Academic literature observing the position of Russian women throughout the history

Clements, Barbara Evans., “Later Developments: Trends in Soviet Women’s History, 1930 to the Present”, in Russia’s Women: Accommodation, Resistance, Transformation, ed. by Barbara Evans Clements, Barbara Alpern Engel and Christine D. Worobec (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991). This work seeks to challenge what many historians have previously ignored – the efforts made to control women and the influence this had on the social and political policies of the Soviet Union. It offers the argument that despite improvements in the economic opportunities presented to women, this was overshadowed by the prioritisation of patriarchal values. There is also specific focus on the “double shift” that shows that women’s domestic duties severely diminished their ability to actively engage as members of the state. This chapter examines the various roles of Russian women, but ultimately, the position of women remained largely unchanged.

Engel, Barbara Alpern., Women in Russia 1700-2000: Grappling with the Stalinist Legacy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). This chapter argues that it was the strong patriarchal attitudes and the ignorance of the government that continued to uphold the gendered status quo in the post-war years. Despite the new opportunities that were introduced to women, there have been conservative powers reluctant to relinquish their grip on the discourse of Soviet women. As such, Alpern attributes the pronatalist campaign for continuing to reinforce the gender hierarchy that limited what women could do. Instead of attempting to remedy this backwards process, Engel subsequently highlights that major inequalities continued to plague women who had little choice but to accept their place.

Ilic, Melanie., “What Did Women Want? Khrushchev And The Revival Of The Zhensovety”, in Soviet State And Society Under Nikita Khrushchev, ed. by Melanie Ilic and Jeremy Smith (Oxon: Routledge, 2009). This work serves as the forerunner for the major development of recent historiography of Soviet women. Ilic’s investigation of the roles and responsibilities of the zhensovety, or ‘women’s councils’, have spurred a renewed wave of historical interest in the role of Soviet women in the Khrushchev period. In turn, she has also questioned their legitimacy as an official body of women’s representatives or whether they simply became a channel that the government directed their policies of what they believed women wanted. Nevertheless, Ilic highlights that women did have their own sphere of influence that somewhat influenced aspects of Soviet policy.

Lapidus, Gail Warshofsky., “Sexual Equality in Soviet Policy: A Developmental Perspective”, in Women in Russia, ed.

by Dorothy Atkinson, Alexander Dallin and Gail Warshofsky Lapidus (Sussex: The Harvester Press, 1978). Lapidus examines a number of aspects of the Soviet concept of women’s liberation and emancipation and how it impacted on the modern Soviet female population. She investigates the way that the Soviet government encouraged women to become engaged in state affairs through economic, political and family life, although the intent of this was to incorporate the female demographic in the interest of national development on all levels. While she characterises that it was this process of modernisation that transformed the role of women in the post-war years, she neglects to mention the extraordinary pressure that women were now faced with.

Sakwa, Richard., Soviet Politics- An Introduction: The Politics of Gender (London: Routledge, 1989). Sakwa argues that the Soviet Union has continually regarded the emancipation of women on an economic level. However, it was the manual and unskilled jobs that women occupied due to their double burden. Sawka also highlights that equality for women was part of the socialist goal, but also points out the contradiction that while introducing women into the economic sphere was seen as socially liberating, they were still predominantly responsible for the domestic sphere. While the party census declared that the women’s question had been solved and there was no gender division, Sakwa’s work shows this was not the case.