Gender in Russian History and Culture (Studies in Russian & Eastern European History)

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Gender in Russian History and Culture (Studies in Russian & Eastern European History)

Gender in Russian History and Culture Edited by Linda Edmondson Gender in Russian History and Culture Studies in Rus

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Gender in Russian History and Culture Edited by Linda Edmondson

Gender in Russian History and Culture

Studies in Russian and East European History and Society Series Editors: R. W. Davies, E. A. Rees, M. J. Ilic˘ and J. R. Smith at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Birmingham Recent titles include: Lynne Attwood CREATING THE NEW SOVIET WOMAN John Barber and Mark Harrison (editors) THE SOVIET DEFENCE-INDUSTRY COMPLEX FROM STALIN TO KHRUSHCHEV Vincent Barnett KONDRATIEV AND THE DYNAMICS OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT R. W. Davies SOVIET HISTORY IN THE YELTSIN ERA Linda Edmondson (editor) GENDER IN RUSSIAN HISTORY AND CULTURE James Hughes STALINISM IN A RUSSIAN PROVINCE Melanie Ilic˘ WOMEN WORKERS IN THE SOVIET INTERWAR ECONOMY Peter Kirkow RUSSIA’S PROVINCES Stephen Lovell, Alena Ledeneva and Andrei Rogachevskii (editors) BRIBERY AND BLAT IN RUSSIA E. A. Rees (editor) DECISION-MAKING IN THE STALINIST COMMAND ECONOMY Lennart Samuelson PLANS FOR STALIN’S WAR MACHINE Tukhachevskii and Military-Economic Planning, 1925–1941 Vera Tolz RUSSIAN ACADEMICIANS AND THE REVOLUTION

Studies in Russian and East European History and Society Series Standing Order ISBN 0–333–71239–0 (outside North America only) You can receive future titles in this series as they are published by placing a standing order. Please contact your bookseller or, in case of difficulty, write to us at the address below with your name and address, the title of the series and the ISBN quoted above. Customer Services Department, Macmillan Distribution Ltd, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS, England

Gender in Russian History and Culture Edited by

Linda Edmondson Research Fellow Centre for Russian and East European Studies University of Birmingham

in association with

Centre for Russian and East European Studies University of Birmingham

Editorial matter and selection © Linda Edmondson 2001 Chapter 1 © Catriona Kelly 2001 Chapter 8 © Lynne Attwood 2001 Chapter 9 © Mary Buckley 2001 Chapters 2–7 and 10 © Palgrave Publishers Ltd 2001 All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication may be made without written permission. No paragraph of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted save with written permission or in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, or under the terms of any licence permitting limited copying issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency, 90 Tottenham Court Road, London W1P 0LP. Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages. The author has asserted her right to be identified as the author of this work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. First published 2001 by PALGRAVE Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS and 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N. Y. 10010 Companies and representatives throughout the world PALGRAVE is the new global academic imprint of St. Martin’s Press LLC Scholarly and Reference Division and Palgrave Publishers Ltd (formerly Macmillan Press Ltd). ISBN 0–333–72078–4 This book is printed on paper suitable for recycling and made from fully managed and sustained forest sources. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Gender in Russian history and culture / edited by Linda Edmondson. p. cm. — (Studies in Russian and East European history and society) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0–333–72078–4 1. Russia—Civilization. 2. Soviet Union—Civilization. 3. Women– –Russia. 4. Women—Soviet Union. I. Edmondson, Linda Harriet. II. Series. DK32 .G39 2001 947’.0082—dc21 2001016429 10 10

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Printed and bound in Great Britain by Antony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham, Wiltshire

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Notes on the Contributors Editor’s Introduction


1 Educating Tat’yana: Manners, Motherhood and Moral Education (Vospitanie), 1760–1840 Catriona Kelly


2 Gender and Salvation: Representations of Difference in Old Believer Writings from the Late Seventeenth Century to the 1820s Irina Korovushkina Paert 3 ‘A Crocodile in Flannel or a Dancing Monkey’: the Image of the Russian Woman Writer, 1790–1850 Joe Andrew 4 Mariya Vernadskaya: Missionary of ‘Scientific Femininity’ Arja Rosenholm 5 ‘Belles-lettres with a Touch of Filth’: On the Contemporary Reception of Leonid Andreev’s Stories, ‘The Abyss’ and ‘In the Fog’ Peter Ulf Møller


52 73


6 Unruly Identities: Soviet Psychiatry Confronts the ‘Female Homosexual’ of the 1920s Dan Healey


7 Biding Their Time: Women Workers and the Regulation of Hours of Employment in the 1920s Melanie Ilic


8 Rationality versus Romanticism: Representations of Women in the Stalinist Press Lynne Attwood


9 Complex ‘Realities’ of ‘New’ Women of the l930s: Assertive, Superior, Belittled and Beaten Mary Buckley





10 The Heirs of Pasha: the Rise and Fall of the Soviet Woman Tractor Driver Sue Bridger




Notes on the Contributors

Joe Andrew is Professor of Russian Literature at Keele University, where he has worked since 1972. His main research interests are nineteenthcentury Russian literature, feminist approaches to literature, and women writers. He has published numerous articles in these fields, as well as several monographs, the most recent of which are Narrative and Desire in Russian Literature, 1822–1849: the Feminine and the Masculine (1993) and Russian Women’s Shorter Fiction: an Anthology, 1835–1860 (1996). He is also co-chair of the Neo-Formalist Circle, as well as co-editor of its journal, Essays in Poetics. Lynne Attwood is Senior Lecturer in Russian Studies at the University of Manchester. She is the author of The New Soviet Man and Woman: SexRole Socialization in the USSR (1990), and Creating the New Soviet Woman: Women’s Magazines as Engineers of Female Identity, 1922–1953 (1999). She is the editor of Red Women on the Silver Screen: Soviet Women and Cinema from the Beginning to the End of the Communist Era (1993). She has also contributed to a number of anthologies and collective works, including ‘The Post-Soviet Woman in the Move to the Market’, in R. Marsh (ed.), Women in Russia and Ukraine (1996). Sue Bridger is Reader in Russian Studies at the University of Bradford. She is the author of Women in the Soviet Countryside (1987) and co-author, with Rebecca Kay and Kathryn Pinnick, of No More Heroines? Russia, Women and the Market (1996). She is the editor of Women and Political Change: Perspectives from East-Central Europe (1999) and co-editor, with Frances Pine, of Surviving Post-Socialism: Local Strategies and Regional Responses in Eastern Europe (1997). Mary Buckley is Professor of Politics at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is author of Soviet Social Scientists Talking (l986), Women and Ideology in the Soviet Union (l989) and Redefining Russian Society and Polity (l993), editor of Perestroika and Soviet Women (l992) and of PostSoviet Women: from the Baltic to Central Asia (1996); and co-editor of Women, Equality and Europe (1987). She is currently working on political debates in post-Soviet Russia. vii


Notes on the Contributors

Linda Edmondson is Research Fellow at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Birmingham. She is the author of Feminism in Russia, 1900–1917 (1984), and editor of Women and Society in Russia and the Soviet Union (1992). She is co-editor (with Olga Crisp) of Civil Rights in Imperial Russia (1989), and (with Peter Waldron) of Economy and Society in Russia and the Soviet Union, 1860–1930: Essays for Olga Crisp (1992). Her ESRC-funded research has focused on women’s emancipation, theories of sexual difference, and issues of gender and citizenship in Russia. She has published a number of essays on this theme. Her current research is a comparative study of myths of ‘motherhood and nation’ in Russia and Europe. Dan Healey is Lecturer in Russian History at the University of Swansea. He was a Research Fellow at the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Glasgow. He is the author of a forthcoming monograph, Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia and several articles, including, ‘The Russian Revolution and the Decriminalisation of Homosexuality’, Revolutionary Russia, no. 1 (1993): 26–54, and ‘Evgeniia/Evgenii: Queer Case Histories in the First Years of Soviet Power’, Gender & History, no. 1 (1997): 83–106. He is the co-editor, with Barbara Clements and Rebecca Friedman, of Russian Masculinities in History and Culture (forthcoming, 2001). Melanie Ilic is Senior Lecturer in Soviet History and Women’s Studies at Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education and Research Fellow at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Birmingham. She is the author of Women Workers in the Soviet Interwar Economy: from ‘Protection’ to ‘Equality’ (1999). Other publications include ‘“Generals without Armies, Commanders without Troops”: Gorbachev’s “Protection” of Female Workers’, in R. Marsh (ed.), Women in Russia and Ukraine (1996). Her anthology, Women in the Stalin Era, will be published in 2001. Catriona Kelly is Reader in Russian at New College, University of Oxford. She is the author of Petrushka: the Russian Carnival Puppet Theatre (1990) and of A History of Russian Women’s Writing (1994), and co-editor (with David Shepherd) of Constructing Russian Culture in the Age of Revolution (1998) and Russian Cultural Studies: an Introduction (1998). Her monograph, Refining Russia: Advice Literature, Polite Culture and Gender in Russia from 1760 is forthcoming.

Notes on the Contributors


Irina Korovushkina Paert is Simon Research Fellow at the University of Manchester. Her Ph.D. dissertation, ‘Gender, Marriage, the Family and Old Believer Community in Russia 1760–1850’ has been revised for publication. Published articles include ‘The Paradoxes of Gender: Writing History in Post-Communist Russia, 1988–98’, Gender and History, no. 3 (1999); ‘Staroobryadtsy v doreformennom gorode: aspekty sotsial’noi istorii i chastnoi zhizni’ (on Old Believers in the Russian city before 1861), in Ezhegodnik sotsial’noi istorii (1998), Moscow, ROSSPEN; and ‘Popular Religion and Local Identity during the Stalin Revolution: Old Believers in the Urals (1928–41)’, in Don Raleigh (ed.), Provincial Landscapes: the Local Dimensions of Soviet Power (2001). Peter Ulf Møller is Professor of Russian at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. He is the author of Postlude to the Kreutzer Sonata: Tolstoj and the Debate on Sexual Morality in Russian Literature in the 1890s (1988) and of several articles on the ‘sexual question’ in Russia. Among his other publications is an edited collection, Reciprocal Images: Russian Culture in the Mirror of Travellers’ Accounts, Culture & History, vol. 14 (Oslo, 1997). His current research includes a study of Vitus Bering and the Russian Kamchatka expeditions in the early eighteenth century. Arja Rosenholm is Academic Assistant in Slavonic Languages at the University of Tampere, Finland. Her publications include Gendering Awakening: Femininity and the Woman Question of the 1860s (1999). She is the co-editor (with Marianne Liljeström and Eila Mäntysaari) of Gender Restructuring in Russian Studies, Slavica Tamperensia, vol. 2 (1993). Her published work includes ‘The “Woman Question” of the 1860s and the Ambiguity of the “Learned Woman”’, in R. Marsh (ed.), Gender in Russian Literature (1996), and ‘“Chuzhaja domu i zvezdam”. The Female Stranger in the Diaries of Elena Andreevna Shtakenshnejder (1854– 1886)’, in M. Liljeström, A. Rosenholm and I. Savkina (eds), Models of Self. Russian Women’s Autobiographical Texts (2000).

Editor’s Introduction All but one of the essays in this anthology originated in a conference on the theme ‘gender and perceptions of sexual difference in Russian culture and history’.1 The participants were invited to choose an aspect of their research that would illuminate the conference theme and, in particular, would question conventional assumptions about gender, both in the context of Russian culture and more widely. It was not the purpose of the conference to reach definitive conclusions, or to provide a comprehensive study of gender relations in Russia, but instead to explore ideas and interpretations arising from our own particular research, from a variety of theoretical perspectives. The essays range in period from the Schism in the Russian Orthodox Church in the late seventeenth century to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. All make a significant contribution individually to current knowledge and understanding of the workings of gender in Russia’s history and culture. Read as a collection, however, they throw into relief a wide range of issues and preoccupations that can be regarded as the linking thread in the book, and they invite the reader to draw parallels and make connections between social phenomena that are widely separated in period and context. Although the authors were not provided with any checklist or suggestions for the topics they should discuss, nevertheless several themes quickly become apparent. Motherhood is obviously one. While Catriona Kelly’s is the sole chapter to focus explicitly on the ‘cult of maternity’, with a discussion of conflicting perceptions of maternal and conjugal roles and how these should be instilled in gentry women, the problem of motherhood features prominently in other chapters too, especially those by Arja Rosenholm, Dan Healey, Lynne Attwood and Irina Korovushkina Paert. In the latter – an analysis of gender roles among the Old Believers over a period of 150 years – at issue is not only what sort of mothers these communities wished to produce, but whether men and women should procreate at all. In their different ways all these chapters question received opinions about Russia’s specificity, quietly undermining the oft-voiced claim that motherhood and the maternal body are venerated in Russia as nowhere else.2 The effect of these chapters is not to deny the importance x

Editor’s Introduction


of maternal imagery in the culture, but rather to question its timelessness and transcendence. Catriona Kelly, for example, argues that the maternal cult of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Russia – particularly the concept of the mother as educator of her children – was an innovation owing much to Western literary imports, rather than being a constant feature of the Russian cultural landscape, or even a natural development from existing patterns of family relations. Irina Korovushkina Paert demonstrates the significance of an ascetic and androgynous ideal in Old Believer theology (far from the stereotypical view of the sanctity of motherhood in Orthodox tradition). In her account of two Old Believer sects, she shows how each accorded differing values to this ideal and how these values related to the hierarchy of gender in these communities and to changes within them. Central to her argument is the striking contrast between the self-denying, and thereby powerful, image of the Old Believer martyr, Boyarynya Morozova, as she was represented soon after her death, and the more ‘naturally’ maternal and less authoritative image presented 50 years later. The denial of motherhood is a prominent theme in Dan Healey’s chapter, in the context of the scientific literature on female homosexuality in the 1920s, when the ‘flight from maternity’ was a central concern in psychiatrists’ attempts to treat the ‘pathology’ of same-sex love. Here, however, the failure to procreate is a transgression of the norms of femininity (unacceptable in heterosexual women as in homosexual), rather than a realization of an ascetic ideal. These norms, powerful enough in the 1920s, became virtually unchallengeable in the Stalin era when, as Lynne Attwood and Sue Bridger discuss, women’s role as linchpin of the family (and reproducer of the nation) came into collision with the Bolshevik ideology of sexual egalitarianism – in which women’s role in production was emphasized – and with the actual needs of the economy in the 1930s, during the Second World War and in postwar reconstruction. Denial is one of the principal themes in Arja Rosenholm’s dissection of Mariya Vernadskaya, laissez-faire economist and advocate of women’s equality in the earliest years of the Russian women’s movement. In a trenchant critique of egalitarian feminism (the ‘rationalist’ position discussed by Lynne Attwood in a different context), Rosenholm argues that Vernadskaya’s emancipatory vision for women was founded on a denial of the feminine, on ‘self-mastery’ and the repression of emotion and sexual desire. Here, according to this critique, it was not maternity itself that had to be denied; rather, women’s mothering role


Editor’s Introduction

had to be reined in for the rational purpose of raising useful citizens in a society of the future ruled by science and dedicated to economic production. For Vernadskaya, as for the pedagogical writers of the eighteenth century who feature in Catriona Kelly’s chapter, vospitanie (moral education) was the source of a woman’s authority, inculcated by the mother and passed down through the female line. In Soviet society, women continued to perform this pedagogical and socializing function, as the short stories quoted by Lynne Attwood graphically illustrate. It was through the woman’s commitment, selflessness and irreproachable morality that the Soviet family – husband and children – would learn how to become responsible citizens. Clearly apparent in several of these essays is ambivalence (and not infrequently outright hostility) towards the female body and its functions, an ambivalence that has been perceptively analysed in recent scholarly work.3 The glorification of motherhood (for example, in the Heroine Mother cult of late Stalinism, in Orthodox imagery, or even in Vasilii Rozanov’s panegyric to procreation, quoted by Peter Ulf Møller) often conceals or coexists with a physical disgust for the maternal bodies that are fulfilling their biological destiny, for the ‘uncontrollable’ emotions associated with womanliness and for the act of procreation itself.4 Fear of women’s ungovernable bodies and the passions they arouse is a theme linking Catriona Kelly’s educators, the Old Believer sects’ concept of androgyny, Vernadskaya’s precepts for the ‘new woman’ of the 1850s, and early Soviet psychiatrists’ treatment of female homosexuality. It is displayed sensationally and grotesquely in Leonid Andreev’s stories of rape, madness and murder (and in the reception of them by Russia’s literary elite), and with rather more refinement in Pushkin’s admonitions to his wife 70 years earlier. While hostility and ambivalence towards women’s physicality are most commonly defined as male misogyny, they are crucial to the concept of ‘self-mastery’ and the repression of desire often found in women’s writing. Whether, as Arja Rosenholm argues in relation to Vernadskaya, such repression is intrinsic to egalitarian feminism is a matter of continuing debate; several of the contributors to this volume (the editor included) might quarrel with Rosenholm’s emphasis on the innateness and polarity of sexual difference, and with her criticism of Vernadskaya for wanting to eradicate or transcend it. However, few would deny that women coming on to a public stage hitherto monopolized by men paid a heavy price when they disguised their natural talents in a veil of modesty (as did many of the early nineteenth-century writers

Editor’s Introduction


discussed by Joe Andrew) or schooled their personalities to present an ‘acceptable face’ of femininity. 5 The gendering of work is a common theme in these essays. Vernadskaya berated gentry women for not wanting to work and saw paid labour as the path to emancipation, yet she underrated the power of opposition to professional female employment, not only in her own time, but over the following century and a half. Women writers, and Vernadskaya herself, entered a literary world rife with prejudice against any woman presumptuous enough to aspire to intellectual or artistic authority. Yet the derision or condescension they often encountered in the early nineteenth-century salons of St Petersburg, and the editorial offices of the 1850s and 1860s, were not so different from the obstruction, vandalism and sometimes physical abuse that Mary Buckley documents in the world of stakhanovite women in agriculture in the 1930s and Sue Bridger describes on the farms 40 or 50 years later. In all these situations a hierarchy of gender, long-standing customs and deeply ingrained patterns of deference and authority were under threat. Unlike early nineteenth-century women writers, however, stakhanovite women were not lone individuals struggling against the weight of officially sanctioned tradition, but (on the face of it at least) pioneers of a new social order promoted from above. The models proclaimed for the ideal Soviet woman often failed to protect these ‘pioneers’ from the antipathy of their fellow citizens, and also incorporated assumptions about female roles that were far from ‘progressive’. The chapter by Melanie Ilic documenting the protective labour legislation of the 1920s and women’s mixed responses to its implementation (which itself was incomplete), underlines the complexities of the issue of special legislation designed to protect women. From the recognition that on average women had less muscular strength than men and that they needed protection during pregnancy and after childbirth, it was a short step to the institutionalized exclusion of women from the most skilled and best paid jobs on the grounds of their physical vulnerability. Sue Bridger shows in her chapter that tractor driving – the symbol of the Soviet revolution in the countryside – remained intrinsically ‘men’s work’ even when a shortage of labour in the 1930s and, particularly, the wartime mobilization of men in 1941 led to the rapid training of women, accompanied by a massive propaganda drive to overcome women’s (and their families’) resistance. Like the stakhanovites of Mary Buckley’s chapter, tractor drivers were not only working in what was still a man’s world, they also had to show that they were better than men in performing these ‘masculine’ jobs.


Editor’s Introduction

In both these chapters (and to a lesser extent in the chapter by Melanie Ilic) a dominant motif is competition; not the friendly rivalry and comradeship lauded in Soviet propaganda, but an often bitter and sometimes violent sexual rivalry, between women proclaiming their equality in the workplace and men resisting it. The evidence presented in several of the chapters in this collection suggests that the consoling image of a society of the future, when the nurturing of innate sexual difference would lead to social and sexual harmony, was at best a utopian illusion. More often the promotion of difference was used to reinforce the existing gender hierarchy, even in an era when women’s equality was intrinsic to the ideology of the state. There is no essay in this volume on the question of gender and power, at least in terms of ‘high’ politics: state power, political authority, the issue of women’s legal and political rights before or after 1917, and the ways in which the exercise of political power was affected (or not) by women’s enfranchisement and Bolshevik concepts of citizenship. Nevertheless, the gendering of power in a broader and more diffused sense is a central concern of this book: power exercised in marital and family relations, by means of religious authority, over sexuality, in medical and scientific expertise, in the workplace, as the authorial voice, and through ideology and representation. Until very recently gender studies were primarily concerned with women and their representation, rather than with men and masculinities, or the interrelationship of women and men in society. There are a number of understandable reasons for this bias, not least the fact that for many years gender relations were far less likely to engage the scholarly interest of men themselves.6 At first glance this anthology may seem to perpetuate this tendency. While motherhood, women writers, women workers, femininity, female homosexuality and representations of women are prominently featured in the chapter titles, none explicitly focuses on masculinities or men. A closer look, however, reveals that men’s perceptions of women and of themselves, and representations of masculinity, are of fundamental importance in most of the chapters, sometimes explicitly so, sometimes less directly. Representations of masculinity – in this case, tormented, violent and guilt-ridden – form the explicit core of the two stories by Andreev discussed by Peter Ulf Møller. The victims (one raped, one murdered) are female, but the anguish is experienced by the male central characters. The intense literary debate generated by these stories focused on men’s apparent propensity for violence, the nature of male sexuality and the need to control it, and the moral education of young men.

Editor’s Introduction


While none of the other chapters is so immediately concerned with masculinities and their representation as this is, the ‘problem’ is present in every one, if only by implication. Catriona Kelly’s discussion of the moral education of young gentry women concerns the learning of appropriate sexual roles and the part men should play in ‘educating’ their wives. Her account of Pushkin’s attempts to control his beautiful wife, for example, reveals far more about his own relationship to sexuality and sexual roles than it does about the elusive Goncharova. Likewise, Joe Andrew’s outline of the ‘image’ of the woman writer in early nineteenth-century Russia says as much about male anxiety aroused by women’s invasions of their cultural territory as it does about the struggles of the women writers themselves. One of the focal points in Irina Korovushkina Paert’s discussion of the Old Believers is the concept of muzhestvo (‘manliness’, but also ‘courage’) – a condition for which men should school themselves, but also an ideal to which the truly spiritual woman should aspire. Arja Rosenholm’s critique of Vernadskaya’s feminism is concerned to demonstrate the implications of Vernadskaya’s rationalist, utilitarian philosophy for society as a whole, for the ‘bourgeois’ couple of the future, man and wife, for male as well as female emotion, expressiveness and desire. Dan Healey’s chapter, though focusing on female homosexuality, female roles in the new society and the abandonment of maternity, is primarily about sexual identities and the definition of appropriate femininity and masculinity. It is also an account of an almost exclusively masculine profession – psychiatry – attempting to understand and ‘cure’ female sexual and gender deviance. Three chapters – those by Melanie Ilic, Mary Buckley and Sue Bridger – focus on aspects of women’s experience of work and on the creation of an identity as a ‘woman worker’ in a self-consciously ‘new’ society. Here the sorts of work that men did, and were expected to do, provided the definition of what work was, and formed the standard of comparison against which women’s aspirations and achievements were measured. The fact that Soviet society, from the earliest years, depended on the maintenance of a sexual division of labour, which left childcare and housework almost exclusively the responsibility of women, has been much discussed in the literature on women in the Soviet Union. Yet the fact that this division affected men’s social roles quite as much as women’s has not received much attention until now. The spotlight has been on the ‘solution of the woman question’ (itself an interesting and highly gendered formulation, suggesting that women


Editor’s Introduction

are intrinsically a ‘problem’), on women’s work and Bolshevik ideas about women’s liberation; as a result the question of what masculinity is and how it should be developed in a ‘well-ordered’ society has remained largely hidden. These chapters provide glimpses of social attitudes towards work and masculinity, for example in Mary Buckley’s archive reports which illustrate men’s reactions to women being employed in men’s jobs, or in Sue Bridger’s account of changing policy at the very end of the Soviet era. Concepts of masculinity are more visible in the short stories – written specifically for women – analysed in Lynne Attwood’s chapter. Here, alongside acceptable models for the new Soviet woman, are plentiful examples of the behaviour considered appropriate and desirable for men in the new society. Soviet society, as Attwood and other scholars have demonstrated, was intended to transform not only the material world, but the very personalities of the women and men moulding it.

Not all the participants in the conference are represented here. Helena Goscilo’s paper on the complex meanings of widowhood in Russian culture will be published elsewhere. A revised version of Carmen Scheide’s biography of the Bolshevik, Aleksandra Artyukhina, will be found in an anthology on women in the Stalin period, edited by Melanie Ilic. Linda Edmondson’s paper on the pre-revolutionary feminist, Mariya Pokrovskaya, appears in a slightly revised form in an anthology on women and journalism in Russia.7 In addition to the formal presentations at the conference, several participants made very valuable contributions to the sessions: Elizabeth Waters gave an informal paper, reflecting on gender in Soviet society, and Rebecca Kay, Rosalind Marsh, Barbara Norton, Maureen Perrie, Bianka PietrowEnnker and William Wagner all offered insights from their own research. I should like to thank all of them, and all the contributors to this anthology, for making the conference such a stimulating and enjoyable event. I should also like to thank the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Birmingham, and the Economic and Social Research Council (which funded the conference and the research project of which it was part) for making it possible. Many thanks also to Dan Healey for helpful commentary on the chapters, to the editors of the CREES–Palgrave series, Bob Davies and Melanie Ilic, for their careful and constructive scrutiny of the typescript, to Bob Davies again and Arfon Rees (former CREES–Macmillan editor) for arranging the book’s

Editor’s Introduction


publication, to the editors at Palgrave, and to William Edmondson for his truly stakhanovite labours on the computing front, without which this volume could never have been completed.

Every attempt has been made to contact the copyright holders of the images in this book. If there are any outstanding permissions please contact the publishers, who will make the necessary arrangement at the first opportunity.

Notes 1. Held at the University of Birmingham, 3–5 July 1996 and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of a research grant, ‘Gender and Citizenship in Russia, 1860–1920: Issues of Equality and Difference’ (R 000 23 6013). Joe Andrew’s original paper, ‘The Matriarchal World in Nadezhda Sokhanskaya’s “A Conversation after Dinner”’, has been published in J. I. Bjørnflaten, G. Kjetsaa and T. Mathiassen (eds), A Centenary of Slavic Studies in Norway: the Olaf Broch Symposium, The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (Oslo, 1998) pp. 3–22. 2. For an elaboration of this claim, see Joanna Hubbs, Mother Russia: the Feminine Myth in Russian Culture (Bloomington, Ind., 1988). 3. See, for example, B. Heldt, Terrible Perfection. Women and Russian Literature (Bloomington, Ind., 1987); several of the contributions to J. T. Costlow, S. Sandler and J. Vowles (eds), Sexuality and the Body in Russian Culture (Stanford, 1993) and E. Naiman, Sex in Public: the Incarnation of Early Soviet Ideology (Princeton, 1997). 4. This physical disgust and ambivalence towards sexuality and reproduction are often attributed to the influence and power of Orthodox Christianity. For a detailed account, see E. Levin, Sex and Society in the World of the Orthodox Slavs, 900–1700 (Ithaca, New York, 1989) and her ‘Childbirth in Pre-Petrine Russia: Canon Law and Popular Traditions’, in B. E. Clements, B. A. Engel and C. D. Worobec (eds), Russia’s Women: Accommodation, Resistance, Transformation (Berkeley, 1991) pp. 44–59. See also Laura Engelstein’s extensive discussion of sex in Russian cultural discourses in The Keys to Happiness: Sex and the Search for Modernity in Fin-de-Siècle Russia (Ithaca, New York, 1992). However, as ambivalence towards sex and reproduction is clearly evident in many, if not most, cultures and societies, the specificity of Russia requires re-examination. 5. Most of the essays in this volume confirm the evidence of ‘accommodation’ and only limited ‘resistance’ to an existing patriarchal culture over a period of three centuries. For these key concepts, see Clements et al. (eds), Russia’s Women.


Editor’s Introduction

6. The gender imbalance may remain, but the question of masculinity in Russian culture is now receiving scholarly attention. See, for example, the forthcoming anthology, B. E. Clements, R. Friedman and D. Healey (eds), Russian Masculinities in History and Culture (Palgrave, 2001). 7. Carmen Scheide, ‘The Life and Thought of Aleksandra Artyukhina’, in M. Ilic (ed.), Women in the Stalin Era (forthcoming, Palgrave, 2001); Linda Edmondson, ‘Mariia Pokrovskaia and Zhenskii vestnik: Feminist Separatism in Theory and Practise’, in J. M. Gheith and B. T. Norton (eds), An Improper Profession: Women, Gender and Journalism in Late Imperial Russia (Durham, N.C., 2001).

1 Educating Tat’yana: Manners, Motherhood and Moral Education (Vospitanie), 1760–18401 Catriona Kelly

The Lazar’evskoe Cemetery at Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St Petersburg is a grander version of the teeming town graveyard described by Pushkin in his 1836 poem, ‘When, sunk in thought, I wander on the outskirts’.2 Notabilities from the reigns of Catherine, Paul and Alexander stand as closely packed, in death, as they once did at routs or at balls. Busts and statues stiffly reanimate beribboned jackets and powdered hair; tablets boast of court positions and public offices. But among routine commemorations of dynastic alliances and the hackwork statues stand some more personal and emotional memorials. Mar’ya Borisovna Yakovleva, ‘the wife of a lieutenant-colonel’, who died at the age of 31 on 20 March 1805, is commemorated by an expostulatory verse passage in the voice of her husband, who commends her virtues to his ‘orphaned little ones’: Here, children, is your honoured mother’s tomb! Weep, weep for her, for I am overcome! My anguish has dried up my fount of tears; Gone is that precious head, friend to our souls so dear! Who’ll press you to her heart, you orphaned mites? Who cheer your orphanhood, console your blight? Ah! He, Who keeps the fledglings in his care, Who called Her to Himself, will staunch your tears.3 Not far away, a substantial sculptural tomb (Figure 1.1) immortalizes two members of the Demidov family, Aleksandra (1796–1800) and Nikolai (1799–1800), who died within days of each other. The draped 1


Fig. 1.1

The tomb of Aleksandra and Nikolai Demidov, in the Lazar’evskoe Cemetery, St Petersburg.

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figure of the mother bends over the cradle of her sleeping infant son; as one hand moves his coverlet in place, another discreetly lifts one corner of her marble veil to her eyes. The monuments in Lazar’evskoe cemetery, comparable in terms of inspiration (if not in terms of execution) with those of Flaxman or Canova, were only the most durable tributes to a veritable cult of maternity that developed in Russia during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and that was also reflected in literature, portraiture and journalistic commentary. 4 Rather than expressions of an age-old national fascination with the maternal body (such has been suggested by Joanna Hubbs in her neo-Slavophile study Mother Russia), these representations of maternity in its genteelest manifestations were products of a ‘maternal mythology [ . . . ] that at once exploit[ed] and denie[d] explicitly maternal agencies and subjectivities, especially as these operate in the public world’ (as Toni Bowers has analysed comparable material in Augustan England).5 This essay is a preliminary attempt at a historicized analysis of the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century ‘maternal mythology’ in Russia; it focuses upon the conflict between two different views of moral education, éducation maternelle, or indoctrination by the mother, and conjugal education (the view that women should marry as tabulae rasae upon which husbands wrote what they wanted). In late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Russian culture, there developed an ideology of ‘pedagogical motherhood’, which saw women as the overseers of their children’s, and more especially their daughters’, intellectual and moral development (vospitanie). This was something quite novel in Russia. Certainly, pre-Petrine culture had held a mother responsible for providing her daughter with moral guidance: in the Life of St Yulianiya Lazarevskaya, for example, we are informed that the saint’s grandmother, who fostered her from the age of six, ‘raised her in piety and purity’ (vospitayushche vo vsyakom blagoverii i chistote). But there is no evidence that women were held responsible for their children’s intellectual interests. There was no equivalent of the late medieval Western iconographical tradition representing St Anne as educator of the Virgin, and the cult of the Mother of God stressed her part as intercessor between humanity and God (Zastupnitsa), and also as protector of Russia, at least as much as her role as pattern for individual mothers. And, though phrases such as ‘caring like a mother’ (aki istovaya mat’ pechasesya) were current in medieval texts, the extent to which motherhood impacted on public discourse was rather limited.6 To borrow Toni Bowers’ distinction, pre-Petrine representations of motherhood illustrate


Gender in Russian History and Culture

‘what mothers [were]’ (that is, the symbolic implications of the maternal state) rather than ‘what [that] particular culture could (or could not) imagine mothers doing’ (that is, the practical duties of a mother).7 For example, the Domostroi, the seminal sixteenth-century manual of house management, provides remarkably little guidance on women’s activities as mothers, and certainly no suggestion is made that education should be under their control. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, by contrast, ‘a mother could not stress too heavily her role as her daughter’s educator and guide’.8 This new pattern of maternity needed to be learned, and the main sources for its transmission included not only visual representations and literary texts, but also advice literature, such as conduct books and treatises on education. Even in the first half of the eighteenth century, some Russians had already acquired a familiarity with Western behaviour books. After 1760, they began to be translated into Russian in ever larger numbers. Apparently the most widely known were Fénelon’s De l’éducation des filles, and Anne-Thérèse de Lambert’s Avis d’une mère à sa fille, but also familiar to Russians were the writings of, for instance, John Locke, Louise d’Épinay, Sarah Pennington, Pierre Boudier de Villemert and Rousseau; large numbers of uncredited tracts and treatises were also published. As evidenced by library holdings, booksellers’ catalogues, references in indigenous Russian works such as letters and memoirs, the currency that these books acquired among members of the Russian elite was considerable.9 They were at least as influential in spreading Enlightenment views on women’s education as the prestigious boarding schools, such as the Smol’nyi Institute, set up by Catherine II, which themselves were the products of Catherine’s interest in educational theory. The works of Fénelon, probably the most influential writer on girls’ education for the Enlightenment era, and of his successors, had been produced in direct response to the writings of Poullain de la Barre, Marie de Gournay, and other seventeenth-century writers who had argued directly for the absolute intellectual equality of men and women. 10 In contrast, Fénelon proceeded from an assumption of women’s ‘frailty’ in a moral sense, and of the need to place them under the guidance of true Christian belief. This assumption was not contested by his female successors, such as Lambert, who, in her Avis d’une mère à sa fille (1728) made a lucid and elegantly laconic distinction between the moral roles of men and women: ‘There are some great virtues which, taken to a certain degree, allow many faults to be pardoned: supreme valour in men, and extreme modesty [pudeur] in women. Agrippina, wife of Germanicus, was pardoned everything on account of her chastity.’ 11

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As valeur and pudeur are opposed, so too are ‘supreme’ and ‘extreme’, with their connations of ascent and sideways movement; in the horizontally determined arena of honour in which women move, the danger of approaching another sort of ‘extreme’ – that beyond the bounds of decent society – was always present. Accordingly, modesty, self-deprecation and restraint, though figuring as part of the male aristocratic code, were far less important for men than they were for women. For all that, Fénelon and Lambert were eager to stress that women should not allow men to dictate their behaviour. Madame de Lambert, for example, advised her daughter: So far as religion goes, you should submit to the authorities; on every other subject, you should heed no other authority than reason and evidence. If you give too much place to docility, you assault the rights of reason, and do not make use of your own lights, which will accordingly grow dimmer. To confine your ideas to those of others is to allow them too narrow a space (Œuvres, p. 113). Both Lambert and Fénelon were concerned that women should be selfreliant, and saw their moral authority as deriving from this. Or, as it was put in the 1788 Russian translation of Mademoiselle d’Espinassy’s Essai sur l’éducation des demoiselles (1764): When giving your daughter instruction, you should attempt to stamp out in her those fantastical [mechtatel’nye] and laughable fancies to which so many women are subject. Here I am speaking not only about the fears and whims that come to them from childhood, but their opinions on dreams, portents of happiness, and all kinds of secret knowledge, which run directly contrary to sound reason [zdravyi razum] and which have no other foundation than the superstition of the common people; so too [should you try to stamp out] that extreme instability of feelings [mezhnost’ chuvstv] which so often causes them unhappiness.12 Independence of mind was important, given that all the writers assumed that the overriding purpose of women’s education was to prepare them for dynastic marriages in which affect would play little, if any, part. In this world where men impinged on women primarily as inseminators or as sexual predators, virtue was essential as a means to independence; it was not primarily an instrument of female subjugation. And it was a mother who prepared the way to autonomous


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adulthood, inculcating wisdom that would in turn be transmitted to her daughter’s own daughters, and so on in an endless tradition of éducation maternelle. The knowledge imparted was not limited to domestic matters: the books advocated quite a wide syllabus, embracing not only household management but also accountancy (important so that a woman could manage her own inheritance), and not only languages, music and other such genteel accomplishments, but also history, literature and sometimes even mathematics and science. The importance of maternity as above all an apotheosis of moral guidance, coupled with the rise of euphemism in print culture, meant that the biological aspects of maternity were more or less elided in eighteenth-century guides for women. Books giving advice on women’s health discussed sexual reproduction in a manner that was at times so abstract as to be nearly incomprehensible: take, for instance, this coy definition in a guide that appeared in Russia in 1793: ‘Pregnancy is when a woman, a few days after her connexion with a man, finds herself in a condition other than the one in which she previously was.’ This hierarchy of maternity dictated that impolite and messy tasks such as breastfeeding, nappy-washing and other necessities of infant care, remained the concerns of lower-class women (mamki and nyani), while the upperclass lady busied herself with the spiritual development of her child.13 One result of the new ideology of ‘pedagogical motherhood’ was that elective maternity, the social institution of the vospitannitsa (ward or protégée) gained great symbolic significance during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. By this arrangement an aristocratic woman offered motherly guidance and social patronage (aid with the polishing of manners and the facilitation of introductions) to a younger woman who was not necessarily a blood relation. It was enthusiastically depicted in Anna Labzina’s memoirs (Labzina had been a vospitannitsa of the poet Elisaveta Kheraskova, herself one of the best-educated Russian women of the eighteenth century).14 Much later, in the 1830s, it was to be evoked in two fine bravura portraits by Karl Bryullov of his mistress Countess Samoilova, The Countess Samoilova Returning from a Masquerade (1839), and its pendant, The Countess Samoilova and Her Ward (1834).15 The latter, a magnificent and theatrical work, is a representation of idealized maternity in which the relationship between older and younger woman is no less ‘natural’ because there is no direct blood relationship. The fact that Western ideas about maternity soon became familiar did not mean, however, that they were uncontroversial. Emphasis on a mother as moral guide was threatening to traditional Russian perceptions of the family because it could be seen to erode the absolute

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authority which a husband was supposed to exercise over his wife and children. As the Domostroi put it: Husbands should instruct their wives lovingly and with due consideration. A wife should ask her husband every day about matters of piety, so she will know how to save her soul, please her husband, and structure her house well. She must obey her husband in everything. Whatever her husband orders, she must accept with love; she must fulfill his every command. Above all, she must fear God and keep her chastity as decreed above.16 A wife who had already been given a complete moral education by her mother might well not ‘accept whatever her husband ordered with love’, and was not necessarily the wife wanted by a conservative member of the Russian nobility. Despite the emphasis of the new books on modesty (a quality essential in terms of Russian, and indeed Byzantine, codes of behaviour for elite women), the space in which they permitted female power to operate was large in terms of Russian tradition, and hence the advice that they gave could seem radical.17 Inevitably, the clash of old and new led to conflict. An era when tensions lay particularly close to the surface was the 1820s and 1830s, and my main task here is to outline how they made themselves felt in the literary career of an exemplary figure, the outstanding writer of the period, Aleksandr Pushkin. Before turning to Pushkin’s writings, though, I shall take as my starting point another text of the day, much more naive than anything ever written by Pushkin, but whose very lack of self-consciousness and whose veerings from narrative to moralizing, from fact to fairy tale, lay bare the symbolic realities of the day in a manner that illuminates his far more polished and sophisticated works. This text is a story taken from the memoirs of Sof’ya Kapnist-Skalon (1796 or 1797– 1861), daughter of the well-known poet and playwright V. V. Kapnist. 18 The tale told by Kapnist-Skalon occupies only about a dozen of her memoir’s hundred or so pages, but her own description of it as ‘interesting and remarkable’ (KS p. 379) is merited. Kapnist-Skalon’s cousin, Petr Nikolaevich Kapnist (1796–1865) was an officer of the Guards and a wealthy landowner, the only son of a boorish eccentric notorious for beating his wife in public (at a stage after this had become shocking to the sensibilities of the Russian nobility) and for his exaggerated devotion to his eldest daughter (of five), Sof’ya. If Nikolai Vasil’evich’s marriage seems a relic of the early eighteenth century, his son’s, the object of KapnistSkalon’s narration, was most definitely a product of the nineteenth.


Gender in Russian History and Culture

Aged about 27, he had fallen violently in love with Cathérine (Ekaterina), the 16-year-old daughter of an aristocratic French émigré, Armand-François d’Allonville (1764–1853), who had come to Russia in the entourage of the Prince de Condé. Delighted by their engagement, Petr Nikolaevich was eager to show off his bride at a ball; overcoming her reluctance to attend, he presented her with a sumptuous white dress. At the ball, however, she attracted so much attention that he regretted having taken her; directly after the marriage, he took her off to his estate in the Ukraine, where he kept her shut up alone, treating her sternly, Kapnist-Skalon tells us, because he was certain this would increase her fondness for him, but also showering her with presents, to which she displayed almost total indifference. When she expressed a wish to ride, he bought her an expensive saddle-horse and a costly riding-habit, and engaged the best available riding-master for her. On his inviting her into the drawing-room to admire the habit and horse, however, she responded by saying flatly ‘Oui, c’est joli, ce n’est pas mal.’ After the death of their first child, his feelings for her cooled. He arranged for the couple to live abroad, where in due course she fell in love with a young Russian, Bobarykin. Allowed a divorce by Kapnist, Ekaterina remained in friendly contact with him, and to his satisfaction turned out to be as indifferent to Bobarykin’s presents as his, greeting each with the words, ‘c’est joli, ce n’est pas mal.’ The second marriage turned out to satisfy her as little as the first; she returned to Petr Nikolaevich, who by then had set himself up with an Italian mistress. A year later, after the latter’s marriage to a drawing teacher in Kharkov, Petr Nikolaevich and Ekaterina were left alone; but after the discovery of a packet of letters she had written to the student son of a local aristocrat, Petr Nikolaevich insisted they should again leave the country. Thereafter, Petr and Ekaterina led separate lives in Italy, she (according to Kapnist-Skalon) continuing to engage in scandalous affairs, while he magnanimously arranged the marriage of her two daughters (by Bobarykin). At once banal and haunting, the story of Petr and Ekaterina depends on plot figures, such as coincidence, recognition, loss and retrieval, present in medieval romance as well as in folklore (both Russian and Western European). But the central narrative line intertwines two more specific mythic motifs. The first is the subjection of a new wife to moral tests, the excitation of her curiosity by the imposition of prohibitions in order that a didactic message against female curiosity may be propounded (Pandora, Bluebeard, Psyche). The second, more important and, in the 1820s, more topical motif is that of the artificial woman, the companion

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perfect because she has been manufactured to order. The motif is found in the Greek legend of Pygmalion, in the popular comic ballet Coppélia, and in the modern fiction of the ‘Stepford Wives’, but was best known in the early nineteenth century through E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story The Sandman (1816), in which the hero, Nathaniel, deserts his true love, Klara, for Olimpia, a beauty who turns out to be a mechanical doll, a discovery thrusting Nathaniel into madness. There is indeed something doll-like in the harmonious figure of Ekaterina Armanovna, ‘a charming [prelestnaya] blonde, tall, slender, with soft, regular features’ (KS p. 366), as she suffers herself to be dressed and rewarded by successive husbands, mechanically responding ‘c’est très joli’ as though a string had been pulled in her stomach. Even her attempts to escape seems less acts of will, than gestures dictated by some compulsion whose unexplained nature gives it demonic overtones. Indeed, an atmosphere of fatefulness hangs over the relationship from the start, as Kapnist recognizes the daughter of the count from whom he is purchasing the estate as the unknown woman whom he had seen earlier at a concert and identified as the embodiment of ‘that very ideal of which he had dreamed for so many years and had eventually lost hope of ever encountering’ (KS p. 366). On seeing her for the second time, ‘he froze to the spot, and his legs buckled under him; he almost fell, spying on the wall a portrait of her whom he had seen at the concert, for whom he had so long searched in vain’ (KS p. 367). All but silent throughout the story, and nameless in its first half, Ekaterina seems less, in the end, her husband’s toy than the instrument of a vengeful fate, a doll that has become the residence of a malign, inexplicable, but certainly not human, force. It is not, though, the mythic archetypes behind Ekaterina’s behaviour (which could also be described as ‘somnambulic’ or ‘mesmeric’, according to the occult interests of the early nineteenth century) that finally dominate Kapnist-Skalon’s narrative. It is, rather, the anxious and harassed attempt on the part of the narrator herself to apportion blame for marital conflict, while avoiding any explanation of motive. The governing principle is rien comprendre et rien pardonner. At the same time, the memoirist’s task is vexed by her uncertainty about who really is more guilty, the wife or the husband. At first, she seems wholly on Ekaterina’s side: How delighted I was by this wonderful being [sushchestvo], in whose soul the principle of sublimity was ensconced [imevshee v dushe svoei nachalo vsego prekrasnogo] and who was prepared to love with her


Gender in Russian History and Culture

whole soul the one to whom she had entrusted her life. And all could have come into being [osushchestvit’sya] if it had not been for the unhappy [neschastnaya] system of Petr Nikolaevich, which later brought about the unhappiness [neschast’e] of the whole of the rest of their life. Loving his wife passionately, he tried to distance himself from her and to be as brusque as possible with her, assuming this would increase her love for him. But that was where he was mistaken (KS p. 369). Kapnist-Skalon’s arbitration is underpinned by her unconscious, and stylistically clumsy, repetition of sushchestvo in osushchestvit’sya and neschastnaya in neschast’e. The realization promised in (if not by) the wife is negated by the unhappy (or ominous, unlucky – the Russian term is ambiguous) ideas of the husband. At the same time, the word osushchestvit’sya, which in its active form means ‘to bring into being’, introduces the important notion of Ekaterina as an artefact, and hence something beyond blame. As though to emphasize her sexless innocence, Ekaterina is referred to at key points by neuter nouns: ‘like a child [kak ditya] she felt no particular attraction to him [when she agreed to the engagement]’ (KS p. 368); ‘I was delighted by this wonderful being [chudnoe sushchestvo]’ (KS p. 369); ‘Sometimes, from afar, in her light toilette, with her bright ringlets flowing on to her shoulders, she seemed like a tender being of the air [nezhnoe vozdushnoe sushchestvo]’ (KS p. 369). Ekaterina is also juxtaposed, at one point, to a more ambiguous dark beauty, Baroness Berwick, who spends long evenings playing chess and smoking a pipe with another of KapnistSkalon’s cousins (KS pp. 369–70). Though we are told that Baron Berwick preferred his Baroness to wear the short white dresses that had been her uniform in the young ladies’ pension where she was educated, the accoutrements of innocence here have a parodic or grotesque resonance. The innocence of Ekaterina, on the other hand, is meant to be taken on trust. Even the death of Ekaterina’s first child in babyhood does not reflect badly on her: ‘A child [rebenok] herself and an inexperienced mother, she did not know how to look after him’ (KS p. 371), while the details given of her husband’s behaviour suggest that this went beyond seemly grief – he not only withdraws from his wife emotionally, but also suggests a suicide pact. Their trip abroad seems at first to restore reason to some degree: ‘they lived like brother and sister [ . . . ] and their feelings towards each other cooled, though they did remain on friendly terms’ (KS p. 371).

