I Era and the Russian Revolution

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17 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 11 μήνες)

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Women’s Roles in the World War

I Era and the Russian Revolution



World War I, 1914
-
1918, was probably the most important event of the twentieth century, for
most likely there would not

have been World War II, the Russian Revolution, the Great Depression,
and the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States.

All these wars and revolutions and
their aftermath, had major influence on women's lives.

The two world wars were a cont
inuation in a
long series of struggles beginning with Charles the V, the Holy Roman Empire in the sixteenth
century, continuing with Napoleon and ending with Hitler to establish hegemony of one power over all
of Europe.

World War I was the "Great War" for
Europeans; it was a great shocker like the Black
Death in the fourteenth century.

Approximately ten million men were shot,
bayoneted
, gassed or blown
to pieces.

Half of all the young men between the ages of twenty to thirty
-
two were killed.

Russia
suffered

a quarter of a million casualties a month, and in the end 1,700,000 Russian men were dead.

In
all twenty million men in this war were seriously wounded; armless, legless, blinded, or broken in
spirit.

Five million widows were created, nine million childre
n became orphans, and ten million
became refugees.

Even one million horses were killed or died.

"Europe became an enormous cauldron
into which men and resources from Asia, Africa, Europe, and America were poured."

One noted
historian of the period called t
he years preceding war as the "Road to Armageddon," and the war itself
as Armageddon.

Many were shocked even further when in 1920, two years after the war ended, a
Colonel Repington entitled his account of the Great War, as
The First World War
.

World War I

changed forever Europe's domination of the world, and it wiped out the centuries
-
old dynasties and
ruling houses of: Romanovs of Russia, Hapsburgs of Austria, the Ottomans and the German Empire.

The new countries of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania,

Yugos
lavia

were established
, and Poland
was resurrected.

Eventually out the Middle East came the countries of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq,
Iran, and Palestine.

At the beginning of the war most all of Europe believed war would set things right,
and even make li
fe beautiful.

Our modern day society with a multitude of changes for women came out
of this era.


Why would Europe go to war?

There are numerous long
-
term causes: Nationalism,
militarism/jingoism, rival and secret alliance systems, armament races, imperial
istic rivalries, and
economic competition.

When World War broke out in August 1914, it ended years of international
disputes, where the West struggled against each other for colonies as sources of raw materials and
markets for their industrial products.

To

strengthen their positions German and English governments
had built huge fleets of warships/dreadnoughts, and invested heavily in military arms, conscripting
millions of men.

Incidents were continuously erupting in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.

It was
there
in Serbia that in June of 1914, Serbian nationalists assassinated the heir to the Habsburg
2


Austrian/Hungarian Empire and his wife.

Because of the Austro
-
Hungarian alliance with Germany,
this particular
event

set

Germany

in motion to assist

Austria
.

T
he

Ottomans

and Bulgaria also joined
the Central Powers
,
all of whom

were soon at war with Russia, France, Britain and later Italy.

The
United States came in
to the war when it had one year left.



In the beginning of the war people thought it would be a sh
ort
-
lived war similar to the fairly
recent Franco
-
Prussian war of 1871 when the Prussians under Otto von Bismarck forced France into
war.

Within six weeks the Prussians were in Paris, and the French capitulated.



Now t
he first eight months of the
World Wa
r I

governments and the home front did not change
all that much, but the French and Germans were bogged down in what became known as Trench
Warfare.

The British had joined the French.

After this first phase, the second one last
ed

one and a half
years, and
now countries were turning their consumer manufa
cturing plants into war weapons, utilizing
machine guns, artillery fire, poison gas, and eventually tanks.



Women lost jobs not related to military efforts, and it is estimated that thirty to forty percent o
f
Europe
an

women lost their jobs.

Even farms had to shut down for lack of male labor. Unemployment
of women caused little initial stir as only women
were
out of work.

Governments had made no plans to
shift women to production for military needs.

Older men
substituted first in military factories in
Germany, and it was not until 1915 that women starting working in heavy industry, allowing the men
to fight. Only in 1916 did Germany give serious attention to the use of female labor.



What appears new

to women'
s experiences in the First W
orld
W
ar was the relatively
widespread feeling that women's traditional support for the armed forces was not enough.

