign. The dominant male’s role was a telling characteristic of the social movement. Wives of engineers and other specialised professionals, under their own free will had to administer the companies where their husbands worked and
other establishments, such as cafes, public housing and medical centres. It was expected that these extra duties would not interfere with the house keeping duties and would safeguard a male’s right to relaxation. Stalin’s revolution accelerated a male’s patriarchal commitment (as a father, responsibility to their family and its prosperity) breakdown and the expulsion of the male figurehead from a family. Women in this
social discourse were treated as potential mothers, while the male population – only as soldiers, their fatherhood was not the focus. Meanwhile western families lived on their own, family cooperation in USSR remained important because child-care centre could not accommodate all children of working mothers, nor would the centres accept children who were ill. Extended families in which a relative played a significant role in child rearing were more common in households where women had a secondary school or university education. Presumably the presence of a grandparent permitted these women to continue an education or assume work responsibilities that might have been precluded if they bore the major share of child care. Another factor encouraging extended family households has been endemic housing shortage. Although the government’s policy favoured married couples (especially those with children) in housing allocation, many young families waited up to five years for their first separate apartment. Most of these families shared an apartment with a mother or mother-in-law. Divorced couples sometimes continued living together simply for want of other housing alternatives. For the elderly, who were expected to trade their apartments for smaller ones as spouses died and children left home, the situation was often difficult.
On the other hand, there were similarities in family life between western and communist women. The most important thing for women was to be a wife and mother it was the only way to gain respect socially. A girl was termed old maid if not married by age 25, and if not married then there was considered something wrong with her. So, age at marriage was low and rates of marriage were at historically high level and the number of children was very high. Around home the husband relaxed and recovered from work and did not help the wife with housework. What is more, divorces were very rare and expensive.
During 1950s – 1960s, was mass propaganda about Soviet Union having the best women’s rights policy, and the best care in the world, however, none of the women in any other civilised countries bore as heavy a burden as a Soviet woman. In the highest State Government body of the USSR, the Politburo of the CPSU, there have never been any women, during the whole period of the existence of the USSR. The only exception would have been during the reign of N. Khrushchev, when a female activist J Furtseva was appointed the Minister of Culture, but, according to the
opinion of the majority of Russian intellectuals, she did not have a clue
about culture. The similar situation was in the western countries. Women were grossly unrepresented in party leadership positions. Britain and France were near the bottom of the list averaging 4 or 5 percent female representation in their lower houses in the post war era. What is more, women voted very conservatively. For example, in post war Italy, two-thirds of Christian Democratic party voters were female.
In USSR the number of women in higher education as a percentage of the total has risen from 28 per cent in 1927, to 43 percent in 1960. Meanwhile, in West Germany in 1960 only 25 per cent of girls went on to study at secondary high schools, and only 8.7 per cent of girls went on to study at the selective or elite high schools. Even by 1960, only 4.4 per cent of all German women aged between 19 and 21 were students at universities where they formed only 23.9 per cent of the total student population . Similar situation was in all western countries. So, in Soviet Union more women had high education.
In conclusion, there were many differences and similarities between women in western and soviet nations. The condition of women was, in one sense, better than in capitalist countries, but it was also more difficult. It concludes that were no real equality between men and women neither in Soviet Union, nor in western countries.
Edmundas Bakonis, International History, Briedis, Lithuania 2003;
Mary R. Beard, Woman as force in history, Collier Books, New York 1973;
Simone de Beauvour, The Second Sex, trans. H M Parshley, Penguin, Harmondsworth, UK, 1974
Antoinette Burton, Gender Sexuality and Colonial Modernities, Routledge, 1999;
Nijole Letukiene, Jonas Gineika, History and Politics, Alma littera, Lithuania 2004;
David Reynolds, One world divisible a global history since 1945, Penguin books, England 2001;
Alice Schwarzer, After the Second Sex, Conversations with Simone De Beauvour, Pantheon books, New York 1984;
Jill Stephenson, Women in Nazi society, Barnes & Noble Books, New Yaor, 1975;
The World Since 1945: From War’s end to the early 1970s, Reader, Deakin University, Melbourne 2003.
The World since 1945:From War’s end to the early 1970’s, Study guide, Deakin University, Melbourne 2004;
Simone de Beauvour, The Second Sex, trans. H M Parshley, Penguin, Harmondsworth, UK, 1974, p. 296
Nijole Letukiene, Jonas Gineika, History and Politics, Alma littera, Lithuania 2004, p.185
Alice Schwarzer, After the Second Sex, Conversations with Simone De Beauvour, Pantheon books, New York 1984. p30
Edmundas Bakonis, International History, Briedis, Lithuania 2003;p. 212