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However, having narrated this linking section of her tale in neutral tones, Kapnist-Skalon again begins to display bias, this time in favour of Petr Nikolaevich. Describing how Ekaterina, previously wary of male attention, fell in love with Bobarykin and was permitted to marry him (in the Greek Orthodox Church, which recognized such second marriages), the memoirist does not conceal her alliance with Petr Nikolaevich: ‘So her fate and that of my unhappy [neschastnyi] cousin was sealed’ (KS p. 373). Now he, in her description, is transformed from stern prison warder to wise counsellor and confidant, addressed by his wife as ‘friend and benefactor’, who is always ready to offer friendship and protection. Kapnist-Skalon emphasizes his extraordinary complaisance in agreeing, after Ekaterina’s return to Russia, to legitimize her daughters by Bobarykin (this was required because a second marriage was not recognized by Russian law), although a condition of granting the divorce had been that she should stay out of the country. From now on, Kapnist-Skalon’s attitude is generally hostile, though with occasional concessions to Ekaterina’s position. She notes Ekaterina’s ‘caustic smile’ [yazvitel’naya ulybka] when observing Kapnist’s Italian mistress, but comments: Although I no longer preserved [my former] sincere relations with Ekaterina Armanovna, who had somewhat declined in my opinion, and whom I could not now love as I once had, yet seeing her always sad and pensive, I involuntarily felt sorry for her, all the more because in all that had happened I was more inclined to blame my cousin, who, had he not followed his own rather eccentric schemes, might have made what he wanted of her, and then they would both have been happy (KS p. 376). Yet only a paragraph later Kapnist-Skalon is describing Ekaterina as ‘a thankless and ungrateful woman [neblagodarnaya i nepriznatel’naya zhenshchina]’, and from this point her immorality is emphasized: after being expelled to Italy for her liaison with the student, she ‘did not change her dissipated way of life’ (KS p. 378). Indeed, she immediately began an affair with the son of her Italian landlord: ‘She took full possession of this Italian [zavladela sovershenno] [ . . . ] who in his turn availed himself of the opportunity to swindle her conclusively’ (KS p. 378). When received back into her husband’s house in Venice, ‘she behaved so badly, giving herself over to her fatal passions’ that the (in the author’s perception) long-suffering Kapnist was again forced to eject her, continuing, however, to receive her in his house ‘like a distant


Gender in Russian History and Culture

female acquaintance’ (kak storonnyuyu zhenshchinu) (KS p. 379) – both her feminine gender and her pariah status established in one clinching phrase. Though Kapnist-Skalon stated two paragraphs earlier (KS p. 378) ‘I do not know what happened to her after that’, she in fact draws the threads together tightly, using her cousin’s correspondence as authority for describing Ekaterina’s fate. ‘I can see from his letters to me that they maintain the best relations’ (KS p. 379). This minor contradiction – Kapnist-Skalon alleges that she does not know, then that she does know, the fate of Ekaterina – parallels a much larger contradiction, between Ekaterina as victim and Ekaterina as main instigator of her own and her husband’s fate. This supposedly real woman combines in one person the polarities of ingénue and femme fatale, Mariya Volkonskaya and Agrafenya Zakrevskaya (to name two famous beauties of the 1820s, contemporaries of Ekaterina d’Allonville), or their fictional counterparts Tat’yana Larina (Evgenii Onegin) and Zinaida Vol’skaya (‘The guests arrived at the dacha’) in Pushkin, Eda (in Eda) and Nina (The Ball) in Baratynskii, Eleonskaya and Baroness Reichman (in Mariya Zhukova’s ‘Baron Reikhman’), to name only a few examples. From sexless ditya Ekaterina becomes the storonnyaya zhenshchina, the woman whose sexuality makes her both absolutely classifiable and absolutely unclassifiable, something beyond the boundaries of decent society and polite discourse. Thoroughly feminized, even in a grammatical sense, she is at the same time unsexed, as she trades money for sexual favours. Though she may symbolically ‘play the role of mother’ (the actual phrase used) at her stepdaughter’s wedding (KS p. 379), Petr Nikolaevich, in the last part of the story, in fact acts in a manner far more consonant with the role of mother as understood at the time, counselling and nurturing his former wife, daughter and stepdaughters, and withdrawing from the public and sexually charged beau monde to domestic quietude, alone in Wiesbaden. Forsaking his early role as Bluebeard, the man who acts as his wife’s jailor, Petr Nikolaevich has espoused the recourse of boundless magnanimity towards those who do him wrong – a recourse perfectly consonant with contemporary ideals of femininity. Finally, Kapnist-Skalon cannot decide whom to blame (her conclusion is strikingly unmoralistic) because both Ekaterina Armanovna and Petr Nikolaevich are double personalities, whose two halves neither determine nor even closely relate to each other. The later Ekaterina cannot be predicted from the earlier, any more than the later Petr’s selfsacrificing magnanimity seems in keeping with his original egotistical

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authoritarianism (his stern regime was instituted, let us remember, to make his wife love him, rather than for her benefit). But if there is no urgent internal logic in the development of personality here, there is an external causative force that emerges by default, and which becomes clear if Kapnist-Skalon’s tale is set in the context of its time. This tale of a motherless girl (Ekaterina’s father was a widower) raises the question, which at the time it describes was very much an ‘accursed’ one, of who should be responsible for the education of women, and hence by extension for their moral and sentimental development. Kapnist-Skalon repeatedly suggests that the husband is and should be responsible. Her largest criticism of Petr Nikolaevich, indeed, is that he failed as an educator (‘Had he not followed his own rather eccentric schemes, [he] might have made what he wanted of her . . . ’). Yet Ekaterina’s ‘ingratitude’ is not wholly the product of her husband’s aborted plans; a pre-existing and recalcitrant wilfulness is also suggested by Kapnist-Skalon’s account. A husband-centred concept of wifely education, with the wife as tabula rasa for his ten commandments, vies with the idea that Ekaterina, as adult wife, is responsible for her own fate. The history of Pushkin’s notoriously troubled and much mythologized marriage, as it may be reconstructed from the poet’s letters to his wife Natal’ya Nikolaevna, née Goncharova, bears, up to its denouement (the tragedy of a fatal duel, rather than the farce of a bungled elopement), a striking resemblance to that of the Kapnist–d’Allonville alliance. A man of fully formed character, indeed on the verge of middle age (by the standards of the time), marries a much younger woman, a celebrated beauty, whom he tries to shape, morally speaking, according to his tastes, vacillating as he does so between pride and jealousy at her social and sexual success (as Pushkin’s 1831 poem ‘No, I do not value stormy pleasures’ reveals, educating his wife’s sexual responses was an important duty of the husband as tutor). Unable, or unwilling, to remove his wife from harm’s way physically as Kapnist had done (that is, from town to country), Pushkin attempted to place a barrier of propriety between her and the moral laissez-faire of aristocratic St Petersburg. The letters that he wrote during his absences from Natal’ya, and most particularly in 1833–34, are full of anxious attempts to instil in her a sense of prudence and comme il faut: I don’t forbid you coquetry, but I do demand coldness, decency, grandeur from you – not to speak of irreproachable behaviour, by which I don’t mean tone, but something else, the most significant thing (8 October 1833).


Gender in Russian History and Culture

Watch out, don’t turn into a little girl yourself, don’t forget you’ve already got two children and you miscarried the third, take care of yourself, keep an eye on things: don’t dance too much, only take short walks, and above all come down to the country (19 April 1834). Don’t let father in to the children, he might frighten them or who knows what else. Above all, take care when you’ve got your periods – don’t read filthy books [skvernye knigi] from grandfather’s library, don’t foul your imagination [ne marai], wifey. I’ll allow you as much coquetry as you want. Don’t ride horses that are too wild (20/22 April 1834). You may be young, but you’re already the mother of a family, and I’m sure that it won’t be harder for you to carry out the duties of a good mother, than it is for you to carry out the duties of an honest and good wife. Dependency and [financial] perturbation are frightful in a family, and no success on vanity’s part can reward one with peace and satisfaction. Now there’s a moral for you (26 May 1834). Leavened as they are by self-parody (‘now there’s a moral for you’), affection and humour, these moral lectures are still based on a complete asymmetry of authority between writer and addressee, as is perhaps still clearer when Pushkin is pleased with his wife. ‘What a clever little woman you are! what a sweetie! what a long letter! and how full of sense [del’no]’, he exclaims on 25 September 1832. ‘If you’re clever, that is, if you keep calm and in good health, then I’ll bring you what they call a great big present from the country’ [tovaru na sto rublei, kak govoritsya], he promises a year later (2 September 1833). As with the Kapnist case, it is childbearing that provokes especially vehement assertions of the need for responsibility: if Ekaterina was taken abroad as a punishment for the neglect of her child, Natal’ya is constantly reminded of the need to avoid frivolity in the cause of a healthy pregnancy: apart from short walks, the favoured exercise is promenading round the drawing room (10 December 1831). Advice on managing the household is also given – do not spoil the children, do not let the servants get above themselves. Rather than an adult on an equal footing with her husband, Natal’ya emerges as a charming child in constant need of direction. No wonder that Pushkin is able to tease her by commenting (again in conjunction with advice to be careful in

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pregnancy): ‘Woman, as Galiani says, est un animal naturellement faible et malade. What kind of helpers or workers are you? You only work with your little feet at balls and help your husbands squander their money’ (14 July 1834). 19 A surviving letter written by Natal’ya to her husband (a postscript to a missive of her mother’s) is bland and anonymous, resembling the impeccably dull letters that Tolstoi’s Natasha Rostova sent to Prince Andrei, after getting her mother to correct the grammar and spelling.20 It is difficult to say whether her half of the correspondence, had it survived, would do much to alter the impression given by Pushkin’s letters, of a naive young girl whose husband’s epistolary relationship with her was as much parental as conjugal. To be sure, there was less inequality in the Pushkin–Goncharova match than the Kapnist– d’Allonville union. Pushkin may have attempted to confine Natal’ya to her room by long-distance command, but did not actually lock her up, and the occasional brusqueness in his letters emanates from a defensive recognition of his own sexual obsession with his wife, which he displaces on to male society in general: ‘You enjoy having men running after you like dogs after a bitch, with their tails in the air and sniffing your arse: a fine thing to enjoy!’ (30 October 1833).21 More often the tone of his letters is affectionate, occasionally chiding, if with an underlying note sometimes of slightly claustrophobic desperation (as in the teacher with a stubborn or slow pupil, perhaps). But the differences in nuance, though important, do not detract from the fact that in both cases a husband attempts to provide his wife with the education with which, according to certain perceptions, she should have been furnished by her mother. Kapnist-Skalon and Pushkin, then, both in their very different ways lay bare a consensus about the content of women’s education, which should instil in its objects a code of self-restraint and self-sacrifice, a sense of women’s privileged yet perilous situation as moral arbiters. Kapnist-Skalon’s phrase storonnyaya zhenshchina accepts the existence of a horizontal arena for women’s behaviour such as that sketched out by Lambert. A sententia of Pushkin’s in a letter of 6 May 1836, ‘Modesty is the main ornament of your sex’, could come straight from a conduct manual (compare Espinassy’s ‘Modesty is the most amiable virtue in a young woman’). 22 So, too, could his torrents of advice in other letters on the treatment of servants (firm but kind), small children (ditto), the avoidance of possibly corrupting books, and the need for judicious social behaviour. But Kapnist-Skalon’s strictures on her cousin’s manner of re-educating his wife, and Pushkin’s obvious irritation at Natal’ya


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Nikolaevna’s failure to grasp the elementary principles of good conduct, also point to an ambivalence in the writers about whether or not a husband should be concerned with improving his wife’s manners and regulating her morals. The dilemma of these historical subjects was no doubt partly traceable to the newness of the ‘pedagogical mother’ ideology. But just as important as the effects of the historical longue durée was the telescoping of chronology so often evident in Russian importation of Western ideas. Fénelon and Lambert, with their emphasis on women’s need for autonomy within marriage, arrived on Russian soil only slightly earlier than the writings of other Westerners from a significantly later generation, which celebrated a very different kind of marriage, one where women’s central duty was to please their husbands. Such writers included Marie Leprince de Beaumont, author of massively popular sub-Socratic dialogues for the schoolroom in which a governess, ‘Mrs Morality’, instructed her youthful pupils, ‘Miss Impetuous’ and others, on the rules of good conduct and rational behaviour. Especially popular was Magasin des enfans, translated as Detskoe uchilishche, which went into at least 12 Russian editions, in print-runs as high as 2000 copies, between 1761 and 1800. The book also circulated in French: a copy of an edition published in Paris in 1797 was in Pushkin’s library.23 Where Lambert had stressed the need for women to be independent of their husbands in terms of moral judgement, Leprince de Beaumont went so far as to suggest that even modest attire should be given up if the husband required it.24 And one of the moral tales inserted in Magasin des enfans was her famous retelling of La Belle et la Bête, in which a young woman learns to respect and love an apparently forbidding husband whom she has not chosen for herself. (The woeful tale of Kapnist-Skalon’s cousin’s marriage can be interpreted as an abortive reconfiguration of this plot, in which Beauty’s capriciousness does not allow the magic of the Beast to work.)25 Similar ideas to those of Leprince de Beaumont were also voiced in the treatises and moral tales of Madame de Genlis, which enjoyed a wide Russian readership between the 1780s and the 1830s. 26 The competition between these alternative Western models of the marriage was exacerbated after the death of Catherine II. Catherine’s male successors, Paul I, Alexander I and especially Nicholas I, took care to circumscribe the symbolic role of the royal consort, and to emphasize a tsaritsa’s status as dependent wife on every possible occasion. Where Catherine and indeed her predecessor Elizabeth, as absolute monarchs, had invoked the stereotype of ‘mother of the nation’,

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‘maternity’ was now a quality firmly subordinated to the final masculine and militaristic authority of the Tsar himself.27 Accordingly, when Alexandra Feodorovna was portrayed as an idealized mother, in Zhukovskii’s famous ode ‘Epistle to the Grand Duchess Alexandra Feodorovna on the Birth of Grand Duke Alexander Nikolaevich’ (1818), the representation of royal maternity stressed nurture in the sense of loving watchfulness and protection against harm, rather than active intellectual guidance: Now, scarcely awakened with his soul, Before his mother, as it were before Fate, He plays in his cradle, free of care, And the young Joys have flown in To enliven his beautiful rest. Quotidian cares are still far from her . . . Guard the cradle, careful mother; Your love is an all-seeing eye, And in your love is sacred grace.28 The phrase ‘the all-seeing eye’ attributes to mother-love the power of the masculine divinity, but the central image is that of the ‘Protection’ of the Mother of God: the iconic representation of a guarantee of familial, imperial and national security that rests on benevolence rather than active intervention. Even during Catherine’s reign, an ‘ideology of separate spheres’ had made itself felt in some areas, as, for example, in the Empress’s own reading primer for children, which distinguished carefully between the citizenship duties of men and the domestic responsibilities of women.29 But under Paul and his successors the ideology became all-pervasive. The ‘ideology of separate spheres’ combined with the rise of the doctrine that a wife’s desires should be absolutely subordinated to her husband’s to mean that, under the patronage of Maria Feodorovna and especially Alexandra Feodorovna, Smol’nyi and the other institutes lost their intellectual ambitions and increasingly became places that prepared women not so much for being married as for reaching that state. One former inmate of a conservative inclination, Aleksandra Smirnova, recalled that in the days of Maria Feodorovna, ‘those who emerged from her institutes were sincere daughters and good wives and mothers’; in more recent times, the institutes had ‘gone into a total decline’. Mar’ya Leont’eva, appointed director of Smol’nyi in 1838, prided herself upon the importance accorded to ‘la couture, le tricot, la broderie et même


Gender in Russian History and Culture

l’art de la cuisine’, but according to observers it was ‘good manners in an external sense’ with which she was most concerned.30 If official, imperial ideology saw the tsaritsa transformed from matriarch to madonna, and a concomitant emphasis on the family duties (and above all the wifely duties) of the tsaritsa’s female subjects, an assault on women’s cultural authority had also been taking place, since the late eighteenth century, from a quite different direction: among those Russians opposed to autocracy who had been influenced by French libertarian philosophy. It is significant that one important advocate of education by the husband had been Rousseau, the fifth part of whose Émile had laid out a blueprint for women’s education that assaulted institutionalized training, poured scorn on female intellectuals (‘I would a hundred times rather have a homely girl, simply and crudely brought up, than a learned lady and a wit who would make a literary circle of my house and instal herself as its president’), and presented Sophie as an empty vessel to be filled with Émile’s ideas: [Sophie’s] education is neither showy nor neglected; she has taste without deep study, talent without art, judgement without learning. Her mind knows nothing, but it is trained to learn; it is well-tilled soil ready for the seed. . . . What a charming ignoramus! Happy is he who is destined to instruct her. She will not be her husband’s teacher but his scholar; far from seeking to subject him to her tastes, she will take on his. She will suit him far better than a learned woman [savante]; he will have the pleasure of teaching her everything.31 All this was hardly going to appeal to Smol’nyi’s creator, who piqued herself on her intellectual independence; and indeed, Catherine had banned the import or sale of Émile shortly after her accession, in 1763. An edition of Part V that appeared in 1779 (as Émile and Sophie, or the Well-Brought-Up (blagovospitannye) Lovers) was heavily cut, omitting the passages cited above, though it did still make Sophie’s destiny as virtuous wife clear. 32 One may speculate, however, that the suppression of Rousseau’s more egregious outbursts of anti-feminism, during Catherine’s reign, made these the more attractive to young democrats who saw her reign as the epitome of tyrannical female misrule in any case. 33 There is no evidence that Pushkin had himself read Émile, but he would doubtless have encountered Rousseau’s ideas second-hand. 34 Certainly, he was familiar with the anti-feminist writings of Diderot, and also with the biologically determinist opinions of Galiani, whom,

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as noted earlier, he quoted in a letter to Natal’ya Nikolaevna: ‘La femme est un animal naturellement faible et malade.’ Galiani, a favourite of Pushkin’s and the Arzamas circle generally, was a minor Franco-Italian writer and wit whose works were much appreciated throughout Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The description of woman as ‘naturally weak and sick’ comes from a short essay entitled ‘Fragment of a Dialogue on Women’ (‘Croquis d’un dialogue sur les femmes’, 1784). The essay was a direct assault on the argument voiced by Louise d’Épinay, a feminist and a friend of Galiani’s, that women’s intellectual inferiority was due to the inferiority of their education. In the ‘Fragment’, the Chevalier argues resolutely against this opinion, stating that the natural weakness of women is demonstrated by the relative feebleness of female savages and animals; by the fact that they spend six days a month, i.e. a fifth of their lives, indisposed, before pregnancies are taken into account; that they are capricious and irritable, like all invalids. Education cannot be used to demonstrate the contrary, since it follows instinct, rather than leading it. Only religion, for which women have a greater innate propensity (dose) – and men a greater capacity for intellectual evolution – can bring about anything approaching equality (and that, it is implied, in another world).35 Pushkin’s oblique evocation of all this may, of course, have been in the nature of a family joke, intended to provoke Natal’ya into an amusingly angry riposte. However, his citation of Galiani’s article may also be related to the heightened interest in female biology that was beginning to make itself felt in 1830s Russia. In 1837, Verevkin’s scurrilous story, ‘The Woman Writer’ (Zhenshchina-pisatel’nitsa) had adduced anatomical reasons why women should stick to domestic duties and not attempt literature.36 And sentimentalization of ‘natural’ motherhood in writings of the day (for instance, in Smirnova’s light-hearted reference to a dog of hers that neglected her ‘maternal duties’) was accompanied by, on the one hand, an increasingly coercive emphasis on maternal duties (as in Mariya Zhukova’s story ‘Baron Reikhman’ (1837), in which a mother who has engaged in public dalliance with her husband’s lieutenant ends up by losing her son), and on the other, by a decline in the importance of the ideal of intellectual maternity. In the 1830s, the relationship between aristocratic protector and vospitannitsa increasingly came to stand for exploitation of the subordinate, rather than symbolizing the generosity and maternal tenderness of the protector.37 Pushkin’s vexed relationship with his wife’s upbringing, then, was not the symptom of an idiosyncratic misogyny, but part of a cultural


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complex, a dilemma about moral authority, that was characteristic of Russian upper-class society of the day on the one hand, and the literary world on the other. Baron Reichman, the main male character in Mariya Zhukova’s story of that name, addresses his wife with the ethical impossibility: ‘I want you to be free’ (‘Ya khochu, chtoby ty byla svobodnoi’). 38 Pushkin’s letters indirectly articulate something of the same contradiction in terms, as he struggles to make Natal’ya freely accept a view of her behaviour that he has imposed on her. Though Pushkin was himself unusually well educated, and his library included at least one very modern book on behaviour, Louis-Aimé Martin’s De l’éducation des mères de famille ou de la civilisation du genre humain par les femmes (Brussels, 1833), he expressed tastes typical of the conservative Russian gentry when creating his own family life, selecting a wife of little intellectual ambition, and conducting himself, as his sister, Ol’ga Pavlishcheva, recalled, along the lines of an old-style paterfamilias, not a liberal adherent to Rousseau’s principles of ‘natural upbringing’: ‘Aleksandr thrashes his little boy, who’s only two, and he beats Masha as well; but on the whole [vprochem] he’s a tender enough father.’39 The letters in which Pushkin’s marriage was chronicled, though profoundly influenced by the character of an age when representations of motherhood dominated public discourse, were very definitely private documents whose publication he did not anticipate, and indeed, would have opposed most fiercely. 40 Though this material at least provides an important corrective to the clichéd oversimplication of Pushkin as ‘radiant personality’ (svetlaya lichnost’), exploring it at length is uncomfortably voyeuristic, and it is a relief to turn to those of Pushkin’s public, literary writings that examine the dilemma of vospitanie with greater detachment, and more intellectual and imaginative freedom, than was possible in his agonized private letters. Pushkin came from a generation which had reacted against Sentimentalism’s cult of feminine taste and the female ‘ideal reader’ as moral censor, a notion that is satirized in early poems such as Ruslan and Lyudmila and The Gabrieliad, and also an observation en passant in a review of 1825 that Dante and Milton, unlike eighteenth-century French salon poets, had not written to please the ‘fair sex’. However, he had come to something approaching an accommodation with the idea of women’s supposed civilizing skills in his writings of the late 1820s and early 1830s. 41 These included not only poems such as ‘Remembrances of Tsarskoe Selo’ and ‘At the Beginning of Life I Remember a School’, but also Chapters 4–8 of Evgenii Onegin, written between 1824 and 1830 (and published between 1828 and 1832).

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At the first level, Tat’yana in Chapter 4 (written between 1824 and 1826, so at a transitional stage in Pushkin’s world-view) appears to be yet another representation of moral education by a male partner. As Joe Andrew has pointed out in a recent study of mothers in fiction before and after Tat’yana, the only indications that we have about Tat’yana’s upbringing are negative – her mother has not taught her to avoid sentimental novels or correspondence with strange men.42 Tat’yana’s first induction into the behaviour of polite society is the scene in which she is taught by Evgenii that young women may not behave in the way that she has done: they may not select their own male partner, and approach him themselves: Listen to me without anger; More than once the young maiden Exchanges dreams for light dreams; So a little tree its leaves Changes with every spring. So, clearly, it is intended by heaven. You will fall in love again: but . . . Learn to control yourself; Not everyone will understand you as I have, Inexperience leads to disaster. (Evgenii Onegin, ch. 4, verse XVI) For all that, though, a reading of Evgenii Onegin as a text that advocates conjugal, rather than maternal, education would represent a facile misunderstanding of the novel’s import. The narrator’s comment, ‘You will agree, dear reader, that Evgenii treated/Sad Tanya very sweetly’ (ch. 4, verse XVIII), has been taken by some commentators (for example, Yurii Lotman) at face value. 43 But the effect is surely ironic, given that the next two lines, ‘Not for the first time had [Evgenii] revealed/ Straightforward nobility of soul’ are, to say the least, an odd description of Evgenii’s markedly cynical and egotistical behaviour so far. An undertow of irony is also evident in the contrast between Evgenii’s request to Tat’yana not to be ‘angry’ with him, and her actual reaction, ‘Not hearing anything through her tears/Hardly breathing, making no objections’ (verse XVII), a reaction that is in train as Evgenii speaks, so that his words emerge as utterly inappropriate, as a pat speech no doubt recited on many other occasions when a flirtation had, from his point of view, gone too far. The irony is pointed by metrics: the opposing words gnev (anger) (playing on deva, young woman) and vozrazheniya


Gender in Russian History and Culture

(objections, playing on Evgenii) are both used as rhymes, in verses XVI and XVII respectively. Another irony is that Evgenii is not (nor is he to be later) Tat’yana’s husband or her lover; what’s more, his quasi-marital reading of morals to Tat’yana in fact ensures that he never can be, even at a stage when he has himself come to desire it. Through Evgenii, whose moral sentiments as he enlightens her are impeccably orthodox, both in theme and in expression, Tat’yana learns to see through men’s motivation (as effectively as Lambert could have wanted); but she also learns to see through the motivation of the man reading the Lambertian lesson, absorbing the tenet of female self-control (‘learn to command yourself’, uchites’ vlastvovat’ soboi, verse XVII) which was at that lesson’s centre. Accordingly, the scene in Chapter 7, when Tat’yana visits Evgenii’s library and begins to question whether the figure that she has idolized may be a ‘parody’ of Childe Harold, has its roots in the characters’ confrontation in the garden, in Chapter 4. In this, Evgenii also acts like a ‘parody’, though of the didactic raisonneur, rather than the Byronic outsider. By finding independence within a marriage that has not been, from her side, a love match, Tat’yana learns a lesson which is repeated, almost obsessively, in various other texts that Pushkin wrote during the 1830s (for example, the prose fragment ‘Dubrovskii’, 1833), and which, his letters suggest, he also wished to teach Natal’ya. The pedagogical drive in Evgenii Onegin depends, very much in the tradition of Enlightenment conduct manuals, on Tat’yana’s reading. As in behaviour guides, it is emphasized that reading romantic novels is dangerous. But by learning to read fiction in a properly sceptical manner, and eventually finding her autonomy outside romantic love, Tat’yana proves an honourable heiress to the eighteenth-century feminism of Madame de Lambert and her successors. Therefore, isolated as she is (according to a classic misogynist myth) from female company and indeed from the feminine generally, Tat’yana can in an oblique way count as a feminist heroine too, representing, in her final incarnation, the independent woman created by Madame de Lambert and, at the other end of the century, Mary Wollstonecraft. Written at a point when the eighteenth-century system of education was coming in for increasing ridicule, when the values that had inspired Smol’nyi were in decline, and finished only a decade before a new generation would begin mounting an assault on the very concept of family-centred education, Evgenii Onegin is at the same time a tribute to the femme savante, an ideal that Pushkin assiduously mocked, but with which he had deep, though unacknowledged, affinities.

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* In his influential histories of the development of the family in England, Lawrence Stone observed a transition, in the second half of the eighteenth century, between the old patriarchal family and the new ‘companionate marriage’, characterized by stronger ties of affect and a higher degree of intimacy between husband and wife, parents and children.44 In her study of the Russian family, Jessica Tovrov has argued for a comparable transition in the second half of the nineteenth century. 45 The material relating to representations of maternity presented here has suggested that this historiological schema may not be sufficiently nuanced: what is observable in the sources analysed here more closely resembles a shift in understanding of the patriarchal family. The absolute authority of the husband and father was challenged by a new pattern of family life according to which husband and wife led ‘separate but equal’ lives, still cemented by a notional subordination of woman to man, but with traditional ‘feminine’ tasks, such as childrearing, now given a much higher profile than before. In Russia the anxieties raised by the conflict of ‘traditional’ and ‘new’ understandings of the patriarchal family were heightened by the presence of a competing ideology representing a form of ‘companionate marriage’ in which the wife was supposed to devote herself entirely to pleasing her husband. The result was a variety of conflicting interpretations of acceptable family life, so that uncertainty characterized not only the views held in Russian upper-class society generally, but individual appreciations as well. Though normative sources, such as behaviour books, and self-conscious, genre-aware pieces of writing, such as letters and memoirs, in no sense offer us a clear window on to lost reality, it would be reasonable to assume that the tensions felt by those who endured that reality were comparable to, or sharper than, those that have been chronicled here.

Notes The following abbreviations are used throughout the Notes: Pushkin, PSS: A. S. Pushkin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (17 vols, Leningrad, 1937–1949). Pushkin, PSS2: A. S. Pushkin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (10 vols, Leningrad, 1977). SK: Svodnyi katalog russkoi knigi grazhdanskoi pechati XVIII veka, 1725–1800 (5 vols, Moscow, 1962–1967). 1. This chapter draws on sections of my Refining Russia: Advice Literature, Polite Culture, and Gender in Russia from 1760 (forthcoming, Oxford, 2001) ch. 1. The


2. 3. 4.



7. 8. 9.


Gender in Russian History and Culture generous sponsorship of the British Academy, through its Personal Research Grants and Academic Exchange with the Russian Academy of Sciences, allowed me to visit Russia and Finland in 1994, 1996, 1997 and 1998 to collect material for the project. Pushkin, ‘Kogda za gorodom zadumchiv ya brozhu’, PSS, vol. 3, p. 422. For a selection of such epigraphs, see V. I. Saitov (comp.), Peterburgskii nekropol’ (Moscow, 1883). On painting see, for example, the portraits of upper-class Russian mothers by Vigée Le Brun, Angelica Kauffmann and others in Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich, Russkie portrety XVIII i XIX stoletii (5 vols, St Petersburg, 1905–9). On literature, see below. Joanna Hubbs, Mother Russia: the Feminine Myth in Russian Culture (Bloomington, Ind., 1989); Toni Bowers, The Politics of Motherhood: British Writing and Culture, 1670–1760 (Cambridge, 1996) p. 4. ‘Povest’ o Yulianii Lazarevskoi’, in N. Gudzii (ed.), Khrestomatiya po drevnerusskoi literature (Moscow, 1973) p. 343. On symbolic maternity before 1700, see N. Pushkareva, Zhenshchina v Drevnei Rusi (Moscow, 1989) pp. 95–102. On the cult of St Anne in the West, see M. Warner, From the Beast to the Blonde: Fairy Tales and Their Tellers (London, 1994) ch. 6. On women’s education in the pre-Petrine period, see E. Likhacheva, Materialy dlya istorii zhenskago obrazovaniya v Rossii (1086–1796) (St Petersburg, 1890) pp. 14–30; L. Hughes, Sophia, Regent of Russia 1657–1704 (New Haven and London, 1990) p. 33. N. Pushkareva, Chastnaya zhizn’ russkoi zhenshchiny: nevesta, zhena, lyubovnitsa (X-nachalo XIX veka) (Moscow, 1997) pp. 75–88, conjectures that literate mothers would have educated their daughters in the pre-Petrine period, but without concrete evidence. Bowers, The Politics of Motherhood, p. 24. J. Tovrov, The Russian Noble Family: Structure and Change (New York, 1987) p. 192. F. Fénelon, De l’éducation des filles (1687) appeared as O vospitanii devits, sochinenie g. Fenelona arkhiepiskopa dyuka Kambriiskago, trans. I. Tumanskii (St Petersburg, 1763) (SK no. 7703). This edition was reprinted in 1774 and 1788; a new edition in 1794 included a translation of ‘Lettre à une dame de qualité’ (SK no. 7705). Lambert, Avis d’une mère à son fils et à sa fille (1728): Pis’ma gospozhi de Lambert k eya synu o pravednoi chesti i k docheri o dobrodetelyakh prilichnykh zhenskomu polu (St Petersburg, 1761) (SK no. 3425); other translations appeared in 1732, 1814, 1834 and 1838. S. Pennington, An Unfortunate Mother’s Advice to Her Absent Daughters; in a Letter to Miss Pennington (1761) appeared (translated from the French!) as Sovety neschastnyya materi ee docheryam [ . . . ] (Moscow, 1788) (SK no. 5149). On reception see, for example, N. A. Kopanev, ‘Rasprostranenie frantsuzskoi knigi v Moskve v seredine XVIII veka’, in S. P. Luppov (ed.), Frantsuzskaya kniga v Rossii v XVIII veke: ocherki istorii (Leningrad, 1986) Table 6, p. 83. See M. de Gournay, Égalité des hommes et des femmes: 1622: in C. Venesoen (ed.), Égalité des hommes et des femmes. Grief des dames, suivis du Proumenoir de Monsieur de Montaigne (Geneva, 1993). P. de la Barre, De l’égalité des deux sexes (1673) (Paris, 1984); idem., De l’éducation des dames pour la conduite de l’esprit dans les sciences et dans les mœurs (1679) (Toulouse, 1982); I. Maclean, Woman Triumphant: Feminism in French Literature, 1610–1652 (Oxford, 1977);

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15. 16.



E. Woodrough, ‘France: the Middle Ages to 1700’ in C. Buck (ed.), The Bloomsbury Guide to Women’s Literature (London, 1992) pp. 41–54; A. Hughes and J. Birkett, ‘Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century France’, ibid., pp. 54–60. A.-T. de Lambert, ‘Avis d’une mère à sa fille’ in her Œuvres, ed. R. Granderoute (Paris, 1990) p. 100. (References to this edition henceforth in text, as Œuvres.) The dichotomy between valour and shame that Lambert sets up was wholly conventional, in terms of French culture – see Maclean, Woman Triumphant, pp. 1–63 – but apparently new in Russia: it is striking that the title of the 1761 Russian translation of Lambert (see n. 9 above) drew attention to it by inserting the words chest’ and dobrodetel’. Anon [i.e. Gospozha Espinasi], Opyt o vospitanii blagorodnykh devits, sochinen gospozheyu *** s frantsuzskogo na rossiiskoi yazyk pereveden Mikhailom Semchevskim (St Petersburg, 1778) p. 37. (Translation of Mademoiselle d’Espinassy, Essai sur l’éducation des demoiselles (Paris, 1764). J. Goulin, Damskoi vrach, v 3 chastyakh, soderzhashchikh v sebe nuzhnye predokhraneniya, sluzhashchie k soblyudeniyu zdraviya, s prisovokupleniem VENERINA TUALETA: perevel s frants. M. I. U. Meditsinskogo fakul’teta Student Kodrat Mukovnikov (Moscow, 1793) p. 168. Goulin is equally coy about the sexual act, describing it as ‘the moment when two hearts that are strongly bonded and feel the impression of the tenderest love, surrender themselves to pleasure in its most vivid form’ (p. 158). On nurses’ responsibility for infancy, see Opyt o vospitanii blagorodnykh devits, pp. 2–3. On the use of mamki by elite women in the pre-Petrine era, see Pushkareva, Chastnaya zhizn’, pp. 88–9. See A. Labzina, Vospominaniya 1758–1828, ed. B. L. Modzalevskii (Newtonville, 1974) pp. 47–8. Novels were carefully censored in favour of lectures solides, and moral issues assiduously propagandized by the Kheraskovs. Reproduced in J. Milner, A Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Artists, 1420–1970 (Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1993) p. 95. Domostroi, Sil’vesterskaya redaktsiya, ch. 29: Domostroi, ed. V. V. Kolesov and V. V. Rozhdestvenskaya (St Petersburg, 1994) p. 104; quotation here from Domostroi: Rules for Russian Households in the Time of Ivan the Terrible, ed. and trans. C. J. Pouncy (Ithaca, 1994) p. 124. On representations of virtuous women in the pre-Petrine era, see Pushkareva, Zhenshchina v Drevnei Rusi, pp. 101–2; M. Ziolkowski, ‘Women in Old Russian Literature’, in T. Clyman and D. Greene (eds), Women Writers in Russian Literature (Westport, Connecticut, 1994) pp. 1–15; and R. McKenzie, ‘Women in Seventeenth-Century Russian Literature’, in R. Marsh (ed.), Gender in Russian Literature: New Perspectives (Cambridge, 1996) pp. 41–54. On the Byzantine tradition, see The Alexiad of Anna Comnena, where the writer refers approvingly to her mother’s ‘extraordinary modesty’ (Book 12, iii), p. 375, and her grandmother’s piety and virtue (Book 3, viii), p. 120. (All page references to The Alexiad of Anna Comnena, trans. E. R. A. Sewter (Harmondsworth, 1969).) See also the earliest Westernized behaviour manual: Anon., Yunosti chestnoe zertsalo, ili pokazanie k zhiteiskomu obkhozhdeniyu. Sobrannoe ot raznykh Avtorov. Napechataetsya poveleniem Tsarskogo Velichestva (St Petersburg, 1717), whose second section, ‘The Crown of Maidenly Virtue’, sets out the 20 ‘maidenly virtues’: apart from piety in its various



19. 20.

21. 22. 23.

24. 25. 26.



Gender in Russian History and Culture manifestations, these include humility, propriety, gratitude, mercy, cleanliness, restraint, chastity, cheerfulness, generosity and taciturnity. The most accessible edition of Kapnist-Skalon’s memoirs is in G. N. Moiseeva (ed.), Zapiski i vospominaniya russkikh zhenshchin XVIII-pervoi poloviny XIX vekov (Moscow, 1990) pp. 281–388; quote here p. 31 (all references to this edition henceforth in text as (KS). As Moiseeva points out (p. 34 of this edition), the memoirs, though first published in 1859, were almost certainly composed on the basis of earlier diaries; they are imbued with the spirit of the 1820s and 1830s rather than the 1850s. Pushkin, PSS, vol. 15, nos. 851, 918, 919, 947, 770, 841, vol. 14, no. 711, vol. 15, no. 979. N. I. Goncharova and N. N. Pushkina, letter of 14 May 1834, Pushkin, PSS, vol. 15, no. 939. A number of Pushkina’s letters to her brother, mostly concerning Pushkin’s money worries, have survived. For these see I. Obodovskaya and M. Dement’ev (eds), Vokrug Pushkina: neizvestnye pis’ma N. N. Pushkinoi i ee sester E. N. i A. N. Goncharovykh, 2nd edn (Moscow, 1975) pp. 117–37. See also S. Sandler’s fine study of the Pushkina myth, ‘Pushkin’s Last Love – Natal’ya Nikolaevna in Russian Culture’, in M. Liljeström, E. Mäntysaari and A. Rosenholm (eds), Gender Restructuring in Russian Studies, Slavica Tamperensia, vol. 2 (Tampere, 1993) pp. 209–21. Pushkin, PSS, vol. 15, no. 854. Pushkin, PSS, vol. 16, no. 1190; Anon [i.e. Espinasi], Opyt o vospitanii, p. 15. M. Leprince de Beaumont, Magasin des enfans, ou dialogues d’une sage gouvernante avec ses élèves de la première distinction, par Madame Leprince de Beaumont (Lyon, 1758); translated into Russian as Detskoe uchilishche, ili Nravouchitel’nye razgovory mezhdu razumnoyu uchitel’nitseyu i znatnymi raznykh let uchenitsami sochinennye na frantsuzskom yazyke gospozheyu Le Prens’ de Bomont, trans. P. S. Svistunov (4 parts, St Petersburg, 1761–7); reprinted 1776, 1788; another translation appeared in 1792, reprinted 1794, 1800; parts of the book appeared separately in 1763, 1767, 1784 and 1795. (See SK nos. 3623–3631). For Pushkin’s ownership of the book, see B. L. Modzalevskii, Biblioteka A. S. Pushkina: Bibliograficheskoe opisanie (St Petersburg, 1910) item 1090. This advice was given in her Magasin des adolescentes, the sequel to Magasin des enfants. On Leprince’s ‘La Belle et la Bête’, see Warner’s interesting comments in her From the Beast to the Blonde, pp. 292–7. For example, Russian translations of S. de Genlis, Adèle et Théodore, ou lettres sur l’éducation, contenant tous les principes relatifs aux trois differens plans d’éducation, des princes, des jeunes personnes, et des hommes (3 vols, Paris, 1782) appeared in 1791, 1792 and 1794 (SK 2209, SK 2216). On the empress-as-wife-and-mother cult, see R. Wortman, Scenarios of Power: Myth and Ceremony in Russian Monarchy, vol. 1 (Princeton, 1995) pp. 250–1. On the development of the ‘ideology of separate spheres’ in Western Europe, see e.g. R. A. Nye, Masculinity and Male Codes of Honor in Modern France (Berkeley, 1998) ch. 3. Wortman also analyses this poem: and see his Scenarios of Power, too, for a wonderful account of Alexandra Feodorovna as assiduously infantilized by her husband (pp. 260–5).

Catriona Kelly


29. Catherine II, Rossiiskaya azbuka dlya obucheniya yunoshestva chteniyu, Napechatannaya dlya obshchestvennykh shkol po Vysochaishemu poveleniyu, St Petersburg, n.d. (SK 2177) nos. 88, 98. 30. A. O. Smirnova-Rosset, Vospominaniya (Moscow, 1990) p. 84. On Catherine as educator see I. Betskoi, Ustav vospitaniya dvukh sot blagorodnykh devits uchrezhdennogo eya velichestvom Gosudaryneyu Ekaterinoyu Votoroyu . . . (St Petersburg, 1764) (SK no. 556). On Leont’eva, see N. P. Cherepnin, Imperatorskoe Vospitatel’noe obshchestvo blagorodnykh devits. Istoricheskii ocherk 1764–1914 (3 vols, St Petersburg, 1914–15) vol. 2, pp. 79, 109. Cherepnin’s book is still by far the best study of Smol’nyi generally. See also Likhacheva, Materialy dlya istorii zhenskago obrazovaniya; J. L. Black, Citizens for the Fatherland: Education, Educators and Pedagogical Ideals in Eighteenth-Century Russia (New York, 1979) ch. 7; and, on education and educational theory, Carol S. Nash, ‘Educating New Mothers: Women and the Russian Enlightenment’, History of Education Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 3 (1981) pp. 301–16. 31. J. J. Rousseau, Émile, ou de l’éducation, ed. C. Wirz and P. Burgelin (Paris, 1995) p. 604, pp. 605–6. English translation adapted from Émile, trans. Barbara Foxley (London, 1992) pp. 445, 447. 32. Ibid., p. 588 (pp. 431–2 of the translation). Zh. Zh. Russo, Emil’ i Sofiya, ili blagovospitannye lyubovniki (St Petersburg, 1779) (SK no. 6234) p. 18. 33. On Rousseau’s ‘underground’ popularity with young idealists even during Catherine’s reign, see L. N. Kiseleva, ‘S. N. Glinka i kadetskii korpus (iz istorii “sentimental’nogo vospitaniya” v Rossii)’, Uchenye zapiski Tartuskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta, no. 604 (1982) pp. 48–63 – education at the Sukhoputnyi shlyakhetnyi kadetskii korpus, which Glinka attended from 1782 to 1794, was as close to Rousseau’s model as possible. 34. A complete Rousseau in Pushkin’s library has uncut pages for the Émile volumes, Modzalevskii, Biblioteka A. S. Pushkina, no. 1332; no references are listed in the index to PSS. However, neither of these types of evidence is definitive – Pushkin’s edition of Johnson’s Lives of the English Poets is also uncut. He makes no reference to it in his letters, but an acquaintance testified that he had read the book. See note to Modzalevskii, Biblioteka A. S. Pushkina, no. 1032. 35. Opere de Ferdinando Galiani, in Illuministi Italiani, vol. 6, ed. Furio Diaz and Luciano Guerci (Milan and Naples, 1975) pp. 635–42. The material on d’Épinay comes from the editors’ introduction to the text, p. 625. 36. N. N. Verevkin (as ‘Rakhmannyi’), ‘Zhenshchina-pisatel’nitsa’, Biblioteka dlya chteniya, vol. 23, no. 1, pt 1 (1837) pp. 19–134. [Editor’s note: For a summary and discussion of this story, see Joe Andrew’s essay in this volume.] 37. Among the better-known literary assaults on the institution of the vospitannitsa are Pushkin’s own ‘Pikovaya dama’ and ‘Roman v pis’makh’, and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, where Anna’s neglect of her own daughter Annie in favour of her adopted English ward Hannah is used by Tolstoy as an oblique indictment of her artificial and hypocritical life with Vronskii. Portraits by women writers of the vospitannitsa (many equally critical) include Mariya Zhukova’s ‘Medal’on’. On this topic, see also Y. Harussi, ‘Women’s Social Roles as Depicted by Women Writers in Early NineteenthCentury Russian Fiction’, in J. D. Clayton (ed.), Issues in Russian Literature before 1917 (Columbus, Ohio, 1989) pp. 35–48; J. Andrew, ‘Mothers and


38. 39.




43. 44.


Gender in Russian History and Culture Daughters in Russian Literature of the First Half of the Nineteenth Century’, Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 73, no. 1 (1995) pp. 37–60. M. Zhukova, ‘Baron Reikhman’, Vechera na Karpovke (1837–8) (Moscow, 1986) pp. 40–75. See Modzalevskii, Biblioteka A. S. Pushkina, no. 1141. On Pushkin as paterfamilias, see O. S. Pavlishcheva, letter to N. I. Pavlishchev of 22 November 1835: Pis’ma O. S. Pavlishchevoi k muzhu i otsu 1831–1837: Famil’nye bumagi Pushkinykh-Gannibalov, vol. 2 (St Petersburg, 1994) p. 129. On the privacy of Pushkin’s letters, see his letter to Natal’ya, 18.v.1834 (PSS, vol. 15, no. 942), in which he tells her not to copy his correspondence to her: ‘no one should be received in our bedchamber’ (nikto ne dolzhen byt’ prinyat v nashu spal’nyu). Pushkin, ‘O predislovii g. Lemonte k perevodu basen I. A. Krylova’ (1825), see PSS, vol. 11, p. 33. On Pushkin’s changing attitudes to vospitanie, see my article, ‘Pushkin and the Theme of Vospitanie’ in Pushkin und die Europäische Kultur (forthcoming, Vienna, 2001). [Editor’s note: However, see Joe Andrew’s chapter in this volume.] Andrew, ‘Mothers and Daughters’, pp. 42–50. There is, of course, a voluminous secondary literature on the meaning of Tat’yana, who has been seen as everything from a version of Pushkin’s Muse to a eulogization of and model for Russian womanhood. For recent discussions of the character, see J. D. Clayton, ‘Towards a Feminist Reading of Evgenii Onegin, Canadian Slavonic Papers, vol. 29 (1987) pp. 255–65; C. Emerson, ‘Tatiana’ in S. Hoisington (ed.), A Plot of Her Own: the Female Protagonist in Russian Literature (Evanston, Ill., 1995) pp. 6–20. I wholly agree with the emphasis in these last two pieces upon the ambiguities and discontinuities in Tat’yana’s character; the theme of moral education is only one among many associated with her. Yu. Lotman, Roman A. S. Pushkina ‘Evgenii Onegin’: kommentarii (Leningrad, 1983) p. 236. See L. Stone, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England, 1500–1800 (London, 1977); idem, The Road to Divorce: England, 1530–1987 (Oxford, 1990). This schema has recently been cogently challenged, in the context of English history, by A. Vickery, in The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Georgian England (New Haven, 1998), especially pp. 6–7, 288–9. Vickery makes a strong argument for cultural continuity, seeing eighteenth-century discourses on maternity as characterized by ‘the overlaying of a range of secular celebrations on the ancient religious solemnizations’ (p. 93). In Russia, however, this ‘overlaying’ was more problematic, given the different nature of the religious culture (see above); at the same time, the ‘status quo’ which propagandized the ‘language of separate spheres’ as ‘a shrill response to the opportunities, ambitions, and experience’ of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century women (Vickery, p. 7) was decidedly less ‘embattled’ than it was in Britain. Tovrov, The Russian Noble Family, ch. 7.