In this
horrific struggle which demanded men risk their lives, it appeared women were not doing enough.

Some of

the privileged women insisted on active participation, but their families and men

folk
objected.

Dr. Elsie Ingliss (1867
-
1917) offered to provide the British Army with fully staffed medical
units.

She was rejected by the War Office with the words: My good

lady, go home and sit still."

Not
going home, Dr. Ingliss went to the allies of the British, who did accept her services.

By 1917 she had
organized and administered fourteen medical units for Belgian, French, Russian, and Serbian armies
.



Before the outb
reak of World War I, the women's rights movements were in full flower.

Women in general, though, gave up their pursuit of votes for women, and instead worked for victory
for their country.

Many women who were pacifists became militarists, and many
socialists jettisoned
the concept of international working
-
class solidarity to support their own country's war efforts.

Thus
many feminists and socialists suddenly were welcomed into the national endeavor.

These women were
given civic responsibilities for
governments that needed women's loyalty to the war.

Nations now
recognized that they needed women's cooperation and efforts.

An example of reactions by women was
3


the change in
the famous
British suffrage movement. Millicent Garrett Fawcett remarked in the
English suffrage magazine,
Common Cause
, "Let us show ourselves worthy of citizenship."

The
famous mother and daughters of the Pankhurst family changed the name of their paper from
The
Suffragette

to
Britannia
.

They did extensive public relations in favor
of the war.

Travelling
continually
for four years, they spoke at bond
-
selling and recruitment rallies to raise the psychological support for
the war.

In France suffragists shows strong patriotism.

In fact perhaps it was stronger in France than
anywhere els
e, probably because most of the battles took place on French soil.

The newspaper
La
Francaise

spoke for most French feminists in November 1914 with these remarks: "While the ordeal
our country is suffering continues, it will not be proper for anyone to spe
ak of her rights."

So they
closed down their various newspapers or converted them to organs of wartime propaganda, and also
used their experience as organizers to set up all kinds of groups aiding the war effort.


Eventually women's participation changed a
s the war dragged on a
nd

millions of men became
casualties of the trench warfare system after volunteering or be
ing conscripted by the millions.

Men's
place on farms and in factories was taken by women.

This varied in each country, including the
percentage

of women working in various areas.

It was not just because men were not available, but
wives of soldiers needed more money to support themselves and their families.

This was true of single
middle class women too.

Patriotism and propaganda served to increa
se the number of women in the
war effort.

In most countries the propaganda for women's participation made it unpatriotic if they did
not do war work.

Great Britain had many posters and slogans urging women to do their part.

Here are
some of these:

"Any wom
an who by working helps to release and equip a man for fighting does
national war services; Shells made by a wife may save a husband's life."



Other jobs
that
women engaged in were more dangerous.

Nurses responded and were serving
close to the front lines
.

Women drove ambulances

like Marie Curie. Some women

were spies,
and
some

were executed by the enemy. Most women needed little urging, and for the first time they found
themselves able to command higher wages than in the past.
With more money coming in

it

brought
more independence.



Unfortunately one of the by
-
products of these increased opportunities for women led to
negative charges against women regarding morality and working conditions.

Detractors said that the
weakening of morals and increased laxity

regarding sex was true of the French, German and British
women.

We do know that a
increased
number of broken marriages occurred.

Some people were
convinced
that
this was due to women's new independence.

Many others agreed with the statement of
one French doctor that "war was leading to the masculinization of women."

Fighting men felt that
living it up for tomorrow they may die seems to have prevailed.


4



Fellow workers in the factories did not always welcome women workers either.

French
munitions

workers made the common charge that hiring women in men's jobs enabled more and more
men to be sent to the front to be slaughtered.

Because of women, not because of war, men were
becoming "cannon
-
fodder" as one
poster showed.

Proverbial accusations
agains
t women
of centuries
past surfaced again
.

If women were

women in the workplace
, this

would lead to male unemployment
and lower wages for men in the future.

Women at the time expected the same wages as men for the
same work,

but both employers and the gover
nments thought differently.

Paying lower wages to
women meant companies made more profits, and governments were able to buy more war material
s
.

Many unions did support equal pay for women, but they were not always successful in obtaining it.


