Whatta man, whatta man, whatta mighty masculine man!

After the revolution, there were different party organizations for distinct groups. There was the Zhenotdel, concentrated on the Women’s department, and the Komsomol, the Young Communist League (Freeze, 330). The Komsomol was open to both sexes but males outnumbered women 8 to 1. They represented atheism, hooliganism, and sexual depravity, and men did not want their daughters and wives to have any part of it (Guillory). Not only did men not want their daughters in it, girls did not want to be a part because of the constant discouragement from the men members.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komsomol

The Young Communists was in itself masculine. They rejected all things feminine and that alienated the women in society. You were able to tell who was a communist by how they looked in public. The most visible symbols were the “leather jacket; knee-high leather boots, a Sam Brown belt, and a pistol.. along with a cold, hard demeanor” (Guillory). The ideal communist was “serious, businesslike, showed disdain for all dancing and any gallantry, only sang revolutionary songs, dispersed in secluded pairs [having sex], didn’t attend village parties, and only hung out with “non-party” guys for political discussions and not for fun,” according to Nikolai Kartsev.

ref0033s.jpghttp://blogs.bu.edu/guidedhistory/russia-and-its-empires/sigalit-vasilver/

Because of the toxic masculinity, the women in the Komsomol club would often shed their dresses and dress as the men. But because the men were rude and offensive to the women, this only spurred more insults from the men. Women were struggling to find a way to express themselves while also being able to fit in. This is very different to only a few years ago before the revolution. Even their own Zhenotdel branches were shut down in 1930 because they were unable to provide power or resources to their members. Women were expecting things to change for them after the revolution, but as we see in Bed and Sofa, they are still inferior to their husbands and have to obey the patriarchy.

https://www.flickeralley.com/bed-and-sofa-soviet-film-review-now-voyaging/

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 11.40.34 AM.png

Sources:

Guillory, Sean. “Revolutionary Manliness.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, 4 Jan. 2016, soviethistory.msu.edu/1924-2/revolutionary-manliness/.

Russia A History Third Edition. Gregory L. Freeze. Oxford 2009.

von Geldern, James. “The New Woman.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, 29 Dec. 2015, soviethistory.msu.edu/1917-2/the-new-woman/.

 

 

20 thoughts on “Whatta man, whatta man, whatta mighty masculine man!

  1. I think it is important to comment upon the changes that female’s had or chose to undergo in order to fit in and feel as though they had say. Though when comparing this time period to the United States we see immense distinction. Russian females were coerced to take upon a more masculine identity in the early twenties based on pressures from certain organizations like the Komsomol. While in the United, females took a much different direction. Make-up, jewelry and dress became very important to the American woman while as you mentioned in your post, Russian females began to adopt male tendencies and different styles of clothing.

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  2. I really loved your post! The title originally caught my eye and the content didnt fail to entertain me. I really enjoyed how you compared the two then discussed there clothing and how that had a huge effect during the times.

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  3. Loved your post. It’s interesting to see they want women to embody masculinity. I liked the example of the changes in the clothing – I feel like that’s something that is often underestimated. You should check out the Tsarbucks blog! She also wrote about the changing role of women. I feel like you would enjoy it, considering it is on a similar topic.

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  4. This is a great post! I like how you looked in the masculinity that females tried to employ in order to fit in to their society. It seems that women were desperate to take part in social activities, but they were instead turned away no matter how they dressed and acted. I also like your inclusion of Bed and Sofa; it is interesting to look at this film where we can see the deprivation and its effects.

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  5. I did the misogyny in the revolution too! Its such an interesting topic and you put in in a great way, it was very toxic towards women no matter what they did. All that women were seen to represent or anything considered ‘feminine’ was very much frowned upon. It really left no place for women in the revolution even though they had been a considerable force in the revolution.

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  6. Claire, I really enjoyed that you had several graphics incorporated into your post. I think they all strengthened the information you were sharing. I thought the quotes on what a communist man should dress like/act like were really interesting to read. Those descriptions make it hard to imagine a female fitting into that role, and as you stated, those who tried often were harassed then for their masculinity.

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  7. Terrific title! And I love how you examine multiple aspects of the issue of women’s “emancipation.” That photograph at the top is really cool! It’s from the 80th anniversary of the Komsomol, though, so make sure and label it properly (cite source – not just the site where you found it.)

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  8. Informative post! I liked how you highlighted some of the issues with women’s rights after the revolution. I also found it very interesting how in the Freeze text (332-333) he highlights some of the dynamics around this new Soviet culture: soaring divorce rates, low birth rates and the differences between family life in the village and city. Great job examining an aspect of the early Soviet period.

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  9. Great post! I also think it’s really interesting that the Bolsheviks wanted all citizens to embrace masculinity, whereas Western societies urged women to be traditionally feminine. Maybe part of the reasoning behind this was to distinguish themselves from the capitalist West. Although it’s misguided, I guess they felt that choosing one look/emotional state for citizens to follow would keep people from being able to express class differences.

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  10. The difference just a few years made is astonishing. Women before and during the revolution were well on their way to gaining equal rights as men. This regression in social behavior does not set a good precedent for the remainder of the USSR’s time.

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  11. I really liked how you focused on the toxic masculinity the youth organizations promoted. This masculinity affected women’s ability to enter the organizations and have access to the services they provided. It also gave a negative connotation to the women who became members as they were thought of as less feminine and promiscuous simply for joining an organization that was focused on teaching ideology to the children of the revolution.

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  12. I think this is aspect post revolution society is often overlooked. It’s also very interesting to learn about how “communists” were supposed to look and act. It’s not something you think of very often. Great article, and graphics.

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  13. I enjoyed reading your post. I was surprised how women were still insulted by trying to fit in with the men in the Komsomol. It was a shame how women were unable to express themselves, and no matter what they did it was shut down by men.

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  14. Toxic masculinity ruins the party again! Was this the only political party that would accept women, or was this simply the worst? Either way, it really is a bummer to see how tolerated such behavior was and how toxic the environment was.

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  15. I like that you mentioned the appearance and attitude of the ideal communist. It’s interesting that women would adopt men’s fashion because of a lack of expression and a desire to fit in. Great post!

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  16. I enjoyed how you talked about the overall toxic masculinity that was brought about in some of the different party organizations. I personally never knew about how women were factored into the Soviet equation – I guess Russia was typical for its time as they were given minority privileges. It wasn’t until after the revolutions that they actually got some sort of freedoms and privileges.

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  17. This was a really interesting post, especially because this is such a unique time in the movement for women’s rights. It’s enlightening of not only how the masculine traditions of Soviet Russia affected the women but also how they affected the male population and their interpretation of a woman’s role and the tradition of Russia.

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