2 Gender and Salvation: Representations of Difference in Old Believer Writings from the Late Seventeenth Century to the 1820s Irina Korovushkina Paert

Old Belief was the result of the seventeenth-century Schism (Raskol) in the Russian Orthodox Church. The Old Believers were those members of the Church who refused to accept the liturgical changes introduced by the patriarch Nikon and enforced by the state. From the seventeenth century this oppositional religious movement spread all over the Russian Empire and split into numerous inner divisions. The main division was between popovtsy (priestly) and bespopovtsy (priestless). The bespopovtsy declared that in the ‘last days’ the apostolic succession was interrupted; thus there were only two sacraments available to Christians – those of baptism and confession, both of which could be performed by a layman. Gender relations, family and marriage in Old Believer communities became a subject of particular interest in the second half of the nineteenth century, in connection with the ‘woman question’. Some historians represented Old Believers as champions of women’s liberation, or even as sexual anarchists. The populist historians, V. V. Andreev and Afanasii Shchapov, recognized in the gender relations of the Old Believers ‘the ancient Slavonic equality of the sexes’ and claimed that women were emancipated by Raskol.1 Others, in contrast, identified Old Belief with traditional patriarchal values in family and community. The Old Believer family was represented as a remedy for the corrupted morality of decadent contemporary society and praised for harmonizing faith, tradition and order.2 Unlike these nineteenth-century writers, modern historians of Old Belief have paid little attention to gender. Although texts such as Povest’ 29


Gender in Russian History and Culture

o Boyaryne Morozovoi (The Tale of the Boyarynya Morozova) attracted scholarly attention as a unique historical and literary source depicting the colourful personality of a seventeenth-century noblewoman, the gender aspects of an abundant Old Believer literature have not been sufficiently explored.3 This chapter will focus on the ways in which gender was articulated in Old Believer writings. I shall ask how attitudes to women’s role in religious life, their status in marriage and the family changed over time. The study covers the period from the early years of the Schism – when the bitter persecution of the Old Believers scattered them to the frontiers of the Empire – to the first quarter of the nineteenth century, when the Old Believers established communities in the imperial centres of Moscow and St Petersburg and engaged in economic activity. I shall look at Old Believer writings written between the 1670s and the 1820s, the correspondence between the leaders of the communities, manuals of spiritual guidance, moral admonitions, and so on. I shall argue that although Raskol did provide a more active role for women in religious and family life, the conventional ideas of femininity and masculinity persisted, based on female physical and spiritual inferiority.

From the 1660s internal ecclesiastical opposition to the Church reform developed into widespread social conflict, which united the members of the aristocracy, lower clergy and the populace under the banner of the ‘Old Faith’ in their protest against the social and ecclesiastical reforms. 4 The participation of women in the movement had a crucial importance for the dissemination of Old Belief. To many, the figure of Feodosiya Morozova (née Sokovnina) (1632–75) has become the symbolic expression of the Old Belief. 5 A lady-inwaiting of the Tsarina Mariya Il’inishna and the widow of one of the richest noblemen in Moscow, Feodosiya Morozova had repudiated her status and estate for the sake of the Old Faith. After her refusal to join the reformed Church and after futile attempts at persuasion by the Tsar and the Church, she was imprisoned, along with her sister Princess Urusova and Mar’ya Danilova – the wife of a colonel in the Strel’tsy Evdokiya (musketeers in the Tsar’s service) – in Borovsk, where she died of hunger in 1675. The last years of Morozova’s life were recorded in minute detail. Morozova’s biography, written around 1674–75, became a key text in the formation of Old Belief ideology.6 The narrative was taken up and

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re-evaluated by the subsequent generation of Old Believers, who produced their own interpretation of Morozova’s life. Here I shall examine the original version of Povest’ o Boyaryne Morozovoi and a later edition (1720–30, produced by one of the Old Believer denominations, the Pomorians) in order to demonstrate how changes in the representation of gender came about. The additional texts used for the analysis are O trekh ispovednitsakh slovo plachevnoe (The Homily on Three Martyrs) by the priest Avvakum (the most prominent leader of the Schism), an article on Morozova in Vinograd rossiiskii by Semen Denisov (1730) and the correspondence between the heroine and Avvakum (1660s–1670s). The original version of the Povest’ was produced shortly after the death of Morozova by a witness, possibly Morozova’s steward Andrei. 7 The text is focused around the story of a woman who came into conflict with the authorities for defending her faith, a conflict that resulted in her heroic death. Clearly, the text is constructed according to the hagiographic genre. However, the precise attention to historical fact, the saturation of the text with ‘realistic’ details and the frequent incompatibility of these details with hagiographic conventions make the Povest’ a novel example of literature, comparable to The Life of Avvakum. The careful documentation and maximum realism were intended to present a ‘true, authentic account of the events’ which would be read by contemporaries as a kind of ‘list of crimes of the impious regime’. The narrative embraces the last years of Boyarynya Morozova’s life from 1664 to 1675, paying little attention to her childhood, youth and married life. The only information we learn from the text is that Feodosiya’s parents were pious and faithful Christians, that the 17-yearold Feodosiya was married to Gleb Morozov and had a son.8 The emphasis on the last years of the heroine’s life reflected the fact that in the eyes of the creators of the text it was martyrdom which gave meaning to her personality, while the rest of her life was of only peripheral interest. How did Morozova become the advocate of the Old Faith? The text emphasizes that she learnt the lesson of a virtuous life and the ‘righteous dogmas of the Church’ from the priest Avvakum. This was the turning point in her spiritual life: henceforward Morozova became an opponent of the Nikonian reform.9 However, there is no further mention of the male spiritual leaders after the fourth paragraph of the text. The name of Avvakum is mentioned in the Povest’ only three times. The nun Melaniya is the spiritual core of the narrative.10 She plays a major part in the story, taking over the spiritual guidance of the lives


Gender in Russian History and Culture

of Morozova, Urusova and Danilova. She accompanies the heroines from the beginning of the story to their martyr deaths. She appears at every significant moment in their lives: in prison and after torture. Melaniya and Feodosiya Morozova are represented as the women in the Gospels who witnessed Christ’s resurrection.11 It is the figure of Melaniya who links the three women martyrs together in the narrative by becoming their spiritual mother. It is significant that Mar’ya Danilova is the last to appeal to the nun, begging her to become her mother in Christ after the death of Urusova. Thus, symbolically Melaniya unites all three martyrs. The heroines in the text explicitly address Melaniya as ‘teacher’, ‘guide’, ‘pastor’ and ‘apostle of Christ’.12 The women’s pledge of voluntary obedience to her represents the relation of a novice to an elder. Despite the fact that Feodosiya was tonsured by a man, the elder Dosifei, Melaniya exercises complete spiritual authority over the woman, becoming her Gospel mother. Canonically, tonsure could only be performed by a man, so Dosifei is necessary to the narrative, but it is striking how little attention is paid to his personality. The text describes spiritual relations between women as a conventional religious practice of the seventeenth century. It suggests the theme of spiritual sisterhood where men occupy only relational status. The setting of the second part of the story in Borovsk prison, where the heroines were placed together, adds to the motif of women’s spiritual and emotional bond. Overall the text is dominated by women. We have the female servants and supporters of Morozova, the nuns living in her house, her sister and the first wife of the Tsar who intercede for the disgraced boyarynya. There are a few references to the support which Morozova receives from a ‘great number’ of wives of nobility who visit her in prison in the Pecherskoe Podvor’e and Novodevichii Monastery. 13 The abbess of the monastery, who intercedes on behalf of Morozova with the patriarch, feels sympathy for the imprisoned woman while anticipating the attraction of the aura of martyrdom over her name. 14 There are only a few references to the male leaders of the Old Belief, such as Avvakum, elder Dosifei, elder Iov L’vovskii, who play a transient role as performers of the sacraments. The active personages are the heroines and their antagonists. The villains of the story, in contrast, are represented by men. These are the Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich, Patriarch Pitirim, Prince Vorotynskii and the nameless executors of the monarch’s orders. The rank and file soldiers and guards often display compassion towards the prisoners, like the anonymous warder who washes Morozova’s shirt, thus

Irina Korovushkina Paert


emphasizing popular disagreement with the unjust policy of those in authority. The ‘feminization’ of the narrative served, on the one hand, to highlight the large role played by women in the Raskol, and, on the other, to cast Old Belief as a whole in the role of female victim and elicit broader sympathy from the reader. By representing the opponents of the reform as female, the author highlighted the victimized character of the Old Belief and the injustice of its persecution. Morozova’s house between 1664 and 1670 became a ‘headquarters’ of the Old Belief in Moscow, where the activists and propagandists of Raskol, such as Avvakum and his family, the fool-in-Christ, Fedor, and Avraamii would find shelter and food. Morozova’s house also accommodated numerous staritsy (older nuns), presumably opposed to the reform, and in her daily services she was assisted by a reader from the Uspenskii Monastery, Elena Khrushcheva. The little community in Feodosiya’s house was dominated by women. The author of the text does not emphasize Morozova’s role in the organization of Old Believers’ propaganda, but stresses the influence of the woman over her surroundings. She can be seen as a spiritual leader of the household, a role derived from her position as a rich and powerful widow surrounded by numerous dependants. Motherhood is represented as yet another aspect of the heroine’s life to be renounced for the sake of the faith. Morozova’s advisers reminded her of her maternal duties: ‘You have only one child and yet you don’t care about him. . . . You ought to stay awake when he is asleep . . . and be happy that God gave you such a child.’15 Replying to the admonitions, Feodosiya argued that although she loved her son Ivan and cared about him, she would not repudiate her faith for her son’s love: ‘Take him to Pozhar [the old name for Red Square] and let him be torn to pieces by dogs, even then I shall not repudiate my faith.’16 Despite Feodosiya’s genuine grief over the death of her son, the text explicitly juxtaposes motherly love and the love of Christ: ‘For I live for Christ, not for my son.’17 The representation of the martyr who forgoes her maternal attachment for the idea of the Old Faith contradicts what we learn from Morozova’s letters. She was very much concerned about her son’s marriage and asked for advice from the priest Avvakum as to what kind of spouse would be more suitable for Ivan.18 Apparently she thought of her son as heir to the family fortunes. We know that Ivan Morozov (1650–72) was one of the Tsar’s attendants (stol’niki) who was by no means opposed to the Church reform; therefore his mother’s disgrace


Gender in Russian History and Culture

would not alter his inheritance rights.19 Thus the image of the mother who sacrificed her maternal attachment in the Povest’ did not correspond to the complexity of the real person. The task of creating an Old Believer hagiography made the authors schematize Morozova’s personality. In his homily O trekh ispovednitsakh slovo plachevnoe, Avvakum tried to create a conventional image of a Christian woman. Feodosiya is represented as a diligent pupil in Christianity, church singing and daily prayer. Her literacy is emphasized in the text. The author describes her as an ascetic woman, saying prayers and fasting. She is praised for her charity and virtue. Curiously, in his endeavour to elevate Morozova’s asceticism, Avvakum stresses that she avoided bathing (v banyakh svoe telo ne parila), apart from the rules of hygiene during menstruation (tokmo mesyachnuyu nushdu omyvashe).20 Feodosiya also is praised for her modesty, as reflected in her preference for old and poor clothes.21 This image does not really fit in with what we know of Morozova from Avvakum’s letters. For it was Avvakum who criticized her for hedonism, reluctance to pray, stinginess and vanity. Moreover, he condemned her far from ascetic behaviour when he suggested she pluck out her eyes in imitation of the Early Christian martyr Mastridiya, to avoid lustful temptation. 22 The homily included reference to rumours of the boyarynya’s lechery; this page was subsequently cut so as not to spoil the conventional image. 23 The homily aimed to create a pantheon of Old Believer martyrs. Moreover, Avvakum tried to occupy the place of spiritual guide and leader of the new-venerated sufferers. Morozova is represented as an obedient and devoted follower of the schismatic leader. She is depicted as a humble woman, spinning while listening to Avvakum’s sermon. She follows the priest to his place of exile and visits him in prison. Explicitly the text assigns to Morozova the role of Thekla, implicitly likening Avvakum to the person of St Paul. 24 A shorter version of the Povest’ was produced in the 1720s–1730s in the Pomorian community of Vyg in northern Russia. The style and the content of the text underwent many notable changes. 25 The Old Believer movement had now passed on to a new stage. It was a period of consolidation of doctrine and the institutionalization of a diversified religious movement. The Vyg community established itself as the centre of the bespopovtsy in Russia. It consisted of two communes, one for men (Vyg) and the other for women (Leksa), based on monastic and ascetic values. It was surrounded by local peasant communities to which the rules of celibacy did not apply as strictly as to the inhabitants

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of Vyg and Leksa. A number of ideological pamphlets and compilations, such as Pomorskie otvety and Vinograd rossiiskii, established the historical legacy of the Pomorians and defined their place within Orthodoxy and Russian society. The re-evaluation of the seventeenth-century text on the Old Believer woman’s martyrdom was made in response to the change of attitude towards authority and in the self-definition of the bespopovtsy vis-à-vis society. It also reflected the shift in the position of women within the Old Believer community. In addition, the text was made more accessible to the reader: the reduced version omitted many historical details that would not make sense to an eighteenth-century Old Believer.26 On the other hand, the authors introduced new details into the text to make it a more literary production. The Pomorian version includes a passage on Feodosiya’s childhood and youth. We learn that she and her sister were given a thorough religious education by their parents. The girls proved to be diligent pupils, uninterested in the games of their peers.27 The introduction of this section into the text seems to respond to the needs of the Old Believer community, where the upbringing of children in the Old Faith was an essential element in its transmission and in the consolidation of the community. The family, not the authority of the Church, was now seen as the source of faith. On the other hand, the theme of Feodosiya’s Christian upbringing explains her devotion to the Old Rituals, for these were the values she received in childhood, prior to the Church reform. The Pomorian version, as well as the abridged version made in Kerzhenets in the 1720s, omits the name of the priest Avvakum. The omission is motivated not only by Avvakum’s poor reputation among the eighteenth-century Old Believers,28 but also by the desire to stress the Old Belief as a spontaneous popular movement of the people. The text does not suggest any figure responsible for the heroine’s spiritual guidance. By omitting the names of the Raskol leaders, the Pomorian authors reinforce the idea that Old Belief was a natural phenomenon, a popular reaction against the ungodly reform. The Old Faith was the natural faith of an ordinary believer, of a good Christian, who did not need to be taught and guided. The authors gave Feodosiya a speech in defence of the Old Faith, in which she explains her refusal to accept the innovations: ‘I was born to pious parents, brought up in piety . . . I will not transgress the dogmas of our fathers.’29 Whereas in the original version women defended the sign of the cross with two-fingers and opposed the external ritual changes, in the Pomorian version Feodosiya maintains the viewpoint which became the ideological basis for the late


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Old Believer movement. Thus, her position towards the state authorities is ideologically motivated. The key episode in the Pomorian story is Feodosiya’s defence before the Tsar and his court in the Kremlin. She claims that she is obedient to the will of the Tsar, thus expressing the position of the Vyg bespopovtsy, who eventually resolved their relations with the civil authorities by ‘rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God what are God’s’, and accepting the prayer for the ruler in 1738. This interpretation of the boyarynya’s conflict with the Tsar contradicts the original version, where Morozova was carried by her servants – a symbolic expression of her refusal to obey orders. 30 Mother Melaniya is also absent from the Pomorian version of the text. This omission of the spiritual mother figure reflected the shift in the relations of spiritual guidance in the Pomorian community. As we know, the female community on the river Leksa was under the direct control and jurisdiction of the male community on Vyg. The Pomorian fathers issued the rules for the Leksa community where the inner structure and daily activities were precisely stipulated.31 Moreover, the Leksa inhabitants were strongly dependent spiritually as well as economically on their brethren. The sisters were subordinated to the spiritual fathers from the neighbouring Vyg, who were non-ordained and often nonmonastic male members of the Pomorian community. The women who occupied leading positions in the Leksa community hierarchy, such as the mother superior, usually did not represent spiritual authority similar to the male leaders of Vyg. Thus, by excluding the character of mother Melaniya from the text, the Pomorian authors expressed their disagreement with the earlier recognition of a woman’s spiritual authority. The theme of motherhood in the Pomorian version is extended and developed. The dualism of body and spirit is apparent in the text. The authors introduce Feodosiya admonishing her son, exhorting him to abandon earthly concerns for the sake of the spiritual life, to be steadfast and to be chaste. 32 This theme became commonplace in the ideology of the bespopovtsy in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. 33 The text also develops the theme of Feodosiya’s lamentation over the death of her son. The very genre of lament was gendered, for it was only women who performed lament in Slavic oral literature.34 The boyarynya’s lament over her deceased son in the shorter version parallels the lament of Yustina, a witness of Morozova’s death in the first edition.35 In the original text the introduction of the lament had a stylistic purpose: it provided both the poetic finale to the story and a lament by a woman

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for a woman, another theme of sisterhood. In the Pomorian version the lament has multiple aims: firstly, it justifies Morozova’s motherhood: ‘Weep with me all the mothers of their sons’; secondly, it corresponds closely to Mary’s lament at the Cross (‘Stabat Mater’). Thus, the maternal identity of the heroine was re-emphasized in the late version of the story. Despite all the differences between the various editions of the tale and the interpretations of Morozova’s personality in the panegyrics written by Avvakum and Semen Denisov, all the texts have one theme in common. This is the theme of muzhestvo, which can be translated both as ‘courage’ and ‘manliness’. Muzhestvo describes the state of manhood (the opposite of womanhood or femininity); it is also used to emphasize the transition from boyhood to maturity (hence the beard was often seen as a sign of muzhestvo). The use of this word in Old Believer texts implied a contrast between weak female nature and the masculine qualities the women had demonstrated in defence of their faith. All the commentators are fascinated by the woman’s courage in standing firm, refusing any compromise with the authorities and enduring the tortures and misery of imprisonment.36 Her interrogators are astonished at Morozova’s ‘firm manliness and adamant reason’ (divlyashesya krepkomu eya muzhestvu i neprelozhnomu razumu).37 Her replies to the clerics and the Tsar’s officials are described as ‘manly words’ (muzhestvennye slovesa).38 The original version describes as manly Morozova’s refusal to compromise for the sake of her son: ‘I live for Christ, not for my son.’ 39 Thus, courage, firmness, the confession of faith and the rejection of compromise are defined as manly behaviour. Manliness is defined as the opposite of weak female nature. While the original text does not emphasize this opposition ‘male–female’ explicitly, the later version of the Povest’ describes Morozova, her sister and Mar’ya Danilova as surpassing many men in their steadfast faith and firm reason despite their [female] nature (ashche bo estestvom prebysha, no tverdostiyu very i postoyanstvom razuma mnogikh muzhei prevzydosha).40 It was Avvakum who set the trend: ‘[they] left female weakness behind and took on manly wisdom’ (zhensku nemoshch’ otlozhshe muzheskuyu mudrost’ vospriemshe).41 The shorter version puts much more stress than earlier texts on the masculine behaviour of the heroines. It describes the astonishment of the judges at the confidence of Feodosiya’s religious affirmation, ‘when they came face to face with such muzhestvo in the female sex’.42 On the other hand, it emphasizes the injustice of the authorities in tormenting them with no regard for their frail femininity.43


Gender in Russian History and Culture

* Representing the female martyrs as the equals of male confessors of the faith served the missionary aims of Raskol. However, this representation was not matched by the personal behaviour of the male leaders towards their fellow women. Morozova, Urusova and Danilova were criticized by Avvakum for engaging in a debate on faith, and were instructed: ‘as a woman you should say: I maintain and believe as it is written in the Old Books and I shall die for it, and grasp Jesus’ prayer, that is all’ (zhenskoi byt’ odno govori kak v staropechatnykh knigakh napisano, tak ya derzhu i veruyu s tem i umirayu, da molitvu isusovu gryzi da i vse tut.)44 In the end, the Old Believer leaders maintained that the right to establish and discuss the dogmas of faith was the monopoly of men. Despite their courageous and heroic deeds, the women were relegated to the role of inspired disciples and assistants to their male brethren. From the late seventeenth century and throughout the eighteenth, the Old Believer ideal of the female ascetic underwent a change: the complex personality of Boyarynya Morozova was assiduously whittled down to the conventional representation of Old Believer hagiography. In the process, the idea of muzhestvo as a universal quality, which a woman could assume by renouncing earthly concerns and motherhood, was lost. Gender and resurrection became a key issue in the polemic between the Old Believers and Russian Orthodox theologians in the early eighteenth century. The Denisov brothers’ Pomorskie otvety, one of the first examples of original Old Believer theology, discussed the issue of gender in relation to the resurrection. The Denisovs argued against the reformers’ view that on the day of resurrection all the dead would be resurrected as male and female correspondingly (men as men, women as women).45 Instead they referred to the Church Fathers: ‘in the resurrection there will be neither old nor young, male nor female, black nor white . . . ’.46 According to the Denisovs, ‘there will be neither male nor female but . . . beings like angels’ (nizhe muzheskii nizhe zhenskii pol budut no . . . yako angely budut).47 The new state of humanity was seen as free of worldly cares and fleshly desires. However, the sex-free condition did not signify a rejection of gender. The authors represented the angelic state in male terms, quoting St Maximus the Greek: ‘and female bodies will be raised up into the image and appearance of men and will not be distinguished by animallike parts . . . but will be like angels who have no female sex and the animal-like form’ (a yako i zhenskaya telesa vo obraz i zrak muzhesk vstayut, i skotolepopodobnymi udy ne razdelyayutsya . . . no yako angely

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bozhii sut’ v nikh zhe nest’ zhenskii pol i obraz skotolepen’ ).48 Here, the idea of the angelic state as male is explicitly expressed. Indeed, canonically the angels were represented visually as men and bore men’s names (the archangels Gabriel, Raphael and Michael, for example). There was no contradiction in representing the one gender as male via the transformation of female bodies into male ones, if no longer distinguished by ‘animal-like parts’. Thus the image of perfect maleness did not derive from sexual difference, nor the superiority of man from phallic mastery, but rather from his supremacy in the order of creation. It is curious that according to this tradition children were considered to be genderless, being likened to angels. In a bespopovtsy penitential, the questions put by a confessor to children (aged seven and above) do not make any distinction between boys and girls, although grammatically the gender is male. 49 There is a distinction between ‘sexuality’, which is seen as biological, and ‘gender’, which applies to the nature of the person. Sexuality is seen as the physical expression of gender.

The dispute over gender and salvation was revived in the mideighteenth century in the context of a polemic among the bespopovtsy about marriage (brachnaya polemika). In the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the stronghold of the Old Belief moved from the frontiers of the empire to its centres, Moscow and St Petersburg. A new type of Old Believer community emerged. The urban environment and the changing social structure contributed to the transformation of communal organization and religious teaching. The bespopovtsy communities provided wider social opportunities for their members – female and male – than did society as a whole. This was especially notable in economic life, where communal links stimulated the development of business and trade. A high level of literacy among its members was another distinct feature of the Old Believer communities. Both the Theodosians and Pomorians recruited their members from several social strata: peasants, urban groups of meshchane and merchants, soldiers and their wives. The communities of Moscow and St Petersburg became filters through which the rural population could enter the urban environment: the Old Believers’ organizations provided migrants with support, such as accommodation, employment, a social network, charity and welfare. The Theodosian community did not hesitate to give shelter


Gender in Russian History and Culture

to runaway peasants and provide them with a legal status as urban citizens. The community practised communal distribution of welfare, so that interest-free loans could be made to a member.50 The rules of the Theodosian and Pomorian communities provided equal opportunities for men and women in their access to welfare. Many women engaged in entrepreneurial activities. They ran family enterprises and were known for their charitable activities. Because they exercised a certain authority in their communities, they could exert pressure on the leadership. Although the leadership was entirely male, women had a voice in communal decision-making. They participated in the community councils and signed collective documents. The power at the top was divided between the guardians (popechiteli) and the spiritual fathers (nastavniki): while the former controlled the economic and organizational spheres, the latter oversaw the spiritual and liturgical life of the members. These spheres were strictly separated: the spiritual leaders were not allowed to be engaged in any business activities, while the guardians could not enter the sacramental sphere. The community exercised control over its leaders by means of elections and community councils. Women could also participate in spiritual and liturgical life. Some of them had certain duties in church: reading, chanting, supervising the services and performing minor offices, such as commemoration of the dead. The Theodosian rules explicitly recognized women’s right to baptize infants as well as adults.51 In the St Petersburg Pomorian community the marriage ritual in the 1850s was conducted by a woman, Mar’ya Novosadova, who replaced her father, a Pomorian minister, and became quite popular among the members of the community who found it inconvenient, and probably expensive, to marry elsewhere. The St Petersburg Gretna Green became an attraction for couples from the provinces.52 Originally both the Theodosian and Pomorian communities upheld the rules of bezbrachie (celibacy), in theory and practice. Formally, the marriage ceremony was a sacrament which could not be performed by a layman, unlike baptism and confession. Moreover, the hostility to marriage was based on ascetic theology and the doctrine of the Spiritual Antichrist, who was believed to be embodied in the institutions of state and society, including the institution of marriage. This did not mean that the bespopovtsy rejected family, rather that they appealed to a different concept of it. The ideal was a chaste marriage, the model of which could be seen in the prelapsarian relations of Adam and Eve: spiritual rather than sexual love and a relationship of mutual support. Procreation was seen as the result of the Fall and the cause of corruption and death.53

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In the 1760s the dogma on bezbrachie was challenged by Ivan Alekseev (1709–76), who maintained that the essence of the sacrament of marriage was not the church ritual, but the granting of consent, in which a couple, their parents and the community had taken part. 54 Alekseev and his followers claimed that the church wedding was a historical institution which did not constitute the true nature of matrimony.55 The teaching on marriage, based on moral theology, combined the elements of contractual marriage with the traditional vision of it as the means to propagate the race and restrain lust. Alekseev’s ideas were developed and institutionalized by the Moscow Pomorians. In the 1760s they established the Pokrov Chapel, where the marriage ceremony was conducted by non-ordained ministers. The new teaching on marriage left an ambiguous legacy to bespopovtsy theology. The practices of the Pokrov Chapel were attacked by the champions of traditional bezbrachie doctrine, who based their argument on law and ascetic theology. The essence of the dispute over marriage was: what is the best way to salvation for men and women, righteous marriage and family life or unconditional celibacy and sexual continence in marriage? The ideologists of the Moscow Theodosian community in Preobrazhenskoe (founded 1771) advocated the traditional ascetic ideal of bezbrachie, based on medieval concepts of human nature. They referred to the prelapsarian state of man as a state of perfection and wholeness. However, man’s perfection was destroyed by sin. The image of God was distorted by disobedience. For the Theodosian theologians, God’s original plan for the Creation was irrevocably transformed by the Fall, which opened up an endless sequence of births and deaths. Thus gender was corrupted by original sin. As woman precipitated the Fall and was the source of the syndrome of birth and death, it was considered to be the more imperfect of the sexes. The female was associated with flesh, sexuality, lust and weakness; Theodosian texts used the category ‘female’ to signify feebleness and unrighteousness in faith. 56 However, femaleness was not necessarily the attribute of all women. The fallen gender could be redeemed by overcoming femaleness via asceticism. To be saved, both women and men should become men. Eve had to return into the original Adam in order to restore the Divine harmony. Thus androgyny in a Theodosian sense was the transformation of the imperfect Eve, who was not necessarily a representative of womanhood but rather all humanity, into the whole Adam. Muzhestvo seems to be the key concept in the construction of gender difference in both Theodosian and Pomorian texts. Using the imagery


Gender in Russian History and Culture

of the Apocalypse, the Theodosian Fathers represented their community as the woman clothed by the sun who hid in the desert from the Antichrist. The male child delivered by the woman was interpreted to be the true son of the Church, representing those Christians who denied the Beast and were steadfast in their struggle against fleshly desires.57 Sexual asceticism was thereby identified with maleness, so that those Christians who followed the rules on chastity could be described as ‘male children’, whether they were men or women. Muzhestvo was one of the central virtues necessary for salvation for a Theodosian member. The Theodosian spiritual fathers in their letters to female members of the community stressed the qualities which would be considered as the property of men, such as courage, impassivity (besstrastie), self-restraint and self-discipline.58 They appealed to the spirit of wisdom and reason in their spiritual daughters, qualities which were by no means considered feminine. The letters made use of a bellicose symbolism, comparing women with warriors who must fight the enemies of the faith and the foe of their own flesh.59 However, if chastity was desirable for both men and women, virginity was emphasized more in relation to women. It seems to have been more important for women than for men, as a means to overcome not only spiritual imperfection (as the result of the Fall) but also social inferiority. If for men chastity meant simply sexual abstinence, for women it signified the abdication of their ability to procreate. A woman’s rejection of her maternal function thus transformed her identity. Virginity made her equal to men and gave her spiritual power. On the other hand, the Theodosians used traditional imagery in dealing with female asceticism, such as the wedding symbolism of the New Testament: Christ as the bridegroom and the virgins as the brides. 60 Looked at from one perspective, the teaching of celibacy liberated women and men from universal marriage and offered them wider opportunities for a religious vocation. It provided them with a quasifamilial communal network and replaced kinship relations with the spiritual bond of a religious community. On the other hand it failed to incorporate the positive values of parenthood and sexual commitment. Celibacy was seen not as an optional – though preferable – vocation for a Christian,61 but as the only way in the economy of salvation. The denial of sexuality, marriage and procreation was seen as manly. The concept of manliness in the bezbrachie teaching of the bespopovtsy was used in a similar fashion to the Povest’ o Boyaryne Morozovoi. The new bespopovtsy teaching on marriage challenged the rigid dichotomies of bezbrachie teaching and suggested a more humane

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approach to relations between men and women. It redefined the categories of male and female and offered a new articulation of the concept of manliness.62 For the Pomorians the creation of two genders was divine inspiration: ‘The Creative Good divided the one into two’ (Blago khudozhnee edinogo na dva razdelilo). The hidden meaning of this creative act was in the subsequent reunion of the two into the original wholeness, through marriage, the mystical union where two individuals, two separated beings, became one body. The reunion into oneness was seen as the mystery of love, leading to the birth of children, the participation of man in God’s creation. 63 For the Pomorians the return to the original androgyny was found through conjugal love. The idea of manliness received a new articulation in late eighteenthand nineteenth-century Pomorian teaching. The father superior of the Vyg community, Andrei Borisovich, described his moral teaching on manliness to the leader of Moscow Pomorian community, Vasilii Emel’yanov, in a letter written in 1784.64 Manliness was represented as a ladder up to and down from the throne of highest virtue. Andrei Borisovich confessed that he learned this science from ‘a philosopher from St Petersburg’ and from the portraits of those glorified for their heroic deeds. The ascending rungs of the ladder were marked by such elements as ‘the habits of manliness’: diligence, converse with manly people, experience in manliness, all of which led to the throne of virtue; whereas the descending rungs denoted a want of moderation, insolence, and vice, all of which led to spiritual death. This ‘science’ was explicitly addressed to men. Muzhestvo was defined not only as opposition to femininity, but also as a transition from youth to maturity. This can be illustrated by a popular print (lubok) produced in Vyg and Moscow in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, called The Ages of Human Life.65 Again the image of a ladder was used to represent the life of man. The ladder was divided into 35 steps up and 35 down. The span of human life was divided into seven-year periods, according to tradition.66 The picture represented man in his progress from infancy through youth and manhood to old age (35–70). Infancy (up to seven years) was seen as an unreasonable, careless state; youth (14–28) as a period of passion and imbalance; manhood (muzhestvo), occupying the period from 28 to 35, was characterized as the age of reason, self-restraint and mastery over the passions. In other words, manhood was the culmination and maturation of human life. The period after the age of 35, depicted by a man with a book, was associated with wisdom. Although the scheme corresponds primarily to a man’s life, woman is not entirely excluded


Gender in Russian History and Culture

from the representation. There is a female figure, depicted at the bottom of the ladder as a mother with a baby in her lap. Thus the idea of development towards manhood referred to man, while the meaning of a woman’s life was reduced to the maternal role. The ideal of moderation, temperance and morality were the virtues of a model Christian man. The Pomorian texts of the late eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth centuries constructed a type of masculinity which combined traditional Christian attitudes with the cultural fashions of the epoch. The sources of Pomorian moral philosophy and its images of masculinity can be found in the heroic cult typical of Classicism, which looked back to antiquity. The Pomorian teaching, using an appeal to philosophy and science and the artistic styles of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, was a response to the tastes of the emerging middle class in Russia. It created the image of the virtuous husband and pious wife. The work ethic was linked to morality and the Old Testament was read through its prism. Infidelity in marriage was equated with dishonesty in business. 67 The Pomorian author condemned the biblical patriarchs’ practice of keeping concubines alongside their lawful wives. ‘Even in our days we have much indulgence of this sort’, he mourned.68 The pleasures of the flesh were not compatible with the ideal of the diligent virtuous man. A Pomorian man was responsible not just for his personal salvation, but for the salvation of all the members of his family and household. 69 The husband, the father, was represented as a family priest. 70 Pomorian gender models were constructed in opposition to Theodosian teaching. The latter was condemned as morally corrupted and unrighteous. The Pomorians claimed that sexual anarchy was flourishing among their counterparts under the mask of chastity, especially among women. Caricatures and pamphlets represented the Theodosian virgins as impudent, disgraceful and lecherous persons.71 To the Pomorians the moral ideal was that of faithful wife and mother. Motherhood, rather than celibacy and freedom from marriage, was considered to be the way to salvation for a woman. If in the Theodosian discourse manliness was a property of both genders via asceticism, in the Pomorian it was discussed as a ‘science’ and was an essential element in the construction of masculinity. The cultural orientations of these two communities were thus in opposition: in the Pomorian teaching the ideas of secular culture played an important role, while the Theodosian was oriented towards ‘authentic’ Orthodox tradition. This can be seen in the representation of

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manliness as an essential virtue. For the Theodosian this was described in terms traditional to the ascetic literature, such as the fight against the spiritual enemy and martyrdom for Christ’s sake, whereas for the Pomorians it was based on the heroic cult of antiquity. For both denominations the conquest of inner space, expressed in self-control, moderation and abstention, was essential to masculinity. The two also diverged on the issue of female sexuality and motherhood. If for the Pomorians a woman’s sexual power as Eve the temptress was to be constrained by the bonds of marriage and be justified by procreation, for the Theodosians the fallen female sex had to be redeemed through virginity, and maternity had no special virtue. For the Pomorians motherhood was sanctified and virtuous (if it was legitimate), while for the Theodosians the stress was on the spiritual motherhood of the Church. Physical maternity, corrupted by sin, was rejected. This desanctification of maternity and childbearing led to a new definition of femaleness in the Theodosian community as well as to changes in the social status of women. Bezbrachie, freedom from marriage, was highly esteemed in the Theodosian community. Sexual asceticism had a meaning for women quite distinct from its meaning for men, because it necessitated a rejection of the sexual and family roles through which the life and identity of women were normally determined. Single women of the Moscow Theodosian community exercised greater freedom in the religious and social life of the community. 72 The Pomorians considered celibacy to be a supernatural quality, interpreting the expression ‘angelic state’ literally. Celibacy was seen to be unapproachable for normal human beings. Even the Vyg community, which in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries established a monastic order as an alternative to family life for Pomorian men and women, gradually ceased to be a monastic organization and became a kind of almshouse and a school for the daughters of rich merchants, where they learnt to read and write, to sew and embroider.73 There is evidence, however, that parents opposed their daughters’ desire to devote their lives to the Church by rejecting marriage, as the latter was a means to unite the families in business. The question of women’s sacramental capacity can be seen as a prism of the paradoxes of gender in the priestless Old Believer communities. The traditional androcentrism of their teaching came into conflict with their egalitarian organizational principles over the issue of female ministry. Formally, there was no objection to lay women performing the same services as laymen, that is, the sacraments of baptism and


Gender in Russian History and Culture

confession and the supervision of the service. The absence of ordination and the ascetic ideal gave women a chance to realize their spiritual equality with men. Every new spiritual leader was elected by the community, whose choice was sanctified by the existing spiritual leader. Commentators stressed the fact that women were actively engaged in pastoral activities. 74 The documents testify that the election of women to the position of nastavnik (preceptor) was not unusual. However, in the Moscow Preobrazhenskoe community during the nineteenth century it was not taken for granted. The provincial male leaders sent enquiries to Moscow to gain formal approval of these practices. An authoritative benefactress, like Varvara Gracheva, could not settle the question without the advice of her spiritual father. 75 Thus women’s sacramental capability was an uncomfortable issue for both men and women. The male leaders’ replies reveal their ambiguity on this issue. In one case the local spiritual father was criticized for giving his blessing to a woman who had failed the community’s moral standards by having several children.76 In other cases negative comments were reinforced by quoting from St Paul and discoursing on female feebleness.77 Especially sensitive for the Moscow leadership was the subject of confession, and women who ‘encroached on the confession’ were criticized and even anathematized.78 Confession was the central sacrament in the bespopovtsy communities, signifying not only the remission of sins but also taking the place of the absent Eucharist. Confession was the means to maintain the community’s identity and consolidate its members. One text suggests that the confessor should be skilled rather than ignorant. 79 Thus the confession was seen as a kind of spiritual craft which could be passed on by a kind of apprenticeship, but which should exclude the ‘ignorant and untrained’, which often meant women. The genealogy (Rodoslovie) of a Theodosian community produced an imitation of the apostolic succession which contained the list of 40 spiritual fathers, starting with the bishop Pavel Kolomenskii and apparently ending with the author of this ‘genealogy’ in 1970. There was no space for a female name between the lines. 80 Thus attitudes to women ministers changed over the course of time and varied between centre and periphery, with local practices differing from council decisions. It is important to note that both communities produced texts which established the historical, canonical and commonsense legitimacy of pastoral duties as a male domain, so that in practice women’s activities were treated as exceptions, ‘owing to the lack of men’.

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The practical consequences of bespopovtsy ideologies could often be quite contradictory. The Theodosians’ theoretical opposition to marriage meant, in reality, greater toleration of extramarital relations and more freedom for young people to find partners. In the Pomorian communities, on the contrary, parents exercised more control over their children’s marital choices. Marriage had the character of a business contract despite the ‘enlightened’ discourse. Theodosian women had more autonomy in childbirth, as men were excluded under threat of excommunication. By contrast the Pomorian Fathers exercised greater control over the sphere of procreation. Single women had more power in Theodosian communal life, while in Pomorian families a woman’s place was defined as that of helpmeet, subordinate to that of her husband.

The comparative analysis of the texts produced by the Old Believer communities in the course of their discussion on marriage, family and salvation demonstrates that gender is neither unproblematic nor a transparent category. Gender representations and metaphors are in a complex relationship with ‘reality’. The ideal of ascetic self-denial was promoted in the earlier bespopovtsy teaching to serve missionary purposes. Based on the classical ideas of the supremacy of the male body over the female and on the medieval Christian denial of sexuality, the Old Believer writings articulated the category of manliness to express the superiority of spiritual over material. The rejection of sexuality, procreation and motherhood in the bespopovtsy doctrine of bezbrachie signified a dichotomy between female/flesh and male/spirit. Although the women who followed the ascetic ideal were liberated by their entry into honorary manhood, the male leaders of Raskol anticipated the danger of their encroachment into the spiritual domain. Boyarynya Morozova, otherwise praised for her manliness, was criticized for her interest in theology. The Theodosian women elected by their local communities as spiritual leaders were restricted by the male leaders in many ways. The teaching on marriage that was developed as an alternative to the doctrine of bezbrachie appeared to have challenged the ascetic model. However, it imposed new definitions of femininity and masculinity, which were now directly linked to sexual roles. Aiming to resolve the dilemma of involuntary celibacy, it justified separate spheres for men and women.


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Notes 1. I. Nil’skii, Semeinaya zhizn’ v russkom Raskole (St Petersburg, 1869) p. 4; V. Andreev, Raskol i ego znachenie (St Petersburg, 1870) p. 257; A. Shchapov, Zemstvo i Raskol (St Petersburg, 1862) vol. 1, pp. 77, 119, 120. 2. P. Smirnov, Znachenie zhenshchiny v istorii russkogo staroobryadcheskogo Raskola (St Petersburg, 1902) pp. 12–24; I. Kirillov, Pravda staroi very (Moscow, 1916) p. 113. 3. A. I. Mazunin, Povest’ o boyaryne Morozovoi (Leningrad, 1979); R. O. Crummey, ‘The Miracle of Martyrdom’, in S. H. Baron and N. Kollmann (eds), Religion and Culture in Early Modern Russia and Ukraine (Dekalb, Ill., 1997) pp. 132–45. 4. Nikolai Bubnov suggests that this period starts in 1664 with the return of Avvakum from exile to Moscow. N. Ya. Bubnov, Staroobryadcheskaya kniga v Rossii vo vtoroi polovine XVII v. (St Petersburg, 1995) p. 28. 5. She was immortalized in a painting by Surikov. Anna Akhmatova and Velimir Khlebnikov were both inspired by the image of the noble Raskol’nitsa. See R. Vroon, ‘The Old Belief and Sectarianism as Cultural Models in the Silver Age’, in R. Hughes and I. Paperno (eds), Christianity and the Eastern Slavs, California Slavic Studies XVII (Berkeley, 1994) no. 2, pp. 172–87. 6. Mazunin, Povest’, p. 23. Mazunin distinguishes between three versions of the text. The original text, Prostrannaya redaktsiya, was written between 1675 and 1677, apparently by Morozova’s steward. There are also two versions of the Povest’, the abridged version (Sokrashchennaya Redaktsiya), compiled by Old Believers in Kerzhenets in the early eighteenth century, and the short version (Kratkaya redaktsiya), composed by Semen Denisov in the Pomorian community in the 1720s. 7. Ibid., p. 77. 8. ‘Povest’ o Boyaryne Morozovoi’, in Pamyatniki literatury Drevnei Rusi, XVII v. (hereafter PLDR) (Moscow, 1989) vol. 2, p. 455. I am citing a translated and edited version of the Prostrannaya redaktsiya. The original can be found in Mazunin, Povest’, pp. 127–55. 9. ‘Povest’’, PLDR, p. 455. 10. Melaniya (Aleksandra Grigor’eva) – an old nun from Belev who lived in Morozova’s house and became Feodosiya’s spiritual mother. 11. ‘Povest’’, PLDR, p. 456. 12. Ibid., pp. 476–7. 13. Ibid., pp. 468, 474. 14. Ibid., p. 469. 15. Ibid., p. 457. 16. Ibid., p. 458. 17. Ibid., p. 463. 18. ‘Feodosiya Morozova Avvakumu’, 1669, in PLDR, vol. 1, p. 585. 19. Ivan received the sacraments from the reformed Church, from which Avvakum concluded that if Ivan remained alive he would repudiate the Old Faith (‘Avvakum F. Morozovoi, E. Urusovoi, M. Danilovoi’, 1673–75, PLDR, vol. 1, p. 560). 20. The rules of hygiene derived from the belief that a menstruating woman was spiritually unclean; she was not allowed to touch the sacred objects, such as the cross and the icons, nor receive holy communion.

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21. Avvakum, ‘O trekh ispovednitsakh slovo plachevnoe’, PLDR, vol. 2, pp. 448–9. 22. ‘Avvakum Morozovoi’, p. 585. 23. N. S. Demkova, ‘K voprosu o zhanrovom svoeobrazii sochinenii protopopa Avvakuma’, in N. Pokrovskii (ed.), Rukopisnaya traditsiya XVI–XIX vekov na vostoke Rossii (Novosibirsk, 1983) p. 21. 24. Avvakum, ‘O trekh ispovednitsakh’, p. 451. St Thekla (name-day 24 September) was a Roman martyr, who under the influence of St Paul’s sermon refused to marry her fiancé and made a vow of chastity. Avvakum evokes the episode when Thekla stayed three days and three nights listening to Paul’s sermon and when she visited Paul in prison, gave her gold to the guards. 25. Mazunin, Povest’, pp. 43–52. 26. The Vyg edition is approximately two-thirds the length of the original version. 27. ‘Kratkoe skazanie o zhitii i stradanii’, [circa 1720] in Mazunin, Povest’, p. 186. 28. The relevance of Avvakum’s position in his debate with deacon Fedor, when Avvakum allowed certain deviations from dogma, was disputed in the early eighteenth century. See Mazunin, Povest’, p. 51. 29. Ibid., p. 194. 30. ‘Povest’’, PLDR, p. 462. 31. ‘Vygovskii chinovnik’, 1720–40, Pushkinskii Dom, Sobranie Zavoloko, no. 3, ll. 2–90. 32. ‘Kratkoe skazanie’, Mazunin, Povest’, p. 191. 33. A. and S. Denisov, Pomorskie otvety, 1720–30s (Moscow, 1909) reprint; S. Gnusin, Pandekty, 1808, Biblioteka Akademii nauk, Sobranie Chuvanova, nos. 4–7. 34. Roman Jakobson, as cited in N. Kononenko, ‘Women as Performers of Oral Literature: a Re-examination of Epic and Lament’, in T. W. Clyman and D. Greene (eds), Women Writers in Russian Literature (London, 1994) p. 18. 35. ‘Kratkoe skazanie’, Mazunin, Povest’, p. 483. 36. ‘Povest’’, PLDR, pp. 462, 466, 472, 474; ‘Kratkoe skazanie’, Mazunin, Povest’, pp. 209–10. 37. ‘Povest’’, PLDR, p. 458. 38. Ibid., p. 460; ‘Kratkoe skazanie’, Mazunin, Povest’, p. 194. 39. ‘Povest’’, PLDR, pp. 458, 463. 40. ‘Pokhvala muchenitsam’, in Mazunin, Povest’, p. 185. 41. Avvakum, ‘O trekh ispovednitsakh’, p. 451; ‘Avvakum F. Morozovoi, E. Urusovoi, M. Danilovoi’, p. 553. 42. ‘Kratkaya redaktsiya’, Mazunin, Povest’, p. 194. 43. Ibid., p. 202; ‘Vinograd rossiiskii’, in Mazunin, Povest’, p. 210. 44. ‘Avvakum F. Morozovoi, E. Urusovoi, M. Danilovoi’, p. 559. 45. The view expressed in Semen of Polotsk (1629–80), Skrizhal’ and in the writings of Stefan Javorski (1658–1722), the representatives of the scholastic theology of Kiev-Mogila Academy. 46. F. Vasil’ev, V leto ot sozdaniya mira 7216 dekabrya 2 den’, circa 1707/8, Nauchnaya biblioteka Ural’skogo Gosudarstvennogo universiteta (hereafter NB UGU) vii, 93 p/468, l. 6.


Gender in Russian History and Culture

47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53.