Until 1914 wh
en the war broke out, women's skirts were ankle
-
length, which they had been for
over two thousands years. Skirts began to rise upwards as early as December 1914 (the war began in
August).

Within a year the skirts were ten inches off the ground.

Women have
never returned since to
ankle
-
length day time wear.

Naturally the press was full of remarks about the shocking aspect of
female ankles and legs.

Underclothes also changed.

Where the ideal shape had been the hour glass
figure achieved by a tight corset, and

even worn eventually by working class women, now the loose
chemise or brassiere materialized.

After the war in the 1920's the brassiere itself was temporarily
discarded in exchange for a flattening breast band, but this style only lasted about five years.

Slimness
rather than just tiny waists became the new "ideal." Fashionable women began to diet and watch their
weight.

Women modified their clothing to fit their new jobs.

They now wor
e overalls.

Women began
to cut
their hair.

Before this most women had ne
ver cut their hair as it was their crowning glory.

Now
not only was it cut, but in a short bob fashion.

Long hair came close to being considered unpatriotic as
women
working
in factories and nurses were not allowed to wear long hair.

During the war women
b
egan to use cosmetics, which until this time was a woman's signal that she was sexually available and
also associated with prostitutes.

By the mid twenties, it was standard practice for women to use: bright
red lipstick, powder, rouge, mascara, eye shadow,

and finger nail polish.

Hollywood movies were
highly influential in this new fashion.

Now women were putting on their face before they were going
out.

Remarks in papers were not flattering.

One English paper stated: "Women were coming to look
like
characters in a comic opera."



Each country involved in the war used propaganda involving women to further their interests.

Used were violence against women as a way to infuse hatred of the enemy, and keep people sacrificing
for the war.

French anti
-
Germa
n PR showed women violated sexually in front of their children.

Rumanian newspapers reported that German women were the gouged
-
out eyes of wounded Frenchmen
as necklaces.


5



Finally, the war came to an end, and on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of th
e eleventh
month, the treaty was signed, whereby German was made to accept all the blame for the war, and to
pay billions of dollars in reparations to the victors.

German balked, for she said that she had beaten the
Russians, when they
surrendered
in the t
hird year of the war, and the Russian Revolution subsequently
occurred.



When the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East was dismantled, negotiations with the Muslims
had already been going on, and
Gertrude Bell
had a significant role in the peace talks and settlement of
mandates controlled by France and Britain in the Middle East.
She was a famous woman in Europe,
but not in America.

T. H. Lawrence was well known thanks to Lowell Thomas, but Gertrude Bell's
contr
ibutions were crucial.

Bell and Lawrence of Arabia helped to create the Hashemite dynasty in
Jordan and defined the outline of the modern state of Iraq.

Educated in England, where she was born,
within two years she
had
gained a first class honors degree in

history.

Her first visit to the Middle East
was in Persia, where her uncle was living.

She spent much of the next decade traveling around the
world, and developing a passion for archaeology and languages.

She became fluent in Arabic, Persian,
French, Germ
an, Italian and Turkish.

Making recurring trips to the Middle East, she ultimately proved
indispensable to the British Government in their desire to gain Arab support for World War I, and in
the aftermath where the British served as “teachers” to the Arabs
. Gertrude is supposed to have
described T.E. Lawrence as being able to ignite fires in cold rooms, but so could she.

Her archaeology
work led her
to
establishing the British School of Archaeology in Iraq and eventually also establishing
the Iraqi Archaeol
ogical Museum in Baghdad.

Receiving the Order of the British Empire was just one
of
her many awards and recognitions
that her language and diplomatic skills facilitated the West’s
presence in the Middle East, but she also recognized that perhaps the best s
olution was to allow them
their follow their own path.

Superb biographies exist on her fascinating life.


RUSSIAN SOCIETY IN THE GENERATION LEADING UP TO THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION


What was Russia like in the generation before and after the Russian Revolution
?

The Bolshevik
or Russian Revolution occurred in 1917.

At the time 85% of the Russians were peasants.

Society was
definitely patriarchal in structure.

Peasant law did not consider women legal members of the
household.

Women did not hold property rights if

any male members of the family were alive.

