Women position in western and communist nations in the 1950s.

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 of

f 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, se
ecretary 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
n a career. However, she also did not have the pressure of being the provider for the family. The woman was a housewife, had all responsibilities inside home: shopping for food and necessities, cooking, cleaning, ironing the clothing of husband and children and, of course raising children. She did not have her own money and depended upon the husband and his salary. The western women job of the 1950s was to be and look perfect housewife.
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 So
oviet 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
arely became unemployed during Soviet times; there was always work and they did not have to compete for work with women. This was not the case in other European nations. Stalin’s program for the Soviet Union experienced a catastrophic shortfall of workers. Also, Stalin’s industrialization program resulted in the development of large-scale industry which was directly associated with enhancing the military strength of the Soviet Union. Women were very proud of the fact that they worked. On the other hand, women did the most unappealing and least prestigious jobs. Medical treatment was free in Soviet Union, the state did not pay well and the job was extraordinarily hard, so almost all the doctors were women. Women were consigned to medicine and education, but the really important jobs, like those in science and engineering were less accessible to them. . Soviet women were often seen working with heavy equipment, like ploughs and farrows, in the fields of the collective farms, or carrying bricks on building sites, digging trenches and breaking ice with heavy ice-picks in the streets of the Soviet towns. As a matter of
interest, it’s worth mentioning that the wife of the half illiterate Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR K. Kalinin, who herself was a belligerent communist, was sent to a work camp by Stalin, however, having been a very influential activist, she secured herself a very easy job there, which was picking lice from the garments of other prisoners. On the other hand, there have been positive developments for women as a result of the planned economy. Despite the devastating destruction of the Second World War, the Soviet economy was rapidly reconstructed, increasing five times since 1945. In the 1950s and early 1960s the economy grew by 10-11 percent a year, two or three times faster than most capitalist countries. This allowed steady improvements in living standards for women, including retirement at 55 (60 for men), no discrimination against working mothers in terms of employment or rates of pay, and the right of pregnant women to transfer to lighter work with fully paid maternity leave for 56 days before and 56 days after the birth of a child.

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 she looked. Her topic of conversation should be cute, and topics about home, family, hobbies. Showing too much of ones intellectual smarts was not always an attractive quality. Women were big consumers of cosmetics, bought magazines to see and read the latest and mostly she had some time so that she could enjoy this at her leisure. Also she provided emotional support, organized social occasions and church attendance, taught domestic skills to her daughter; taught proper etiquettes, cleanliness, and morals to the children. She accompanied her husband and children to their events. She joined social committees and clubs. Other, very important thing is that contraceptive pill was developed and became commercially available to women in many western countries. The rapid adoption of the pill was partly related to the increased emphasis on sexual pleasure in mirage. But the pill was almost unavailable for the single women. The societal pressure for single and pregnant woman was so strong that some resorted to illegal abortion. It was difficult for a girl to overcome a bad girl reputation. One remedy was marriage.
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.
Words: 1898

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