Denisov, Pomorskie otvety, p. 339. Ibid., p. 340. Malyi potrebnik (Moscow, 1910) pp. 115–16. P. Ryndzunskii, Gorodskoe grazhdanstvo Rossii (Moscow, 1953) pp. 456–84. Malyi potrebnik, pp. 115–16. Nil’skii, Semeinaya zhizn’, pp. 42–4. [S. Gnusin] O brakakh novozhenskikh, 1808, Rossiiskaya Gosudarstvennaya biblioteka, Otdel rukopisei (hereafter RGB RO), f. Egorova, no. 848, ll. 79–88, 97, 104. In practice the bespopovtsy allowed starozheny couples, i.e. those who were already married when they joined the community, to have a limited number of children. For novozheny, i.e. those who grew up in the community, procreation was strictly penalized. See F. Livanov, Raskol’niki i ostrozhniki (St Petersburg, 1877) vol. 3, p. 47. I. Alekseev, O taine braka, 1762, Gosudarstvennaya Publichnaya biblioteka imeni Saltykova-Shchedrina, Rukopisnyi otdel (hereafter GPB RO), SPBDA AII 245, 1780, gl. 1. Ibid. Alekseev referred to L. Zizaniya, Bol’shoi Katekhisis (Great Catechism) (Moscow, 1627) written in response to the Roman Catholic preponderance in the Uniate Ukraine. See S. Zenkovskii, Russkoe staroobryadchestvo (Munich, 1970) p. 71. Gnusin, O brakakh, l. 105; Nil’skii, Semeinaya zhizn’, p. 208. Gnusin, O brakakh, l. 210. Vasil’ev, V leto ot sozdaniya mira, vii, 93p/468, l. 4; Gnusin, Vozlyublennomu i rydatel’nomu chada Evdokii, 1817, RGB RO, f. Egorova, no. 1044, l. 294ob. F. Karpov, ‘Pis’mo k sestre Mar’e Semenovne’, 1818, in Sbornik, RGB RO, f. Egorova, no. 1044, l. 421. L. Terent’ev, ‘Pis’mo Avdot’e Petrovoi’, in Dnevnye dozornye zapisi o raskol’nikakh (Moscow, 1885) chs 1–2, p. 103. The prevalent view in non-Protestant churches, based on St Paul (Corinthians I) and the Church Fathers. For example, see P. Evdokimov, The Sacrament of Love (New York, 1982) pp. 24–5. Alekseev, O taine braka; ‘Sbornik o tainstve braka’, Materialy Vserossiiskogo Sobora khristian-pomortsev priemlyushchikh brak (Moscow, 1909) p. 1. Brak taina est’ . . . , early 1800s, MD, f. Egorova, no. 1330, ll. 113–14; Preizvestie o vine eya zhe radi vmenyaya i priluchaetsya v nei oskvernyaetsya, 1758, RGB RO, f. Egorova, no. 1869, ll. 190–1. ‘Pis’mo Andreya Borisovicha k Vasiliyu Emel’yanovu’, 1784, in Sbornik pisem, circa 1780–1790, RGB RO, f. Barsova, no. 680, ll. 1–2. ‘Vozrasty zhizni chelovecheskoi’, Vyg, 1850s, in Russkii risovannyi lubok kontsa XVIII–nach. XX veka (Moscow, 1992) pp. 182, 185. E. Petukhov, Literaturnye elementy Sinodika kak narodnoi knigi v 17 i 18 veke (St Petersburg, 1895) pp. 381–2. ‘V sushche blagochestiya userdstvuyushchim i nikoikh padi otrevaniya i togo neispovedayushchikh . . . ’, 1800s. In Sbornik o brake, 1800s, RGB RO, f. Egorova, no. 1869, l. 279. Sbornik o brake, circa 1790, RGB RO, f. Egorova, no. 1330, l. 125. Ibid., l. 244. ‘V sushche blagochestiya’, ll. 267–81.



56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61.

62. 63.

64. 65. 66. 67.

68. 69. 70.

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71. A. Sergeev, ‘Devka-fedoseevka’, c. 1820, in: Sbornik, GPB RO, f. Titova, no. 209, ll. 34–5. 72. See Sborniki materialov o staroobryadtsakh, 1844–48, GPB RO, f. Titova, nos. 2293–5. 73. E. Vinokurova, ‘O khudozhestvennom nasledii vygo-leksinskoi staroobryadcheskoi pustyni’, E. Yukhimenko (ed.) Staroobryadchestvo v Rossii (Moscow, 1994) pp. 140–1. 74. Smirnov, Znachenie zhenshchiny, pp. 9–14, Shchapov, Zemstvo i Raskol, pp. 286–90; V. Kartsov, Religioznyi raskol kak forma antifeodal’nogo protesta (Kalinin, 1971) pp. 92–5. 75. S. Gnusin, ‘Doshlo do nashego ubozhestva’, Sbornik, 1810–20s, RGB RO, f. Egorova, no. 1044, l. 122ob. 76. ‘Est’ u vas v dukhovnosti devitsa’, 1800s, RGB RO, f. Egorova, no. 1044, l. 325. 77. Gnusin, ‘Doshlo do nashego ubozhestva’, l. 122ob. 78. ‘Pis’mo v Yukhotskie predely’, 1879, Sbornik, RGB RO, f. Egorov, no. 2066, l. 24ob. 79. ‘Slovo Anastasiya Igumena o ispovedanii grekhov k dukhovnym ottsam i prozorlivym a ne k nevezham’, 1810, Sbornik, RGB RO, f. Egorova, no. 1869, l. 233. 80. ‘Postepennoe pokazanie kto ot kogo poluchil blagoslovenie na otechestvo doshedshee’, c. 1970, Sbornik, NB UGU, XVII 172p/206, l. 22.

3 ‘A Crocodile in Flannel or a Dancing Monkey’: the Image of the Russian Woman Writer, 1790–1850 Joe Andrew

. . . any woman born with a great gift . . . would certainly have gone crazed, shot herself, or ended her days in some lonely cottage outside the village, half witch, half wizard, feared and mocked at. Virginia Woolf1 But here people look at me just like at a crocodile in flannel or a dancing monkey. People look at me as if I were a fairground fright, a snake in flannel. Elena Gan2

As my epigraphs indicate, the position and image of the Russian woman writer at the end of the 1830s were deeply problematical. But this situation was certainly not unique, as the quotation from Virginia Woolf makes plain, referring as she is to ‘Shakespeare’s sister’. The purpose of the present chapter is to examine the image of the Russian woman writer as it began to emerge in the nineteenth century. The main focus will be on the decades in which Gan was writing, the 1830s and 1840s, which was precisely the period when Russian women writers began to appear in any numbers and when, accordingly, their image was first discussed at any length and problematized. To place this discussion in context, however, I will begin with a brief excursus over the 52

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previous 40 years, to examine some of the key figures and statements which helped shape the context for the debates of the fourth and fifth decades of the nineteenth century. The participation of women in intellectual life first began to be actively encouraged only towards the end of the eighteenth century. Their engagement with literature was conceived of by Nikolai Novikov and other enlighteners to be ‘very important for the development in society of enlightenment and the love of reading’, as a feminist historian, Ekaterina Shchepkina, noted in 1914.3 The reasons for this endeavour were closely interwoven with the debates and struggles around the nature of the literary language which took place about 1800, as can be seen from a discussion of the importance of Nikolai Karamzin and his followers. The programme he was instrumental in establishing around 1800 for literature, and especially the literary language, was to remain in force, in many ways, for over 40 years,4 and central to this programme were women, or more precisely, their language. In this sense, women were being called to enter literature, to participate in some guise, but primarily as speakers/bearers of the literary language, as sympathetic readers, but not yet explicitly as writers/creators of literature. Except for satires, and pasquils against women writers, little was written on the subject of women writers as such and so a neutral, and a fortiori, a positive assessment of this figure would have to wait another 30–40 years. In the meantime, however, Karamzin and his followers did make considerable strides in laying the foundations for women’s eventual entry into the literary world. In his ‘Epistle to Women’ (1796), for example, Karamzin establishes that what is pleasing to women (i.e. society ladies) is to be the chief criterion for the new literary taste; 5 and it was not to be until the end of the 1820s that this view was to be seriously challenged. But, although these views were radical in their own way, and the immediate development of Russian literature would be unthinkable without them, nevertheless the role of women in many respects remained traditional. They give ‘advice’, they are handmaidens, Muses to the great men. Indeed, nowhere in this seminal piece does Karamzin address, or even envisage, the notion of the woman writer. Karamzin was to take this further step, at least implicitly, when he returned to these ideas a few years later, to develop them in a series of short pieces he wrote in 1802. In his Pantheon of Russian Authors, he offers a list, a sort of mini-encyclopaedia of Russian writers from the legendary chroniclers of ancient Rus’, to the present day.6 Only one woman features among the 24 men, the somewhat idiosyncratic choice of Tsarevna Sofiya Alekseevna, the sister of Peter the Great. It should be


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noted that there are no explicit criteria adduced for appointment to this select list, but we should at least say that Karamzin does admit one woman to the pantheon, however ‘unenlightened’ she might be deemed to be. 7 Karamzin also returned to the issue of the literary language, and women’s role in the development of it, in two further pieces of the same year, ‘Why Are There Few Authorial Talents in Russia?’ and ‘On Love for the Fatherland and National Pride’.8 Now he has become rather more critical of women, who are taken to task for failing to supply the linguistic model which they had been called to. Instead, as he put it in ‘Authorial Talents’, everywhere the putative writer hears French being spoken: ‘Here there is a new problem: in our best houses people prefer to speak French! The amiable women, on whose conversation one should only have to eavesdrop to decorate a novel or comedy with charming, fortunate expressions, these ladies captivate us with non-Russian phrases’ (p. 185 – my emphasis). They are, as the second piece suggests, almost failing in their patriotic duty. So Karamzin comes full circle, using the lexicon of Sentimentalism to upbraid women, and society people generally, for failing to use their own language for the literary expression of the aspects of human life which are so necessary for literature, in the Sentimentalists’ view. As already noted, Karamzin’s views on women’s primarily ancillary role in literary creativity were deeply and lastingly influential, and would seem to have been shared even by his opponents in these literary debates. For example, the arch-conservative in things literary, Admiral Shishkov, expressed very similar views in 1811: This desire [for fame] is aroused in him [the writer] particularly when he hears in his own lifetime the superior thoughts which he has arrayed in the beauty of style repeated by the most tender lips of the most fair sex. What enormous advantage for literature stems from this! Ladies, this most charming half of the human race, this soul of conversations, these kind teachers who inspire in us the language of affection and courtesy, the language of feelings and passion, ladies, I say, are those lofty inspirations which fire our spirit for song.9 It should be remembered, however, as Boris Uspenskii has noted, that for Shishkov women were the bearers of the spoken language, but this meant for him that they had no bearing on the literary language.10 (Despite this linguistic conservatism, however, Admiral Shishkov was one of the most active patrons of women writers.)

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Other, more Karamzinist, voices echoed these sentiments, among them the poet Konstantin Batyushkov, although he was capable of being unpleasant about actual women writers in private, a tendency he shared with others of the followers of Karamzin, including Pushkin. On the one hand, Batyushkov wrote to Nikolai Gnedich in 1809: ‘Your poetry . . . will be read by women, and it’s not a good idea to talk to them in an incomprehensible language’, 11 while a year later he wrote as follows about Genlis: ‘Madame Genlis is such a base scoundrel that I hate her. . . . How could this old bat criticize Voltaire as if he were some little brat?’12 It would appear, then, that the speech of society ladies as the basis of one’s style was one thing, real life lady writers were quite another. The mingling of theoretical opposition with ad feminam gender-based insults was to be a recurrent theme over the next 40 years. This tacking away from the earlier invitation to women to join the literary confraternity was part of the general move to conservatism and, more specifically, gallophobia around 1812 (the year of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia), but ancient arguments were also trotted out to justify theories about ‘rightful spheres’. Thus a writer in Vestnik Evropy (The Messenger of Europe) in 1811 was writing lines that could have been penned at more or less any time in the last 3000 years: Is the practice of scholarship and literature the necessary property of women? Will not the love of literature in a woman cool her marital love? Will a learned woman want to concern herself with the minutiae of the household? If she has a husband who is not so educated, will she not infringe the law prescribing subordination and obedience for her?13 Much of this changing picture can be seen in microcosm in the career of probably the finest woman writer from the first two decades of the nineteenth century, Anna Bunina, to a consideration of which we can now turn.14 When Bunina began her literary career in the early years of the century, her entry upon the stage that had been occupied almost exclusively by men was welcomed, in accordance with the move (discussed above) to encourage women to lend their civilizing influence to literature. Within a few years, however, the praise turned to criticism, both because of the general reaction to women’s greater involvement and therefore threat to male supremacy, but also because it was felt that Bunina herself had overstepped her allotted role. By the time she died at the age of 55 in 1829 she had already been consigned to history.


Gender in Russian History and Culture

Bunina was a remarkable figure in many ways, and not least because she was one of the first women in Russian history to attempt to live by her writing, an endeavour in which even very few men were successful at this time. Throughout her career, writing was a serious professional activity, and not the pastime of a ‘society lady’. 15 For her, certainly, a ‘lady writer’ was not an oxymoron. Her status as a serious writer was also marked by her election to membership of Shishkov’s Colloquy of Lovers of the Russian Word, along with Urusova and Volkova, although it seems likely that women were second-class members of this archaicizing group, in that they almost certainly did not read their works in public.16 There are other key elements in Bunina’s career that were important staging-posts in the changing image of the Russian woman writer. Her first collection, The Inexperienced Muse of 1809 was, perhaps, the first time in any discourse in Russian history that the theme of the problematics of being a woman writer in Russia formed the central theme of a work. Rosslyn sums up this theme very clearly: ‘Bunina . . . creates an image of a woman writer committing herself to an impossible goal and condemning herself to frustration, suffering and condescension, if not ridicule from the public; . . . The woman writes with trepidation and reluctance, but from inner need.’17 To be a woman writer demands great sacrifices, of which Bunina writes here, as well as later in her life, especially when her actual circumstances, exacerbated by her excruciating cancer, became increasingly straitened. Conflict, as is so often the case in awakening narratives, is among the dominant motifs. Bunina strives to compete on equal terms with her literary confrères, but as the title suggests, she also ascribes to the topos of inadequacy, of modesty. (This latter form of self-effacement is also manifested in the fact that about one-third of the collection is made up of translations.) Despite a fairly hostile response to this work, Bunina continued to show indomitable courage, and she soon returned to public discussion of the dilemmas facing the woman writer, in The Fall of Phaeton of 1811. It is here that she develops what for Rosslyn is the central metaphor for the woman writer: racing with bound feet. This image, taken from ‘The Peking Contest’, and derived from the Chinese practice of foot-binding,18 makes the point that it is social customs and not nature, say, which deform and disable women. In this light, women writers should not be judged on the same grounds as men, but in terms of what they can achieve, given their ‘handicaps’. In the conditions of the time it is a defiant position to have adopted. Indeed, Bunina’s literary life is a fascinating case study of the changing image of the woman writer in the first two decades of the

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nineteenth century. We see in her life and the reactions to her, several of the main components of the image of the woman writer prior to the 1830s. Women were welcomed into literature as civilizing influences, but were soon rejected once they presented themselves as serious rivals. Part of this rejection was the deployment of sexually based innuendo. At the same time, individual male writers acted as patrons of individual women writers. We can see these paradoxes and conflicts played out in the careers of several other women writers over the next decades, until the 1830s when women writers really began to appear in significant numbers and, finally, to be taken seriously. Before this, for all the stalwart efforts of such as Bunina, women’s writing was a peripheral field, and so the central image of the female writer was an oddity, an oxymoron incarnate. Within women writers themselves there was considerable conflict around the issue of whether writing, or at least the publication of writing, was a proper activity for a woman.19 Most writers were from the nobility, and, indeed, in sociological terms, women writers were in some senses freakish, as Yael Harussi has noted: ‘Early nineteenth-century women writers were not, by any standard, average Russian women. They formed a unique minority within the fairly limited numbers of literate or educated women, themselves a small part of educated Russian society or, more precisely, the nobility.’ 20 At the same time, there was a growing conflict within women themselves, and within the literary world more generally, as more women did emerge, and gained recognition. Women, that is, remained ambivalent about whether they should be writers at all. Izvekova and Puchkova, for example, agreed with Karamzin that women’s primary role was to be a mother, but therefore needed to be well educated to be proper educators of their young. 21 A typical feature of women’s prose writing of the period is another demonstration of women’s anxiety about writing, namely the apology for writing at all, and a request for the readers’ indulgence. 22 A typical example of the genre comes from Mariya Izvekova in 1806: I am sure that the first labours which I send out into the world will not be received with strict inspection of their deficiencies, and that the esteemed public will generously forgive the inexperience of a young girl who has written this Novel without the guidance of teachers but solely out of a natural proclivity for literature. I did not at all intend to publish it, but acceding to the will of my most kind mother and respecting the pleas of my relatives and friends, I decided to expose myself, perhaps to severe criticism. I am not so


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vain as to be insensible of its faults. Of course, even the most welldisposed readers will find a multitude of them; but I hope that they will magnanimously forgive a fellow countrywoman who begs their condescension. 23 While Izvekova and the others are certainly self-consciously evoking an ancient modesty topos, no doubt it was also sincerely felt, as we can see both from their private observations, as well as their plot strategies, in which they punish their striving heroines for stepping out of line in ways similar to their own careers.24 An important literary institution in post-Napoleonic Russia was the literary salon, in which women played a central role, although more often than not the hostesses were adornments, rather than active, writing participants themselves.25 There were, however, important exceptions to this, most notably Zinaida Volkonskaya, along with Rostopchina and Pavlova. The first of these hosted a salon in Moscow in the late 1820s which was among the most significant literary meeting-places of the time. 26 To what extent she was taken seriously as a writer is hard to judge. Nevertheless, in her persona, a new image, a much more potent one, of the woman writer was beginning to emerge, and the same could be said of Rostopchina and Pavlova.27 A kind of reverse process over the same years was also leading to the image of the woman writer becoming more acceptable, more respectable. This was the fairly widespread, if informal, system whereby prominent and influential male writers patronized women protégées. 28 There are innumerable instances of this. The censor, Nikitenko, became a kind of informal, posthumous patron of Elisaveta Kul’man; Zhukovskii supported Anna Zontag, as did Pletnev, who was also the primary support of Aleksandra Ishimova, who, through Pletnev, also became acquainted with Pushkin, Zhukovskii, Vyazemskii and Odoevskii. By the 1830s, then, women, with some support and encouragement from male littérateurs, had pushed their way to the fore, so that in 1833 Ivan Kireevskii was able to write the first substantial piece exclusively devoted to women writers. I shall come to this important document in a moment, but I would first like to return to have a brief look at the slightly puzzling case of Aleksandr Pushkin. 29 The cause of Russian literature was, of course, immensely advanced by Pushkin, but this truism does not apply to women’s writing, by and large. Pushkin’s case is paradoxical, in at least two regards. Firstly, he enjoyed good relations with and patronized several women writers, but could be very unflattering about these same women writers in private.

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Secondly, it is surprising that someone who was so concerned with the state of Russian literature, and who wrote so much about it, actually wrote so little about women writers as such. Pushkin’s good offices to women writers are well known. To take perhaps the three most celebrated instances, we should remember that he sent a copy of Gypsies to Volkonskaya with a new poem dedicated to her, that he was instrumental in the publication of Durova’s famous memoirs, and that his very last, now poignant letter, on the day of his fateful duel, was to Ishimova, and congratulates her on her style. (He had also written to her two days previously to discuss possible literary collaboration.) Yet his comments in private letters, even on Volkonskaya, were much less flattering, and his general approach to literary women was to group them in the catch-all cliché of the ‘bluestocking’. Hugh Aplin sums up Pushkin’s dilemma (which he probably shared with many other male writers of his age and class) very well: ‘He seemed to experience difficulty in dissociating a writer who happened to be female from the ladies he encountered in society, and felt obliged to relate to a poetess [sic] not as he would to a poet, but rather as he would to a woman.’30 In his public and semi-public utterances, in fact, Pushkin was not much kinder to women than he was in private, and he was the first prominent writer to challenge the Karamzinian view concerning the alleged primacy of women’s taste as a literary criterion. We see this especially in his most significant utterance on the subject of women and writing, namely Extracts from Letters, Thoughts and Observations (1827). 31 In the fifth of these ultra-short entries, and in 14 brief lines, he sets himself the task of addressing, and turning upside down, the Karamzinist position, and the accepted position of women in Russian literature. He begins polemically: ‘People complain about the indifference of Russian women towards our poetry, suggesting that the reason for this is ignorance of their native language’ (p. 16). But this is not the problem: rather it lies in women’s lack of aesthetic sensibilities. ‘Poetry slides across their hearing, but does not penetrate to their souls; they are insensible to its [poetry’s] harmonies. . . . Just have a good listen to their literary opinions, and you will be surprised at the wrongheadedness, even the crudeness of their understanding. . . . There are few exceptions’ (p. 16). And so for all his actual material assistance rendered to individual women writers, the cause of women’s writing, and their overall position within literature, was little helped by Pushkin.32 The image of the Russian female writer on the eve of the 1830s remained problematical, at best.


Gender in Russian History and Culture

Things were to change rapidly over the next 15 years, and Ivan Kireevskii’s article of 1833–34, ‘On Russian Women Writers’, represents a major step forward. 33 Kireevskii is himself aware that the changes of which he writes are striking. After some general remarks about the advances in education that have taken place over the last years, Kireevskii begins to attempt to identify how these changes have affected women. The main problem is that women have historically had to act alone, rather than collectively. Now, however, women are making great advances in several directions. An educated woman is considered quite normal,34 and women are beginning to think for themselves, form their own opinions, and to thirst for enlightenment. In short, women are now stepping outside the purely family sphere, taking their place on the public stage, and Kireevskii clearly welcomes this. Crucially, Kireevskii identifies that these changes are especially marked in literature, and he points precisely to a change in the image of the woman writer. For him the last ten years have seen an epochal sea change in public perceptions: ‘What a difference compared to ten years ago! . . . And is it not so long ago that there were attached to the word lady-writer the most unpleasant ideas: fingers covered with ink, a pedantic mind and print in her heart’ (p. 68 – Kireevskii’s emphasis). But over that period, there has been a radical improvement in the quality of women’s writing, and for this as well as other reasons, the image of the lady-writer has radically altered: ‘since then the title of littérateur has become no longer an oddity, but even an adornment for a woman; in the opinion of society, it raises her to a different sphere, one that is out of the ordinary’ (ibid. – my emphasis). Throughout, Kireevskii reveals a high level of selfconsciousness about what he is doing. This new, ‘progressive’ perception, he continues, is only to be found in the new generation. Among the old, ‘prejudice’ persists, and this continues to have damaging effects on women’s self-confidence, especially in the provinces, where the position of the intellectual woman remained extremely precarious. Much of the rest of his ‘letter’ is taken up with very positive assessments (as we would now expect) of a series of Russian women writers, in particular Kul’man, Volkonskaya and Pavlova. In each case, Kireevskii not only appraises them in glowing terms, but writes about them simply as writers and not as ‘lady-writers’. That said, however, he does see male and female writers as separate types, and he develops a distinctly, indeed, explicitly immanentist view of women writers: The male poet belongs to the world of the beautiful through his imagination alone; the female poet belongs to it with her whole being.

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Because of this, it often seems, when you look at her, as if her head is surrounded by something brilliant, a kind of glow; and you look a little closer: this glow is a dream, an aethereal diadem made up of words and sounds, which have been brought forth by her and which reflect back on her (p. 73 – my emphasis). As he goes on, he increasingly lets slip that his proclamation of the ‘new’ approach is by no means universally accepted. The hyperbole of his feelings about women writers explains for him, he now tells us, why he so much enjoys talking about women writers, and why he finds it hard to understand why ‘they have been so little valued in our literature up to now’ (ibid.). This suggests again that his earlier position is at least partially programmatic. Nevertheless, it marks a substantial shift. Evidence of the persisting ‘prejudice’ against women writers was soon forthcoming in N. N. Verevkin’s extraordinary tale of 1837, ‘The WomanWriter’. We could perhaps dismiss this feeble satire as meretricious and scurrilous nonsense, but, as Aplin notes,35 it was published in the leading journal of the day, Biblioteka dlya chteniya (Library for Reading),36 and some of the views expressed may well have been authored by its editor, the influential littérateur, Senkovskii. Possibly the most astonishing thing about the story is the editorial disclaimer which appeared on its title page: In giving justice to the literary merits of this work, The Library hastens to forewarn its female readers that it washes its hands of the way of thinking of the young and witty author as pertains to those ladies who have devoted themselves to literature, particularly amongst us in Russia, where only ladies may lend the writing class the example of lightness of touch and refined taste (p. 17). It is hard to know how to interpret this, but, at the least, it is a sign, echoing Kireevskii, that such ‘prejudices’ were no longer respectable. In this latter regard, it is also worth noting that the note is addressed specifically to women, an indication of the likely readership; we should also note the Karamzinesque compliments paid to women as a civilizing force. The plot of ‘The Woman-Writer’ concerns the provincial lady, Varvara, who is, we are assured, ‘as clever as the devil himself’ (p. 23). She is a caricature and a cliché made flesh, given to such ejaculations as ‘Oh, the crowd! oh vulgarity’ (p. 28). Having introduced her, Verevkin proceeds to an extensive digression on female poets which reverts to


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the traditional stereotype of seeing such a collocation as oxymoronic. He is prepared to accept that a woman can work as a writer, but only under certain conditions. A woman who, like Maria Edgeworth, wrote to support her family is acceptable, but any woman who writes for money, or for her own ambition is beyond the pale, unnatural. He argues that any woman who steps beyond her given sphere, ‘at first arouses curiosity, but then provokes profound revulsion. And that is only natural: because these women are unnatural’ (p. 34). All this is ancient stuff, of course, but Verevkin/Senkovskii is original in being the first writer in Russia to adduce ‘scientific’ evidence to support his ‘prejudice’, that women’s psychology is determined by their physiology, as Catriona Kelly has noted. 37 This is in the form of a work by one Alberti, De infoecunditate corporis ob foecunditatem animi in foeminis, published in Halle in 1743, which asserted that there was an inverse correlation between the mental development and the reproductive faculties in a woman. In other words, the more educated a woman was, and/or if she strove to be a writer, the less able she would be to be a mother. As Verevkin puts it: ‘Great mental productivity almost always robs a woman of the priceless gift of giving life to new beings, or, at least, leads to serious hysterical disturbances, the source of self-will and all caprices’ (pp. 34–5). This kind of ‘argument’ then proceeds for the next 15 pages. Numerous hackneyed arguments are trotted out to ‘prove’ why a woman writer is an unnatural freak, to be set alongside the child with four heads, and other such exhibits in the Kunstkamera; and how too much mental effort will destroy a woman’s health, sanity and reproductive capacities; women publishing their works is akin to prostitution; that it is all the Devil’s work; that women have four ounces less grey matter, and so serious mental activity, like writing novels, should be left to men, and so on. In one way, we could dismiss the story as meretricious nonsense, except that it also acts as a distorting mirror of generally held views. The remaining 80-odd pages detail the rise and fall of Varvara, and it comes as no surprise that her life is an object lesson in what disasters will befall if a lady takes up the pen. In turn she shows herself to be a bad wife and daughter, because she will not give up her writing. When she has a child, weak jokes give way to dark sarcasm. Immediately after the birth she demands a wet-nurse so she can continue to write uninterrupted. She becomes more and more obsessed with her own fame, and completely neglects not only her long-suffering husband, but little Petrusha as well, the latter to such an extent that she actually drops her son, a fall which ultimately leads to his death at a very young age, and

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in great agony. Various further misadventures befall her and her poor family, and it is all very cheap and silly, when not cheap and nasty. A woman writer is a freak, and will come to a nasty end if she refuses to obey the natural demands of her womanly nature, and the concomitant demands of family life. In other words, she is a ‘snake in flannel or a dancing monkey’. And this is precisely the point. Verevkin’s pasquil is significant precisely because it takes ad absurdum the anxieties of writers like Mariya Zhukova and Elena Gan. I will move to a concluding examination of their writings around these issues, but before doing so, let us look at the last major male theorist of the woman writer’s position in this period, ‘furious’ Vissarion Belinskii, who, because of the extreme swings in his ideological position, encapsulates many of the different views on the subject that had been expressed over the previous 50 years. Certainly, by the period of Belinskii’s treatment of the ‘woman-writer question’, roughly speaking from 1835 to 1845, major changes had occurred in the image, perception and reception of the pisatel’nitsa: in this regard, Kireevskii was correct in suggesting that the landscape had fundamentally altered. Aplin, for example, suggests that by the 1830s/ 1840s women writers were treated on an almost equal footing with male writers. 38 At this period, we see the first stirrings of ‘women’s consciousness’ with an increase in the number of works which attempted to redefine the traditional roles; 39 another critic suggests that Russian women’s fiction was now approaching Western standards of protest, with a positive treatment of the rebellious heroine.40 A powerful impetus in the move towards a more positive assessment of the Russian woman writer, and towards her greater involvement in the development of Russian fiction, was the programme of the first generation of ‘prescriptive’ critics,41 and here primus inter pares, of course, was Belinskii. There are two seminal articles by Belinskii in this area, the first of which is ‘The Tales of Mariya Zhukova’, of 1840, just when Belinskii was beginning to emerge into his most famous, radical phase.42 This piece opens on a generally positive note. Zhukova’s name may be a relatively new one in Russian literature, but it is one which is ‘already respected and illustrious on account of the glittering talent which appears beneath it’ (p. 111). The important thing to note about Belinskii’s comments in these initial sections is not the overall warm appraisal which he gives Zhukova’s tales, but rather the non-gender-specific tone he adopts. Gradually, however, this approach slides into considering her specifically as a woman writer, which leads Belinskii into some distinctly immanentist remarks. In offering a general summary of


Gender in Russian History and Culture

Zhukova’s achievement he comments: ‘The narrative talent and, in particular, the plenitude of the living, warm feminine sensibility comprise the main value of Zhukova’s tales, and it is a high value’ (p. 113 – my emphasis). The nub of his argument is the question as to whether women writers are better able to depict female characters than male writers. This is both true and untrue, in that women do have a special insight into female characters, just as male writers are more adept at portraying men. But he then adduces the man of genius as the exception that proves the rule. Such men are as good as women at depicting female characters, because ‘man’, as it were, subsumes woman: ‘This is because a man, by his very nature, is more all-encompassing than a woman, and is endowed with the ability to step outside his individual personality and to enter into all kinds of situation, of which he has no direct experience, and never will have’ (p. 115 – my emphasis). We note the essentialist position, and, in this regard, Belinskii’s position has not moved on from Karamzin’s ‘Epistle’, of 50 years previously. Furthermore, whereas men can step beyond their own experience imaginatively, a woman who attempts to do this is treading on dangerous ground, indeed, risks becoming ‘a child with four heads’ or ‘a crocodile in flannel’. Belinskii puts it thus: ‘ . . . whereas a woman is locked within herself, in her female and feminine sphere, and if she leaves it, then she becomes some kind of ambiguous creature. And this is why a woman cannot become a great poet’ (ibid. – my emphasis). And so, for all her gifts, Zhukova, or indeed, any woman, cannot aspire to be considered equal to a male writer, and will forever remain trapped in her separate, but unequal sphere. And this is in the nature of things. In some sense, it is not so very different from the views of Verevkin.43 When Belinskii returned in a major way to the theme of women’s writing, and the persona of the woman writer, three years later in ‘The Works of Zeneida R-va’, his ideological position had turned upside down, and his assessment of the potential of women writers had also significantly changed. 44 This was the first major theoretical attempt since Kireevskii to offer a serious discussion of Russian women’s writing. After consideration of general matters, he begins his argument proper. Throughout Europe women are not writing as much as they should, because ‘a false view of woman condemns her to silence’ (p. 648). That is, it is culture which silences women. He then argues that women are afraid to appear in print, because no opportunity is missed to mock their efforts, for daring to step outside their ‘natural’ sphere. What is worst of all is the power of ‘social opinion’ (p. 649) (‘society’s

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judgement’, as Gan herself termed it) which accuses her of all sorts of crimes and wickedness. As he puts it: This thousand-headed monster declares her [the woman writer] to be immoral and abandoned, . . . ; declares her to be a formless comet, a monstrous manifestation, which has self-willedly torn itself from the sphere of its sex, from the circle of its obligations to slake its unbridled passions and to luxuriate in its noisy and shameful celebrity (p. 649 – my emphasis). For all this, Belinskii allows that considerable progress has been made over the period covered here: Gan is a very different writer from Bunina. He then offers an important history of Russian women writers, reviewing Kul’man, Volkonskaya and returning to Zhukova. Eventually he comes to Gan, and declares her the best woman writer so far, although even she falls short of what a woman could achieve. Interestingly, he finds the strongest thing about her writing is the power of her thinking, precisely the quality he had found lacking in women writers in his Zhukova piece. Throughout his lengthy appraisal of Gan, he assesses her primarily as a writer pure and simple, rather than as a woman. At the same time, he does conclude that one of her strongest points is what we would now call her feminism, her ‘profound sorrow over the social degradation of women and her energetic protest against this degradation’ (p. 667).

Belinskii’s fine and passionate words established Gan’s reputation, although she too was soon to be forgotten for generations. At the same time, his article seemed to mark a new epoch in the image of the Russian woman writer, as men perceived them. In conclusion, however, I will step back a few years to consider what Zhukova and Gan had to say about the image and position of the woman writer, and how they attempted to come to terms with the invidious role of being snakes in flannel, or ambiguous creatures. So far as I have been able to discover, Mariya Zhukova’s extant legacy has little if anything to say about the lot of the pisatel’nitsa. Equally, in her fiction there are none of the anguished women of exceptional talent who populate Gan’s tales. That said, the metafictional aspects of her first work, Evenings by the Karpovka (1837–38) offer a fascinating insight into her thinking about female authorship, especially in the


Gender in Russian History and Culture

character who organizes the eponymous evenings, Natal’ya Dmitrievna Shemilova. 45 The first point to be noted is that, at the outset, and at the end, this work of fiction is produced (in a number of senses) by women. Although the majority of the tales will have male narrators, it is a series of female characters who set the scene and establish the tone and themes.46 Obviously, the name on the title page is female: to this we need to add immediately the unnamed, but grammatically marked female narrator of the framing introductory material, who is also the compiler/publisher of the work. The actual organizer and instigator of the ‘original stories’ which are here ‘reproduced’ in writing is Natal’ya Dmitrievna Shemilova, a woman of about 60.47 At once, at least implicitly, a polemical point is made. Women, even elderly semi-invalid women, can contribute to the development of Russian literature. Equally, we should not ignore the fact that Shemilova is also the narrator of the lead story, putting aside her knitting to do so! This detail too is deeply polemicized, recalling as it does the origin of text(iles). 48 And this implicit domestication (and ipso facto, feminization, as Uspenskii noted in a very different context)49 of literature continues as Natal’ya Dmitrievna introduces us to the world in which ‘The Monk’ is set. She has learned the story at second hand from yet another female contributor to literature, an 18-year-old peasant woman. 50 Similarly, and in one of the nice framing devices with which the cycle is rounded off, the last story is based on a woman telling her own tragic tale. From beginning to end, that is, Evenings develop the implicit polemical point that women have at least an equal contribution to make to literature. More generally, it seems to me, in a disguised, self-effacing way, Mariya Zhukova is making the polemical point that ‘even old women can tell stories’. That is, she smuggles in a very positive image of the woman writer, and, by making her specifically an older woman, she avoids many of the usual attacks of ‘indecency’ that were levelled against women writers. By contrast, Elena Gan was far from self-effacing in her depiction of the woman writing, although she did share many of the anxieties of her predecessors and contemporaries in taking up the pen. She more than any woman before her addressed openly and explicitly the problematics of being a woman writer in Russia, and so it is fitting that we should bring this survey to an end with a consideration of her work. As I have suggested elsewhere, Gan was deeply concerned with the fate of the woman writer in her society. 51 She addresses this issue within a few pages of the first work she published in 1837, ‘The Ideal’, albeit in

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an oblique way.52 In introducing her talented heroine, Ol’ga, the narrator compares her situation to that of the Christians entering the gladiatorial circuses in ancient Rome, before remarking: ‘I felt sad looking at this unusual woman . . . ; it was sad to see this radiant soul surrounded by a poisonous swarm of wasps who found pleasure in stinging her from all sides’ (p. 438 – my emphasis). The very urgency with which the narrator (and her author behind her) introduces this digression suggests that this was a burning issue for Gan; one that was deeply felt, and almost certainly based on long-standing personal experience. Immediately, indeed, Gan proceeds, on the fourth page of her published output, to offer the following sententia, which could stand as an epigraph for much of her work, and for her appraisal of the lot of the woman writer in Russia in the 1830s: ‘The situation of a man of great intelligence is intolerable in the provinces; but the situation of a woman whom nature itself has placed above the crowd is truly awful’ (ibid. – my emphasis). Much of the story is taken up with a dramatization of these sentiments, leading to the despair of talented Ol’ga, before a religious salvation rescues and redeems her. That she is obliquely therein dealing with the fate of the female writer, Gan makes more explicit at the end of ‘The Ideal’, by turning Ol’ga into a kind of writer, concluding the story with a letter from Ol’ga to her confidante, Vera, thereby giving the last word to a sort of woman writer. Gan continued these strategies two years later, in ‘The Locket’.53 Here she addresses the issue of the woman writer from a somewhat different angle as well, in that there is a lengthy account of what she considers to be the differences between men’s and women’s writing. As the chief female protagonist, Baroness Engel’sberg prepares to tell the story of her sister’s tragic life (another valorized final female word), an unnamed woman comments: In the life of a man there are many collateral adventures which he can communicate to all and sundry, without touching upon a single one of his sincere feelings; a woman’s existence, on the contrary, is entirely comprised of tones and echoes from her inner world; we do not have external circumstances which would not be intimately linked with it: our entire life is a single harmony, and whichever string you might touch, its sound evokes an echo of the whole chord (p. 257). As her own life drew to its tragically early end, Gan returned to these themes with growing insistence and forcefulness. In ‘Society’s


Gender in Russian History and Culture

Judgement’ 54 of 1840 she again, as in ‘The Ideal’, concluded with a long testament from the positive, autobiographically named Zenaida. Also as in the earlier work, she opens the story with very strongly expressed dicta about the plight of the positive heroine in the provinces, which this time is explicitly linked to the problems of women writers. On the second page of the work Gan launches her attack. Having described the situation of new arrivals in a provincial town, the female narrator asks with heavy sarcasm: ‘But what if, by misfortune, one of these migrant ladies stands out in any way from the others – by her beauty, talent, wealth! . . . and this emaciated, jaundiced Fury sharpens her fangs in advance for this unknown, but already hateful victim’ (p. 150). Worst treated of all is a woman writer, a quite incomprehensible being for these provincials. The local ‘wit’ and poet sums up what ‘society’ (svet) thinks of this weird sister: ‘she is not simply a woman, but a womanwriter, that is a particular creation, a deformed whim of nature, or more accurately, a degenerate of the female sex’ (p. 152). Such a woman will fulfil her invitations not realizing that she will be on display, ‘like a dancing monkey, like a snake in a flannel blanket’ (ibid. – my emphasis). And, of course, Elena Gan was to offer an extensive and summarizing version of these themes in her last, unfinished and testamental work, ‘A Futile Gift’ (1842). 55 As I have written about this elsewhere, I do not wish to go into detail about this work here. 56 Suffice it to say that the title of this work sums up the bleaker side of Gan’s vision of the position and image of the woman writer in the Russia of the 1830s, as the title of this chapter suggests. Anyuta the poet dies at an early age, unrecognized and only partially reassured that she even had a talent. Her short life had known moments of creative ecstasy, but, for the most part, the story suggests that the creative gift, for a woman, is virtually an affliction. Again, as in her earlier work, Gan sees this tragic position for the talented woman as a product of social injustice, which allows men opportunities, only to deny them to women. Anyuta’s mentor, Geilfreind, sums up the bleak, outcast role that confronted the woman author: Men! How enormous are your advantages, how blessed are your rights! To you are open all the paths of art, the sciences, poetry, fame . . . whereas a woman, equal to a man in talent, and greatly surpassing him in her heart, must freeze in the wilderness, in obscurity, far from the world, from all the great models, from all resources for learning for which her soul thirsts, simply because she is a woman! . . . And futile is her gift (p. 752 – my emphasis).57

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By the time Elena Gan died, not long after writing these bitter words, and was then acclaimed by the leading critic of the day as the greatest Russian woman writer to date, women writers had indeed travelled a very long way since the turn of the century when they had been gallantly and graciously invited by Karamzin and his followers to help shape the Russian literary language. By the early 1840s they had entered the literary scene in numbers, and were now being treated on an almost equal footing with their male peers. Yet, as Gan’s life and work make clear, the lot of the woman writer was still utterly difficult. The image of the woman writer remained deeply problematical. To a writer like Gan, she was a tragic heroine, as valid a cultural exemplar as the most majestic of the Romantic poets. At the same time, however, many around her regarded her as a fairground freak, a sideshow to be gawped at. In surveying the views and experiences over the nearly 60 years covered by this chapter, the impression remains that a major breakthrough was about to be made in Russian women’s writing. And in some senses it was, in that women did continue to pour out on to the literary stage, even if sections of the audience would continue for a while yet to point at what they saw, and laugh.

Notes 1. V. Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (1977 reprint, London: originally 1928) p. 48. 2. These quotations are taken from Gan’s letters of 1839, quoted in H. Aplin, ‘M. S. Zhukova and E. A. Gan. Women Writers and Female Protagonists, 1837–43’ (Ph.D. diss., University of East Anglia, 1988) p. 239. 3. See E. N. Shchepkina, Iz istorii zhenskoi lichnosti v Rossii. Lektsii i stat’i (St Petersburg, 1914) p. 205. 4. See W. M. Todd III, Fiction and Society in the Age of Pushkin. Ideology, Institutions, and Narrative (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1983) pp. 19–20. 5. For this work see N. Karamzin, Polnoe sobranie stikhotvorenii, ed. Yu. M. Lotman (Moscow–Leningrad, 1966) pp. 169–79. (For this and all later quotations from texts, page numbers will be given in the main text.) See also p. 391 of this edition for the reaction to the work. 6. For this work, see Karamzin’s Izbrannye sochineniya v dvukh tomakh, ed. G. Makogonenko (Moscow–Leningrad, 1964) vol. 2, pp. 156–73. 7. Sofiya Alekseevna’s biographer considers the Tsarevna’s reputation as a writer to be ‘one of the most intriguing legends’ about her, and has found no evidence to support it. L. Hughes, Sophia, Regent of Russia, 1657–1704 (New Haven and London, 1990) pp. 172–5 [Editor’s note]. 8. See Karamzin, Izbrannye sochineniya, pp. 183–7, 280–7. 9. Quoted in W. Rosslyn, Anna Bunina (1774–1829) and the Origins of Women’s Poetry in Russia (Lewiston, N.Y., Queenston, Ontario, Lampeter, Wales, 1997) pp. 72–3.


Gender in Russian History and Culture

10. B. A. Uspenskii, Iz istorii russkogo literaturnogo yazyka XVIII–nachala XIX vv. (Moscow, 1985) p. 60. 11. Letter to Gnedich of 19 September 1809, in his Sochineniya (1989) vol. 2, p. 103. I am grateful to Igor’ Pil’shchikov for drawing my attention to this and other bibliographical points, and, more generally, for his invaluable assistance in the preparation of this chapter. 12. From his Raznye zamechaniya (1810), in Sochineniya, vol. 2, p. 19. 13. E. Likhacheva, Materialy dlya istorii zhenskago obrazovaniya, vol. 1 (St Petersburg, 1893) p. 272, quoted in Rosslyn, Anna Bunina, p. 182. 14. I am much indebted to Wendy Rosslyn for the ensuing discussion: for further details and elaboration of my brief argument, see her fine monograph. 15. On this point, see also Shchepkina, Iz istorii, p. 209. 16. See Rosslyn, Anna Bunina, pp. 175–202 for a detailed discussion of this phase of Bunina’s career. 17. Ibid., p. 109. 18. For an extended discussion of this from a feminist perspective, see M. Daly, Gyn/Ecology. The Metaethics of Radical Feminism (London, 1979) pp. 134–52. For an excellent discussion of this work, see Rosslyn, Anna Bunina, pp. 175–202. 19. See M. Ledkovsky, C. Rosenthal and M. Zirin (eds), Dictionary of Russian Women Writers (Westport, Conn., and London, 1994) p. xxx. 20. See Y. Harussi, ‘Women’s Social Roles as Depicted by Women Writers in Early Nineteenth-Century Russian Fiction’, in J. D. Clayton (ed.), Issues in Russian Literature before 1917 (Columbus, Ohio, 1989) pp. 35–48 (here p. 35). 21. See ibid., pp. 36–8. 22. See ibid. p. 40 for examples of this. 23. Quoted in W. Rosslyn, ‘Anna Bunina’s “Unchaste Relationship with the Muses”: Patronage, the Market and the Woman Writer in Early NineteenthCentury Russia’, in Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 74, no. 2 (1996) pp. 223–42 (here p. 226, n. 18). The quotation is taken from Izvekova’s preface to her didactic novel in four volumes, Emiliya ili pechal’nye sledstviya lyubvi (1806). 24. See Harussi, ‘Women’s Social Roles’, pp. 40, 45. She draws an interesting parallel with English women writers from the eighteenth century. 25. See Ledkovsky et al., Dictionary, p. xxix. 26. For Volkonskaya, see B. Aroutunova, Lives in Letters. Princess Zinaida Volkonskaya and Her Correspondence (Ann Arbor, 1994). See also M. Sh. Fainshtein, Pisatel’nitsy pushkinskoi pory: Istoriko-literaturnye ocherki (Leningrad, 1989) pp. 68–9. I am again indebted to Igor’ Pil’shchikov for bibliographical information at this point. 27. For discussions of these and other writers of the period, see C. Kelly, A History of Russian Women’s Writing, 1820–1992 (Oxford, 1994), and Ledkovsky et al. (eds), Dictionary. 28. I am indebted to Mikhail Fainshtein for this information. 29. We should also note that, in the first three decades of the nineteenth century, the Karamzinist position was largely maintained. For example, in an important programmatic piece of 1823, A Glance at the Old Literature in Russia, Aleksandr Bestuzhev rehearsed and lent renewed canonicity to the position of Karamzin, nearly 30 years after it was first formulated, although

Joe Andrew

30. 31. 32.


34. 35. 36.

37. 38. 39. 40.

41. 42.

43. 44.



he also accords Bunina and Volkova a brief account. This marks a new approach in that the two women are assessed purely as poets (and not as women), even if they merit a mere five lines between them! He later adopts a rather more critical tone to the role women play in Russian literature, and his remarks anticipate Pushkin’s harsh challenge to the Karamzinian position a few years later. In common with many observers of the literary scene at this time, Bestuzhev laments the low level of Russian literature, for which women, he asserts, are the chief culprits, speaking as he does of ‘the indifference of the fair sex to everything written in [Russian]!’ Other commentators of the period also found little to say about women writers. Kyukhel’beker, for example, in his On the Direction of Our Poetry, particularly Lyric Poetry, during the Last Decade, finds no women to mention, including non-Russians. See Aplin, ‘M. S. Zhukova’, p. 40, where he gives several instances of Pushkin’s hypocrisy. See A. S. Pushkin, Sobranie sochinenii v desyati tomakh (Moscow, 1959–62) vol. 6, pp. 15–24. See Catriona Kelly’s essay in this volume, however, for a somewhat more positive assessment of Pushkin’s changing attitude towards women’s ‘civilizing role’ in literature [Editor’s note]. For this, see Polnoe sobranie sochinenii I. V. Kireevskago v dvukh tomakh, ed. M. V. Gershenzon (Moscow, 1911) pp. 65–75. (Reprinted by Gregg International, Westmead, Hants, 1970.) See also Yu. Lotman, Roman A. S. Pushkina ‘Evgenii Onegin’. Kommentarii (Leningrad, 1988). Ibid., pp. 43–6. See N. N. Verevkin [Rakhmannyi], ‘Zhenshchina-pisatel’nitsa’ in Biblioteka dlya chteniya, vol. 23, no. 1, pt 1 (1837) pp. 17–134. I am grateful to Arja Rosenholm for helping me obtain a copy of this piece. Kelly, History, p. 42, n. 51. Aplin, ‘M. S. Zhukova’, pp. 5–6. See B. A. Engel, Mothers and Daughters: Women of the Intelligentsia in Nineteenth-Century Russia (Cambridge, 1983) pp. 27–8. See Harussi, ‘Women’s Social Roles’, p. 47, and Shchepkina, Iz istorii, pp. 248–57. See also J. Andrew, Narrative and Desire in Russian Literature, 1822–49 (London, 1993) for discussions of some of the works of the 1830s and 1840s in which these themes are reflected. See Ledkovsky et al. (eds), Dictionary, p. xxx. See V. G. Belinskii, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (PSS), (Moscow, 1954) vol. 4, pp. 110–18. For one account of Belinskii’s remarkable ideological twists and turns, see J. Andrew, Writers and Society during the Rise of Russian Realism (London, 1980) pp. 114–51. See Kelly, History, p. 41 for a discussion of this. In Belinskii, PSS, vol. 6 (1955) pp. 648–78. As Aplin points out, very few articles by Belinskii in 1843 were longer than this one, an indication of Belinskii’s serious approach to Gan’s work: ibid., p. 373. For this work, see M. S. Zhukova, Vechera na Karpovke, ed. R. V. Iezuitova (Moscow, 1986). See Andrew, Narrative and Desire, pp. 139–83 for discussions of Zhukova’s work.