Land
was inherited only via the male line.

Women only had rights over their dowries, which consisted
primarily of clothing and kitchen utensils.

Occasionally the dowry included a sheep or cow.

If her
husband died
, the wife was usually not welcome
d

back to her natal family as in China.

Her sons were
not accepted by her birth family either as they had no value.


6



Most households were extended families, and were quite large with twenty
-
five to thirty people
within th
is multiple
-
family household.

This contrasted with the nuclear family of the West.

The
patriarch of the family had authority over the smallest detail.

Father
-
in
-
laws had legal rights to have
sexual intercourse with their daughters
-
in
-
law.

The practice was
sufficiently common to merit its own
word in the Russian language: "Snokhachestvo."

Adult sons had consultative voice in family matters,
and dominance over their wives.

Women did not participate in the governance of the household.

A
rigid patriarchy system

of peasant society was hardly unique to Russia, but Russian women were more
subordinate than
in

other nationalities.

A woman was not only subordinate to her husband and father,
but to the entire male community in the villages.

Peasant households were orga
nized into communes,
governed by the elders, male heads of households.

In the peasant courts of original and final
jurisdiction over all civil and some criminal disputes, there were only male judges and juries.

Women
were thus mute and powerless
and
best e
xpressed in the Russian peasant proverb: "A hen is not a bird,
and a woman is not a person."

Yet women's endless labor was essential to the family's survival.

While
women's
work was

valued by peasants, men's labor was valued more.

Women were taught from
ch
ildhood to submit to the power of men.

It was God's will that a woman do as she was told, just as it
was God's will that she endure privations of her life.

However, the wife of the male head
of the
household was able to pres
cribe duties
to

the other women
in the house, so mother
-
in
-
law's power and
abuse of power over their sons' wives was notorious.

This was true in China as well.

Another popular
expression in Russia further elucidates this: "And who carries the water?

The Daughter
-
in
-
law.

And
who is beaten
? The Daughter
-
in
-
law.

And why is she beaten?

Because she is the Daughter
-
in
-
law."


What were the specific duties of peasant women?

There was a long list of chores that were
borne by the women folk.

These included cleaning and maintenance of the home, grin
ding grain,
preparing and preserving food, taking care of the livestock, gardens, and dairy work, and providing
clothing.

Peasant women's responsibilities were not just to her home and its environs, but survival of
the household depended on her labor in th
e fields too.

By tradition, field work was divided by gender.
Men ploughed and sowed the land, kept bees, and took care of the sheep.

Women fertilized and
weeded the land.

During harvest they moved the hay, stacked it, and then bound the sheaves.

Afterward
s they burned the stubble.

Even in some places the implements used for mowing the crops
were divided by sex.

Women mowed hay with a sickle and men with a scythe.

During this time
Russian agriculture suffered from serious under production.

Land was exhauste
d after centuries of
primitive cultivation methods.

Food production on the farm was not able to support the rapidly
growing population, so by the 1880's peasant households were rarely self
-
sufficient.

Land provided not
even enough to pay the taxes, nor eno
ugh food for the peasants themselves.

Serfs were manumitted in
7


1861, but then had to buy their land, which was only half what they had before they became free
peasants.

This forced peasants to buy goods they had once produced themselves, and wage labor
bec
ame a necessity.

This new phenomenon directly influenced the position and role of peasant women
both in the household and extended economy.

Households began to split up to survive economically,
and became more nuclear in structure like the West.

Sources se
em to indicate that women had less
work and responsibilities once this multiple
-
family structure decreased.

As the economy moved more
towards industrialization, men left the farms to seek employment.

This then led to woman's share of
field labor
increasing.

Now women ploughed, did road repairs, and many other necessary chores.

Men
left the land first because they could earn more than women, but women on the farms were forced to
supplement their earnings too.

Each region in Russia saw women having
different experiences earning
extra money to survive.

In the most heavily industrialized areas of Russia, the central part, factories
were located in the country side as well as in the city of Moscow.

In these locations women were
involved in the "putting
-
out" system.

By the late nineteenth century the greatest number of peasant
women knitted woolen gloves and stockings.

