A Country of Victorious Women or Why Russians Despise Feminism

Many decades of social promotion of women in the USSR led to equal rights being seen as normal and explains the contempt towards modern feminism among Russians

Sat, Oct 8, 2016
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The highly respected liberal Friedrich Naumann Foundation did social research in Russia and concluded that This Country (™) is hopeless, because of ultraconservative homophobes with a slave mentality.

But one aspect of their results confused the Germans: “63.5% of respondents are happy when the wife earns more than the husband.” This figure corresponds both to other research and the Russian reality. The All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center published the results of the latest poll, showing that in general Russians have a positive attitude toward women in key political and governmental positions, including that of Prime Minister. They make an exception for high military ranks (only 12% of respondents support this idea) and the top job of president (32%).   

Russia is the world leader in terms of female managers, who occupy 45% of the highest administrative positions, 5% more than in 2015. Not to mention the fact that women have high-level jobs as the Head of the Central Bank and of the Chamber of Accounts (not to mention ministers).

Actually, the purpose of this report is not to prove that Russia is doing well in terms of the emancipation of women. It’s intended to explain why we are doing well in this area – much better than national averages in Western countries, which one could expect lead in terms of women’s rights.  

Women’s emancipation was part of the overall process of transitioning the country from a traditional (even patriarchic) society to that of a modern state, initiated by the Bolsheviks after the 1917 Revolution.

Of course, back in the 1920s and 30s there were exaggerations and tragedies related to making women’s rights and social status equal to those of men. But considering the other great achievements, such as the end of illiteracy, industrialization, collectivization and the reconstruction of the entire social structure – this was not the most significant.

It’s also partly because situations seen as problematic in the West are not considered as such in Russia, since our grandmothers and great-grandmothers solved them 90 years ago.

Americans are proud of their women, who replaced men on assembly lines during World War II (proving that women could also work in industry – We can do it!). A large number of artworks show how painful it was for American women to go back to being housewives when the men returning from the war displaced them in the factories.

Russians are also proud of their home front female workers, not because women worked (by the beginning of the war, this was not unusual in the USSR), but because of the difficult conditions they worked under: – bombings, malnutrition, 12-hour shifts without days-off and so on.

Women also served in the army, not only in the rear and support positions but also fighting in the front-line (radio operators, snipers, pilots), something still inconceivable in the West.

Many decades of social promotion of women in the USSR led to equal rights being seen as normal and explains the contempt towards modern feminism among Russians, not only among men, but among women, including professsionals.  

For a society in which women have for nearly a century had the right to vote, and where nobody would be surprised at a woman doctor, an engineer or a minister, having a quota for women's representation in leadership, compulsory paternity leave and claims of discrimination don't look like real equality, but merely an imitation of it.

Russia knows that women can lay rails, travel into space, fight and rule a state. Russia had only two rulers who gained the prefix “Great”, and one of them was a woman. The period considered as Russia’s Golden Age corresponds to her name, and Russians never had the West’s sophomoric attitude toward the emancipation of women.

Pragmatically, it’s better for machines to lay rails, and women do not fight in the front-lines – they had enough of that during World War II. A woman can either have children and cook borscht, or run a transnational corporation (however, she should not expect to have an easy time in the later situation). As for the presidency, if there is a suitable candidate, I believe that those who do not support this possibility, could easily change their mind.

The reason why real, not formal gender equality was relatively easily established in Russia could be connected to the fact that “man” and “person” are too different words in the Russian language, so there is no doubt that woman is also man.  

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