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46. See Aplin, ‘M. S. Zhukova’, pp. 102–4 and Kelly, History, pp. 79–80 for interesting discussions of the place of Evenings in the development of Russian literature. 47. It should be remembered how advanced an age this was at the time. Even in a more developed country like Britain, female life expectancy was still only 52 in 1900. (I am indebted to Barbara Andrew for this information.) A reverse tendency should also be noted. It was the habit of male writers in this period to refer to any woman beyond about 40 as starushka (‘old woman’ or ‘little old lady’). However, ‘affectionate’ this diminutive may or may not be, it seems a patronizing piece of ageism to the present writer. (For a discussion of this tendency, see J. Andrew, ‘Mothers and Daughters in Russian Literature of the First Half of the Nineteenth Century’, Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 73, no. 1 (1995) pp. 37–60.) 48. For an excellent discussion of this, see S. Bassnett, ‘Textuality/Sexuality’ in Essays in Poetics, vol. 9, no. 1 (1984) pp. 1–15. Among many other interesting observations, Bassnett notes the following:



51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57.

Mary Daly in Gyn/Ecology notes that the Latin texere (to weave) is the origin and root of both text and textile and adds: ‘Texts’ are the kingdom of males; they are the realm of the reified word, of condensed spirit. In patriarchal tradition, sewing and spinning are for girls; books are for boys (p. 10). ‘This provides the explanation for the Karamzinists’ orientation towards the language and taste of the society lady, and the general characteristic of this movement, namely the feminization of language and literature.’ B. A. Uspenskii, Iz istorii russkogo literaturnogo yazyka XVIII–nachala XIX vv. (Moscow, 1985) p. 58 (my emphasis). Aplin notes the problem of authenticity involved in this encounter (or rather in the verbatim recollection of it), while remarking that it was a common problem in the literature of the period: ‘M. S. Zhukova’, pp. 104–5. (A famous instance, which Aplin cites, is the recollection of a song by Maksim Maksimych in Lermontov’s Bela.) See Andrew, Narrative and Desire, pp. 85–138. For this, see V. I. Sakharov (ed.), Russkaya romanticheskaya povest’ (Moscow, 1980) pp. 435–80. For this, see E. A. Gan, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, ed. N. F. Mertz (St Petersburg, 1905) pp. 210–99. For this, see V. Uchenova (ed.), Dacha na petergovskoi doroge. Proza russkikh pisatel’nits pervoi poloviny XIX veka (Moscow, 1986) pp. 147–212. For this see Gan, PSS, pp. 710–837. See Andrew, Narrative and Desire, pp. 131–8. There is little doubt but that these ideas were very close to Gan’s own thinking. For extensive quotations from her letters which support this view, see Aplin, ‘M. S. Zhukova’, pp. 238–40.

4 Mariya Vernadskaya: Missionary of ‘Scientific Femininity’ Arja Rosenholm

‘What is a man? A human being (chelovek). What is a woman? . . . also a human being, of course.’1 This optimistic vision of a universal and civilized humanity in which sexual inequality has disappeared, is the paradigmatic formula in the discourse of the ‘woman question’ in Russia during the 1860s. Hopes for the achievement of gender equality through reason, coeducation and a rationalist explanation of the world are well expressed by one contemporary, Mariya Nikolaevna Vernadskaya (née Shigaeva, 1831–60). Vernadskaya witnessed the turbulent years of fierce social, economic and political debate after Russia’s humiliating defeat in the Crimean War, though she did not live to see the subsequent reforms. These reforms – and notably the abolition of serfdom in 1861 – sent ‘semiAsiatic’ Russia on a journey towards ‘progressive’ civilization, towards becoming a ‘Westernized’ (that is, modern capitalist) nation. Vernadskaya experienced that ‘transformation of life’ (preobrazhenie vsei zhizni)2 which swept over a society founded on ‘autocracy, orthodoxy and nationality’. She lived at a historical turning point of modernization and secularization, a time of cultural re-evaluation, when everything ‘old’ was rejected, when, as a later writer proclaimed, religion was displaced by anthropology, idealism by materialism, and a morality based on metaphysics yielded to a theory of ‘rational egoism’.3 Vernadskaya’s optimism was part of the intellectual movement around her, with its rhetoric of ‘widespread euphoria and enthusiasm’ for that ‘glorious time’, and its disputes over the radical intelligentsia’s ‘accursed questions’. 4 Vernadskaya actively promoted discussion of the ‘woman question’. In the spirit of the times, her ideal was Elizabeth Blackwell, the first American woman physician, rather than romantic writers like Evdokiya 73


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Rostopchina or George Sand.5 Vernadskaya can be seen as the very personification of the New Woman, the cultural type of the ‘emancipated’ (emansipirovannaya), educated (obrazovannaya, nachitannaya), intelligent (umnaya) woman of the ‘egalitarian’ 1860s. Her contemporaries and subsequent historians used such epithets to praise her;6 however, the praise has been unmatched by scholarly interest. Her work is only rarely mentioned and hardly ever presented as worthy of serious treatment and historical research. The time has come to overturn Vladimir Stasov’s verdict of 1899: ‘M. N. Vernadskaya opened up such wide vistas to Russian women, but alas she is now completely unknown, shamefully ignored!’ 7 Her writings owe a debt to political economy. During the latter half of the 1850s she published about 25 short articles, as well as some 80 book reviews in a number of journals. She also translated several West European economists into Russian. 8 Most of her writings were published in Ekonomicheskii ukazatel’ (The Economic Index), one of the first such journals and the main organ of Manchester liberalism in Russia. It was edited by Vernadskaya and her husband, I. V. Vernadskii, a professor of political economy, who after her premature death published her collected writings in 1862. Vernadskaya’s contribution to the contemporary discussion of the Russian economy should not be underestimated. However, her work is more complex than might be revealed by a simple reading of her articles as general statements on the economy of this period. In form the ‘economic’ articles often resemble short stories, like fairy tales or parables. 9 The originality of her socio-economic studies lies not so much in the ‘unfeminine’ theme as in the rhetorical combination of fact and fiction. Her writings remain on the boundary between literary genre models, ‘on the dividing line between science and belles-lettres’,10 with no coherent discourse or system of knowledge. They make use of ‘factual’ journalism and metaphorical figures, they clothe ‘cold’ economic facts in ‘warm’ emotional details, their metaphors are familiar with the world of female gentry readers. The style is didactic. The articles or narratives are intended to be understood by the writer’s cultural and psychological equals, young gentry women (often addressed directly by the narrator) unused to reading about political and economic issues. In order to make her message understandable and attractive to female readers, the world of facts is embedded in a familiar, domestic setting. Knowledge of economic issues is situated in the domestic byt (‘everyday life’), the ‘pre-aesthetic’ space of women and children.11 Economic issues are focused through a pedagogical and

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moral lens. She writes about matters (and in a form) considered to be appropriate for women, more or less ‘peripheral’ to male concerns and the mainstream of economic theory.12 It is this textual–sexual ‘domestic realism’13 which distinguishes female writing, and distinguishes Vernadskaya from M. L. Mikhailov, the other principal advocate of the ‘woman question’ in the late 1850s. It was rare and indeed radical in nineteenth-century Russia for a woman to write on economic issues in a journalistic genre. It was no coincidence, however. A new sphere of public expression, organized around the rapidly growing discourse of the daily newspaper and the literary world, 14 offered a number of gentry women seeking independence outside their families the opportunity to earn a professional income. Young women founded publishing and translating cooperatives (Izdatel’skaya artel’, Obshchestvo perevodchits), worked as independent translators, journalists and publishers, or as bookshop assistants.15 Women participated in the debates over female education, and writers such as Evgeniya Tur and N. D. Khvoshchinskaya (under the pseudonym of V. Porechnikov) engaged far more extensively in literary criticism than women had before.16 In tune with the master discourse of the time, Vernadskaya clamours for sense not sensibility. Her positive vision of the gender-free mind fits in with the contemporary programme of normative aesthetics which derived from the Enlightenment’s ideal of human rationality, expertise and competence. 17 One might suggest that her involvement in journalism was made possible – and acceptable – by the overall instrumentalization of literary genres for didactic purposes: literature was subjugated to an ethical and philosophical doctrine of rational and morally ‘useful’ art. 18 Consequently anyone (that is, a woman too) was endowed with literary competence, provided that he or she accept the rational rules of the universal aesthetic canon. And this is what Vernadskaya does. She emphasizes ‘useful knowledge’ (p. 229) as the true goal of reading and writing. She recommends this to women as a possible occupation, so long as they learn to appreciate ‘craftsmanship’ instead of seeing literature as merely a leisure activity (pp. 101–2). She accepts the master discourse that lays stress on ‘the decisive importance of rational preeminence’,19 she adopts the ethics of rationalism and sees its importance to the modern citizen as the key to efficiency, functional activity and controlled desire. In the rationalist mode, Vernadskaya unifies distinct roles in her writings: the ‘thinker’ (myslitel’) and the ‘poet’ – the ideal literary combination of the radical critics.20 In the spirit of the time, Vernadskaya produces new ‘documentary


Gender in Russian History and Culture

literature’,21 in which philosophical and literary discourses are seen as the medium for a reasonable and useful (poleznoe) education, rather than as vehicles for the individual subjective and irrational imagination. But her writings also demonstrate a highly conscious adaptation of the possibilities offered by various discourses to an intelligent woman writer: her work absorbs elements of scientific and social thought associated with the emancipatory process of the newly expanding middle class. She utilizes the sexually acceptable cultural role of a woman as moral educator. Her texts are imbued with morality and her demand for emancipation is chaste and modest. Vernadskaya uses the new textual–sexual space to introduce a ‘scientific’ femininity, not only in accord with the dominant rational aesthetic, but also to conform to the culturally accepted roles of (writing) women as mediators, teachers and guardians of the new virtues and moral values. In this role as a cultural ‘link’ (svyaz’), Vernadskaya should be re-evaluated as one of the principal missionaries of Russian modernization in the 1860s.22 She should be recognized as the ‘mothering’ agent who helped express the moral ideology of the rising bourgeoisie, and whose writings acted as mediators, disciplining and integrating society for a promised ‘civilization’ under the aegis of the new middle class. 23 In this process the real heroine of the story is the New Woman, as she figures in Vernadskaya’s writing. The New Woman as scientific mother is a true missionary, the symbol of the future ‘bourgeois’ virtues of selfmastery and self-discipline. By contrast it is the woman of the ‘common people’ (prostoi narod) – represented by the ‘uncouth nurse’ (grubaya nyanya) (pp. 196, 197–8), an anachronistic figure lacking knowledge and severely handicapped by superstitious prejudice – who is now given meanings which resist the vision of a rational and systematic education for the modern and progressive generation.24 The fact that the ‘old’ nyanya comes to represent the Other in civilization – an archaic mythic irrationality – shows the ambivalence of Vernadskaya’s new ‘scientific’ femininity. It also points to the gendered character of modernization, ‘emancipation’ in terms of the ‘new’ egalitarian contract being highly dependent on abstract rationalism. The New Woman will be both the rational superintendent of the new ‘civilized’ Russia and the symbol of the triumph over Nature, that is, she must transgress the negative irrationality of her old femininity. The problem with Vernadskaya’s New Woman lies in its ambiguity. It is a simultaneous enactment of desire and repression through which the split is closed within a utopian vision of an economically and rationally controlled consciousness. The process of ‘deterritorialization’,

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an opening up of new spaces and opportunities for women, seems also to entail ‘reterritorialization’, including new mechanisms for disciplining and controlling, which derive from the very core of the Enlightenment’s repressive rationalism. 25 In this twofold movement, rational femininity can be set against a patriarchal double standard: on the one hand, as every human being is a rational and moral creature, there should be no distinction between women’s and men’s rights. On the other hand, the (new) femininity, as constructed by the process of Othering, and founded on the binary oppositions of culture/nature, mind/body, rational/imaginative knowledge, Europe (= England)/Asia (= China), is in danger of becoming a ‘vanishing-point’ of the story,26 of being silenced in favour of ‘rational equality’. Access to a male-dominated culture brings alienation, repression and division, the silencing of the feminine and the loss of women’s inheritance. The problem with Vernadskaya’s new femininity is that, far from advocating difference, she does not ask what the difference might be. She recognizes the social degradation experienced by impoverished gentry women after they lost their economic security with the emancipation of the serfs.27 She preaches free labour, free trade, social progress and competition as the preconditions for a ‘civilization’ based on industry. She advocates hired labour and an upright morality as the proper criteria of gentry women’s independence. Emphasizing free and hired labour as the true basis of women’s autonomy, Vernadskaya prepares Russian gentry women for the challenges of the bourgeois daily life of the future. Her texts not only nurture the helpless gentry daughter, but also give life to the New Woman who is born with the new class: the middleclass woman assisting her husband, a business-like Stol’ts competing with the old Oblomov at work and at home. The New Woman must inculcate the new educational, moral and psychological virtues essential to the bourgeoisie. Vernadskaya makes use of the vacuum of moral authority resulting from the process of social transformation and fills it with contradictory visions. Her principal themes concern economic issues relating to the ‘woman question’. The articles open up a new direction in economic thinking – liberation and the division of labour. They treat such issues as the introduction of economic laws into everyday life, they deal with moral questions and name new virtues, such as order, thrift, austerity and efficiency, all virtues necessary for the accumulating capitalist. As well as dealing with economics and women’s work, many of the articles discuss children’s education, clothing, diet and table manners, and questions of health and hygiene.


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They stress the benefits of exercise and introduce physical education (gimnastika, p. 214) as an essential part of a school curriculum. Vernadskaya’s vision is sustained by the expansion of the new dynamic middle class, which provides contextuality but also renders it contradictory, especially for women. With free trade and labour as the daily context, more responsibility is required of the individual if she or he is to learn new rules and boundaries in urbanized modernity. The requirement to be independent and take responsibility for oneself is particularly significant for gentry daughters whose parents are no longer able to provide for them or take care of their daughters’ moral development. The New Woman has to learn to look after herself. The route she will have to take is through her body: adoption of a new identity through the repression of sexuality. We can see this in the contradictory movement of the ‘de- and reterritorialization’ in Vernadskaya’s writings. While, on the one hand, the New Woman claims more mobility for herself, on the other hand, she is subjugated to a rigid sexual morality whereby new liberties are at once curtailed and placed under control. Vernadskaya’s aim was to teach her readers how the new ‘bourgeois’ subject should move from the outer mechanisms of control to the internalized repressions of irrational desire. The cultural sign and the agent of this contradictory movement is the New Woman – emancipated as labour force, freed from her desire – an asexual woman. Indeed, only the woman who is capable of regulating her desire, to put it in the service of economic growth and social progress (as defined by the new intelligentsia) is a good woman. She becomes a ‘new’ woman because she is ‘useful’. The concept of gender equality that Vernadskaya constructed derived from the philosophical and anthropological metanarrative, from the story of ‘civilization’ (tsivilizatsiya).28 This metanarrative depicted a modern Russia as a Westernized and industrialized nation with a free citizenry and a rational public sphere, as in England, Vernadskaya’s ideal country (pp. 71, 76). Russia stands at the crossroads between slavish decay and social progress. The world is divided into wilderness (dikost’) and civilization; on the boundary between the two worlds stands the New Woman: Practically every male occupation is open to women; women cannot excuse themselves even by referring to their physical weakness (slabost’), because thanks to the achievements of civilization the virtue and even the necessity of physical strength are constantly weakening (slabeyut). A woman, however weak (slabaya), with a good

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revolver in her hands, can bravely overcome even the strongest savage who is armed with only a tomahawk (pp. 134–5). The New Woman, that is, the physically ‘weak’ gentry woman, becomes the measure of civilization, the representation of the new ‘bourgeois’ lifestyle made possible by the ‘useful’ application of scientific knowledge and economic progress. The New Woman appears as the sign of victory over decay. She is promised equal access to education and entry into the professions; new women ‘ . . . might make excellent artists, doctors, merchants, scholars, and instead of being burdens, might be of real use to society’ (p. 134). Women are mobile and versatile, they represent the promise of a modern future, of social progress based on rationality (um, rassudok), science (nauka) and utilitarianism (pol’za).29 But the predominance of reason creates its reverse – unpredictable desire. And, as the figure of the irrational nyanya demonstrates, women also bear the dark side of Enlightenment rhetoric – the ungovernable instincts and passions (strasti) flowing through the human body, egoistical and fleeting desires, such as imagination (voobrazhenie, pp. 7, 12, 13, 172, 217, 232). It is the evil world of passion and desire which Vernadskaya has in mind when she points to the reverse side of the Enlightenment – the feminized Other of culture, reason and selfmastery – which in the social and symbolic binary system becomes the object of the ‘civilizing’ process. To be sure: ‘In everyone, whichever sex they belong to, the very same passions rage; therefore everyone is subject to the very same vices when they surrender to their passions – and are equally virtuous when they conquer their own passions’ (p. 117). But women are still positioned low in the process of civilization, in the ‘childhood’ (mladenchestvo, p. 135) of rational humanity; women are still subjugated by their natural instincts, governed by ‘weak nerves’ and spontaneous emotions. Desire – the Other of reason – is what makes women inferior: Nervous weakness, exquisite sensibility, uncontrolled imagination – these are nothing more than defects in the imagination. . . . educate a girl just like a boy, instil in her the need for steadfastness, shape her imagination and reason, and these ingrained defects will disappear of their own accord (p. 133). Linked to nature, woman’s position is the Other, marked by the lack (nedostatok, pp. 85, 133) of the qualities that make up the One, the rational subject – who is male. Man is the norm, the highest value in


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historical civilization, which the New Woman may now try to emulate in the name of rational equality. As a consequence, the cultural type of the ‘new emancipated woman’ of the 1860s will become dependent on the ‘new’ rational man in a ‘new’ way, rather than being ‘freed’ from him. Vernadskaya’s optimism is founded on the discourse of ‘humanity’, in which every human being, women included, was to be regarded as a rational being through mimicry of the abstract ideal of rational perfectibility. The new femininity thus appears as an abstract product, deriving from the master narrative without reference to the experiences of real women; it is born without historical analysis. Vernadskaya’s optimism is infected by this abstraction; her concept of equality is more a didactic abstraction than something based on concrete experience. However, it is this utilitarian educational programme that gives Russian gentry women permission to ‘think equal’ in their striving for university education and professionalization. Vernadskaya knows: ‘Surely we are not more stupid than men? On the contrary, there are very many stupid men and very many intelligent women, so intelligence is shared out equally between men and women’ (p. 94). With the progress of enlightenment, superior intelligence will challenge brute force; women will rise to men’s spiritual superiority, and the difference will diminish and finally disappear (p. 103). This vision suggests a dualism between mind/reason and body/desire, a duality between culture and nature: ‘Which is responsible [for the inequality of boys and girls, A.R.], nature or upbringing?’ (p. 133). Distinguishing the two in this way, biological sex and the body are separated from the social construction of gender, of masculinity and femininity. 30 The separation of sex/nature and gender/culture gives us a model of a disembodied human, a utopian vision of a sexless and bodyless ‘new wo/man’. This Apollonian image – the paradigm of the egalitarian discourse of the 1860s – implies that ‘neutering sexuality’ 31 can alter the effects of lived experience by altering culture, that is, education (vospitanie). By ‘awakening’ the Sleeping Beauty to consciousness, to knowledge by means of the same education as that received by boys, girls would be able to rise up and out of their sexual bodies.32 The dualist model operates with logocentric dominance (ideas/consciousness/ mind) negating the possibility of ‘knowing in body’ – intuition and imagination.33 The body becomes part of nature, which is seen not as culturally constructed, but as something biologically given. According to this Apollonian model, ‘equality’ will become theoretically predetermined by abstract rationalism, which ignores lived experience and demeans the actual bodies of those receiving it.

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The discourse of ‘humanity’ is connected to the need for a new historical subject. Instead of the ‘old’ Oblomov, with his debased psychological and physical indolence, what was needed was a ‘businessman’, armed with practicality and rational self-mastery.34 This project, which promoted a high degree of self-mastery and surveillance over the self, is sufficiently egalitarian to include women in its programme: ‘there are obligations common to all human beings [obshchechelovecheskie]. Everyone, whichever sex they belong to, must be of use. . . . Only when someone is truly useful, when their work offers a genuine service to society, can they enjoy rights in society . . . ’ (pp. 130, 131). In order to reach this goal one must go through a process of reflection and reappraisal: ‘ . . . one must go to work on oneself’, ‘one must enrich one’s own mind with knowledge’, ‘wage a constant battle with one’s passions’, ‘teach oneself’ (p. 130). Vernadskaya never tires of repeating the maxim: ‘every individual must engage in an unrelenting battle with their weaknesses and passions . . . because moral fortitude, just like the muscles of the body, can be strengthened by means of constant exercise’ (pp. 125–6). These are the fundamental criteria for her egalitarian concepts: a rationalist discourse of enlightenment, an economic determinism founded on the belief that every restriction on competition is an evil threatening those who struggle against the forces of decay.35 However, Vernadskaya’s vision of a civilized and enlightened citizenry and a rational public sphere, developing in the context of a profound transformation of class relations, is threatened by the menace of disorder. The threat comes from the individual, sexual human body. The body – especially the female, the procreative body, with its insatiable appetite – is too unpredictable and incalculable for the new order. Procreative power is under no one’s control. It recognizes no ‘Master’, but is subjugated to base ‘animal instincts’ (zhivotnye instinkty). Yet, modernity requires the production of children, well-processed components of a new, finely regulated system. The irrational forces of reproduction should be taken under control, the maternal body harnessed by political economy. The integration and disciplining of the sexual body into a new social body is required by the transformation of the world into a mechanically regulated system. The past (starina), represented as chaotic, governed by the imaginary power of fantastic fairy-tale figures, nymphs and naiads (p. 4), will give way to seemingly more rational sources of inspiration: knowledge, science and economic competition (pp. 4–16). Modern times are envisaged as a ‘harmonious whole’ (garmonicheskoe tseloe) in which individual need is taken into account, but only as an integral component of a functioning whole (odnoe tseloe, pp. 167, 147, 156). The


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functioning of the whole is predetermined by economic and social progress, by the individual’s ‘use’ to the system and the profit that his or her work can bring to the system. Future society is envisaged as a ‘huge and well lit building’ (gromadnoe, yarko osveshchennoe zdanie) (p. 8), like Crystal Palace, which appeared to Russians in those years as a symbol of the transparent society with its new rational public sphere. There will no longer be irrational and unaccountable secrets or forces in the new social body. Science will ‘rouse’ the human mind to take control of the unconscious body, nature will render her ‘hidden’ treasures to the industrialist, and the new subject, ‘steeled’ by conscious will-power (soznatel’naya tverdost’ voli, p. 204) while producing a profit for the free market system, will take control of chaotic nature, instinctual needs and the sexual body’s desire. Vernadskaya’s vision is of the human reproductive system functioning like a ‘machine’, ‘mastered’, governed and regulated, a new body devoted only to profitable labour, desexualized, like the ‘iron horse’, without passion and desire, without needs and emotions, but patient and persistent, directed towards long-term benefit: ‘ . . . it [the iron horse] has neither favourites, nor those who are chosen (izbrannykh): it faithfully and regularly serves all humanity at no one’s whim, but brings happiness and satisfaction for everyone’s benefit!’ (p. 8). Political economy is the Master and the superior signifier of the new body; economic truth is beyond all relativity: it ‘applies to the most commonplace events of our life’ and is immutable (p. 317). The adoption of political economy brings ‘civilization and every imaginable happiness’ (pp. 82, 166, 311, 312, 316). All members of society will become components of the new labour machine: ‘Nothing in the world is separate, on its own: everything hangs together (vyazhetsya) and everything merges into one’ (p. 147, also p. 156). People are promised happiness in the name of the new market economy: ‘The division of labour is a powerful force. On it depends every human achievement, all material and spiritual prosperity (blagosostoyanie), that is, all human happiness’ (p. 83, also p. 146). Women are promised equality and it is through work that they are made men’s equals, as only work guarantees the ‘full equality of the sexes’ (pp. 136, 88). ‘In work all are equal’, the writer promises (pp. 313–14). Vernadskaya’s famous manifesto urges women not only to work, but to change their attitude towards labour: Mesdames! stop being children, try standing on your own two feet, live by your intelligence, work with your hands, study, think, labour,

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like men, – and you too will be independent, or at least, less dependent on your tyrants than at present; but most important is to stop being ashamed of work and stop despising it. As long as there is contempt for work, you will always be in a subordinate position, because true freedom for a woman lies in work alone (pp. 114–15). The impoverished noblewoman must learn to take care of herself – this is the emancipatory momentum of the manifesto. The New Woman will no longer be a helpless victim, but become an active agent of the new order. Here, as elsewhere, Vernadskaya stresses the high ethical value of labour and the moral responsibility of the new factory owner. Economic and political conflict is legitimated as a struggle between morality and debasement. Through this struggle the New Woman becomes integrated into the market system as an ethical pivot of the labour ‘machine’. As a mobile and unattached figure she is encouraged to transgress the class barrier separating leisure from work; by her example the gentlewoman will overcome the ethical and psychological obstacles that prevent the gentry from making economic progress. While the gentry woman’s economically vulnerable position makes her a most determined warrior in the battle against class prejudice, a ‘feminized morality’ transforms her into the ethical ideal for the new bourgeois ideology of asexual virtue. Her work ethic serves as a model of self-discipline for gentry men, whose privileges are challenged by the economic and political claims of the lower classes and who are now forced to find work and earn a living (pp. 327–8). The self-regulation of the female body by the New Woman also serves as a sign of the triumph of rational culture over irrational nature, of reason and efficiency over Oblomovian idleness. In this new world, women in general (and not just the New Woman) will make their entry on to the morally ambiguous public stage – for them the respectable ‘public woman’ will be the one who is chaste and modest. What Vernadskaya expects from the New Woman, as wellbehaved missionary of self-regulating middle-class morality, can be traced to the nihilist sartorial discourse of the era: New Women were prepared to sacrifice the fashionable symbols of femininity in exchange for being treated as equal ‘comrades’.36 The nigilistka, a radical incarnation of the New Woman, with her buttoned-up, modest and austere dress, her ‘unfeminine’ cropped hair and her blue-tinted glasses, enters the ‘male’ public arena, inviting her male comrades to ignore her sex, and simultaneously trying to distance herself from other Others, the ‘fallen’ public women.37 Moral distinctions between women mark the


Gender in Russian History and Culture

class distinctions of the future, between the morally rigid and selfdisciplined middle-class woman and the ‘fallen’, demoralized and degraded public woman of the ‘common people’. Vernadskaya actively supports an economic transformation characterized by the emergence of hired, waged labour. As an advocate of the free market system and the bourgeois work ethic, she welcomes the entry into the labour market of the gentry: ‘ . . . the distinction between the middle class and the gentry is constantly diminishing in a remarkable fashion’ (p. 327). This transformation calls for a recodification of class and gender values; Vernadskaya not only takes on the task of redefinition, but also extends the new values into people’s private lives. She demonstrates the connections between the unfamiliar foreign terminology and the everyday, middle-class life of the future, by writing from the culturally legitimate position of a mother. This gives her the voice of authority. Protected by a conventional feminized morality, she not only calls for women’s emancipation, but also for men to behave as ‘morally’ as women. 38 She speaks of political economy as a moral virtue because it is ‘the foundation of moral upbringing’ (p. 309). It is ‘a science which is moral to the highest degree and develops reason and understanding’ (p. 318). As a result, men will look at women not as objects of desire, but as a rational labour force, cheap and morally disciplined. Vernadskaya’s writings name the new values – a middle-class ideology – and integrate them into society; they sustain the tutelage of the common people by the respectable bourgeois couple of the future. The place of the individual in the ‘machinery of mankind’ (p. 18) will be defined by a new constellation of class and gender: in the future the gentry woman – when not representing cheap labour – will marry into the bourgeoisie: her husband will perform the role of the ‘responsible capitalist entrepreneur’ (p. 311). In this modernization process, children will need a new form of education, a new kind of mother. Vernadskaya rises to this challenge.39 Many of her articles deal with children’s education and the new tasks of the dutiful mother. She binds pedagogical principles together into a rational system: a mother’s work is professionalized and made ‘scientific’. She is an expert on the mind and the body; she understands the psychology and development of her children, she is well informed about their new needs and demands. A modern, enlightened mother wages a bitter war with the old nyanya, who represents all the superstitious prejudice that gets in the way of progress (pp. 196, 197, 198). ‘Scientific motherhood’ reveals the ambiguous character of Vernadskaya’s middle-class concept of feminism. The growing differentiation and interdependence of modern society, the

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requirements of an objectified and rationalized economy and the collapse of external mechanisms of control make a far-reaching process of re-education essential. Re-education gradually produces a family that has replaced external institutions of control with internalized moral principles – the construction of a self-regulating mechanism within the child. 40 Education is to be founded on a clear preference: ‘to choose the useful to the pleasurable, the essential to the frivolous, the serious to the vacuous’ (p. 175). The writer calls for coeducation; the paradigm of the new education and upbringing is clear: ‘this is the idea – work and usefulness’ (eta mysl’– truda i pol’zy) (p. 222). The repression and control of inferior emotions in early childhood, as well as the measuring out of love and its denial, become the educational guidelines which help to form the ‘new’ child and instil self-discipline and self-denial in his or her psyche. No leisure time, no ‘vacuous’ poems. Instead, gymnastic training will instruct the child. Above all, girls inflamed by their highly developed imaginations (p. 133) must discipline their desire (pp. 213, 214). A modern type of psyche acquired by the new wo/man can be seen as a form of downward mobility: the former gentry girl becomes a virtuous middle-class wife and mother.41 This process takes place under the authority of the ascetic ideal of male virility as self-containment.42 The ‘penetration of Nature’s secrets’ (the ultra-rationalist slogan of the time) includes the symbolic triumph of the controlling mind over the maternal generative body. 43 For the sake of civilization, the new family will become the focal point of a new psychology, with the ‘scientific mother’ as the principal agent of the new moral–pedagogical virtues. Vernadskaya lists the virtues of the modern ‘middle-class’ upbringing: constancy, integrity, trustworthiness, thrift (regarding both money and desire) and orderliness (postoyanstvo, chestnost’, doverie, berezhlivost’, lyubov’ k poryadku) (p. 310). These pedagogical principles, embodying bourgeois ideology, a psychology of thrift and saving (berezhlivost’, sberegat’, sberegatel’nye kassy, pp. 288, 289, 291) and continence (vozderzhnost’, p. 291), match the new sexual ethic of self-discipline and repressive sublimation. Besides their general usefulness, the establishment of these saving banks . . . is of great additional importance, because [they] have a beneficial influence on the morality of the populace. The possibility of making an extra kopeck without any extra labour trains an individual to be thrifty and therefore abstemious, thus improving his morality (p. 291).


Gender in Russian History and Culture

These are the virtues that go to make up the work ethic: the emotions should flow as money flows, under the strict guidance of efficiency and calculation. The new sexual ethic embodies an ideology of scarcity: what is in short supply becomes expensive, and an important object of trade and negotiation between the classes and sexes. In this trade the self-disciplined wife plays an important role.44 She gains a powerful position as moral arbiter on sexual behaviour. The ethos of selfdiscipline and prudishness may be a means of resistance for the new ‘educated’ woman against sexual harassment in public life, but it also leaves the way open to a femininity split between the decent, respectable wife and the prostitute, supposedly generous with her cheap sexuality. Vernadskaya’s writings integrate the New Woman into the world of the new middle classes, contrasted against the extravagant, indolent and helpless young gentlewoman (khoroshaya devushka, p. 11), on the one hand, and the uneducated, ‘common servant’ (grubaya prisluga, p. 192), on the other. The new ideology of self-controlled and self-mastered female subjectivity serves as a twofold strategy. It allows the young gentlewoman to transcend boundaries and expand her own field of action: from the countryside to the town, from the secure privacy of the family to the ambiguous public sphere of hired labour. But the new rigid moral code is also needed as a reference and a work tool for the new dutiful wifecompanion as she assists her self-disciplined husband. A respectable housewife with a monopoly on her husband’s sexual desire is no longer a threat, a siren seducing the reasonable man away from his utilitarian and regular interests. What is more, she is the superintendent of her husband’s own morality, for it is in her interest as well to keep her husband fit for work and removed from extravagance and dissipation. Vernadskaya’s concept is a contradictory one: the supposed neutrality of gender and knowledge, on which she places her hopes, has complex consequences, offering few attractions as ‘new’ feminine qualities, compared with the traditions of femininity. Although her concept of a ‘feminism of equality’ emerges as a form of resistance, its power is not unlimited.45 The ‘reverse’ discourse46 which Vernadskaya uses, speaks on its own behalf, but in the same vocabulary commonly used to disqualify women (as irrational, emotional, as ‘Nature’). The duality of a male mind and a female body remains, and it is created anew because Vernadskaya, working against the ‘old’ argument that the ‘natural destiny’ (estestvennoe naznachenie, p. 117) of women’s bodies both explains and justifies the ‘unequal’ position of women, is forced to argue the

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opposite by stressing the social construction of gender – education, work and public life. Thus she devalues the Other; while ignoring the asymmetry of sexual difference, Vernadskaya denies the social and psychological power of women’s cultural traditions. To set out on the road to equality only highlights the ‘immasculation of women by men’,47 restraining women’s protests within the symbolic hierarchy which enforces the rational heroism of the male as the highest value of civilization. The dualism of rational equality reproduces its own binary world, resulting in the neutered sexuality of the Apollonian universal/male citizen hero of modern Russia. To consider himself ‘new’ and rational, the hero needs the marginalized Other as its ‘material’ – the feminine, the body, desire. The New Woman, intended to be freed from the ‘old’ role as the object of male desire, is to become sexless, but consequently she becomes a captive of her own body. She has to incorporate morality more profoundly than the male, in order to govern her imagination and compensate for her physical frailty. Vernadskaya preaches work and education to the New Woman, but she also continues the ideology of individually internalized control over sexuality. The New Woman is the guardian of the moral order and social virtue: ‘If you look at history, you will see that here too women’s morality has been in no way inferior to men’s’ (p. 260). The ‘scientifically’ formulated New Woman reaches its cultural limit. Vernadskaya reminds the modern woman of the virtues of female Christian martyrs, who appear to beckon to the upright middleclass wife to join the sisterhood of self-denial: Recall the early Christian era, how then did women conduct themselves? Take the Church calendar, and many of the names of the sacred martyrs themselves will give you the answer; read the lives of several female saints and you will be convinced that the women of that time were in no way inferior to men, either in their steadfastness, or in their conviction. . . . What endurance, what presence of mind, what self-mastery they exhibited at the critical moment! (p. 132). This ‘new’ identity draws on ‘old’ sources. Shifting attention away from the sexualized female body produces only a mirror-image, reflecting the latent fertility of the hourglass figure of the ‘fashionable doll’ (p. 130) – a figure of fun and a symbol of ignorance. The new self-mastery and self-discipline are predetermined by the rules of the ‘old’ grammar


Gender in Russian History and Culture

of a gender-coded culture, anticipating separation from the world of desire. The ‘new’ chaste and dutiful body becomes a symbol of commitment and the practice of self-mastery; the ‘useful body’48 must learn to discipline its own desire. Thus the story of the ‘new’ equality gives us a variant of the ‘old’ story of woman as ‘terrible perfection’, of female moral integrity, of conviction, of absolutes perpetuated by religious ideals and values. 49 New and old collide at the crossroads between the ‘cult of suffering’ (with its special focus on the ‘emblematic quality’ 50 of female sacrifice) and the rational programme of enlightened middleclass ideology. Both marginalize the female body, projecting it outside the mind, which has been cleansed for action. The New Woman uses body language to proclaim her moral superiority by mastering the body. Self-mastery is a sign of success. The ethics and aesthetics of selfmastery, self-transcendence, expertise, and moral power over others – that is to say, husband, children and the ‘common people’ – create an aura of success. The New Woman believes she will gain entry to the privileged male world and learns to value her disciplining of body and desire. However, she is caught in a dilemma of equality, trapped in a double bind. She is in danger of being absorbed by the master narrative of the male hero, by the Apollonian fear of an uncontrollable desire – projected on to the female body – that has governed generations of Russian radical men, from the ‘revolutionary democrats’ of the 1860s to their Bolshevik descendants. 51 The story of the new equality ends even before it has properly begun. The New Woman in Vernadskaya’s writings takes an active role in the civilizing of women and men, children and the lower orders. She is the principal missionary of the new virtues, an agent turned victim, a rebellious modernizer and an accomplice. The dilemma is inscribed in the story of Mariya Vernadskaya herself, a ‘new’ Mary, the superior, purified sister of the other Mary – Mary Magdalene – the negative symbol of a sinful world of desire, 52 which was still considered forbidden fruit for the New Woman, despite her liberated mind.

Notes 1. M. N. Vernadskaya, Sobranie sochinenii (St Petersburg, 1862) p. 116. 2. N. F. Annenskii, quoted in T. A. Bogdanovich, Lyubov’ lyudei shestidesyatykh godov (Leningrad, 1929) p. 6. 3. N. Kotlyarevskii, ‘Ocherki iz istorii obshchestvennogo nastroeniya shestidesyatykh godov’, Vestnik Evropy, no. 11 (1912) p. 275.

Arja Rosenholm 89 4. N. A. Dobrolyubov, Literaturnaya kritika (Moscow, 1961) p. 127; N. V. Shelgunov, L. P. Shelgunova, M. L. Mikhailov, Vospominaniya v dvukh tomakh (Moscow, 1967) vol. 1, p. 191. 5. For example, M. L. Mikhailov presents Blackwell as the ideal contemporary woman. M. L. Mikhailov, Sochineniya, ed. B. P. Koz’min, vol. 3 (Moscow, 1958) p. 425. 6. See, for example, R. Stites, The Women’s Liberation Movement in Russia. Feminism, Nihilism and Bolshevism, 1860–1930 (Princeton, 1978) pp. 35–6; B. A. Engel, Mothers and Daughters. Women of the Intelligentsia in NineteenthCentury Russia (Cambridge, 1983) p. 53; G. A. Tishkin, Zhenskii vopros v Rossii 50–60gg. (Leningrad, 1984) pp. 111–12; G. A. Kryndachevskii, ‘Ideya samoemansipatsii’, in G. A. Tishkin (ed.), Feminizm i rossiiskaya kul’tura. Sbornik trudov (St Petersburg, 1995) pp. 106–12; P. Bykov, ‘Russkie pisatel’nitsy. I: M. N. Vernadskaya’, Drevnyaya i novaya Rossiya, vol. 2, no. 7 (1877) pp. 235–9; E. Likhacheva, Materialy dlya istorii zhenskogo obrazovaniya v Rossii 1086–1880 (St Petersburg, 1890-1901) vol. 2, pp. 463–4; A. Anikin, Russian Thinkers. Essays on Socio-Economic Thought in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (Moscow, 1988) p. 156; J. T. Costlow, ‘Love, Work and the Woman Question in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Women’s Writing’, in T. Clyman and D. Greene (eds), Women Writers in Russian Literature (Westport, Conn., and London, 1994) p. 68; B. Pietrow-Ennker, Russlands ‘neue Menschen’. Die Entwicklung der Frauenbewegung von den Anfängen im 19. Jahrhundert bis zur Oktoberrevolution (Frankfurt, New York, 1999) pp. 209–10; A. Rosenholm, Gendering Awakening. Femininity and the Russian Woman Question of the 1860s (Helsinki, 1999) pp. 263–323. 7. V. V. Stasov, Nadezhda Vasil’evna Stasova (St Petersburg, 1899) p. 52. 8. N. N. Golitsyn, Bibliograficheskii slovar’ russkikh pisatel’nits (St Petersburg, 1889) pp. 47–9; Russkie pisateli 1800–1917. Biograficheskii slovar’, vol. 1 (Moscow, 1989) p. 428; Entsiklopedicheskii slovar’ Brokgauz-Efron, vol. 6 (St Petersburg, 1892) pp. 38–9; Bol’shaya entsiklopediya, vol. 4 (St Petersburg, 1900) p. 676. 9. See, for example, ‘Starina’, ‘Bal’noe plat’e’, ‘Pik-nik’, ‘Golod v Bagdade’, in Vernadskaya, Sobranie. All page references in the text are to this edition. 10. Anikin, Russian Thinkers, p. 156. 11. S. Bovenschen, ‘Über die Frage: Gibt es eine weibliche Ästhetik?’, in G. Dietze (ed.), Die Überwindung der Sprachlosigkeit. Texte aus der neuen Frauenbewegung, 2nd edn (Darmstadt, 1979) pp. 82–115. 12. P. S. Meyer, The Female Imagination: a Literary and Psychological Investigation of Women’s Writing (London, 1976) p. 7. 13. The term ‘domestic realism’ is taken from V. Colby, Yesterday’s Woman: Domestic Realism in the English Novel (Princeton, 1974). 14. See L. McReynolds, The News under Russia’s Old Regime (Princeton, 1991) pp. 6ff. 15. Stasov, Stasova, pp. 118–19, 121. See also the biographies of women such as Trubnikova, Konradi, Engel’gardt and Tsebrikova, in Pietrow-Ennker, Russlands ‘neue Menschen’, pp. 312–31; I. E. Barenbaum, ‘Zhenshchiny v demokraticheskom knizhnom dele 60–70-x godov XIX vek’ in Tishkin (ed.), Feminizm i russkaya kul’tura, pp. 51–9. 16. See the entries for N. D. Khvoshchinskaya and E. Tur in M. Ledkovsky, C. Rosenthal and M. Zirin (eds), A Dictionary of Russian Women Writers




19. 20.




24. 25. 26.

27. 28.

29. 30.

Gender in Russian History and Culture (Westport, Conn., 1994) pp. 286–8, 667–72; Likhacheva, Materialy, vol. 4, pp. 456ff. See G. G. Elizavetina and A. S. Kurilov (eds), Revolyutsionnye demokraty i russkaya literatura XIX veka (Moscow, 1986); C. Moser, Esthetics as Nightmare. Russian Literary Theory, 1855–70 (Princeton, 1989); W.-H. Schmidt, Nihilismus und Nihilisten. Forum Slavicum, vol. 38 (Munich, 1974). I think this is as important as the influence of an egalitarian husband. [Editor’s note: The husband’s significance in Vernadskaya’s professional life may also lie in their joint ownership of a journal, which gave her rare access to political and economic journalism.] T. G. Masaryk, The Spirit of Russia (London, 1955) vol. 2, p. 51. Moser, Esthetics as Nightmare, p. 93; I. P. Viduetskaya, ‘Kritiki-shestidesyatniki i literaturnyi protsess’, in Elizavetina and Kurilov, Revolyutsionnye demokraty, pp. 294–316. G. G. Elizavetina, ‘Deistvennost’ kriticheskoi mysli: N. G. Chernyshevskii, N. A. Dobrolyubov in ideino-khudozhestvennye iskaniya russkoi literatury 1856–1861 godov’, in Elizavetina and Kurilov (eds), Revolyutsionnye demokraty, pp. 143–50. According to N. I. Pirogov, the ideal role for a woman is as mediator, or svyaz’. N. I. Pirogov, ‘Voprosy zhizni’, Morskoi sbornik, vol. 23, no. 9 (July 1858) pp. 559–97. Vernadskaya uses the term srednyi klass (‘middle class’). Vernadskaya, Sobranie, p. 327. On ‘the problematic of the bourgeoisie’ and middle-class identity in Russia, see S. D. Kassow, J. L. West and E. W. Clowes, ‘The Problem of the Middle in Late Imperial Russian Society’, editors’ introduction to Between Tsar and People. Educated Society and the Quest for Public Identity in Late Imperial Russia (Princeton, 1991) pp. 3–14, S. Monas, ‘The Twilit Middle Class of Nineteenth-Century Russia’, in ibid., pp. 28-37, and other essays in the same volume. See ‘O detskom vospitanii’ and ‘O pervonachal’nom obuchenii’, in Vernadskaya, Sobranie, pp. 176–236. G. Deleuze and F. Guattari, Anti-Oedipus. Kapitalismus und Schizophrenie (Frankfurt, 1974) pp. 44ff. T. de Lauretis, Alice Doesn’t. Feminism. Semiotics. Cinema (Bloomington, Ind., 1984) pp. 103–57. See also M. Keränen, Modern Political Science and Gender. A Debate Between the Deaf and the Mute. Jyväskylä Studies in Education, Psychology and Social Research, no. 103 (Jyväskylä, 1993) p. 57. Costlow, ‘Love, Work, and the Woman Question’, p. 68; Engel, Mothers and Daughters, pp. 114, 123, 127. See K. Städtke, ‘Kultur und Zivilisation. Zur Geschichte des Kulturbegriffs in Russland’, in C. Ebert (ed.), Kulturauffassungen in der literarischen Welt Russlands (Berlin, 1995) pp. 18–46, esp. 29ff. Charles Fourier’s concept of ‘evolutionary civilization’, and its significance for gender equality, influenced Russian thinkers, such as Chernyshevskii, from the 1840s onwards. In a single article, ‘Naznachenie zhenshchiny’, Vernadskaya repeats the word ‘useful’ 24 times. Vernadskaya, Sobranie, pp. 116–35. T. Threadgold, ‘Introduction’, in T. Threadgold and A. Cranny-Francis (eds), Feminine, Masculine and Representation (Sydney, 1990) pp. 23–4. See also J. Butler, Gender Trouble (London, 1990).