Observations were vivid: "You will see row upon row of
wagons loaded down with grass, hay, wood, potatoes, etc., and driving or walking be
side them were
women talking among themselves as their hands knitted stockings; or as women carried sacks with
jugs full of milk and cream, they were seen knitting as they walked."

As soon as factories began
producing stockings and gloves by 1900 women no
longer were involved in
the
cottage or the putting
-
out system.

In less populated areas around the city of St. Petersburg on the Baltic sea, women were
involved in the sale of agricultural and dairy products.

Women grew and then transported the produce
to m
arket.

In tourist areas, women earned extra money renting summer accommodations, and
necessary

ancillary services.



In conclusions then, between the 1880's and the beginning of World War I, women were
increasingly responsible for working the land to free
men for outside wage work.

Women still had to
do other work to supplement their family's income, which varied according to the location.

Women's
wages were always considerably less then men's and where they both held the same occupation,
women earned from
one
-
fifth to two
-
thirds of men's wages.

As more and more factories took over the
cottage industries, more women were eventually forced to work in the factories.



THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION ITSELF


Why did this occur?

As in all revolutions, there were many cau
ses as the revolution had been
brewing for a long time.

It is obvious that the
awful c
onditions of the peasants was crucial.

The Tsarist
regime was severely outdated and not effective.

Economic conditions led to many demonstrations by
8


women for food in the

cities.

Many historians now credit the tradition of women's radicalism as the
impulse to revolt.

This radicalism was older and more powerful than anywhere else in Europe.

After
Sophia Perovskaya assassinated the Czar in 1881, women remained prominent in t
he radical movement
throughout the early twentieth century.

Women were terrorists and organizers of peasants and workers.

One of the most prominent women was Alexandra Kollontai (1872
-
1952).

She was part of the socialist
radical movement that included Leni
n and his wife Nadezhda Krup
skaya.

When World War I broke
o
ut in 1914, Kollontai switched from organizing women to
being
a peace proponent, by pointing to the
war's capitalist inspiration and profits.

Alexandra was out of the country too like Lenin when th
e actual
revolution began in 1917.

She returned to Russia to advocate for the socialist viewpoint and bring
women to
her

way of thinking.

From this history of women involved in radical socialist movements,
Lenin himself drew the conclusion that women's rol
e in the revolutionary activities would be crucial.

On the even of World War I Lenin's wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, his sister Anna, his devoted friend
Iness, and other women published seven issues of
The Woman Worker
, as a way of introducing to
women the
Bolshevik brand of socialism.

At the same time the Social Revolutionary Group organized
women school teachers, and many other radicals recruited activists from the upper classes. Terrorist
acts had died down before World War I because the Czarist governmen
t had by then incarcerated or
exiled most of the prominent women radicals.

However, their collective activity continued in waves of
strikes, etc.

Such activity abated due to patriotism when the war broke out, but only for a few years.

When it became clear
that the Tsar was not able or willing to address the horrible conditions of the
peasants, the ensuing outcry forced him to create the Duma, a parliamentary
-
type body.

This did not
work well as the Representatives in the Duma were repeatedly sent home.

As i
t became clear that
Russia did not have an adequate ruler, and their soldiers did not have adequate weapons, it soon
became
evident h
ow backward Russia was.


One of the most interesting and unusual parts of Russian history during this time was the Royal
f
amily and their dealings with the disreputable pervert, Rasputin.

Alexandra was the Tsarina and
Nicholas II was the Tsar.

While Alexandra's was Queen Victoria's favorite granddaughter, she was a
German princess from Hesse and she was not liked by
t
he Russi
ans, who called her "The German."

Tragically, the heir to the throne, Alexis, had hemophilia, and through the efforts of a group of ladies
of St. Petersburg society, Rasputin was introduced to the imperial family, who espoused his ability to
hypnotize Alex
is, so that his pain was bearable.

Rasputin, whose name means dissolute, was a half
-
literat
e

non
-
ordained religious teacher, who wandered through rural Russia, living on donations from
simple
-
minded believers.

Apparently, the essence of his preaching seems

to have been the belief that
"sexual indulgence is the true path to humility and through humility
to eternal salvation," and he
9


claimed "The greater the sin, the greater the repentance."

Eventually Rasputin's advice was sought on
all matters concerning th
e imperial family.