Arja Rosenholm 91 31. Threadgold, ‘Introduction’, p. 26. 32. See the title page of the journal Rassvet, no. 1 (1859), where the (bodyless) Apollonian spirit is awakening the sleeping girl. 33. For the binary systems of ‘knowing in body’ versus ‘knowing in mind’, see D. Wilshire, ‘The Uses of Myth, Image and the Female Body in Re-visioning Knowledge’, in A. M. Jaggar and S. R. Bordo (eds), Gender/Body/Knowledge. Feminist Reconstructions of Being and Knowledge (New Brunswick and London, 1989) pp. 92–114. 34. R. W. Mathewson, The Positive Hero in Russian Literature, 2nd edn (Stanford, 1975) pp. 46–112, esp. 50ff. and 98ff. 35. The influence of J. S. Mill on Vernadskaya is clear. He also made a strong impression on the radicals Chernyshevskii and Mikhailov. The Enfranchisement of Women, written by Mill and Harriet Taylor, was translated by Mikhailov and published in Sovremennik, no. 11 (1860) pp. 221–50. See also L. M. G. Zerilli, Signifying Women. Culture and Chaos in Rousseau, Burke and Mill (Ithaca and London, 1994) pp. 95–137. 36. N. Kotlyarevskii, ‘Zhenshchina shestidesyatykh godov’, Sbornik pamyati Anny Pavlovny Filosofovoi. Stat’i i materialy, vol. 2 (Petrograd, 1915) p. 79. 37. ‘Public woman’ was the current euphemism for a prostitute. 38. This accords with Igor’ Kon’s assessment of late nineteenth-century feminists’ views: ‘In doing away with the sexual double standard, they called not for women to acquire the sexual freedom of the “stronger sex”, but for elevating men to the higher spiritual plane occupied by women.’ I. S. Kon, The Sexual Revolution in Russia. From the Age of the Czars to Today, transl. by J. Riordan (New York, 1995) p. 30. 39. Vernadskaya was well aware of recent changes in Russian family structure, not least the new intimacy of mothers and children. See J. Tovrov, The Russian Noble Family. Structure and Change (New York and London, 1987) pp. 360ff. 40. B. Heintz and C. Honegger, ‘Zum Strukturwandel weiblicher Widerstandsformen im 19. Jahrhundert’, in B. Heintz and C. Honegger (eds), Listen der Ohnmacht. Zur Sozialgeschichte weiblicher Widerstandsformen (Frankfurt, 1981) p. 28. 41. This movement is noted by N. L. Pushkareva, Chastnaya zhizn’ russkoi zhenshchiny: nevesta, zhena, lyubovnitsa (X-nachalo XIX v.) (Moscow, 1997) p. 255. She argues that change in domestic organization over the centuries would appear first in the privileged classes, filtering down to the lower strata. 42. See also the editors’ introduction, in J. T. Costlow, S. Sandler and J. Vowles (eds), Sexuality and the Body in Russian Culture (Stanford, 1993) pp. 1–38. 43. See also O. Matich, ‘“Rassechenie trupov” i “sryvanie pokrovov” kak kul’turnye metafory’, Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, no. 6 (1993–94) pp. 139–50. 44. See also Heintz and Honegger, ‘Zum Strukturwandel’, esp. pp. 44–8. 45. Threadgold, ‘Introduction’, p. 1; I. Diamond and L. Quinby, Feminism and Foucault. Reflections on Resistance (Boston, 1988) p. xi. 46. M. Foucault, The History of Sexuality, trans. R. Hurly, vol. 1 (New York, 1980) p. 101. 47. J. Fetterley, The Resisting Reader: a Feminist Approach to American Fiction (Bloomington, Ind., 1978) p. xiii.


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48. S. R. Bordo, ‘The Body and the Reproduction of Femininity: a Feminist Appropriation of Foucault’, in Jaggar and Bordo (eds), Gender/Body/Knowledge, p. 33; M. Foucault, Discipline and Punish (New York, 1979) p. 136. 49. See B. Heldt, Terrible Perfection. Women and Russian Literature (Bloomington, Ind., 1987). 50. See D. Rancour-Laferrière, The Slave Soul of Russia. Moral Masochism and the Cult of Suffering (New York and London, 1995) p. 149. 51. See E. Naiman, ‘Historectomies. On the Metaphysics of Reproduction in a Utopian Age’, and E. A. Wood, ‘Prostitution Unbound: Representations of Sexual and Political Anxieties in Postrevolutionary Russia’, in Costlow, Sandler and Vowles (eds), Sexuality and the Body, pp. 255–76 and pp. 124–34 respectively. 52. See, for example, Ogarev’s poem on the romantic writer, Evdokiya Rostopchina, whom he satirizes as Mary Magdalene. N. P. Ogarev, ‘Otstupnitse. (Posvyashcheno gr. R[ostopchine])’, Izbrannye proizvedeniya v dvukh tomakh, vol. 1 (Moscow, 1956) pp. 298–300.

5 ‘Belles-lettres with a Touch of Filth’: On the Contemporary Reception of Leonid Andreev’s Stories, ‘The Abyss’ and ‘In the Fog’ Peter Ulf Møller

The stories The two decades from about 1890 witnessed a remarkable broadening of the range of permissible sexual topics in Russian literature. They mark the beginning of a short spell of extraordinary freedom of expression and sexual tolerance in Russia, before this liberty disappeared again under Soviet rule. Paradoxically, the new openness on sexuality was sparked off by an attempt at moral rearmament, Tolstoi’s story The Kreutzer Sonata (1889), in which the grand old man of Russian letters strongly condemned sex even within marriage. In 1907, the year after the abolition of preliminary censorship, the book market seemed to have been flooded with fiction and popular science on sexual desire, including Artsybashev’s succès de scandale, the novel Sanin. These two works mark the beginning and the high tide, respectively, of sexuality as a theme per se in Russian literature and embrace a period of drastic change in attitudes towards this particular issue in Russian intellectual life. The quest for sexual liberalization that Sanin shared with its immediate contemporaries – works by modernists like Kuzmin, Zinov’evaAnnibal and Sologub – would have been unthinkable in 1889. 1 An opportunity to gain insight into the array of views on ‘the sexual question’ between these two moments – before the abolition of censorship, but after the arrival of Symbolism – is offered by the publication in 1902 of Leonid Andreev’s stories ‘The Abyss’2 and ‘In the Fog’. 3 Like The Kreutzer Sonata and Sanin, these works caused uproar and have passed 93


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into history as events rather than as works of art. When read today, they may seem too much marked by the specific circumstances of their own age. For that very reason, however, and also because they offer lavish documentation of their reception at an exact time, they constitute interesting material for historical study. In ‘The Abyss’, the schoolgirl Zinochka and the student Nemovetskii go out for a romantic walk that turns into a catastrophe. Being completely absorbed in their adolescent infatuation, they lose their way and at sunset find themselves in an unknown, socially foreign landscape peopled by prostitutes and drunks. Here they are assaulted by three thugs who knock Nemovetskii out and rape Zinochka. When the student comes to and finds Zinochka naked and still unconscious, he is overwhelmed with passion and takes advantage of her helplessness. Part of the story’s audacity lies in its overall theme: the brutish sexual passion that lurks in all males, not just thugs but even such nice, educated young men as Nemovetskii. This violent force may, as the story demonstrates, suddenly emerge from its concealment under a veneer of civilization and take possession of the man, transforming him into a beast and driving him to commit a hideous crime. In Andreev’s development of this theme, he came close to depicting female nakedness and the sexual act, probably closer than any published Russian literature up to that time. The most sensational aspect of ‘The Abyss’ may well have been unconscious Zinochka’s naked body and Nemovetskii’s struggle with it. In addition to Andreev’s audacity in breaking sexual taboos, one cannot miss his stylistic boldness. In the most general terms Andreev’s style could be defined as a kind of literary one-upmanship: whenever the reader concludes that things cannot get worse, Andreev goes one step further. This is certainly the principle underlying the composition of ‘The Abyss’, where 17-year-old Zinochka is first raped three times and then once more. The extra shock of the fourth rape has been set up with the use of foreshadowing and false foreshadowing. Zinochka’s attempt, in Chapter 3, to run away from the rapists is foreshadowed at the end of Chapter 1, through the description of the clouds moving in the sky: The dark clouds whirled round, jostling one another, slowly and painfully changing their monstrous outlines and moving forward unwillingly, as if driven by some inexorable, terrible force. Breaking away from the rest, a bright, finely-spun little cloud was hurrying along all by itself, weak and frightened (p. 358).4 At the end of Chapter 3, Nemovetskii, before losing consciousness, hears the last assailant rush off, anxious not to miss his turn. This is the

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beginning of the third sexual assault on Zinochka, but it is also a false foreshadowing of the end of the rape: . . . he [the third rapist] was deeply offended by the fact that even if he had been the first one to have had the idea about the girl, he would now be the last one to get her. He made a short stop, rubbed his knee with his hand, blew his nose with his finger, then started running again, while shouting plaintively: – Me too! Me too! (p. 363). The third rapist is not only wrong about being last, he is also wrong about being the first one to have had ‘the idea about the girl’. Looking back at Chapter 1, it is clear that ‘the idea’ came to Nemovetskii first, in the seemingly innocent form of a wish to chase Zinochka through the woods, and it is he who will be the last to rape her. The assailant’s exclamation ‘Me too, me too’ is echoed in Chapter 4 by Nemovetskii’s repeated ‘It’s me! Me!’ Suggestive repetition and glaring contrast are some of the other hard-hitting devices in Andreev’s style. The taboo-breaking focus on Zinochka’s body in Chapter 4 is achieved not so much by way of description as through repetition. Only one visual detail is given (whiteness), but the word ‘body’ is repeated 14 times over the concluding two pages, together with a limited range of adjectives, some being stereotypically associated with femaleness: ‘female’ (twice), ‘naked’ (three times), ‘stripped’ (twice), ‘speechless’, ‘dumb’, ‘motionless’, ‘unresisting’, ‘yielding’, ‘passive’ (bezvol’noe), ‘tortured’. A number of the adjectives express tactile sensations, thus indicating the form of exploration performed by Nemovetskii: ‘smooth’ (twice), ‘lissom’ (twice), ‘soft’. Among the tactile adjectives a group of three indicate a gradual rise in Zinochka’s temperature, and suggest her participation on some unconscious level, as Nemovetskii’s manipulation proceeds: ‘cold, but not dead’, ‘warmed-up’, ‘hot’. One conspicuous contrast is between ‘purity’ and ‘filth’. While it is still day, and the young couple stroll along, absorbed in their mutual infatuation, the adjective ‘pure’ is repeated five times, to describe love (twice), the couple, nuns and Zinochka (as part of a musical metaphor for her). Just after sunset, as the couple enter a strange landscape full of pits (yamy), the adjective ‘filthy’ (gryaznyi) is used seven times over about one page of the text, to describe the ‘filthy women’ in filthy clothes that the couple now begin to encounter. In one instance, ‘filthy’ is used in a figurative sense, to indicate that Nemovetskii – who is not


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completely inexperienced – recognizes these women to be prostitutes. In their filth, they seem to emerge from the deep holes in the ground which become symbolic outlets for the low, primitive forces that will dominate the rest of the story. Nemovetskii commits his crime after being thrown into a deep ditch. The title of the story is clearly linked with this symbolism. As he finally gives in to his brutish instincts, in the very last line of the story, we are informed that ‘he was swallowed by the black abyss’, a wording which seems to unite the evil orifices, the sexual act, and his loss of sanity in one metaphor. The absence of clear-cut moralizing should also be noted. The taboo on sex in literature would still have been firmly rooted in Russia at the turn of the century, and up to 1905 it was reinforced by the laws and practices of censorship. Breaking it required a moral aim that could justify the focus on an aspect of life not usually discussed in print. In The Kreutzer Sonata Tolstoi openly displayed his moralizing intention through Pozdnyshev’s feeling of remorse over his love life and marriage. To obviate all misunderstanding, Tolstoi also spelt out the message in his equally sensational Epilogue to The Kreutzer Sonata, which contained his new teachings on sexual morality. Andreev went beyond Tolstoi by not letting any clear moral show through. The point of his story may easily be taken to be a pessimistic, reductionist view of human nature: that all men are equally brutish at the core of their being. It is true that the contrasting of ‘purity’ and ‘filth’, and also Nemovetskii’s vain attempts to think of the person Zinochka instead of the naked female body, hints at a more humane set of values in the text. But it appears to be partly contradicted by the contrasting of childish illusion and real life. In human nature, as the author sees it, purity is a frail illusion, filth – the real thing. It may well be indicative of the particular historical moment that Andreev, like Tolstoi, soon felt the need for a moral justification of his taboo-breaker. Nemovetskii’s offence, Andreev explained, should be seen as an attack on prostitution: The thing is, you see, that prostitution is something common, legitimate and to some degree acceptable for even the best-behaved men, young and old. To rape a girl who has been violated is such an outrageous thing to do that it is quite impossible, but to go and buy the very same girl who has also been violated a thousand times and is also helpless and miserable, that is so possible that it is not even outrageous. [ . . . ] But I say that anyone who has bought a woman, if only once, has committed rape, and when he claims that he is not an

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animal, I don’t believe him, but think: here is another animal, and a stupid one.5 The second story, ‘In the Fog’, deals with prostitution in a more explicit way. It describes how the 17-year-old schoolboy Pavel Rybakov, having recently contracted syphilis from a prostitute, despairs over the loss of his ‘purity’ and eventually, in his deep depression, murders another prostitute with a bread knife. A short newspaper notice, in Kur’er (The Courier), about the murder of two prostitutes by a young client, and a previous murder of a prostitute by a schoolboy, seems to have suggested the plot.6 V. N. Chuvakov believes Andreev saw a challenge in the unidentified reporter’s claim that ‘this is not a simple case of murder’, 7 yet it is possible that Andreev himself was the author of the notice. The main theme of the story is the fall of an adolescent, whom Andreev sees as the principal victim, although there is also a female victim: the prostitute whom he stabs at the culmination of the plot. Both the theme of a young man making his sexual debut in the arms of a prostitute, and that of the stabbing to death of a woman in a crime passionel, had recently been played through in The Kreutzer Sonata and must have rung bells with Russian readers. It is obvious, however, that Andreev once again outdid Tolstoi. He elaborated the young man’s transition from innocent adolescent to ‘debauched’ adult (razvratnik) in great detail, demonstrating it to be the total physical and mental pollution of an unprepared youth, who catches syphilis, loses his self-respect and withdraws into complete isolation. Andreev’s close-ups on prostitution and, especially, on venereal disease and the way in which this evil infiltrates into respectable, educated families, must have appeared very daring. Hard-hitting special effects added to the sensational impact of the story. Andreev never tires of repeating the fundamental contrast between ‘purity’ and ‘filth’. Those very nouns and, especially, the corresponding adjectives appear with insistent frequency, as in the conversation between Pavel and his younger sister who tries to convince him that he is ‘clean’ (chisten’kii), while Pavel himself thinks he is ‘filthy’ (gryaznyi) (p. 448). The notion of filth is closely linked with the symbolism of the title. The impenetrable, yellowish autumn fog that weighs down on St Petersburg for the whole duration of the plot, encompasses not only Pavel’s feeling of alienation from his surroundings, his shame, bewilderment and isolation, but also the filth of prostitution and venereal disease, and the lack of openness about these matters. Yellow is not only the colour of the fog, but also of the labels on the medicine which Pavel has bought


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but is not taking, and the registration card of the Russian prostitute at that time was called ‘the yellow card’. ‘In the Fog’ displays a respectable moralizing intention on the part of the author more clearly than does ‘The Abyss’. An important scene is the unsuccessful attempt of Pavel’s father to have a frank conversation with his son about the problems troubling him. The scene seems to imply a well-meant suggestion from the author: that parents ought to tell their adolescent children about sex. Andreev might also be implying that there should be more openness and less censorship in literature and in the press. To judge by the contemporary reception of his two stories, his suggestion was not ignored.

The reception Leonid Andreev’s first volume of short stories appeared in late 1901. Before that, as he recalled in 1910, he had received very little critical attention.8 Reviews, mostly favourable, began to appear in the winter of 1901–2. Critics recognized Andreev as a young talent who might, or might not, develop into an interesting writer.9 But it was the two new stories from 1902 that brought literary fame and made him a public figure about whom most educated Russians had formed an opinion. Letters and memoirs show that ‘The Abyss’ was being widely read and discussed in private as soon as it came out, though little appeared in print till after the summer of 1902.10 The publication of the story in a small Moscow newspaper, plus the fact that Andreev was still a fairly unknown quantity, may account for this. But by the summer the story had become readily available in the expanded second edition of Andreev’s short stories. 11 One other Moscow newspaper, Russkie vedomosti (The Russian Gazette) did comment immediately on ‘The Abyss’, but without giving title or author. The critic, I. I. Ignatov, referred disparagingly to Andreev as ‘some young writer’ and charged him with having expressed the ‘standard opinion on the unfathomable baseness of human nature’.12 Andreev was also found guilty of a decadent passion for the improbable, and of striving for originality at any cost. It was Ignatov’s reaction that prompted Andreev’s explanation of his motives – his criticism of the smug acceptance of prostitution by ‘civilized men’ (kul’turnye lyudi).13 Tolstoi, who had launched the debate on ‘the sexual question’ in Russian literature, his wife, Countess Sof’ya Tolstaya, and their daughter, Aleksandra L’vovna Tolstaya, were all to play prominent roles in the Andreev affair. Tolstoi started off. In the summer of 1902, the fiftieth

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anniversary of his literary debut, he gave an interview to F. G. Muskablit, a St Petersburg reporter. As a point of topical interest, Muskablit asked for Tolstoi’s opinion of Andreev and learned that the great writer disliked young Andreev’s writings and was particularly disgusted by ‘The Abyss’: This is horrible! . . . Such filth . . . Such filth . . . To think that a young man, in love with the girl and finding her in such a state, and himself all beaten up, would actually do such a contemptible thing! . . . Ugh! . . And what is the point of writing all this? . . . Why? . . . 14 One might have expected Tolstoi to show some appreciation for Andreev’s critical view of prostitution. After all, his own novel Resurrection had quite recently exposed the guilt of the cultured man with regard to prostitution. But he seems to have been unable to find any moral in the story, and Andreev’s interpretation had evidently not occurred to him. Andreev was none too happy about this devastating mini-review and remarked, in a letter to the critic Izmailov, that it was not fair: ‘“The Abyss” is actually a genuine, albeit illegitimate daughter of his “Kreutzer Sonata”.’15 Two reviews of the second edition of Andreev’s stories in the autumn of 1902, by Podarskii and Kranikhfel’d, were more generous. Kranikhfel’d devoted a page to ‘The Abyss’ and concluded that Andreev, in spite of the ‘immorality of the plot’ had handled the ticklish theme ‘with impeccable purity and artistic delicacy’. The critic was, however, anxious about Andreev’s overall inclination to let instinct prevail over intellect. 16 The public debate gathered considerable momentum after the publication of ‘In the Fog’ at the end of 1902, when ‘The Abyss’ was subjected to renewed scrutiny in the press. 17 The new year opened with a large, positive review of ‘In the Fog’ in the journal Mir bozhii (God’s World). The critic, A. I. Bogdanovich, compared Andreev’s story with the translated German best-seller Odna za mnogikh (One Woman on Behalf of Many), written under the pen-name Vera.18 Both dealt with ‘sexual ethics’, but from very different positions. Vera’s was a development of the Norwegian writer Bjørnson’s ‘glove morality’, demanding chastity of men as well as women before marriage.19 In its Teutonic version, the heroine refuses to forgive her fiancé when she learns that he has lost his virginity some time ago and asks if he would ever consider marrying a prostitute. Unable to reconcile her love and her disgust for the young man, she commits suicide, as a sacrifice on behalf of the many women who find themselves in the same situation.


Gender in Russian History and Culture

In the critic’s view, Andreev’s position compared favourably with Vera’s rigid demand for premarital chastity. Her insistence on the same morals for men and women was progressive in the context of ‘German bourgeois society’. But the great Russian writers were above bourgeois morality, and had already answered Vera’s question in the affirmative, by their empathic portrayal of the prostitutes Sonya Marmeladova and Katyusha Maslova. Andreev was following in their footsteps by his sympathetic understanding of adolescents’ sexual problems and his humane call for openness. The critic was unable to understand how anyone could regard Pavel Rybakov as a ‘pathological case, a decadent and a maniac’. It was a repetition of the debate on The Kreutzer Sonata, when many critics branded Pozdnyshev as a psychopath and sex maniac. ‘Pavel Rybakov is our son, typical of the vast majority, and his sad story with its tragic ending is an eminent illustration of our manners.’ It is ‘a threat and a warning’ to all parents. Andreev does not revel in sordid details, but only points out the inescapable ‘truth of life’. But since most people are afraid of the truth and prefer to walk ‘in the fog’, ‘the artist deserves the highest degree of gratitude for his boldness’. Bogdanovich’s review was quoted extensively and sympathetically by the critic V. Mirskii, in the journal that had published ‘In the Fog’.20 But the fact that our youth gets acquainted with prostitution ‘too early’ [sic] should not be regarded as the story’s sole lesson. Once again the horrible loneliness of modern man has proven to be a main concern of Andreev’s. Mirskii regretted that even today some people would brand a story as immoral if they saw the word ‘prostitute’ in it. But he did suggest, possibly in an attempt to soften the impression made by the concluding scene, that the murder of the girl is symbolic. Could it be ‘that Pavel is not stabbing the prostitute Dasha, but debauchery as such?’ A diametrically opposed opinion of Andreev was not long in coming, in the form of an insulting and abusive review in the large conservative newspaper, Novoe Vremya (New Times), by its leading literary critic, Viktor Burenin.21 The critic claimed to have been receiving an increasing number of requests from readers to crack down on the ‘lecherous tomcats’ (bludlivye koty) who were invading the pages of the literary journals. But this was no easy task, since literary tomcats were speculating in scandal and would take an indignant review as a sign of success. Besides, a growing part of the reading public ‘was not sufficiently fastidious’ (ne usvoila sebe nadlezhashchei chistoplotnosti) and preferred ‘belles-lettres “with a touch of filth”’ (belletristiku ‘s gryaztsoi’). Andreev’s ‘In the Fog’ was a ‘semi-pornographic little story in the same taste as his notorious “The Abyss”’. Andreev himself was an ‘erotomaniac’, to judge by the

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nature of his talent, and so were the heroes of his two stories. To cure his talent and his fantasies, he needed ‘not critical, but clinical treatment’. Burenin’s article also contained a heavy-handed attack on the critic Bogdanovich who was ridiculed for ‘recognizing erotomanic schoolboys who murder prostitutes in meaningless brawls, as our sons, typical of the vast majority’. At this point, Countess Sof’ya Andreevna Tolstaya, the wife of the writer, entered the debate. Her letter to the editor of Novoe Vremya praised ‘Mr. Burenin’s wonderful article’ for arousing the wish ‘to rally round the flag of artistic purity and moral strength in contemporary belles-lettres’. 22 All Russia should protest against ‘the filth’ and ‘neither read, nor praise, nor buy the works of these Mr. Andreevs’. Unlike Gor’kii, who feels pity when describing evil and suffering, Andreev clearly ‘wallows in the low manifestations of depraved human life’ and infects the uneducated public with his love of vice. She called her letter ‘a cry from the heart’ (krik serdtsa). Why must the readers’ eyes be directed towards this side of life only, asked the Countess and pointed to her husband’s War and Peace for examples of the wide range of uplifting themes that the gifted artist might elaborate on. She wanted to shout a fervent warning to the whole world to help the unfortunate young people who had had their wings clipped by Andreev and his ilk – ‘the wings given to all, that they may rise to the understanding of spiritual light, beauty, goodness and . . . God’. No other contribution to the discussion did so much to bring Andreev’s name on everybody’s lips. It was immediately reprinted, or quoted extensively, in several other newspapers, 23 and commented on in numerous letters to the editors and articles by professional critics. Coming from the wife of Tolstoi, it carried some of the spiritual authority of the great writer himself, and if any reader of Novoe Vremya should have missed this point, it was spelt out a few days later by a regular contributor to the newspaper, the controversial advocate of the holiness of sex and family, Vasilii Rozanov.24 He called Countess Tolstaya ‘the model patrician woman of our family life’ and claimed that she represented ‘the voice of the Russian woman’, being undoubtedly backed by ‘thousands and thousands of mothers’. He had heard many women express similar disgust at the way in which Andreev was plunging his hands in the putrid muck and then holding them up to the nose of his reader. What was wrong with Andreev, in Rozanov’s eyes, was not that he dealt with ‘sex’ (pol) in his stories, but his coarseness in dealing with this subject. His treatment of sex could be compared to chopping icons


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for firewood. Like an ascetic monk he had no understanding and respect for sex. Rozanov imagined Andreev thinking: ‘Sex is evil and I shall portray it as evil, and the more disgusting my picture comes out, the truer and the more instructive it will be.’ But according to Rozanov, nature itself is innocent. Filth is not inherent in nature but in the minds of some people. Unfortunately, many writers have been spreading a completely distorted image of ‘that wondrous loom designed by nature for weaving the human family’. Impure literature has been eagerly snapped up by a public comprising an increasing number of people having no family. But the solution is not to have more censorship. Countess Tolstaya’s voice has been a timely reminder that ‘society itself must be on guard for what it regards as holy’. One can be fairly sure that this is not precisely what the Countess had in mind. 25 But it reflects the new, anti-ascetic view of sex that had been gaining ground over the last decade among the Russian literary avant-garde, thanks to the efforts of Rozanov himself, Merezhkovskii, Gippius, Sologub and others. More voices from this camp were soon to be heard in the debate. Zinaida Gippius used a similar metaphor to Rozanov’s to picture Andreev at work. 26 ‘It is as if he is sitting by the roadside after an autumn downpour, slowly scooping up the mud with his hand, pressing it through his fingers, and admiring the way it slurps and dribbles down.’ This is inverted aestheticism, but equally pure. Readers who believe they like Andreev for his fervent moral and social indignation, are warned by Gippius that there is nothing of the kind in his work. What really fascinates them, as it does Andreev, is the slurping of the mud. ‘Nothing can be brought to greater sanctity than sex’, explained Gippius, stating a current symbolist creed, but then again ‘nothing can be made more horribly filthy than sex’. How long, she wondered, will Andreev go on throwing his God-given talent in the dirt? Fedor Sologub followed the symbolist mainstream in his negative view of Andreev, but Countess Tolstaya and especially Tolstoi had to bear the brunt of his criticism. 27 He thought it unfair of Tolstaya to attack a young writer who was obviously one of Tolstoi’s own literary offspring. Sologub points to a line running directly from Tolstoi through Chekhov and Gor’kii down to Andreev. These writers are basically writing in the same manner: they let the reader be guided by the vigilant author who will use ‘small, but charming insinuations’ to convince him of anything they like. They take him into a world that is not real, but fascinating and lifelike. This world, however, is subject to ‘an evil magic’. Everything in it is being reassessed: ‘what is great seems

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small, what is holy seems illusory, what is insignificant, trivial and depraved takes on impressive dimensions and importance’. The slaves have rebelled, and ‘any greatness has been relentlessly and irrefutably unmasked’. Tolstoi had unleashed a wave of iconoclasm which, Sologub suggested, was the source of the literary excesses that Tolstoi’s own wife had deplored. A. Skabichevskii, the literary critic of the Petersburg newspaper Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta (News and Stock Exchange Daily), was equally convinced of the Tolstoian heritage in Andreev, but as an established ‘progressive’ intellectual he did not share Sologub’s pessimism about the destructive perspectives of critical realism. In two articles, he expressed surprise and regret that the Countess had joined forces with the notorious Burenin in attacking Andreev and portraying him ‘as something of a Beelzebub, thirsting to corrupt Russian youth in its entirety with his indecent scribbling’. 28 What had further surprised the critic was that the Countess, in referring to her husband’s œuvre, seemed to have forgotten that it included several works that might be abhorred for the very same reasons as Andreev’s stories. ‘There can only be one explanation: the Countess has probably not read a single one of her husband’s works after “War and Peace”’.29 Playing a trump, he claimed that Andreev’s ‘In the Fog’ was nothing but an illustration of the passage in The Kreutzer Sonata where young Pozdnyshev loses his virginity. Skabichevskii’s second article was mainly devoted to the problems of sex education, or rather, the lack of it even in cultured (intelligentnye) families. The critic found it ridiculous to suppose that Andreev had written his story for the didactic purpose of impressing on inexperienced boys how dangerous it was to visit ‘certain houses’. But it so happened that the story had exposed a ‘terrible wound’ in the family life of our society. Even in good homes children were growing up as orphans. Reaching the age of puberty, they were unable to confide in their parents as friends. Some five months later it turned out that Tolstoi himself had quite a high opinion of Andreev’s ‘In the Fog’. In July 1903 the famous writer gave an interview to the Odessa reporter E. Solov’ev-Andreevich. 30 Assuming for a while the role of the interviewer, Tolstoi asked the journalist what he had been doing recently. Solov’ev-Andreevich said that he had answered a lot of letters to the editor about ‘In the Fog’. When Tolstoi asked what kind of letters those might be, he explained that they were ‘almost the same as the one published by Sof’ya Andreevna in Novoe Vremya’, and that he had tried his best to refute


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them. Tolstoi replied, in open defiance of his wife: ‘Now that was a very worthwhile thing to do. Andreev, or someone else, would in any case have had to focus on this early lechery and on the disgusting outlet that it finds for itself. Andreev has done it somewhat coarsely, but very well on the whole.’ As this interview shows, the discussion of Andreev was by no means limited to the capital, but spread rapidly throughout the provinces. In Kiev, the poet and critic Maksimilian Voloshin concluded his light commentary in support of the Countess with some satirical verse on the stir created by her letter. 31 In Samara, Tolstoi’s daughter Aleksandra gave a lecture on 19 May 1903 to a local pedagogical circle on the topic ‘What does Andreev’s story “In the Fog” tell the parental heart?’ and published it in the progressive journal Obrazovanie (Education).32 In distant Askhabad, Andreev was vigorously defended against the accusations of Burenin and Countess Tolstaya by a critic under the pen-name ‘Foreigner’ (Chuzhestranets).33 In Kharkov, however, the Countess found an equally strong supporter in a certain Professor N. F. Sumtsov who deplored the fact that anyone would print Andreev’s ‘cruel stories’.34 A new feature of the Andreev affair, by comparison with the earlier debate on The Kreutzer Sonata, was the large number of ‘letters to the editor’ that appeared in print. While testifying to the broad interest aroused by Andreev’s stories, it is also a clear indication of the growing readership of newspapers. Sof’ya Tolstaya’s contribution, itself a letter to the editor, seems to have released a torrent of letters, some of which were to appear in the metropolitan or provincial press.35 In St Petersburg, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta printed 14 selected letters over the period from 11 to 22 February 1903, without editorial comments. Sologub’s contribution (see above) was one of them. Ten came from men, two from women; in two cases the correspondent’s sex is unknown. Two correspondents were male students from the University of St Petersburg; the others state neither age nor occupation. One letter appeared under the broadly representative pen-name ‘A Russian Woman’ [Russkaya zhenshchina]. A clear majority of the correspondents (including the two women and the two students) spoke up against the Countess, in defence of Andreev and of openness on the sexual question, in the same vein as the the newspaper’s literary critic, Skabichevskii. Only one letter, by Kroneberg, expressed sympathy for Countess Tolstaya’s view, but six (including the one from Sologub) were critical of Andreev’s works. All in all, the letters seem to have been selected not only to give an impression of different opinions, but also to support, by a plurality of voices, the ‘liberal’ position of the top critic.

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In Moscow, Russkie vedomosti printed excerpts from letters to the editor, stringing them together with an anonymous editorial commentary, in three instalments.36 The first instalment opened with a synopsis of Novoe vremya’s attack on Andreev, including quotations from Burenin and Countess Tolstaya, and went on to quote a number of letters, primarily from women who objected to Tolstaya and defended Andreev. The second instalment revealed that the editors had also been receiving responses critical of Andreev, and quoted four of them, all by men. The third instalment of letters was held together by the commentator’s attempt to discuss solutions to the ‘sexual problem’, here understood as the question of what to do about male sexuality when it makes its inconveniently early appearance. The three instalments were published almost complete in a book on the Andreev debate, passed by the censorship on 27 June 1903. 37 Although the author, N. Denisyuk, set out to prove that Andreev’s pessimistic world-view was symptomatic of modern degenerates, and that his stories were harmful to young readers and basically pornographic, he was evidently not blind to the market value of the debate as such.38 Some letters to the editor purported to be written by characters from ‘The Abyss’ who wished to give their personal version of what happened on the night of the rape. These variations on Andreev’s story are reminiscent of the ‘counter-literature’ that appeared after the publication of Tolstoi’s The Kreutzer Sonata. In one, published in Kur’er, the ‘student Nemovetskii’ protested against the ending of Andreev’s story: he had never raped Zinochka, but was guilty of leaving her in distress, having conceived a physical loathing for her. The letter’s author was Andreev himself. 39 His version was soon disputed by ‘Zinochka’, in a letter to Odesskie novosti (Odessa News). Being now Mrs Nemovetskaya, she claimed that the letter in Kur’er was a forgery. The real Nemovetskii ‘forgave me for something that not every man will forgive a woman – my misfortune’. And he certainly did not rape her. On the contrary, ‘my lips sought his lips’ and ‘he became my husband’. 40 Finally, a letter from the ‘three rapists’ was published in Zhitomir, in the newspaper Volyn’. They admitted their crime, but claimed that the rape might not have taken place, if only the student or the schoolgirl had said ‘as much as one kind word’ (khot’ odno chelovecheskoe slovo) to them.41 The discussion flared up again after the appearance of M. Nevedomskii’s essay ‘On Contemporary Art’.42 In an ambitious attempt to pinpoint the novelty of Andreev’s texts, the critic noted the ‘impressionist’ manner of the descriptions, aiming at subjective experience rather than likeness,


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the close connection between plot and setting, the carefully elaborated language. These were all positive artistic qualities, but there were also several weaknesses: Andreev’s ‘straining after effect’ (effektnichanie), his lack of convincing representation of real life, the abstract ‘symbolist’ quality of many of his stories that stemmed from the author’s wish to raise broad philosophical problems, his pessimistic outlook and his focus on the loneliness of the human condition. In Nevedomskii’s view, ‘The Abyss’ embodied many of these shortcomings. It was an illustration of a concept inspired by Nietzsche: the weakness of the intellect in comparison with ‘the dark, unconscious forces of our organism’. ‘In the Fog’ was written in a far more realistic vein and was one of Andreev’s best works. Although its sanguinary ending might not be called for, the story was pervaded with ‘serious thought’ and had nothing to do with pornography, as Burenin had claimed.43 In conclusion, Nevedomskii emphasized that there was no explicit moralizing in Andreev’s works, and called for the eradication from modern art of this most traditional and tiresome ingredient of Russian literature. This prompted an angry reply from A. Basargin of the conservative Moskovskie vedomosti (Moscow Gazette), who argued that attacking morality in literature was tantamount to propagating fashionable ‘amoralism’. From this point of view even pornographers might be entitled to literary recognition. The essence of the modern trend represented by Andreev was ‘the apotheosis of the animal in the human being’, as clearly demonstrated by ‘The Abyss’. It was a most alarming sign of the times, and an indication of how deep the taste of the reading public had sunk. 44 Months after the literary debate had died down, a doctor, M. P. Manasein, added a medical commentary on ‘In the Fog’. 45 Manasein found that Andreev had scared his young hero (as well as his readers) for no good reason. Judging by the yellow labels on his medicine bottles, Pavel was suffering from gonorrhoea, which was not fatal. But even if it had been syphilis, there was no reason to panic: this disease could also normally be cured, if treated properly. Andreev’s story supported the harmful Doomsday visions of much pseudo-scientific literature on the sexual question. It also propagated the unfounded distinction between ‘filthy’ and ‘clean’ diseases. According to Manasein, so-called ‘non-sexual’ (vnepolovoi) syphilis was the most common form of syphilis in Russia. 46 Manasein’s medical consolation was rejected by the literary reviewer, E. V. Anichkov, as a self-delusion, as medical treatment was not an option for the majority of the 5 million Russians infected with syphilis proper. Andreev’s forceful and unsparing artistic representation,

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so characteristic of a new trend in literature, had produced a much needed alertness to a horrible social problem, Anichkov argued.47 By 1904 the discussion had begun to appear as a more or less completed chain of events, and in January the writer and critic A. V. Amfiteatrov offered his rather patronizing observations on the incident to the readers of Sankt-Peterburgskie vedomosti (St Petersburg Gazette).48 Amfiteatrov did not think much of Andreev’s two stories. Their author was neither a pornographer, nor a moralist, he was just an ordinary young man troubled by the restlessness of his blood. In his irritation and shame he had exposed the phantoms sent to him by his ‘boiling blood’ and punished them with exaggerated verbal cruelty. ‘Voltaire would have laughed at him, Rousseau would have understood, Dostoevskii would have shaken his hand with sympathy.’ Amfiteatrov also refused to find the two stories more shocking and audacious than so many other works in Russian literature. The event had been created by a public whose thoughts were too occupied with the mysteries of sexual life, possibly because of all the restrictions on sex in real life, and because of all the ascetic trends rushing in ‘from Sweden, Norway and Yasnaya Polyana’. Perhaps ‘purity of the body was acquired at the cost of an unhealthy pollution of the fantasy’. To punish Andreev would be just as unfair as to punish a gladiator for the cruel taste of his decadent Roman spectators. Besides, any effort such as Countess Tolstaya’s to limit freedom of speech was reactionary and usually counterproductive.

Conclusion Summing up, it should be possible to pinpoint a number of main themes in the discussion, corresponding to the positions taken by certain ideological camps. Instead of adopting the simple binary opposition between liberal (or progressive) and conservative, often used in Soviet Russian studies of pre-revolutionary ideological matters, and in order to trace the historical continuity and change in thought patterns, I will take as a starting point the positions adopted by the five camps that emerged in the debate on Tolstoi’s The Kreutzer Sonata,49 adjusting the picture to the later period. This approach is particularly justified by the fact that the ‘Sonata affair’ was itself a recurring theme in the debate on Andreev’s stories, partly because of Countess Tolstaya’s letter. There was a general awareness that the two events were similar. The Tolstoian position on sexual morality, as represented in The Kreutzer Sonata (1889) and explicated in Epilogue to the Kreutzer Sonata (1890), provoked published responses principally in three other camps,


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each with its established concepts and canonical texts on the sexual question: the Russian Orthodox Church, the spokesmen of the 1860s generation, and the supporters of the relatively new ‘glove morality’. 50 During the 1890s Russian Symbolism was to emerge as a fifth camp with its own stand on the matter. Tolstoi’s own asceticism was hardly represented as a position in its own right during the Andreev affair. By now most people probably regarded his view on sexual morality as too extreme to be taken literally. But Tolstoi himself, as a writer and as a spiritual authority, was very much present in the debate. His opinion of Andreev was clearly of great interest to the public. But more than this, he was repeatedly referred to as the pioneer of openness on sex and a taboo-breaker, who had recently been attacked in much the same way as Andreev. Many participants in the discussion, professionals as well as laymen, made this piquant observation when the Countess launched her attack on Andreev. Tolstoi was also referred to as a model Russian writer with a clear moral purpose, and Andreev was compared to him, benevolently or critically. The comparison with Tolstoi, in a broad sense, was a main theme in the discussion. The emergent talent of Andreev must have looked considerably less threatening to Orthodoxy than did the preaching of the famous Tolstoi, and the Church does not seem to have played any significant role in the Andreev affair. The priest Mikhail did use ‘In the Fog’ as a pretext for discussing how to preserve premarital chastity in the young – men and women – but he can hardly be considered an official representative of the Church, as in 1908 he was made an Old Believer archbishop. Stressing the significance of women’s protests against men’s debauchery, Mikhail’s views coincided to a considerable extent with those of ‘glove morality’.51 But the Symbolist literary avant-garde, including its neo-religious wing, formed its own camp, represented by Rozanov, Gippius and Sologub. They took a clear stand against Andreev, but for a different reason from that of the majority of his opponents. They found his stories ‘filthy’, not because he was breaking taboos, but because he was defaming sex. ‘Filth’, as a metaphor for pornography or excessive ‘naturalism’, was, of course, another main theme in the discussion. Burenin – the critic who coined the phrase ‘belles-lettres “with a touch of filth”’ – had been one of the advocates of ‘glove morality’ at the time of the debate on The Kreutzer Sonata, and his supporter, Countess Tolstaya, had also taken an interest in it. 52 This camp now united a broad range of moralists alarmed by venereal disease, prostitution, degeneration and other grim

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companions of moral laxity, so vividly described by recent popular science. They could see only one real solution to this complex of problems: that young men, like young women, should abstain from sex until marriage. Opinions as to the possible degree of success of the remedy differed within the camp, but from this general point of view it was logical to be against anything that might excite the senses, including literary representations of sex – adolescents should be ‘clean’ and have their thoughts elsewhere. Andreev himself and his young male characters were seen as deviants, neurasthenics and erotomaniacs. The author was accused of speculating in the lowest instincts of the reading public and of ‘regaling himself’ on images of filth (the verb smakovat’ was frequently used). The counter-argument to all the ‘cries from the heart’ about ‘filth’, and to the branding of Andreev as a pornographer, was ‘openness’, another main theme in the debate. It was voiced by a large, progressive camp that comprised some of the surviving vlastiteli dum, that is, the gurus of the radical youth in the 1860s and 1870s, such as the liberal critic Skabichevskii, another veteran of the Sonata debate. The camp also included several younger critics, metropolitan as well as provincial, and a great many authors of letters to the editor. They approved of Andreev’s honesty and courage, regarding him as a moralist who had brought attention to grave social problems long neglected under a conspiracy of silence. They saw his heroes as typical representatives of modern youth, ‘our own sons’. Andreev’s novelty was also a main theme in the debate. The young writer was generally seen as representing a new literary trend, a darker and crueler kind of realism, taking after Gor’kii, or some other modern tendency, or adopting European models (Zola, Maupassant and Nietzsche were often mentioned). The question of Andreev’s novelty was discussed from a stylistic as well as a moral point of view and divided the camps. In the avant-garde camp Gippius saw his talent as purely aesthetic, whereas Sologub placed him within an arid Tolstoian tradition. Many of Andreev’s supporters found that his shocking effects were justified by the seriousness of the questions he wanted to call attention to. But there were also protests in this camp against his stylistic one-upmanship. Nevedomskii recognized Andreev’s novelty as being within the mainstream of modern art, and hinted that there was something backward about the strong moralist bend of the Russian literary tradition; nevertheless, he made reservations about the sensationalism of ‘Bezdna’ and ‘In the Fog’. Another supporter of Andreev, P. Ivanov, also noted the backwardness of Russian literature as compared


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to modern European literature that derived its distinctive character from life in the restless modern city. In his view Andreev was both a writer of the city and a moralist, and his two stories were passionate protests against the moral decay that was part of urban modernity. Andreev’s moralism was a lot better than the amoralism of the new Russian ‘decadents’, but his critics were too provincial to understand this.53 Compared with the Sonata debate, the Andreev affair is still clearly focused on the moral function traditionally attributed to Russian literature: Andreev’s audacious representation of sex is praised or condemned mainly on the basis of belief or disbelief in an underlying moral purpose. The protest against the traditional moral function of literature, originally voiced by the Symbolist avant-garde in the early 1890s, had gained broader appeal and is probably the most distinctive new feature in the Andreev debate. The emphasis on ‘openness’ and, in a broader sense, freedom of expression, also seems stronger than before. The abolition of censorship and the high tide of sex in Russian literature were imminent.

Chronological survey of the published debate on ‘The Abyss’ and ‘In the Fog’, January 1902–May 1904 Articles in monthly journals are placed at the beginning of the month. Books are registered by the date of the imprimatur, when possible. All titles except those preceded by an asterisk have been verified. V. Mirskii [E. A. Solov’ev], ‘Nasha literatura’, Zhurnal dlya vsekh, no. 1 (1902) pp. 99–108. Leonid Andreev, ‘Bezdna’, Kur’er, 10 January 1902, pp. 2–3. I. [I. I. Ignatov] ‘Literaturnye novosti’, Russkie vedomosti, 17 January 1902, p. 3. V. Burenin, ‘Kriticheskie ocherki. Razgovor s razocharovannym. Razgovor chetvertyi’, Novoe vremya, 25 January 1902, p. 2. Dzhems Linch [L. Andreev], ‘Moskva. Melochi zhizni’, Kur’er, 27 January 1902, p. 2. A. Skabichevskii, ‘Novyi talant. Leonid Andreev – Rasskazy. SPb. 1901’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 29 January 1902, p. 2. M. Protopopov, ‘Molodye vskhody (L. Andreev. Rasskazy, SPb. 1901)’, Russkaya mysl’, no. 3, pt 2 (1902) pp. 187–202. KhKhKh [in Russian script XXX],’Malen’kaya khronika’, Kur’er, 21 June 1902, p. 3. V. G. Podarskii [N. S. Rusanov], ‘Nasha tekushchaya zhizn’’, Russkoe bogatstvo, no. 9, pt 2 (1902) pp. 133–43. M-s [F.G. Muskablit], ‘V Yasnoi Polyane. Beseda s L. N. Tolstym’, Birzhevye vedomosti, 2nd edn, 1 September 1902, pp. 1–2. V. Kranikhfel’d, ‘Zhurnal’nye zametki. L. Andreev i ego kritiki’, Obrazovanie, no. 10, pt 3 (1902) pp. 47–69. L. Andreev, ‘V tumane’, Zhurnal dlya vsekh, no. 12 (1902) pp. 1411–50.

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E. Zhurakovskii, Simptomy literaturnoi evolyutsii (Moscow, 1903) (esp. pp. 13–50). M. K., Leonid Andreev. S biografiei i portretom Leonida Andreeva (Aforizmy, paradoksy i izbrannye mysli russkikh pisatelei, no. 5) (Moscow, 1903). A. B. [A. I. Bogdanovich], ‘Kriticheskie zametki’, Mir bozhii, no. 1, pt 2 (1903) pp. 1–14. *A. Izmailov, ‘Rasskaz L. Andreeva “V tumane”’, Birzhevye vedomosti, 6 January 1903. Ch. Vetrinskii, ‘Zametki o tekushchei literature’, Samarskaya gazeta, 10 January 1903, p. 2. V. Burenin, ‘Kriticheskie ocherki’, Novoe vremya, 31 January 1903, p. 2. A. Krainii [Z. N. Gippius], ‘Poslednyaya belletristika. (‘V tumane’)’, Novyi put’, no. 2 (1903) pp. 186–7. V. Mirskii [E. A. Solov’ev], ‘Nasha literatura’, Zhurnal dlya vsekh, no. 2 (1903) pp. 227–36. *V. Shchigrov, ‘Kriticheskie etyudy’, Krymskii kur’er, 2, 4, 6 February 1903. *A. Uman’skii, ‘Ob uzhasakh zhizni’, Krymskii kur’er, 4 February 1903. S. A. Tolstaya, ‘Pis’mo v redaktsiyu’, Novoe vremya, 7 February 1903, p. 4. [S. A. Tolstaya] ‘Pis’mo grafini Tolstoi’, Yuzhnyi krai, 9 February 1903, p. 3. *I. Gofshtetter, ‘Moral’ i svoboda tvorchestva’, Slovo, 9 February 1903. Boris Paletskii, ‘Pis’ma v redaktsiyu. II’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 11 February 1903, p. 2. V. Rozanov, ‘O pis’me gr. S. A. Tolstoi’, Novoe vremya, 11 February 1903, p. 3. N. F. Sumtsov, ‘Po povodu pis’ma grafini S.A. Tolstoi’, Yuzhnyi krai, 11 February 1903, pp. 2–3. Russkaya zhenshchina, ‘Pis’ma v redaktsiyu. III’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 13 February 1903, p. 2. Debyutant, ‘Upadochniki’, Peterburgskaya gazeta, 14 February 1903, p. 2. Nikolai Kroneberg, ‘“V tumane”. (Golosa iz publiki). I’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 14 February 1903, p. 2. F. Sologub, ‘“V tumane” (Golosa iz publiki). II’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 14 February 1903, p. 2. K. T., ‘“V tumane” (Golosa iz publiki). I’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 15 February 1903, p. 2. K. Emden, ‘“V tumane” (Golosa iz publiki). II’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 15 February 1903, p. 2. I. Ol’gin, ‘“V tumane” (Golosa iz publiki)’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 16 February 1903, p. 2. M. Voloshin, ‘Naletu’, Kievskaya gazeta, 17 February 1903, p. 2. A. Skabichevskii, ‘Molodye zhertvy legkosti nashikh nravov. ‘V tumane’ – L. Andreeva (Zhurnal dlya vsekh, dekabr’ 1902)’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 18 February 1903, p. 2 (cont. 4 March, see below). V. Alekseev, ‘“V tumane” (Golosa iz publiki). II’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 19 February 1903, p. 2. P. Olenin, ‘“V tumane” (Golosa iz publiki). I’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 19 February 1903, p. 2. N. Pruzhanskii, ‘“V tumane” (Golosa iz publiki).’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 20 February 1903, p. 2. *[Author and title unknown], Nizhegorodskii listok, 21 February 1903. E. Barteneva, ‘“V tumane” (Golosa iz publiki).’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 21 February 1903, p. 2.