When Nicholas was away commanding the army at the
eastern front, Rasputin's influence increased.

By 1916 his orgies with both women and beasts were
legendary.

As military and economic disasters multiplied, widespread resentment escalated
.

Rasputin
was murdered in December 1916
thought it took four ways;
through poison in his wine, then
he was
stabbed with a knife, shot with a revolver, and finally
he was
drowned in one of the canals of the Neva
River.

Tsarina Alexandra went into shock as
she remembered Rasputin's prophecy: "If I die or you
desert me, in si
x

months you will lose your son and your throne."

It happened.


During the war many Russian women even became soldiers.

The most famous was Mariya
Bochkareva, who was decorated for her br
avery, but there were thousands of women that fought on the
battlefields, even in the death battalions created by
Alexander
Kerensky. With the Russian casualties
escalating daily, and many of the soldiers beg
inning

to desert, it became evident to the worke
rs and
middle class that Russia was backw
ard in t
echnology, cultural, and politics.

By March of 1917 women
began demonstrating for better food supplies, and bread rationing became necessary in Petrograd (now
Russianized from the German St. Petersburg)
.

A p
ound of rye bread in 1813 sold for three kopeks, but
by 1916 it was eighteen kopeks.

Women stood in bread lines after working twelve hour days in
factories.

These lines became the only way to feed their families.

"Men consider it better to die of
hunger
than to stand in line; a mother can't act that way because she is the mother of her children and
she needs to feed them."

Documents now available attest that the government was aware of the food
problem
, and women’s hostilities
.

In a police report of Janua
ry 1917 it stated that:


"Mothers of families, exhausted by endless standing in line

at stores, distraught
over their half
-
starving and sick

children are today perhaps closer to revolution than

[liberal opposition leaders] and of course they are a great d
eal more dangerous because
they are the combustible

material for which only a single spark is needed to burst

into
flames."



Women in Petrograd began demonstrating after waiting hours in food lines, and then they
turned to pillaging and general destructio
n.

On International Women's Day in March 8th, 1917, about
10,000 Russian women started marching, carrying banners reading: Down with Autocracy, Down with
War; Our Husbands must return from the front; Peace and Bread.

These women persisted in their
efforts
even though male political leaders of all the various parties had told them not to.

The military
refused to fire on the women and others who had joined them.

Commonly heard was "Put down your
bayonets and join us."

Women also spontaneously coordinated a se
ries of other protests, including
seizing streetcars, and confiscating food from stores.

Hundreds of thousands of women filled the
streets in an outburst of disobedience that the government could not control.


10



With those protests the Russian Revolution be
gan.

It spread to other cities and the Czar
abdicated.

Thus, while working class women made their presence felt in many nations during World
War I, in Russia the women helped change history.

Women's demonstration became a revolution.


Women continued to ta
ke an active role after the revolution.

In the cities working class women
responded to the revolution differently.

At one point 20,000 Petrograd women marched again
demanding the vote, displaying the banner reading "The woman's Place is in the Constituent
Assembly.

Other women protested the war, and all political parties competed for women's support, and
appointed prominent women to their central committees.

The provisional government under Kerensky
included two women, Ariadna Tyrkova and Countess Sofya Pan
ina.

Few women, however, ran
successfully for seats in the Moscow and Petrograd Assemblies.

Women did get the vote in 1917, the
first European nation outside of Scandinavia to enfranchise women.

Women also got an array of civil
rights, including the right
to equal pay.



Then under the banner of "Bread and Peace" exiled radicals including Lenin and his wife
Krupskaya and others returned to Russia in a sealed German railroad car to push the revolution
leftward.

The Germans had been paying for these radicals
to incite revolution so that they would pull
out of the war.

After a series of maneuvers and battles, the Bolsheviks illegally took control of the
government.

Their position did not become secure for several years as a Civil War erupted between the
Bolshev
iks with Leon Trotsky as the War Commissar, and the Social Revolutionaries.

In an Lenin
-
approved election, the Bolsheviks won only 25% of the popular vote, necessitating an overthrow called
the Red Terror.

Trotsky made peace with the Germans (The Treaty of

Brest
-
Litovsk 1918), which
ceded to Germany huge areas of Russian land, which helped to encourage rebellion against the new
regime in a civil war.