Gender in Russian History and Culture

A. D., ‘“V tumane” (Golosa iz publiki). III’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 22 February 1903, p. 2. Ya. Abramov, ‘Fel’eton. Gryaz’ i krasota’, Priazovskii krai, 22 February 1903, p. 2. A. A. Lazarev, ‘“V tumane” (Golosa iz publiki). II’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 22 February 1903, p. 2. Aleksei Pletnev, ‘“V tumane” (Golosa iz publiki). I’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 22 February 1903, p. 2. [Anon.], ‘Otgoloski i vpechatleniya’, Russkie vedomosti, 23 February 1903, p. 4. *[Author and title unknown], Kazbek, 23 February 1903. Chuzhestranets, ‘Literaturnye zametki. Gr. Tolstaya v roli kritika’, Askhabad, 26 February 1903, pp. 2–3. [Anon.], Khronika. G. Andreev pered sudom ‘Novogo Vremeni’ ’ Obrazovanie, no. 3 (1903) pt 3, pp. 86–90. [Anon.], ‘Otgoloski i vpechatleniya’, Russkie vedomosti, 1 March 1903, p. 4. A. Skabichevskii, ‘Molodye zhertvy legkosti nashikh nravov. ‘V tumane’ – L. Andreeva (Zhurnal dlya vsekh, dekabr’ 1902). Okonchanie’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 4 March 1903, pp. 2–3 (cont. from 18 February). [Anon.], ‘Otgoloski i vpechatleniya’, Russkie vedomosti, 9 March 1903, p. 4. *[Author and title unknown], Severo-zapadnyi krai, 16 March 1903. Zinaida Nemovetskaya, ‘“Bezdna”-li? (Pis’mo v redaktsiyu)’, Odesskie novosti, 17 March 1903, p. 3. Omega, ‘Obo vsem’, Volyn’, 20 March 1903, p. 2. *[Author and title unknown], Volzhskii vestnik, 26 March 1903. *[Author and title unknown], Dvinskii listok, 26 March 1903. Ya., ‘Rasskazy Leonida Andreeva (Zametki chitatelya)’, Severo-zapadnoe slovo, 28 March 1903, p. 2. Ya., ‘Rasskazy Leonida Andreeva (Zametki chitatelya)’, Severo-zapadnoe slovo, 29 March 1903, p. 2. [Anon.] ‘Khronika zhurnala Mir iskusstva. Po povodu pis’ma gr. S. A. Tolstoi (Dva pis’ma v redaktsiyu)’, Mir iskusstva, no. 4 (1903) pp. 40–2. M. Nevedomskii [M. P. Miklashevskii] ‘O sovremennom khudozhestve. L. Andreev’, Mir bozhii, no. 4 (1903), pt 1, pp. 1–42. *[Author and title unknown], Yuzhnyi krai, 2 April 1903. V. F. Botsyanovskii, Leonid Andreev (St Petersburg, 1903). Imprimatur 27 April 1903. N. D. Urusov, Bessil’nye lyudi v izobrazhenii Leonida Andreeva (St Petersburg, 1903). Imprimatur 27 April 1903. A. Basargin [A. I. Vvedenskii] ‘Kriticheskie zametki. Talant osobogo roda (G. Leonid Andreev i ego kritik-panegirist iz Mira bozh’ego)’, Moskovskie vedomosti, 10 May 1903, pp. 3–4. N. Denisyuk, Smuta obshchestvennoi sovesti. Po povodu proizvedenii L. Andreeva, polemiki nashei pechati i rasskaza ‘Bezdna’ (Moscow, 1904). Imprimatur 27 June 1903. *Korobka, [title unknown], Obrazovanie, no. 7 (1903) pt 2, pp. 91–5. Skriba [E. Solov’ev-Andreevich] ‘V Yasnoi Polyane (prodolzhenie)’, Odesskie novosti, 17 July 1903, p. 2. M. P. Manasein, ‘V meditsinskom tumane (“V tumane” rasskaz L. Andreeva)’, Novyi put’, no. 8 (1903) pp. 224–8. P. Ivanov, Vragam Leonida Andreeva. Psikhologicheskii etyud (Moscow, 1904). Imprimatur 23 October 1903.

Peter Ulf Møller


A. Bostrom [A. L. Tolstaya], ‘Chto govorit roditel’skomu serdtsu rasskaz L. Andreeva ‘V tumane’?’, Obrazovanie, no. 12, pt 2 (1903) pp. 62–83. E. Anichkov, ‘“V tumane”, rasskaz Leonida Andreeva’, in E. Anichkov, Literaturnye obrazy i mneniya. 1903 god (St Petersburg, 1904) pp. 61–73. Ieromonakh Mikhail [Semenov], ‘V tumane’, in Ieromonakh Mikhail, Ottsam i detyam (Moscow, 1904) pp. 90–110. [Anon.] ‘Khronika zhurnala Mir iskusstva. Zametki’, Mir iskusstva, no. 1 (1904) pp. 26–7 (quotations from Amfiteatrov’s two articles below). A. Amfiteatrov, ‘Zapisnaya knizhka o Leonide Andreeve’, Sankt-Peterburgskie vedomosti, 22 January 1904, p. 2, 23 January, 1904, p. 2. Staryi, G. [G. S. Petrov] ‘Literaturnye ocherki, II’, Russkoe slovo, 25 May 1904, p. 1.

Notes 1. The process of sexual liberation at the turn of the century, with its parallel developments in the areas of law, medicine and literature, has been admirably delineated in L. Engelstein, The Keys to Happiness: Sex and the Search for Modernity in Fin-de-Siècle Russia (Ithaca and London, 1992). For the debate on The Kreutzer Sonata and its literary impact, see P. U. Møller, Postlude to ‘The Kreutzer Sonata’: Tolstoj and the Debate on Sexual Morality in Russian Literature in the 1890s (Leiden, 1988). 2. Published in the Moscow newspaper, Kur’er (The Courier), where Andreev had a regular column, 10 January 1902. 3. Published in the December issue of Zhurnal dlya vsekh ( Journal for Everyone) no. 12 (1902) pp. 1411–50. 4. Page references after quotations are to L. Andreev, Sobranie sochinenii, vol. 1 (Moscow, 1990). All translations are my own. 5. Dzh. Linch [L. Andreev], ‘Moskva. Melochi zhizni’, Kur’er, 27 January 1902, p. 2. 6. XXX [in Russian text], ‘Malen’kaya khronika’, Kur’er, 21 June 1902, p. 3. 7. V. N. Chuvakov, ‘Kommentarii’, in Leonid Andreev, Sobranie sochinenii, vol. 1 (Moscow, 1990) pp. 579–637 (hereafter, Chuvakov, ‘Kommentarii’), p. 624. 8. Andreev, Sobranie sochinenii, vol. 1, p. 578. 9. See, for example, V. Burenin, ‘Kriticheskie ocherki. Razgovor s razocharovannym. Razgovor chetvertyi’, Novoe vremya, 25 January 1902, p. 2.; A. Skabichevskii, ‘Novyi talant. Leonid Andreev – Rasskazy. SPb. 1901’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 29 January 1902, p. 2; M. Protopopov, ‘Molodye vskhody (L. Andreev. Rasskazy, SPb. 1901)’, Russkaya mysl’, no. 3, pt 2 (1902) pp. 187–202. 10. A considerable number of the early responses, in private letters as well as in periodicals, have been identified and quoted in Chuvakov, ‘Kommentarii’, pp. 612–18 and 624–8. 11. L. Andreev, Rasskazy, vol. 1, 2nd edn (St Petersburg, 1902). 12. I. [I. I. Ignatov] ‘Literaturnye novosti’, Russkie vedomosti, 17 January 1902, p. 3. 13. See quotation above and fn 5. The article appeared in Andreev’s regular column, under his pseudonym, James Lynch (Dzhems Linch), in Kur’er, and was in fact the first significant comment on ‘The Abyss’ in the press.


Gender in Russian History and Culture

14. M-s [F. G. Muskablit], ‘V Yasnoi Polyane. Beseda s L. N. Tolstym’, Birzhevye vedomosti, 2nd edn, 1 September 1902, p. 2. 15. Chuvakov, ‘Kommentarii’, p. 616. 16. V. Kranikhfel’d, ‘Zhurnal’nye zametki. L. Andreev i ego kritiki’, Obrazovanie, no. 10, pt 3 (1902) pp. 47–69 (p. 66). 17. In January 1903 the censor was reprimanded by the Minister of the Interior, Pleve, for passing ‘In the Fog’ for publication. 18. A. B. [A. I. Bogdanovich], ‘Kriticheskie zametki’, Mir bozhii, no. 1, pt 2 (1903) pp. 1–14. Reprinted in A. B., Gody pereloma (1895–1906) (St Petersburg, 1908) pp. 373–86. 19. For additional information on ‘glove morality’ and its introduction in Russia, see Møller, Postlude, pp. 111–13, 130, 140. 20. V. Mirskii [E. A. Solov’ev], ‘Nasha literatura’, Zhurnal dlya vsekh, no. 2 (1903) pp. 227–36. 21. V. Burenin, ‘Kriticheskie ocherki’, Novoe vremya, 31 January 1903, p. 2. 22. S. A. Tolstaya, ‘Pis’mo v redaktsiyu’, Novoe vremya, 7 February 1903, p. 4. 23. For example in Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 8 February 1903, and Yuzhnyi krai, 9 February 1903. Extensively quoted in N. Denisyuk, Smuta obshchestvennoi sovesti (Moscow, 1904), pp. 7–9. 24. V. Rozanov, ‘O pis’me gr. S. A. Tolstoi’, Novoe vremya, 11 February 1903, p. 3. 25. In the 1890s Countess Tolstaya had taken an interest in ‘glove morality’. See D. Strand Johansen and P. U. Møller, ‘Perepiska S. A. Tolstoj s P. G. Ganzenom’, Scando-Slavica, vol. 24 (1978) pp. 49–62. 26. A. Krainii [Z. N. Gippius] ‘Poslednyaya belletristika. (‘V tumane’)’, Novyi put’, no. 2 (1903) pp. 186–7. Reprinted in Z. N. Gippius, Literaturnyi dnevnik (1899–1907) (St Petersburg, 1908) pp. 81–3. 27. F. Sologub, ‘“V tumane” (Golosa iz publiki). II’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 14 February 1903, p. 2. 28. A. Skabichevskii, ‘Molodye zhertvy legkosti nashikh nravov. “V tumane” – L. Andreeva (Zhurnal dlya vsekh, dekabr’ 1902)’, Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta, 18 February, p. 2, and 4 March 1903, pp. 2–3. 29. In fact, the Countess had not only read most of her husband’s later works, but had done the copying of the manuscripts and arranged the publishing. 30. Skriba [E. Solov’ev-Andreevich] ‘V Yasnoi Polyane (prodolzhenie)’, Odesskie novosti, 17 July 1903, p. 2. 31. M. Voloshin, ‘Naletu’, Kievskaya gazeta, 17 February 1903, p. 2. 32. A. Bostrom [A. L. Tolstaya], ‘Chto govorit roditel’skomu serdtsu rasskaz L. Andreeva “V tumane”?’, Obrazovanie, no. 12, pt 2 (1903) pp. 62–83. 33. Chuzhestranets, ‘Literaturnye zametki. Gr. Tolstaya v roli kritika’, Askhabad, 26 February 1903, pp. 2–3. 34. N. F. Sumtsov, ‘Po povodu pis’ma grafini S. A. Tolstoi’, Yuzhnyi krai, 11 February 1903, pp. 2–3. 35. The chronological list of published letters in the sources for this chapter is probably far from complete, but it does include those chosen by two metropolitan newspapers – Novosti i birzhevaya gazeta (St Petersburg) and Russkie vedomosti (Moscow). 36. [Anon.], ‘Otgoloski i vpechatleniya’, Russkie vedomosti, 23 February 1903, p. 4; 1 March 1903, p. 4; 9 March 1903, p. 4.

Peter Ulf Møller


37. N. Denisyuk, Smuta obshchestvennoi sovesti. Po povodu proizvedenii L. Andreeva, polemiki nashei pechati i rasskaza ‘Bezdna’ (Moscow, 1904). 38. One critic sympathetic to Andreev, Botsyanovskii, quoted the Russkie vedomosti letters extensively, in a short book, Leonid Andreev, approved by the censorship on 27 April 1903. 39. Nemovetskii’s letter, in Kur’er, 6 March 1903, is published with comments in Chuvakov, ‘Kommentarii’, pp. 613–16. 40. Zinaida Nemovetskaya, ‘“Bezdna”-li? (Pis’mo v redaktsiyu)’, Odesskie novosti, 17 March 1903, p. 3. 41. Omega, ‘Obo vsem’, Volyn’, 20 March 1903, p. 2. 42. M. Nevedomskii [M. P. Miklashevskii], ‘O sovremennom khudozhestve. L. Andreev’, Mir bozhii, no. 4 (1903), pt 1, pp. 1–42. 43. Ibid., pp. 28–30. 44. A. Basargin [A. I. Vvedenskii], ‘Kriticheskie zametki. Talant osobogo roda (G. Leonid Andreev i ego kritik-panegirist iz Mira bozh’ego)’, Moskovskie vedomosti, 10 May 1903, pp. 3–4. 45. M. P. Manasein, ‘V meditsinskom tumane (“V tumane”, rasskaz L. Andreeva)’, Novyi put’, no. 8 (1903) pp. 224–8. 46. For a discussion of contemporary theories about venereal and non-venereal transmission of syphilis, see Engelstein, Keys to Happiness, pp. 165–211. 47. E. Anichkov, ‘“V tumane”, rasskaz Leonida Andreeva’, in E. Anichkov, Literaturnye obrazy i mneniya. 1903 god (St Petersburg, 1904) pp. 61–73. 48. Republished in slightly abbreviated form under the title ‘Leonid Andreev – Grafinya Tolstaya’, in A. Amfiteatrov, Literaturnyi al’bom, 2nd edn (St Petersburg, 1907). 49. See Møller, Postlude. 50. Ibid., pp. 128–31. 51. Ieromonakh Mikhail [Semenov], ‘V tumane’, in Ieromonakh Mikhail, Ottsam in detyam (Moscow, 1904) pp. 90–110. A careful search of the theological and religious journals may still reveal new material. 52. Strand Johansen and Møller, ‘Perepiska S. A. Tolstoi’, pp. 49–62. 53. P. Ivanov, Vragam Leonida Andreeva. Psikhologicheskii etyud (Moscow, 1904) pp. 25–30.

6 Unruly Identities: Soviet Psychiatry Confronts the ‘Female Homosexual’ of the 1920s Dan Healey

The study of female homosexuals – like the study of homosexuality in general – was not a major preoccupation of Soviet medical and legal professionals during the first years of the Bolshevik regime. Yet in contrast to pre-revolutionary discussions of the issue, a significant number of case histories and reports of women engaged in same-sex love appeared in scientific journals of the 1920s. Moreover, determined efforts were made by psychiatrists to move beyond a merely descriptive presentation of unusual individuals. Bolshevik policy on sexual and gender dissent was ambiguous, suggesting contradictory approaches to ‘homosexuality’. Some psychiatrists and sexologists endorsed the emancipation of male and female homosexuals, albeit in aesopian language. Meanwhile other medical professionals, buoyed by the revolutionary project to reconstruct humanity, adopted an interventionist approach against women who loved other women. Early Soviet forensic and clinical psychiatric literature, and sexological reports of same-sex love between women, offer a basis for examining these contradictions. The pool of Soviet professional texts of the 1920s on this topic is not large, recounting the histories of some 22 individual women (including both the subjects of various studies, and partners who were described).1 Further evidence for Soviet approaches to the problem of female homosexuality can be drawn from a 1929 discussion about ‘transvestites’ (transvestity) and the ‘intermediate sex’ (srednii pol) which took place behind closed doors in the Expert Medical Council of the People’s Commissariat of Health (Narkomzdrav). 2 There were no monographs produced on male or female homosexuality in Soviet Russia until the sexological revival after Stalin’s death in 116

Dan Healey


1953.3 The 1920s medical articles on female homosexuality gathered for this chapter constitute one of the most significant collections of texts on lesbianism ever assembled for any period of Russian history. Yet none of these studies made any attempt to examine large samples of lesbians. Two studies did indirectly compare two case histories, commenting on the aetiologies of same-sex love and regretting the relative inaccessibility of subjects for such research.4 Few of these articles betrayed any interest in or awareness of the handful of tsarist studies of Russian lesbians, by psychiatrists V. F. Chizh (1882), I. M. Tarnovskii (1895) and F. E. Rybakov (1898), but instead demonstrated a lively acquaintance with Western European sexological work.5 The appearance of such a cluster, at a moment when in Western medical and popular discourse the lesbian identity was created, is significant for our understanding of Soviet gender.6 Psychiatrists and other professionals in Russia were affected by the Western medical and cultural shift as their bibliographies clearly indicate. Yet the local significance of formulating a medicalized ‘female homosexual’ identity must also be taken into account. In the new socialist republic, the ambition to change women’s social and economic roles was a vaunted goal. Women were encouraged to take up paid employment, to pursue education, and to enter the political sphere on a supposed equal footing with men. 7 Women’s emancipation was meant to be realized without forgoing the maternal role; and these studies of women who did eschew motherhood in this ideological environment point to a common anxiety about setting a new boundary for respectable femininity. Medicalizing the ‘female homosexual’ enabled socialist doctors to bracket as diseased that category of women who abandoned maternity in search of different intimacies. In his landmark article on the history of Russia’s ‘gay’ culture, Simon Karlinsky takes the Bolsheviks to task for their ‘negative attitude toward homosexuality’, noting that the Soviet government ‘morbidized it by regarding it as a mental disorder’. He contrasts this approach with milder attitudes under tsarism, when literary advocates of homosexuality flourished, and the law against male sodomy was casually enforced. 8 Elsewhere I have argued that this interpretation fails to acknowledge that medical models of ‘homosexuality’ could be deployed with positive effects for practitioners of same-sex love. Many European homosexual emancipationists justified their love with a biomedical argument that sexuality was determined by nature, not nurture. The Bolsheviks were ideologically committed to the application of rational science to the resolution of human problems; but medicine did not necessarily dictate a ‘negative’ approach to the homosexual.9 Soviet medical professionals


Gender in Russian History and Culture

of the 1920s would indeed pathologize the ‘female homosexual’, but their views were far from uniform, and some evaluated these women with sympathy and admiration rather than hostility. The women who were the subject of these studies fell into the hands of health professionals chiefly after having committed a crime; they were then typically referred by police or the courts to forensic psychiatric facilities which were located in only a few major Russian centres. 10 Women who were not criminals might also become subjects of case studies. Clinical psychiatrists described histories of women who sought assistance either with sexual confusion, or with problems such as opium addiction.11 Another psychiatrist described a surgical ‘cure’ for homosexuality attempted with the consent of his subject, a 28-year-old peasant woman, but he did not give the circumstances of her arrival in his Kharkov clinic. 12 Izrail Gel’man’s 1922 sex survey of Moscow students turned up two questionnaires completed by female homosexuals, but the very anonymity enabling such frankness also prevented further study of these ‘extremely interesting’ cases. 13

Diagnosing the female homosexual The main diagnostic tools employed by psychiatrists to establish the homosexual orientation (gomoseksual’noe napravlenie vlecheniya) of their patients were observation of the patient, gynaecological examination, and the interpretation of eyewitness and police reports. Frequently, psychiatrists solicited or otherwise obtained written ‘confessions’ or other texts (letters, diaries) from their subjects, and some medical studies contain fascinating extracts said to be from these personal accounts.14 The diagnostic label applied to classify patients’ same-sex desire was ‘homosexuality’ (gomoseksual’nost’ or gomoseksualizm). The term ‘lesbian’ (lesbiyanka) and its derivatives was very infrequent in the psychiatric literature (there are references to lesbos in the writing of the Moscow psychiatrists E. K. Krasnushkin and N. G. Kholzakova). This label was probably too literary for doctors seeking more materialist, scientific, understandings of the issue. 15 They employed adjectival modifiers (zhenskii gomoseksualizm, female homosexuality) or feminized substantives (gomoseksualistka, female homosexual) to designate the lesbian and her desire. Psychiatrists (and, indeed, police) rarely had the opportunity to catch their subjects in the act of sexual intercourse with someone of the same sex. That female homosexual erotic activity left little or no evidence on the bodies of adepts was widely accepted.16 Therefore doctors looked to

Dan Healey


the behaviour and the psyches of their patients to find the signs of homosexuality. The two most consistent markers they discovered were gender non-conformity in dress, manners, gait and gesture, choice of occupation, and other aspects of personal identity; and a history of sexual development which doctors interpreted as abnormal. The inclusion of gender non-conformity in the clinical definition of homosexuality was a durable practice in Western medical literature. The elucidation of a category of illness for same-sex love depended on an underlying presumption of a binary opposition of masculine and feminine ‘normal’ gender roles. 17 Two doctors supplied photographic evidence of their patients’ ‘masculinization’, publishing pictures of the female homosexual in men’s attire and short hair.18 A diversion from the diagnosis as ‘homosexual’ was the use by some authorities of the term ‘transvestite’ (transvestit).19 The Moscow Bureau for the Study of the Personality of the Criminal and Criminality published its first collection of articles in 1926, in which the psychiatrists Krasnushkin and Kholzakova described two ‘women murdererhomosexuals’, employing an interpretation of the German sexologist and homosexual emancipationist Magnus Hirschfeld’s complex modelling of intersexuality.20 The two Russian doctors appear to have been heavily influenced by Hirschfeld’s Die Transvestiten (Leipzig, 1910) in which he presented case histories of (mostly male) cross-dressers and coined the term ‘transvestite’. In this text, Hirschfeld had elaborated a hypothesis of ‘intermediaries’ as a means of classifying all forms of gender and sexual non-conformity between the extreme poles of an essential and heterosexual masculinity and femininity. Krasnushkin and Kholzakova in their article designated all sexual ‘intermediaries’ as ‘transvestites’, and referred to ‘homosexuals’ and ‘bisexuals’ as subcategories. This reading of Hirschfeld was mistaken, since the German had taken great pains to distinguish between cross-dressing and same-sex love. No other Russian psychiatrists adopted Krasnushkin and Kholzakova’s reading of Hirschfeld’s typology, and Krasnushkin had abandoned this system of classification by 1929, probably because of the influence of his colleague A. O. Edel’shtein’s 1927 article, ‘On the Clinical Understanding of Transvestism’. 21 Writing on cross-dressing in the second edition of the Moscow Bureau’s review, Edel’shtein pointedly ignored Krasnushkin and Kholzakova’s interpretation of Hirschfeld published in the first edition. Edel’shtein’s transvestism (transvestitizm) was closer to Hirschfeld’s categorization. Edel’shtein carefully detached transvestism from homo-


Gender in Russian History and Culture

sexuality and supplied a brief case history of a ‘normal’ (i.e. not homosexual) German woman wearing male apparel.22 The article’s principal case history was, however, of a Russian, a woman named Evgeniya Fedorovna M., said to be a ‘transvestite’ and also a ‘homosexual’. In order of importance, the psychiatrist ranked her transvestism, homosexuality, hysteria and pseudologia phantastica (compulsive lying) as his patient’s most serious defects. Despite Edel’shtein’s careful separation of the phenomena of homosexual desire and transvestism, Russian doctors continued to associate the two phenomena closely. 23 Sartorial gender non-conformity remained a marker of same-sex desire for Russian psychiatrists, and masculinized behaviour in females (and effeminacy in males) remained significant in diagnosis. All authorities rejected suggestions that homosexual bodies deviated from normal physiology. They were reacting to long-standing assertions made by Hirschfeld that homosexuality was identifiable by a particular, ‘intersexual’ body type, in which secondary sex characteristics associated with male biological sex were observed in homosexual females and vice versa. 24 The Astrakhan psychiatrist N. I. Sklyar felt it necessary to point out that homosexuality was not a form of hermaphroditism, while the Kharkov doctor Ya. I. Kirov reported the presence of normal female genitalia in his subject Efrosiniya B. Both Kirov and A. P. Shtess published photographs of their subjects in the nude.25 The object of exposure of the body was to clarify the distinction between hermaphroditism, a familiar somatic phenomenon, and homosexuality, defined as a primarily psychological condition. Authorities emphasized this distinction because discussion of same-sex erotic relations was relatively rare; they wanted their readers to grasp the conceptual difference. 26 All authorities reported an unruly emotional profile ‘typical for the homosexual’ personality.27 Homosexuality was not simply a distortion of the sexual instinct, but was marked by a turbulent inner world of romance, love and in particular jealousy. The elaborate representation of the subject’s own words (however these might have been reconstructed) was common in these diagnoses. In their emphasis on the psychology of homosexuality, many doctors were influenced by a 1922 article by the Petrograd psychiatrist V. P. Protopopov, interviewing ten male homosexuals. Protopopov drew a crucial distinction between ‘pederasts’, males said to use each other sexually as substitutes for women, such as prisoners or sailors, and ‘homosexuals’, who experienced a profound attraction to their own sex from a very early age. Such men were biologically anomalous and deserved scientific investigation rather than prosecution.28

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Unruly and misdirected emotions dominated accounts of the 1920s lesbian in the psychiatric literature in this survey. Krasnushkin and Kholzakova’s two ‘women murderer-homosexuals’ were under observation for having killed their lovers, and the stories of their relationships, gleaned from patient interviews and love letters, were central to their diagnosis as homosexuals.29 Shtess offered a psychoanalytic portrait of his patient which graphically retailed her many tempestuous love affairs, with her motives ascribed to an unresolved Oedipal complex (kompleks Edipa), a castration complex (kastratsionnyi kompleks) and penis envy (zavist’ iz-za penisa).30 In his 1929 lectures on psychopathic criminals, Krasnushkin offered the case of a ‘lesbian poetess’ who wrote verse celebrating same-sex love. He praised her lyrics, saying they ‘attested to the undoubted gifts of this poetess’, and quoted them as a warm and vivid illustration of lesbian psychology. 31 Similarly, the psychiatrist Brukhanskii’s Valentina P. and Fedosiya P. were analysed chiefly through their love letters, and through eyewitness accounts of the intensity of their attachments. 32 Brukhanskii devoted 20 per cent of a chapter to the curious case of Fedosiya P. This postal worker posed as a man in disguise to woo 15-year-old Nina. She wrote: Sweet child, my Ninusya! You have upset me terribly, sweetheart, with your many friends and acquaintances who interest you so much. I worry that you will soon betray me. . . . Darling, leave all that behind, for I will not lie to you, you are mine and I will always speak to you as to a wife. As to a wife, for as a husband I could never conceal anything from you. . . . Surely our fate is sealed – you are mine and I am yours. 33 Fedosiya was charged with seduction of a minor but the court was confused by Fedosiya’s and Nina’s contradictory stories; it seized on a gynaecologist’s report that Nina had long ago reached sexual maturity, to declare their affair one of ‘mutual consent’ between adults and to acquit Fedosiya. 34 For Brukhanskii the most convincing sign of Fedosiya’s homosexuality was her ‘letters to Nina, very typical [of homosexuals’ letters] in their content and approach’.35 A. O. Edel’shtein presented extracts from the diary of Evgeniya Fedorovna M. to authenticate her passion for women and to illustrate her ‘psychopathy’. The psychiatrist reserved 40 per cent of his article for Evgeniya’s spirited defence of the rights of what she called the ‘intermediate sex’ (srednii pol). Edel’shtein attempted to represent Evgeniya as a compulsive fantasist by printing her ‘History of My Illness (the Brief


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Confession of a Person of the Intermediate Sex, a Masculine Psychohermaphrodite)’. Yet the text may be read as a map of the emotions of a woman who loved women, and a guide to the arguments available to an educated Russian woman in the 1920s to defend sexual nonconformity.36 Evgeniya (as represented by the psychiatrist) had a clear sense of her identity as a gender and sexual dissident: . . . there live among us people who resemble neither one sex nor the other, men without the substantial signs of masculinity, that is women in the sense of their physical sex organs, but men in all other aspects. These women consider their sex a misunderstanding and wish to transform themselves into persons of the opposite sex . . . I count myself as one of these representatives of the intermediate sex.37 Evgeniya argued that if we accept the intermediate sex and same-sex love (odnopolaya lyubov’) which is its natural expression, then it is logical to permit these persons to express their love within the same ‘boundaries set for normal people’. She added, For my part, my love for an individual of my own sex is just as great, pure and sacred, as the love of a normal woman for the opposite sex; I am capable of self-sacrifice, I would be ready to die for that beloved person who would understand me. How sad that we are considered depraved and diseased. 38 Evgeniya, who had publicly passed as a man (altering her identity documents to the masculine Evgenii Fedorovich) since the Civil War, worked as a political instructor for the Cheka. She concluded a registered marriage with ‘S’, a woman, in 1922. They had a child, which Evgeniya adopted, after S. had an affair with a male co-worker, and formed a family until Evgeniya’s regiment was disbanded, leaving her unemployed in 1925. She explained in her ‘History’ that the Commissariat of Justice had been forced to recognize their marriage since it was based on ‘mutual consent’.39 Persons of the intermediate sex (Evgeniya also used the terms ‘pseudo-hermaphrodites’ and ‘homosexual people’ interchangeably) were capable of making an important contribution to society. They only awaited public acceptance, Evgeniya wrote, when ‘they would undoubtedly strive to give their love the most noble hues possible’. Meanwhile persecution drove them to commit crime; Evgeniya

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explained hers (impersonating officials for profit) as the result of having to hide her personality from the world.40 To Edel’shtein the application of so much acuity to the defence of perversion ‘distinguishes this [autobiography] from what one often hears from other homosexuals’, in its ‘stamp of hysteria which gives this side of her mentality an aspect of artificiality, of calculation’ so pronounced that it was impossible to speak of a biological illness. Evgeniya’s homosexuality was the product of environmental factors. 41 Her ‘History’ may however be read as the attempt of a ‘pervert’ to engage her doctor in a Foucaultian dialogue of the namers and the named. The very sharpness of her insight moved the psychiatrist to brand her an adept of ‘pseudologicality’.42

Theories of female homosexuality: to tolerate, prevent, or cure? Russian psychiatrists, like their Western counterparts, proposed various hypotheses for the origins of homosexuality, and the result was not a straightforward ‘nature-vs-nurture’ debate, although these categories (expressed as vrozhdennyi – congenital – vs. priobretennyi – acquired – gomoseksualizm) appear to dominate the literature at first sight. In the 1920s, psychiatrists sought to strike a balance between exogenous and endogenous causes in their aetiologies of perversion, seldom arguing that the condition was produced by a single factor. Some scientists refused to back any particular hypothesis. Brukhanskii made of homosexuality an example of the instability of psychiatric knowledge by pointing to the variety of hypotheses to account for it, in the introduction to his 1927 monograph on sexual pathology. Similarly, both the criminologist L. G. Orshanskii and the biologist M. M. Zavadovskii emphasized the provisional nature of knowledge on the issue, and left the question open. 43 Developments in endocrinology, the science of hormones, led to the elaboration of an aetiology for homosexuality which received wide publicity immediately after the Great War. This endocrinological hypothesis probably influenced drafters of the first Bolshevik Russian criminal code, which decriminalized male homosexuality. Research on animals before 1914 by the Austrian biologist Eugen Steinach had contributed new knowledge of the sex gland functions. With encouragement from Magnus Hirschfeld, Steinach turned to the question of altering human sexual behaviour by controlling glandular secretions. In 1918, Steinach and the surgeon Robert Lichtenstern reported a successful


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partial transplant of a ‘normal’ (i.e. heterosexual) human testicle to a male homosexual, who subsequently lost his effeminate mannerisms, and later married. 44 Hirschfeld hailed these results as support for his ‘biomedical construction of a new homosexual identity’, and publicized them widely in the early 1920s. 45 Those Russian psychiatrists who drew heavily on Hirschfeld’s hypotheses, especially Krasnushkin, Kholzakova, Brukhanskii and Protopopov, were among the strongest proponents in the USSR of this glandular aetiology for homosexuality, but others, including V. M. Bekhterev and Protopopov’s student E. A. Popov, were also forced to confront the apparent success of the Steinach–Lichtenstern experiment. The timing of the Austrian breakthrough significantly coincided with the adoption of the first revolutionary legislation on homosexuality. By supposedly identifying the biological wellspring of this sexual abnormality, the breakthrough appeared to justify the medicalization of the homosexual personality. Archival sources on the drafting of Russia’s revolutionary criminal code say little about the motives for the removal of the old regime crime of sodomy between consenting adult males. Yet jurists agreed in the 1920s that in Soviet Russia, decriminalization had happened because ‘science . . . took the view that the commission of the act of sodomy with adults infringed no rights whatsoever and that [adults] were free to express their sexual feeling in any form’.46 Fuelled by revolutionary sexual utopianism, and the scientific authority of the new hormonal hypothesis, Bolsheviks apparently believed the male homosexual might be a harmless human variant – or an anomaly medicine might correct. Despite early optimism, German and Austrian adherents to this hypothesis were usually gloomy about its prospects by the mid-1920s. Few had managed to duplicate Steinach and Lichtenstern’s spectacular cure. Hirschfeld continued to cling to the possibility of a congenital aetiology based on the Steinach experiments until the late 1920s. 47 Some Russians too were slow to abandon the Steinach hypothesis, continuing to value the new frontier of hormonal science as a key to human behaviour, until the recriminalization of sodomy in 1934 abruptly curtailed medical discussion of homosexuality for the duration of Stalin’s rule.48 Other psychiatrists promoted the notion of the ‘psychopathic constitution’ which grouped homosexuality with antisocial and borderline psychotic phenomena. Sexual perverts displayed a constitutional ‘predisposition’ (predraspolozhenie), often an unusually ‘early sexuality’

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(rannyaya seksual’nost’) which appeared when desire was ‘insufficiently formed and differentiated’ (meaning not yet directed towards the opposite sex). Inappropriate stimuli during puberty created perversions as ‘conditioned reflexes’. Psychopathically ‘impulsive’ individuals were also cited as given to sexual perversion. Partisans of this hypothesis viewed same-sex love as a ‘sexual perversion’ and dismissed claims made by emancipationists and apologists for homosexuality. 49 A relatively humane version of the ‘psychopathic’ model was the Leningrad psychiatrist V. M. Bekhterev’s ‘reflexological’ thesis: homosexuality was a ‘complex reflex’ caused by traumatizing events in childhood during sexual maturation. Sexual abnormality was the result of environment and circumstances in the subject’s upbringing; inherited ‘degeneracy’ might contribute a predisposition, but not all degenerate persons were sexually perverted, nor would all perverts necessarily present a degenerate heritage. Prophylaxis was more reliable than any cures, although this did not stop adherents from advocating hypnosis (a favourite Bekhterev prescription) to break down old reflexes and build new ones. Bekhterev’s work on sexual perversion, based on tsarist experience with an upper-class male clientele, treated female homosexuality as rare and insignificant compared to male deviations.50 Nevertheless in our survey, Krasnushkin’s 1929 description of his lesbian poetess, and Shtess’s 1925 claim to have cured the female homosexual in his care, most closely conformed to the Bekhterev aetiology, and demonstrate its potential application to both benign (Krasnushkin’s) and hostile (Shtess’s) interpretations. Despite Bekhterev’s authority on sexual deviance, his death in 1927 and his rivalry with the major Soviet authority on reflexes – the physiologist I. P. Pavlov – left his hypothesis without a strong advocate in the 1930s as the question of sexual deviation was reconfigured. The question of whether or not to cure the homosexual – and if so, then how – were key issues for these psychiatrists. The emancipationist argument that homosexuality constituted a natural variation asserted that therapy was inappropriate, and what was needed instead was social change to integrate the homosexual in society. Hirschfeld’s Berlin Institute for Sex Research, his founding of the World League for Sexual Reform (WLSR), and his interest in Steinach’s work tirelessly promoted this point of view, which was well known among psychiatrists and sexologists in the USSR. Soviet representatives at WLSR congresses were hailed as the avant-garde of sexual reform; Hirschfeld’s campaign was mentioned in positive terms in the psychiatrist Mark Sereiskii’s


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encyclopedia articles on homosexuality; and Hirschfeld himself probably raised these issues during his 1926 study visit to Leningrad and Moscow. 51 Some Soviet psychiatrists attacked Hirschfeld’s ideas and, implicitly, his Soviet supporters. The most widely voiced reaction to the question was to argue for a more rational sexual education (polovoe vospitanie) to prevent future cases of perversion. The two psychiatrists who cited Hirschfeld’s research and hypotheses with approval, Krasnushkin and Kholzakova, maintained a studied silence about therapy for homosexuality, while clearly stating that in many cases homosexuals displayed gifts of benefit to society. They noted the existence of ‘female homosexuality’ in ancient civilizations and ‘among savage women’, and explained the history of Sappho and the origin of the term ‘lesbian’.52 Not all such individuals were automatically to be linked with crime or antisocial behaviour, and even female homosexual criminals were humans with talent and the capacity to serve society. In a less forthright manner, Brukhanskii’s esteem for the profundity of homosexual liaisons, and his defence of revolutionary Russian legislation decriminalizing sodomy, suggest that he too accepted the possibility of the healthy or at least harmless homosexual.53 Behind closed doors, in February 1929 at the Expert Medical Council of Narkomzdrav, medical specialists frankly discussed the female members of the ‘intermediate sex’ they had encountered, and reported on their capacity for work (trudosposobnost’) and the fact that their presence in the army or workplace was not necessarily disruptive. They did not indicate that therapy to divert these women into ‘natural’ sexual activity was either possible or desirable. 54 The most influential approach to the question of female homosexuality was prophylaxis. Most medical comment viewed the aetiology of sexual perversion as primarily exogenous and therefore subject to modification as society was reconstructed by socialism. Edel’shtein thus ignored the question of therapy for ‘transvestites’ altogether. The heavy emphasis he placed on the value of prophylactic sexual education, his hostile diagnosis, and his laconic observation that the ‘social future’ of his patient would be difficult, demonstrate that he failed to see any positive social role for such individuals.55 One of the most robust denials of Hirschfeld’s arguments for tolerance came from the Astrakhan psychiatrist N. I. Sklyar, whose 1925 article was cited even into the 1970s. 56 Sklyar reviewed the foreign literature on the Steinach claims and pointed to widespread scepticism in Europe. Sklyar insisted on the social determinants of perversion, denying that homosexuality was transhistorical and transcultural. He argued that

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the ancient Jews persecuted homosexual behaviour while the ‘more passionate nature’ of other Eastern peoples led to indulgence of samesex eros in other civilizations. He cited with approval Freudian theories of childhood sexual development that proposed homosexuality as a stage on the path to adult heterosexual identity. Sklyar argued that homosexuality was a symptom in those with an ‘abnormal, psychopathic constitution’, like other sexual perversions, and that toleration of homosexuals led to the ‘absurdity’ of accepting all perversions as normal variations of human sexuality. Even accepting Hirschfeld’s hypothesis that homosexuality was based on sex gland variation, it was still abnormal compared to ‘ordinary people with a normal sexual instinct’. ‘A special type of normal person with only a particular, abnormal sexual inclination, does not exist’, he concluded.57 There are only two instances of deliberate therapeutic intervention in this sample of cases of lesbianism: the psychotherapeutic cure claimed by Dr Shtess of the Saratov Bureau of Criminal Anthropology in 1925, and Dr Kirov’s failed attempt at a surgical implant patterned after the Steinach experiments, undertaken in Kharkov University at the Faculty of Psychiatry under the direction of V. P. Protopopov in 1928.58 Neither Shtess’s success nor Kirov’s failure were widely cited in later works on female homosexuality in Russia. Dr Shtess’s claim of success may have appeared conclusive; but his heavy reliance on Freudian psychoanalysis made his approach politically unacceptable in the later 1920s.59 Kirov’s implantation of animal ovary sections beneath the right breast of Efrosiniya B. failed to reverse her sexual orientation, nor did it correct her gender non-conformity. Kirov interpreted his failure as provisional, complaining that the European literature on the question gave a false impression of successful outcomes. (Sklyar’s article criticizing this literature did not appear in his bibliography.) Kirov’s exploratory failure pointed towards the endocrinological cul-de-sac already described by foreign scientists.60 Perhaps the most surprising feature of this literature is the refusal of some medical professionals to indicate punitive cures and their adoption of aesopian versions of Hirschfeld’s arguments for tolerance. Soviet psychiatrists such as Krasnushkin, Kholzakova, Sereiskii and Brukhanskii felt that at least some homosexuals could fulfil socially useful roles, and they doubted whether psychiatric time was wisely spent pursuing elusive cures of otherwise healthy individuals.61 They were sensitive to Hirschfeld’s calls for tolerance of the homosexual individual, and some even defended the contributions made by homosexuals in history. In their clinical and forensic practice they encountered homosexuals


Gender in Russian History and Culture

whom they regarded humanely. The reconfiguration of research agendas under the first Five-Year Plan, and the recriminalization of male homosexuality in 1934 were signals that homosexuality was no longer a legitimate topic in the discipline. 62 Yet until these tumultuous years, Soviet psychiatry had expressed a range of approaches to homosexuality.

Setting boundaries: work competence versus maternity In the 1920s female homosexuality did not elicit the same responses from Soviet health professionals which Elizabeth Wood and Elizabeth Waters have described in relation to female prostitution. Nevertheless, there are some interesting similarities as well as differences. An interdepartmental commission on prostitution was established during the Civil War and was the source of custodial strategies to regulate and isolate prostitutes. Waters contrasts this ‘repressive’ stream of neo-regulation with the more ‘tolerant’ medicalizing policies of rehabilitation and education organized by Narkomzdrav in the prophylactoria system of the 1920s. Looking at political discourse, Wood perceives a Bolshevik drive to ‘dramatize’ prostitution so as to create new boundaries of acceptable social and economic roles for women in public life. 63 There was no corresponding attempt to dramatize publicly the problem of female (or male) homosexuality in the form of poster campaigns or welfare initiatives. Nor was there a perceived need for dedicated prophylactoria to rehabilitate sexual perverts. Yet enough anxiety had formed about gender and sexual dissent for the Expert Medical Council of Narkomzdrav to call for an interdepartmental commission (with the Justice Commissariat) on the question of ‘transvestites’, in February 1929.64 The commission apparently never met, yet the intention to form it heralded the crystallization of a debate between repressive and tolerant approaches to gender non-conformity and sexual deviance that until now had percolated diffusely in Soviet psychiatry. The two approaches, tolerant and repressive, coexisted in this diffuse discussion during the 1920s. The repressive view of the female homosexual emphasized her rejection of the maternal role, the concern about defining ‘normal’ sexuality in a new, socialist society, and perhaps the worry that women engaged in paid labour could exhibit excessive ‘masculinization’. Janet Hyer has noted that doctors who dealt with women’s health were keenly aware of population decline and the eugenic problem of assuring the quality of births in the USSR after the demographic implosion of the Civil War and related catastrophes. 65

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Ideologically committed to the principle of enhancing women’s public roles, social hygienists and gynaecologists studied the ‘sexual sphere’ of women workers to facilitate pregnancy and rational childrearing while keeping women at work. Psychiatrists did not make these issues central to their fieldwork in Soviet factories in the late 1920s, yet they were aware of their impact on psychiatry’s role as the guardian of mental health on the job. 66 Tolerant views of the female homosexual turned almost entirely on her competence at work, which was the essence of the goal of emancipation. The sexologist I. Gel’man’s assessment of two female homosexuals who responded anonymously to his 1922 survey on sexuality among Moscow students praised their social and emotional adjustment. These women put public values before personal ones, without forgoing a satisfying love life with their female partners. Gel’man suggested that they were easily integrated into society without fear of contamination or conflict. 67 In Narkomzdrav’s Expert Medical Council, scientists freely discussed the virtues of the female homosexual. In February 1929, council members heard a summary of Edel’shtein’s case history of Evgeniya Fedorovna M. In the words of the session’s chair, the psychiatrist L. Ya. Brusilovskii, Evgeniya’s ‘History of My Illness’ was the product of ‘a very rich intellect. She knows languages and had the opportunity to make use of all the most decisive foreign literature on this question.’68 On hearing of Evgeniya’s successful fight to have her marriage to a woman recognized by the Justice Commissariat, the biologist N. K. Kol’tsov commented that the wife, that is, the woman who married the other woman [meaning Evgeniya’s partner, ‘S.’], certainly suffered as a result. That woman was done serious harm, for she could hardly remain as normal (normal’naya) as she would have if she had been married to a man. I suggest that in such circumstances we must be extremely careful. Only in exceptional circumstances and with the concurrent testimony of experienced experts should this be permitted.69 The biologist, while worrying that Evgeniya’s influence could have been harmful, was also proposing that same-sex marriages might be permissible in Soviet society, with medical supervision. No one in the room challenged the proposition. A psychiatrist, A. K. Rakhmanov, recounted his acquaintance with two women ‘transvestites’ who served as Red Army commanders in men’s clothing. One commander was


Gender in Russian History and Culture

married to a man and had children, the other was unmarried and ‘of a more masculinized type’. While her sexual life was not discussed, Rakhmanov believed her ‘masculinization’ did not affect her work, and that such cases ought to be assessed on a sensitive, individual basis and not according to some single standard.70 Yet work competence alone was not sufficient to satisfy the majority of psychiatrists who adopted a hostile approach to female homosexuality. By medicalizing women’s paid labour, Soviet physicians had sought to reconcile the conflicting goals of promoting women’s work and maternity. Promoting maternity would also be the justification for intolerant views of gender and sexual dissent. The hostile pathologization of female homosexuality, expressed by Sklyar, Shtess, Edel’shtein and Kirov in their case histories, condemned the flight from maternity that same-sex love entailed, and sought strategies of prevention and occasionally eradication, in the hopes of steering women back towards ‘normal’ relations and ultimately, childbearing. Psychiatrists did not arrive at a consensus on how to deal with the female homosexual by the end of the 1920s. The female homosexual’s reintegration into ‘normal’ (heterosexual) sexuality might, for example, be achieved by psychotherapy, as in Shtess’s psychoanalytic ‘cure’, with his reliance on the patient’s family as an arena for her resocialization. Hostile psychiatrists such as Sklyar and Edel’shtein hinted darkly about a ‘difficult social future’ for the female homosexual; they evaded a direct discussion of how their patients fared in the end. Their silence suggests that hospitalization or isolation in prison clinics was a probable destiny for these women.71 Not all such women could be successfully normalized via marriage, pregnancy and childbearing.72

The invention of the Soviet lesbian Soviet psychiatric discourse of the 1920s encompassed two competing approaches to female homosexuality, the tolerant and the repressive. Tolerant doctors were sometimes closely associated with each other in their formative years, and were influenced by one of Moscow’s most experienced and humane clinical psychiatrists, P. B. Gannushkin. 73 While it is true that these scientists ‘morbidized’ the female homosexual, their statements concerning her virtues (in particular, her work competence) were not far from the emancipatory arguments of Magnus Hirschfeld. His campaign of emancipation for ‘intermediary types’ was in any case founded on a ‘morbidizing’ strategy. By arguing for the biological basis of sexual and gender non-conformity, the German

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activist-physician adopted and manipulated the medicalized concept of same-sex love, boldly intervening in the complicitous dialogue between doctors and ‘perverts’. Keen to absorb the latest developments in foreign sexology, Soviet psychiatrists did not display a uniformly ‘negative attitude toward homosexuality’ in the 1920s. Some were intellectually aligned with the leader of the vanguard of the homosexual emancipation movement of their time, and used the same essentializing, biomedical justifications for a humane approach to their homosexual patients. Yet on his return from Soviet Russia in the summer of 1926, Hirschfeld apparently moderated his enthusiasm for the Revolution, noting tersely that scientific interest in homosexuality was in decline, and that homosexual behaviour was regarded as ‘unproletarian’ in the socialist state.74 He may well have been disappointed, not only by the puritanism of the Revolution, but perhaps by his encounters with health professionals who espoused the repressive view of homosexuality. 75 For here was the sinister side of the double-edged sword of the essentialist strategy: these psychiatrists sought to establish a boundary between the ‘normal’ woman who embraced her maternal role, and the pathological, ‘psychopathic’ woman who rejected it. These doctors acted from an ideological interest in clarifying the new women’s public identities which were acceptable in a socialist society. The impulse to move women into the social sphere of education and paid labour, while balancing the potentially contradictory concern to revive the birth rate, made female homosexuality an unruly identity, one in opposition to that of the respectable socialist woman. The attention focused on individuals who rejected femininity, in some cases deliberately representing themselves as males at the workplace or in the marriage registry office, underlines these doctors’ anxiety about normalizing the new roles for women. They policed a boundary between pathological ‘homosexuals’ and the ‘normal women’ they preyed upon and contaminated. In the 1920s and early 1930s, Soviet psychiatry created the female homosexual identity and found the contradiction of public competence and personal non-conformity impossible to reconcile. The recriminalization of sodomy in 1934, 76 and the pro-family policy turn of 1936 which toughened divorce legislation and banned abortion, 77 signalled an end to psychiatric interest in male and female homosexuality for the duration of the Stalin era. In all likelihood, repressive measures were taken against the tiny number of lesbians who came to the attention of legal authorities.78 It was not until the revival of Soviet sexology in the


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1950s and after that Russian psychiatry would reclaim the female homosexual, rejecting the tolerant heritage of revolutionary psychiatric discourse for the antagonism with which it continues to view the lesbian to this day.79

Acknowledgements The women’s seminars of Tsentr Treugol’nik (Moscow), and Klub Sappho (St Petersburg) responded energetically to early versions of this chapter. Daniil Aleksandrov, Chris Burton, Elena Gusyatinskaya, Jan Plamper, Chandak Sengoopta and Lynne Viola, and the librarians of the V. P. Serbskii State Scientific Centre of Social and Forensic Psychiatry, Moscow, provided welcome comments and assistance. I gratefully acknowledge financial support from the University of Toronto’s Stalin Era Research and Archives Project, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada).