The anti
-
Bolsheviks were joined by fourteen nations and nearly one million
of
their men to try and

eliminate Lenin and his Bolsheviks.

Within two years, the White Forces, as they
were called,
lost
against the Red Forces, with horrible consequences for
the
Russians.

Estimates of the
number of Russians dying range from nine to fifteen million with two mi
llion starving to death, three
and one
-
half million dying of Typhoid Fever.



Within a short time, the Tsar and his entire family were imprisoned in the Ural Mountains and
they were ordered killed out of fear they were about to be liberated by a counter
-
re
volutionary army.

Their remains have now been found and they are interred in the Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul in St.
Petersburg, where the rulers from the past lie buried


While the battle ensued between the Red and the White Armies, Bolsheviks attempte
d a series
of reforms.

Abolition of private property and democratization of production and politics occurred too.

Women participated in every step of radicalization of the Russian Revolution, but there was always a
11


small group of leaders that guided the Bo
lshevik program for women, families, marriages, and
children.

In the vanguard for these efforts was Alexandra Kollontai, who was an early revolutionary in
Lenin's circle.

Alexandra became a polyglot
enabling

her to travel around Europe and the United State
s
on behalf of revolutionary socialism, all the while developing the theoretical and practical interest in
women's issues.

The extremely backward conditions under which Russian women lived
led
Kollontai
to
fear their potentially reactionary role if the soc
ialists did not provide them
a
political education.

The
Bolsheviks did not have success with peasant women as they did with others.

When the Revolution
broke out peasants seized their landlord's property, and even remov
ed

the landlords who oppressed
them.

Unfortunately most peasant women preferred to cling to the patriarchal forms of family and
village.

Why?

These peasants saw Bolsheviks as city

folks

who had loose
-
living styles, were atheists
(the peasants were Russian Orthodox), bobbed their hair, and smo
ked cig
arettes.

The peasants thought
that
these Bolshevik women had sexual designs on the
ir husbands. Some peasants felt that the
Bolsheviks

were even trying to destroy marriage itself, which they weren't that far off as Lenin and his
Wife Krupskaya were a
theists and did not wear wedding rings.

Actually the Bolsheviks, at least on
paper, were committed to the destruction of the patriarchal family, Orthodox Christianity, and private
land ownership.

If a peasant woman had anything to do with the Bolsheviks an
d their reforms, then
they were beaten or even expelled from their homes by their husbands and fathers.


There were many reforms that affected women as a result of the Russian Revolution.

Marriage
became a civil not religious rite.

Divorce was obtainable u
pon request by both partners.

In 1920
abortion was made legal in hospitals, although they called abortion itself "an evil."

This legalization of
abortions
meant that Russia
was the first country in Modern Europe to do so.

Women also gained legal
rights ove
r their children and equality in courts.

As their duty for citizenship, all Russians were to
work.

Since most women had always worked, this provision was hardly new, but it gave legitimacy to
women working for pay.

Mothers began to receive benefits from a
series of supportive measures:
prenatal education, and free maternity hospital care. The Bolsheviks recognized and stated "that the
work of motherhood was every bit as important as that of an engineer who constructs roads."



Then a campaign to educate wom
en

began
.

At this time 85% of women were illiterate.

Education for women meant they could be engineers, veterinarians and doctors.

Even a Women's
Bureau, the Zhenotdel, was set up to help women deal with the patriarchal Russian family structure.

This
Bureau educated women on their rights and taught them a variety of liberating skills such as: how
to organize a day
-
care center.

The Zhenotdel attracted attention throughout the world, but in the Far
East, Zhenotdel workers were hacked to death, stoned and

beaten for encouraging women to take off
their veils and challenge tribal customs.

12



Once Lenin died in 1924, and Kollontai fell from favor, the government's priority
was now

productivity and industrialization.

Independent women's organizations were abolis
hed, including the
International Women's Secretariat in 1926.

Under Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, Russia became the Soviet
Union.

Nationalized
of

the l
and, the banks, and factories occurred.
Confiscation of all church property
followed next.

The capital was m
oved from Petrograd to Moscow and the Bolsheviks became
communists.