Notes 1. Case histories from forensic psychiatry: N. P. Brukhanskii, Materialy po seksual’noi psikhopatologii (Moscow, 1927); E. K. Krasnushkin and N. G. Kholzakova, ‘Dva sluchaya zhenshchin ubiits-gomoseksualistok’, Prestupnik i prestupnost’, no. 1 (1926) pp. 105–20; A. P. Shtess, ‘Sluchai zhenskogo gomoseksualizma pri nalichii situs viscerum inversus, ego psikhoanaliz i gipnoterapiya’, Saratovskii vestnik zdravookhraneniya, nos. 3–4 (1925) pp. 1–19; A. O. Edel’shtein, ‘K klinike transvestitizma’, Prestupnik i prestupnost’, no. 2 (1927) pp. 273–82; E. K. Krasnushkin, Prestupniki psikhopaty (Moscow, 1929). From clinical psychiatry: V. P. Osipov, Kurs obshchego ucheniya o dushevnykh boleznyakh (Berlin, 1923) pp. 355–6, 365; N. I. Sklyar, ‘O proiskhozhdenii i sushchnosti gomoseksualizma’, Vrachebnoe delo, nos. 24–26 (1925) pp. 1919– 23; Ya. I. Kirov, ‘K voprosu o geterotransplantsii pri gomoseksualizme’, Vrachebnoe delo, no. 20 (1928) pp. 1587–90. Two cases from a sexological survey: I. G. Gel’man, Polovaya zhizn’ sovremennoi molodezhi. Opyt sotsial’nobiologicheskogo obsledovaniya (Moscow–Petrograd, 1923) pp. 119–21. One case from forensic medicine: R. I. Livshits, ‘Reaktsiya d-ra Manoilova kak pokazatel’ narusheniya sekretornoi funktsii polovykh zhelez pri seksual’nykh prestuplenniyakh’, Leningradskii meditsinskii zhurnal, no. 2 (1925) pp. 11–14. 2. Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii (GARF), f. A482, op. 25, d. 478, ll. 85–7: ‘Protokol zasedaniya Uchenogo meditsinskogo soveta’ (8 February 1929). The People’s Commissariat of Justice had forwarded to Narkomzdrav for technical clarification a petition from a citizen Kamenev, who requested a sex change operation and revision of his identity documents. 3. Note especially E. M. Derevinskaya, ‘Materialy k klinike, patogenezu, terapii zhenskogo gomoseksualizma’ (Kandidatskaya dissertatsiya meditsinskikh nauk, Karagandinskii gosudarstvennyi meditsinskii institut, 1965); A. M. Svyadoshch,

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4. 5.


7. 8.

9. 10.

11. 12. 13.


Zhenskaya seksopatologiya (Moscow, 1974); G. S. Vasil’chenko, Chastnaya seksopatologiya. Rukovodstvo dlya vrachei, 2 vols (Moscow, 1983); idem., Obshchaya seksopatologiya. Rukovodstvo dlya vrachei (Moscow, 1977). On male homosexuality, see N. V. Ivanov, Voprosy psikhoterapii funktsional’nykh seksual’nykh rasstroistv (Moscow, 1966); I. G. Blyumin, ‘O nekotorykh funktsional’nykh priznakakh gomoseksualizma’; P. B. Posvyanskii, ‘Seksual’nye perverzii: opredelenie ponyatiya, opyt klassifikatsii’; Yu. T. Zhukov, ‘K voprosu o gomoseksualizme u bol’nykh alkogolizmom i ego lechenii’, in D. D. Fedotov (ed.), Voprosy seksopatologii. (Materialy nauchno-prakticheskoi konferentsii) (Moscow, 1969); A. I. Belkin and E. A. Greiner, ‘K probleme polovoi identifikatsii lichnosti (Soobshchenie I)’, in A. A. Portnov (ed.), Problemy sovremennoi seksopatologii (Moscow, 1972); I. S. Kon, Vvedenie k seksologiyu (Moscow, 1988). On the revival of Soviet sexology, see Kon’s Seksual’naya kul’tura v Rossii: Klubnichka na berezka (Moscow, 1997). Krasnushkin and Kholzakova, ‘Dva sluchaya zhenshchin-ubiits gomoseksualistok’, and Brukhanskii, Materialy po seksual’noi psikhopatologii. V. F. Chizh, K ucheniyu ob ‘izvrashchenii polovogo chuvstva’ (Die conträre Sexualempfindung). Soobshcheno obshchestvu Peterburgskikh morskikh vrachei v zasedanii 1-go fevralya 1882 goda ([St Petersburg?], 1882); F. E. Rybakov, ‘O prevratnykh polovykh oshchushcheniyakh’, Vrach, no. 23 (1898) pp. 1–23. For Tarnovskii’s study, see L. Engelstein, ‘Lesbian Vignettes: a Russian Triptych from the 1890s’, Signs, vol. 15, no. 4 (1990) pp. 813–31, based on I. Tarnovskii, Izvrashchenie polovogo chuvstva u zhenshchin (St Petersburg, 1895). On lesbian identities in Western societies, see G. Chauncey, ‘From Sexual Inversion to Homosexuality: Medicine and the Changing Conceptualization of Female Deviance’, Salmagundi, nos. 58–59 (1982–83) pp. 114–46; Lesbian History Group (ed.), Not a Passing Phase: Reclaiming Lesbians in History 1840–1985 (London, 1989); L. Faderman, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: a History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America (New York, 1991). W. Z. Goldman, Women, the State, and Revolution: Soviet Family Policy and Social Life (Cambridge, 1993). S. Karlinsky, ‘Russia’s Gay Literature and Culture: the Impact of the October Revolution’, in M. Duberman, M. Vicinus and G. Chauncey (eds), Hidden From History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past (New York, 1989) p. 358. D. Healey, ‘Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia: Public and Hidden Transcripts, 1917–1941’ (Ph.D. diss., University of Toronto, 1998). The six lesbians who were the direct subjects of the forensic psychiatric studies committed two murders (of their lovers), economic infractions (two women), and two cases of sexual crimes (running a prostitution den, and depraved sexual activities with a minor). Most of their sexual partners were not regarded as criminals; some, later marrying men, were scarcely regarded as ‘homosexual’. Consensual sex between adult women was not illegal in tsarist Russia nor in the USSR. Sklyar, ‘O proiskhozhdenii zhenskogo gomoseksualizma’; Osipov, Kurs obshchego ucheniya o dushevnykh boleznyakh. Kirov, ‘K voprosu o geterotransplantatsii’. Gel’man, Polovaya zhizn’ sovremennoi molodezhi, p. 120.


Gender in Russian History and Culture

14. See Edel’shtein, ‘K klinike transvestitizma’ for diary extracts by Evgeniya Fedorovna M., pp. 276–9; Brukhanskii cites love letters of Ol’ga Shch. and Valentina P., and of Fedosiya P. and Nina, Materialy po seksual’noi psikhopatologii, pp. 55–7, 64; Krasnushkin quotes verse ‘dedicated to lesbos’ by a patient, Prestupniki psikhopaty, p. 12. 15. On literary lesbianism, see D. L. Burgin, ‘Laid Out in Lavender: Perceptions of Lesbian Love in Russian Literature and Criticism of the Silver Age, 1893– 1917’, in J. T. Costlow, S. Sandler and J. Vowles (eds), Sexuality and the Body in Russian Culture (Stanford, 1993) pp. 177–203. 16. On forensic detection of sex between women see, for example, Dr Zuk, ‘O protivozakonnom udovletvorenii polovogo pobuzhdeniya i o sudebnomeditsinskoi zadache pri prestupleniyakh etoi kategorii’, Arkhiv sudebnoi meditsiny i obshchestvennoi gigieny, vol. 2, sec. 5 (1870) pp. 8–13; V. Merzheevskii, Sudebnaya ginekologiya. Rukovodstvo dlya vrachei i yuristov (St Petersburg, 1878) pp. 261–2; Yu. Kratter, ‘Rukovodstvo sudebnoi meditsiny. Dlya vrachei i studentov. Ch. IV. Sudebnaya seksologiya’, Sudebno-meditsinskaya ekspertiza, no. 10 (1928) p. 63. 17. See Chauncey, ‘From Sexual Inversion to Homosexuality’; B. Hansen, ‘American Physicians’ “Discovery” of Homosexuals, 1880–1900: a New Diagnosis in a Changing Society’, in C. E. Rosenberg and J. Golden (eds), Framing Disease: Studies in Cultural History (New Brunswick, 1992); J. Terry, ‘Lesbians under the Medical Gaze: Scientists Search for Remarkable Differences’, Journal of Sex Research, no. 3 (1990) pp. 317–39. 18. Shtess, ‘Sluchai zhenskogo gomoseksualizma’, pp. 15–17; Kirov, ‘K voprosu geteroptransplantatsii’, pp. 1587–90. Fifty years later, Svyadoshch published similar photos, Zhenskaya seksopatologiya, pp. 108, 113. 19. Krasnushkin and Kholzakova, ‘Dva sluchaya zhenshchin ubiits-gomoseksualistok’; Edel’shtein, ‘K klinike transvestizma’. 20. Krasnushkin and Kholzakova, ‘Dva sluchaya zhenshchin ubiits-gomoseksualistok’, pp. 105–6. These authors did not indicate which Hirschfeld text(s) they employed. 21. See Krasnushkin, Prestupniki psikhopaty, pp. 10–12; Edel’shtein, ‘K klinike transvestitizma’. 22. Edel’shtein, ‘K klinike transvestitizma’, p. 281. 23. In the February 1929 meeting of Narkomzdrav’s Expert Medical Council, after hearing an extract from Edel’shtein’s 1927 article, experts used the terms ‘transvestite’, ‘homosexual’ and ‘intermediate sex’ indiscriminately when referring to persons who experienced same-sex desire, and/or wore clothes inappropriate to their biological sex, and/or requested sex change operations, GARF f. A482, op. 25, d. 478, ll. 85–7. 24. On Hirschfeld’s biomedical theories for homosexuality see C. Sengoopta, ‘Glandular Politics: Experimental Biology, Clinical Medicine, and Homosexual Emancipation in Fin-de-Siècle Central Europe’, Isis, no. 89 (1998) pp. 445–73; and J. Steakley, ‘Per scientiam ad justitiam: Magnus Hirschfeld and the Sexual Politics of Innate Homosexuality’, in V. Rosario (ed.), Science and Homosexualities (London, 1997). 25. Sklyar, ‘O proiskhozhdenii i sushchnosti gomoseksualizma’, p. 1920; Shtess, ‘Sluchai zhenskogo gomoseksualizma’, p. 2, photos, pp. 15–17; Kirov, ‘K voprosu o geterotransplantatsii’, pp. 1587–8.

Dan Healey


26. One Ukrainian article compared the two: L. Kvint and R. Geshvandtner ‘Pro germafroditizm i gomoseksualizm’, Ukrainskii medichnyi arkhiv nos. 2–3 (1927) pp. 1–19. Narkomzdrav’s Expert Medical Council reiterated the distinction in its deliberations, GARF f. A482, op. 25, d. 478, l. 85ob. 27. Kirov, ‘K voprosu geterotransplantatsii’, p. 1588. 28. V. P. Protopopov, ‘Sovremennoe sostoyanie voprosa o sushchnosti i proiskhozhdenii gomoseksualizma’, Nauchnaya meditsina, no. 10 (1922) pp. 49–62. Sklyar cited this article. Protopopov supervised Kirov’s experimental surgical cure for female homosexuality in 1928, Kirov, ‘K voprosu o geterotransplantatsii’, p. 1590. 29. Krasnushkin and Kholzakova, ‘Dva sluchaya zhenshchin ubiits-gomoseksualistok’, p. 110: ‘Bisexual’ Sh. murdered L. after a period of sexual intimacy of uncertain duration. L. was a prostitute, and Sh. said that L. had recruited her into the same work. Sh.’s ‘bisexuality’ was characterized (citing Hirschfeld) as a masculinized woman’s attraction to androgynous individuals of both sexes. 30. Shtess, ‘Sluchai zhenskogo gomoseksualizma’, pp. 5–6. 31. Krasnushkin, Prestupniki psikhopaty, p. 12. 32. Brukhanskii, Materialy po seksual’noi psikhopatologii, pp. 53–61 (Valentina P.), 62–5 (Fedosiya P.). Krasnushkin and Kholzakova also wrote on Valentina P., whom they observed at Moscow’s V. P. Serbskii Institute of Forensic Psychiatric Expertise, ‘Dva sluchaya zhenshchin ubiits-gomoseksualistok’, pp. 114–19. Gynaecologist V. A. Ryasentsev conducted medical examinations and wrote about the trial of Fedosiya P., ‘Dva sluchaya iz praktiki. 1. Gomoseksualizm?’, Sudebno-meditsinskaya ekspertiza, no. 2 (1925) pp. 152–6. 33. Brukhanskii, Materialy po seksual’noi psikhopatologii, p. 64. 34. Ryasentsev, ‘Dva sluchaya iz praktiki’, p. 154. 35. Brukhanskii, Materialy po seksual’noi psikhopatologii, p. 65. 36. Edel’shtein, ‘K klinike transvestitizma’, pp. 276–9. Some of the ‘History’ cited by Edel’shtein (not used here) closely resembles a passage in a tsarist apology for homosexuality by the pseudonymous P. V. Ushakovskii, Lyudi srednego pola (St Petersburg, 1908) pp. 198–9. The passage defends the intellectual ability of the intermediate sex, listing names of homosexual artists. 37. Edel’shtein, ‘K klinike transvestitizma’, p. 276. 38. Ibid., p. 277. 39. Evgeniya’s career resembles the history of two female ‘homosexuals’ who registered their marriage in 1922, discussed in G. R., ‘Protsessy gomoseksualistov’, Ezhenedel’nik sovetskoi yustitsii, no. 33 (1922) pp. 16–17. For a comparison of the accounts, see Healey, ‘Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia’, ch. 2. 40. Edel’shtein, ‘K klinike transvestitizma’, pp. 276–9. 41. Ibid., pp. 279–80. 42. Michel Foucault pointed out the uses which ‘perverts’ made of the scientific categories devised ‘for’ them, M. Foucault, The History of Sexuality, vol. 1: An Introduction (London, 1979) pp. 100–2. 43. Brukhanskii, Materialy po seksual’noi psikhopatologii, pp. 6–8; L. G. Orshanskii, ‘Polovye prestupleniya. Analiz psikhologicheskii i psikhopatologicheskii’, in A. A. Zhizhilenko and L. G. Orshanskii (eds), Polovye prestupleniya (Leningrad–Moscow, 1927) pp. 41–91; M. M. Zavadovskii, ‘Issledovanie


44. 45. 46.

47. 48.

49. 50.


52. 53. 54. 55. 56.

57. 58.

Gender in Russian History and Culture semennika gomoseksualista’, Trudy po dinamike razvitiya (Prodolzhenie ‘Trudov laboratorii eksperim. biologii Mosk. Zooparka’) no. 6 (1931) pp. 65–70. A. Lipschütz, The Internal Secretions of the Sex Glands: the Problem of the ‘Puberty Gland’ (Cambridge, 1924) p. 369; Sengoopta, ‘Glandular Politics’. Sengoopta, ‘Glandular Politics’. E. P. Frenkel’, Polovye prestupleniya (Odessa, 1927) p. 12. See also: B. Zmiev, Ugolovnoe pravo. Chast’ osobennaya. Vypusk I: Prestupleniya protiv lichnosti i imushchestvennye (Kazan, 1923) p. 27; S. V. Poznyshev, Ocherk osnovnykh nachal nauki ugolovnogo prava. II. Osobennaya chast’ (Moscow, 1923) p. 60. For archival records, see Healey, ‘Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia’, ch. 1. Sengoopta, ‘Glandular Politics’. The psychiatrist Mark Sereiskii’s articles on ‘homosexuality’ in the Great Medical Encyclopedia (1929) and the Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1930) relied heavily on Steinach’s work: M. Sereiskii, ‘Gomoseksualizm’, Bol’shaya meditsinskaya entsiklopediya (Moscow, 1929) vol. 7, cols 668–72; idem., ‘Gomoseksualizm’, Bol’shaya sovetskaya entsiklopediya, 1st edn (Moscow, 1930) vol. 17, cols 593–6. Sklyar and Edel’shtein were among the strongest proponents of this theory; see also E. A. Popov, ‘O klassifikatsii polovykh izvrashchenii’. V. M. Bekhterev, ‘Polovye ukloneniya i izvrashcheniya v svete refleksologii’, Voprosy izucheniya i vospitaniya lichnosti, nos. 4–5 (1922) pp. 644–746; note also, for example, his ‘Lechenie vnusheniem prevratnykh polovykh vlechenii i onanizma’, Obozrenie psikhiatrii, no. 8 (1898) pp. 1–11. Degeneracy concepts had long influenced theories of perversion: H. Oosterhuis, ‘Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s “Step-Children of Nature”: Psychiatry and the Making of Homosexual Identity’, in Rosario (ed.), Science and Homosexualities, pp. 70–2. For Soviet representatives at WLSR congresses, see D. Healey, ‘The Russian Revolution and the Decriminalisation of Homosexuality,’ Revolutionary Russia, vol. 6, no. 1 (1993) pp. 26–54, esp. p. 37; for Hirschfeld’s Soviet visit, see M. Herzer, Magnus Hirschfeld: Leben und Werk eines jüdischen, schwulen und sozialistischen Sexologen (Frankfurt and New York, 1992) pp. 44–5. Krasnushkin and Kholzakova, ‘Dva sluchaya zhenshchin ubiits-gomoseksualistok’, pp. 105–6. Brukhanskii, Materialy po seksual’noi psikhopatologii, pp. 6–8. GARF, f. A482, op. 25, d. 478, ll. 86–7. Edel’shtein, ‘K klinike transvestitizma’, p. 282. Sklyar, ‘O proiskhozhdenii i sushchnosti gomoseksualizma’; cited by Derevinskaya, ‘Materialy k klinike,’; and Svyadoshch, Zhenskaya seksopatologiya. Svyadoshch supervised Derevinskaya’s thesis, relying on it extensively in this monograph. Derevinskaya published little herself and apparently did not enjoy the prestige of her supervisor, who ran a Leningrad sexological clinic in the 1970s–1980s. Sklyar, ‘O proiskhozhdenii i sushchnosti gomoseksualizma’, pp. 1920–3. Shtess, ‘Sluchai zhenskogo gomoseksualizma’; Kirov, ‘K voprosu o geterotransplantatsii’. For details of both cures see D. Healey, ‘Evgeniia/ Evgenii: Queer Case Histories in the First Years of Soviet Power’, Gender and History, no. 1 (1997) pp. 83–106, esp. pp. 88–90.

Dan Healey


59. Shtess ‘cured’ his subject after psychoanalysis and hypnotherapy, offering as proof photographs and quotations from letters. On the political fate of psychoanalysis in the USSR, see A. Etkind, Eros nevozmozhnogo: Istoriya psikhoanaliza v Rossii (St Petersburg, 1993). 60. Kirov, ‘K voprosu o geterotransplantatsii’, p. 1590. 61. Sexologists who also expressed tolerant views included Grigorii Batkis of the Moscow State Institute for Social Hygiene, in his Die Sexualrevolution in Russland (Berlin, 1925), and his speeches to WLSR congresses. Two sexological surveys positive towards homosexuals were Gel’man, Polovaya zhizn’ sovremennoi molodezhi, and Z. A. Gurevich and F. I. Grosser, Problemy polovoi zhizni (Kharkov, 1930). 62. On sodomy recriminalization in 1933–34 and the redirection of medical priorities from 1929 to 1932, see Healey, ‘Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia’, chs 3, 4 and 5. 63. E. Waters, ‘Victim or Villain: Prostitution in Post-Revolutionary Russia’, in L. Edmondson (ed.), Women and Society in Russian and the Soviet Union (Cambridge, 1992) p. 163; E. A. Wood, ‘Prostitution Unbound: Representations of Sexual and Political Anxieties in Postrevolutionary Russia’, in Costlow et al. (eds), Sexuality and the Body, p. 133. Bolshevik initiatives on ‘prostitution’ in Russia always assumed the prostitute was female. 64. The Council’s use of shifting terms for this discussion (‘transvestite’, ‘intermediate sex’, ‘homosexuals’) reflected the inchoate state of the chief question it was asked to examine, a request for a surgical sex change. Contemporary European sexologists then classified persons requesting sex changes as ‘transvestites’; see J. Prosser, ‘Transsexuals and the Transsexologists: Inversion and the Emergence of Transsexual Subjectivity’, in L. Bland and L. Doan (eds), Sexology in Culture: Labelling Bodies and Desires (Cambridge, 1998). 65. J. Hyer, ‘Managing the Female Organism: Doctors and the Medicalization of Women’s Paid Work in Soviet Russia during the 1920s’, in R. Marsh (ed.), Women in Russia and Ukraine (Cambridge, 1996) pp. 114–17. 66. See, for example, research in factories by the Moscow Institute of Neuropsychiatric Prophylaxis, 1928–29, in GARF f. A482, op. 10, d. 1748; and ‘Plan raboty brigady na zavode “Krasnyi Kauchuk”’ prepared by the same Institute (1930), GARF, f. A406, op. 12, d. 2734. 67. Gel’man, Polovaya zhizn’ sovremennoi molodezhi, pp. 119–21. 68. GARF, f. A482, op. 25, d. 478, l. 85ob. 69. Ibid., l. 86. 70. Ibid., ll. 86ob., 87. 71. Hirschfeld received reports in 1928 that homosexuals were confined forcibly in Soviet psychiatric institutions; to inquiries, the Soviet Embassy in Berlin replied evasively, citing sex reform law; Herzer, Magnus Hirschfeld, p. 45. 72. Shtess’s Freudian cure of his patient was crowned with her reported wish to marry and bear a child, a transfer of ‘an important quantity of her libido’ from the narcissistic ego to the child: Shtess, ‘Sluchai zhenskogo gomoseksualizma’, p. 12. Standard to the female homosexual biography were episodes of victimization by (male) rapists or husbands, disasters in heterosexual relations which evoked homosexuality and made a return to ‘normal’



74. 75. 76. 77. 78.


Gender in Russian History and Culture relations unlikely; see e.g. Kirov, ‘K voprosu o geterotransplantatsii’, pp. 1587–8; Sklyar, ‘O proiskhozhdenii i sushchnosti gomoseksualizma’, p. 1919; Krasnushkin and Kholzakova, ‘Dva sluchaya zhenshchin ubiitsgomoseksualistok’, p. 107. From 1919 to 1925, Krasnushkin served at Moscow’s Devich’e pole psychiatric clinic under Gannushkin as did psychiatrist Sereiskii and sexologist M. O. Gurevich; all published statements eschewing hostility towards homosexuality. See L. L. Rokhlin, ‘Nekotorye osobennosti klinicheskogo napravleniya E. K. Krasnushkina’ in L. L. Rokhlin and A. M. Chirkov (eds), Voprosy sotsial’noi i klinicheskoi psikhonevrologii, vol. 11 (Moscow, 1961) p. 5. Herzer, Magnus Hirschfeld, p. 45. Hirschfeld left only a brief newspaper account of his Narkomzdrav sponsored visit, and Narkomzdrav archives are silent about the trip. Healey, ‘Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia’, ch. 3; idem., ‘Evgeniia/Evgenii’, pp. 96–8. Goldman, Women, the State, and Revolution, pp. 288–95, 331–6. The 1940 criminal trial of a 36-year-old woman who began a two-year affair with a 16-year-old girl offers a rare example. The older woman received a three-year sentence; her appeal to be examined by a forensic psychiatric board, and her argument that her partner had reached sexual maturity before their affair, were rejected by the RSFSR Supreme Court; Tsentral’nyi munitsipal’nyi arkhiv Moskvy (TsMAM), f. 819, op. 2, d. 38, ll. 17–18. This case is the only lesbian prosecution observed in Moscow’s city court records at TsMAM for 1933–60. In addition to sexological research in the 1950s–1960s by Derevinskaya and Svyadoshch on ‘female homosexuals’ mentioned above, see on the late Soviet psychiatric treatment of lesbians, M. Gessen, The Rights of Lesbians and Gay Men in the Russian Federation (San Francisco, 1994) pp. 17–19.

7 Biding Their Time: Women Workers and the Regulation of Hours of Employment in the 1920s Melanie Ilic

This chapter examines the impact on gender relations of the legislative regulations placed on the hours of employment of women workers, focusing particularly on the debates which took place in the 1920s. 1 Restrictions on the hours of employment for women workers, and specifically the exclusion of women from night shifts in certain industrial sectors, were first introduced in the nineteenth century. The controversies which the original night shift prohibition aroused, including the resistance to the imposition of the protective measures by women workers themselves, the antagonisms generated with both male colleagues and employers, and the disputes arising between different manufacturing districts, were evident also in the 1920s. By the early 1930s, however, scientific ‘evidence’ was beginning to be published which challenged the basic assumption that night shift employment was injurious to women.

In the nineteenth century, the extent of resistance to factory regulation on the part of some factory owners and, to a greater degree, the level of antagonism between different groups of industrialists are illustrated by the debates surrounding the introduction of the first major protective labour laws with respect to women workers in the mid-1880s. The debates on the regulation of female labour also illustrate the point that the proponents of protective measures in this period did not always consider the improvement in the conditions of employment for the women as their primary concern. Giffin’s study of the introduction of 139


Gender in Russian History and Culture

the prohibition on night work by women in the cotton textiles industries in 1885 highlights the antagonism which developed between St Petersburg industrialists, who initially proposed the regulation, and factory owners in the Moscow and central industrial regions, who, on the whole, opposed the night work restrictions in the hope of maintaining their competitive economic edge. 2 The industrial slump of the early 1880s proved especially severe in St Petersburg, where many factories were forced to lay off parts of their labour force. In 1884 the St Petersburg industrialists, who, already aware of their competitive weakness, had earlier sought the introduction of a law prohibiting night work by women, presented a petition to the government in which they identified the widespread use of night shift employment in Moscow and the surrounding regions for overproduction in the manufacturing industries. The relatively advanced nature of the production process in St Petersburg, with its broader use of more technologically advanced machinery and the fostering of higher levels of skill within its industrial labour force, had already resulted in the introduction of shorter hours of work and the virtual absence of night shift employment. The St Petersburg industrialists also put forward an argument on humanitarian grounds that night work was physically and morally harmful to women. In Moscow and the central industrial region, however, night work was far more common in the textile industries than it was in St Petersburg. Aware of their own competitive advantage, the industrialists in these areas campaigned to stop the introduction of the prohibitive regulations. They argued that night work was an essential feature of Moscow factory life and that the St Petersburg industrialists’ motivation for private gain was insufficient grounds to justify the introduction of the restrictive measures. The representatives of the central industrial region industrialists at the Manufacturing Council in Moscow argued that production in this area was greatly dependent on the employment of women workers, who comprised around one-third of the total labour force at this time. They argued that manufacturing output would decline significantly if the hours of women’s work were restricted. They suggested further that night work by women was no more harmful than some of its alternatives and that it was regarded as an essential part of family integrity in manufacturing districts, where often both wife and husband were employed at night. The divisions which emerged during the course of the negotiations among the factory owners of the central industrial region themselves, however, were finally to settle the dispute. The high prices of fuel had

Melanie Ilic


raised the costs of production to such an extent that night work had already been abandoned in some areas. In practice, those factories which operated only daytime shifts had not suffered in relation to those still employing night workers. On the basis of such arguments, the Manufacturing Council eventually conceded to the introduction of a night work prohibition for women workers. The potentially damaging impact on levels of industrial competition and on industrial production, therefore, seem to have been the major concerns informing the introduction of the first night work regulations for female labour in Russia, rather than concern for the impact of such employment on the women workers themselves. On 3 June 1885 the Minister of Finance introduced regulations, applicable from 1 October 1885, which banned the employment of women, and of young workers up to the age of 17 years, on night shifts initially in cotton-spinning factories, and then also in other textile factories. The hours of night work were not set out in the decree but, on the basis of earlier regulations, were generally agreed to fall between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Provision was made in the decree for the Ministry of Finance to extend the night shift prohibitions to other sectors of industry. Under the terms of the 1885 provisions, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of the Interior were charged with investigating further the regulation of night work and were to submit a report on this issue within the next three years. It would be safe to assume that the provisions of the 1885 protective labour law prohibiting night work by women did not receive widespread practical application. One recent survey of nineteenth-century Russia has noted that ‘there had been some factory legislation in the 1880s but this was widely ignored. It was insufficient to protect the workers but enough to irritate industrialists.’3 The problem arose of enforcing the new regulations. Another study has noted that ‘these laws were not immediately enforced, and some years passed before the government inspectorate was efficient, before its officers could stand up to the hostility or persuasion of employers’.4 Glickman, in her study of Russian female factory workers, has also pointed out that the decree failed to establish any sanctions to be used against factory owners who did not comply with its terms, nor did it ascribe supervision of the decree to any specific administrative body. Responsibility for determining punishments, therefore, fell to the factory inspectorate, which imposed only limited fines on errant employers.5 Proper sanctions for failure to observe the terms of the night work regulations were not introduced in law until 1890.


Gender in Russian History and Culture

* One of the earliest initiatives of the Bolsheviks when they came to power in October 1917 was to introduce a number of decrees which regulated the hours of work of the industrial labour force and for service and professional employees. Most significant in respect to female labour was the fact that one of these decrees introduced a universal prohibition on the employment of women in night work, which in practical terms was defined as falling between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., and in overtime work.6 These prohibitions were reiterated in the 1918 Labour Code, which stated that women should be excluded from employment under such conditions in any circumstances. The intention at this time was that the employment of women on night shifts would be reduced steadily and that it would be totally eliminated over the following three years. The stringent regulations on the hours of work for female labour, despite their limited application in reality, had some unfortunate consequences. In the tumultuous economic circumstances of the immediate post-revolutionary period, one Soviet commentator has noted that such protective measures helped to foster an unfavourable attitude towards working women in general in some enterprises and that women soon became an easy target for dismissal at this time. Astapovich cites a number of examples of married women being dismissed from work altogether after the ratification of the night work regulations. The metallurgical workers’ trade union successfully protested against this practice in their industry and secured the return to work of women made redundant. In fact, many trade unions and local workers’ organisations sanctioned the employment of female labour on night shifts despite the legal prohibition. 7 The Bolsheviks themselves, however, quickly came to realize that such a stringent prohibition was neither practical nor desirable. It soon became obvious that a whole range of essential services which were reliant on the employment of female labour around the clock could not function properly without the employment of women on night shifts. On 4 October 1919 the formal prohibition was revised by the introduction of a decree which allowed the employment of women at night temporarily in a number of specified occupations, thus making provision for the continuous operation of essential services. These were to be jobs where women formed an important element in the labour force, such as medical personnel and communications staff, and which could not operate effectively without the continuation of a night shift.8

Melanie Ilic


In many respects the limitations on night work by women in most industrial and professional occupations were difficult to enforce during the chaotic years of war communism and Civil War. For example, a decree introduced in 1919 permitted women to be employed for up to six hours on night shifts in the tobacco industry when the erratic supply of electricity disrupted daytime production.9 One commentator has suggested that the requests for exemption from the restrictions on night and overtime work by women in these years were anyway only a mere formality.10 In addition, it has also been suggested that many workers were unaware of the existence of such laws or did not understand the terms of the decrees. They had little time or desire to find out about the provisions.11 The legal restrictions on overtime work by women were also reviewed in the period immediately following the promulgation of the 1918 Labour Code. On 29 December 1919 the People’s Commissariat of Labour of the Russian Federation (Narkomtrud RSFSR) relaxed the restrictions on the employment of women in overtime work in state institutions. The decree stated that female labour could be employed in overtime work temporarily, if the local labour inspectors and trade union organizations were satisfied that it was impossible to extend any further overtime work by male employees. 12 However, the prohibition on the employment of pregnant women after the fifth month of pregnancy and nursing mothers in overtime work and for both pregnant women and nursing mothers at night was reiterated and reinforced by two separate decrees issued on 24 November 1920.13 In a study of contemporary problems of female labour in the early 1920s, S. I. Kaplun, who was active in the campaigns to introduce legislative protection of female labour, argued that overtime work by women was rarely used in industrial sectors of the economy but was a common feature of rural employment. He offered an optimistic picture of the elimination of night shift working by women at this time and put forward medical evidence to support the further implementation of the prohibition. In the second edition of a study, published in 1925, Kaplun calculated that women constituted 45 per cent of workers in industries operating a night shift but comprised only 7 per cent of those actually working at night, and these were in such sectors as transport, medical–sanitary services and mining enterprises.14 In support of his argument, Kaplun cited a study which had been conducted in Odessa in 1920. This study had revealed that the rates of illness among female night workers were 50 per cent higher than among women working on daytime shifts. In comparison, male night


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workers recorded a 36 per cent higher level of sickness. Kaplun suggested that if women were to be employed at night it should be in the non-heavy sectors of the economy and in non-hazardous jobs. In industrial enterprises, he argued, predominantly men should work at night.15 Another contemporary commentator also noted that ‘Soviet law rightly forbids night work to women as it is more difficult’. 16 The prohibition on night shift employment and overtime work by women was confirmed in the 1922 Labour Code, which added that adult women should only be employed in these conditions ‘where there is a special need’. 17 Such work was to be considered only under exceptional circumstances and as a temporary measure. In some instances the official prohibition on night work by women was subsequently reinforced by individual decrees. For example, a decree of 9 November 1922, which dealt with night work in bakeries, reiterated the ban on the employment of women and young workers at night ‘under any circumstances’.18 As a result of such measures, the controversies which had been evident before the revolution in the attempts to implement tsarist factory legislation in the regulation of hours of work for female labour, were renewed and continued throughout the 1920s, with many women themselves again vociferously opposing the ban on night and overtime work. The early retractions of the 1922 Labour Code prohibition on the employment of women on night shifts and in overtime work were operative on a sectoral level, and again came into force particularly in service industries which required around the clock operation. For example, a decree of 2 February 1923 confirmed that women were permitted to work temporarily at night as telegraph and telephone operators because of the ‘uninterrupted nature of this work’ and the difficulties experienced in these tasks of substituting male workers for female employees.19 It has been argued in addition that this was an area of work for women, ‘where night duty is necessary and cannot be undertaken by male workers alone’ and that ‘few men are acquainted with this profession’.20 On 27 November 1923 Narkomtrud SSSR issued a decree, which, in view of the uninterrupted nature of service in the transport sector and the difficulties already experienced in transferring women from night work, permitted women workers to be employed at night in nine different tasks in transportation, largely as cleaners, guards, ticket and luggage cashiers and clerks. The decree again upheld the prohibition on the employment of pregnant women, nursing mothers and young workers in the stated occupations. 21 A subsequent decree supplemented this list with two further categories of employment specifically on the

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railways, as watchwomen on stations and level-crossings. The decree also noted the temporary nature of these provisions. 22 Growing concern over the rising levels of female unemployment during the period of the New Economic Policy (NEP) led to the prohibitive principles of the 1922 Labour Code concerning hours of employment being reviewed so that future retractions would encompass all categories of night work by women. By the mid-1920s some campaigners for the lifting of the ban on night and overtime work were beginning to question the general benefits of laws prohibiting such work by women. There was also some recognition of the fact that the alternatives for female labour to employment in night and overtime work offered no more favourable conditions of work. These alternatives, as women themselves pointed out and as a number of contemporary commentators were beginning to recognize, could indeed be grim. 23 On an informal level at least, the restrictions on night work by women were beginning to be relaxed by 1924. In fact, despite the official prohibition on night and overtime work by female labour embodied in the 1922 Labour Code, there is much anecdotal evidence to suggest that women continued to be employed widely under such circumstances throughout the 1920s and 1930s (although the extent of this would be impossible to quantify) and that women were often the most active opponents of the prohibition. It is important to note also, however, that night work itself was not without its dangers for women. In her study of the male-dominated printing industry, Koenker has noted that recorded complaints of sexual assault were much more common among night shift employees. 24 A circular issued by Narkomtrud RSFSR on 23 February 1924 clearly illustrated some of the contemporary concerns of the reformers. The circular itself questioned the practical utility of restricting night work by women in circumstances of widespread female unemployment. The protective nature of the prohibition under such conditions, the circular pointed out, was being undermined and this ‘gives rise to justifiable criticism from women that prostitution, hunger and depravation, to which they are doomed by unemployment, have a more pernicious effect on them than night work’. The circular proceeded to indicate that present conditions were also leading to a lowering of qualifications among women, because when they were transferred to daytime shifts they were being allocated to less skilled jobs or they were otherwise faced with the threat of redundancy.25 The circular set out the instruction that women should not be transferred from night shift production if it would result in their


Gender in Russian History and Culture

dismissal or transfer to less skilled employment. Local trade union and department of labour organizations were sanctioned to grant permission temporarily to enterprises in order to allow women to work at night, on the submission of the relevant supporting documentation, before official confirmation was received from Narkomtrud. As in previous legislative revisions, however, the circular repeated the prohibition on night work for pregnant women and nursing mothers.26 The question of the necessity of night work by women, however, had clearly not been resolved even within Narkomtrud. A few months later, in June 1924, the newly established Narkomtrud SSSR Commission for the Improvement and Study of Women’s Labour in Production reported that the removal of women from employment both on night shifts and in hazardous occupations was taking place too slowly. The commission called for the circulation of instructions recommending that women should be transferred immediately from such employments.27 The question of the impact of the prohibition on night shift employment by women on the rising levels of female unemployment was subsequently raised at the Sixth All-Union Trade Union Congress in November 1924. The People’s Commissar for Labour, V. V. Shmidt, himself acknowledged that protective labour legislation did not always serve women’s immediate or best interests. 28 Meleshchenko, a delegate to the congress from Rostov-on-Don, argued that the low levels of skill among women resulted partly from the night work prohibition. In the printing industry, for example, some highly skilled and technical tasks were conducted only on night shifts, from which women were legally excluded. Women’s labour, it was argued, was devalued by the ban on night time employment. In addition to this, extra men had to be recruited to work at night and this could prove expensive to enterprises and disruptive to production. Meleshchenko argued that a relaxation of the prohibition could only prove beneficial for female labour. Women would be able to pay for their own ‘crusts of bread’ and would not be forced to sell themselves on the streets.29 In one of the closing sessions Shmidt proposed a resolution which argued that the prohibition on night work was resulting in women being forced out of jobs and that this contributed to widespread unemployment among the female labour force. The congress was called upon to review the existing laws on night work.30 The revision of official policy on the night work prohibition for female labour, it has been argued, owed more to the practical demands of enterprise managers and to the workers themselves than to any

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fundamental change in attitude among the contemporary Bolshevik reformers. Waters has argued thus: It was not that the regime had been suddenly converted to a feminist critique of protectionist legislation and to an appreciation of the ways in which labour policy reflected and reinforced traditional notions of masculinity and femininity. Concessions to managerial prejudices were preferable to the implementation of radical changes in the training and deployment of the female labour force.31 It is evident from this that the fundamental legal provisions of the 1922 Labour Code were being gradually eroded from the mid-1920s, allowing increasing numbers of women to work on night shifts and in overtime employment, while at the same time officially retaining the prohibition for pregnant women and nursing mothers. A circular issued by Narkomtrud SSSR on 13 April 1925 upheld the principles of the February 1924 Narkomtrud RSFSR circular on a Union-wide basis. This circular argued that in view of the potential for women to be excluded from production, female labour could henceforth be employed on night shifts in all branches of production with the exception of those areas of employment from which women were already generally prohibited because of the hazardous nature of the work. These revised regulations were to apply not only to enterprises currently working a night shift but also to enterprises where night work was a new element in the production process as a result of the expansion of plant or the opening of new departments. Pregnant women and nursing mothers, however, were to be transferred to daytime shifts.32 The relaxation of the night work regulations was noted in the report of a British women’s delegation to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1925.33 Writing during the course of these revisions, however, Kaplun again supported the maintenance of protective measures on night work by women but he conceded that, on the basis of recent research, night work did not have as negative an impact on the female organism as some of the alternative, more hazardous employments. He clearly felt that while it was important to avoid a situation where women would be removed from the productive sphere altogether by such legislative regulations, there was still a need to offer some form of protection to female labour. By 1925, however, he seemed to have been defeated in his goal of prohibiting women altogether from working at night and on overtime. In future, the enforcement of these restrictions in practice was to apply most strictly only to pregnant women and nursing mothers,


Gender in Russian History and Culture

who were to be transferred immediately to work exclusively on day shifts. The regulation of the hours of work for pregnant women and nursing mothers remained an area of contention. One commentary on the protective measures of the maternity provisions noted that the original statutes did not establish the length of time in which the employment of pregnant women and nursing mothers would be prohibited at night and in overtime work. 34 This had clearly been interpreted in some cases to encompass the entire duration of the pregnancy and time spent in breastfeeding. Subsequent decrees also did not always set out the duration of the prohibition for pregnant women and nursing mothers when women had been permitted temporarily to work at night. The restrictions on the hours of work for pregnant women and nursing mothers were not clarified until the end of the decade. On the basis of the findings of a government commission into the impact of the seven-hour working day, a decree was issued on 2 January 1929 which introduced amendments to various articles of the 1922 Labour Code. This decree determined the hours of night work as falling between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. It reiterated the legal prohibition on the employment of pregnant women from the sixth month of pregnancy and nursing mothers during the first five months of breastfeeding on night shifts and in overtime work specifically in enterprises operating a seven-hour working day. 35 In the following month the duration of the prohibition on the employment of nursing mothers on night shifts and in overtime work was extended to six months.36 Towards the end of the 1920s the debates on the introduction of the seven-hour day and the continuous working week, especially in the textile industry which had a predominantly female labour force, also showed recognition of the specific impact of the legislative regulation of hours of work on the employment of women workers. Some contemporary commentators were sceptical of the utility of the proposed new work regimes and they themselves put forward arguments that set out the limited economic benefits and the potentially negative social consequences of night shift employment. It is probable that many women who were employed at night also had a range of domestic tasks and family responsibilities which reduced their time available for sleep and rest during the day. It is possible to infer from this also that such demands on women’s time during the day had a negative impact on their effectiveness in paid employment, by reducing their levels of labour productivity and increasing levels of wastage.

Melanie Ilic


In an analysis of the impact of the introduction of the seven-hour working day in the textile industry, where every third week workers were required to work at night, N. E. Akim, a Moscow-based sanitary inspector, argued that ‘the night shift results in the greater fatigue of the worker, in a lower productivity of labour and to a greater level of spoilage in comparison with day time shifts’. 37 Akim proceeded to elaborate a complex plan for the distribution of work hours over the course of a three-week period, which was designed to minimize the necessity for each individual worker to be employed at night while, at the same time, maximizing the operational capacity of the factory. Akim also set out a different scheme of work for pregnant women and nursing mothers with the intention of minimizing the number of hours that they would be required to work at night over a two-week period.38 In reality, the proposed changes to established work regimes, which were debated during the early years of the Soviet industrialization drive and introduced in practice from 1928, significantly undermined the provisions of earlier legislation which had, in theory at least, restricted the hours at which women could be employed. The introduction of the seven-hour day, three-shift system and the continuous working week would, in practice, increase the number of workers employed at individual enterprises and, in addition to this, required that women should be employed at night alongside male colleagues. 39 In a speech to the Second Trade Union (VTsSPS) All-Union Meeting on Work among Women in June 1928, the deputy Commissar of Labour, Tolstopyatov, drew attention to some of the issues concerning the employment of female labour under the conditions of ‘rationalization’ of production and the introduction of the seven-hour working day. He pointed out that in general women had been laid off more readily than men, as enterprise managers considered them to be less profitable. He called on the trade unions to stem the trend of female unemployment. The prohibition on night work for female labour, according to Tolstopyatov, had undoubtedly contributed to the levels of unemployment experienced in the 1920s and, as he was aware, a government commission to investigate the impact of the seven-hour working day had decided to permit women to work at night. He also called on the trade unions to enforce more effectively the regulations in regard to pregnant women and nursing mothers, who, he pointed out, ‘as experience has shown, quite often themselves circumvent this decree’.40 It is clear from these examples that the potential impact on female labour of changes in working practices was being widely debated in the


Gender in Russian History and Culture

later 1920s. As an outcome of these debates, one line of argument suggested that the transfer to a seven-hour day would be beneficial as it would result in a reduction in the amount of time labour was required to work on night shifts to six hours, thus making night work more suitable for women. The newspaper Trud called for the expansion in the use of female labour at night as early as the beginning of 1928.41 Some of the enterprises in the textile industry were transferred gradually to the new patterns of work from 15 January 1928 and these factories came to provide the focus for a range of studies on the impact of the rationalization measures. Particular concern in the contemporary discussions was directed towards maintaining the prohibition on the employment of pregnant women and nursing mothers on night shifts and in overtime work ‘under any circumstances’. The prohibition was maintained, at least officially. Attention was also given to the needs of working mothers with young children, who constituted a significant proportion of the workers employed on night shifts.42 It was considered important that these women should be able to sleep soundly during the day and have access to childcare facilities when they were working at night. It was also felt to be disruptive for working mothers, on finishing a night shift, to interrupt their children’s sleep when they came to collect them from the nursery. For working mothers on night shifts, therefore, childcare provision needed to be extended throughout the night so that mothers could wait to collect their children in the morning. 43 All efforts were to be made to maintain child care provision on a three-shift basis in order that children could be cared for at all times when their mothers were working. The difficulties encountered in implementing protective labour legislation, in the face of widespread resistance on the part of women workers themselves, were clearly demonstrated by the example of various practices which were initiated in the textile industry in this period. An analysis of the actual impact of the revised work regimes and of the debates surrounding the question of the employment of women on night shifts in the textile industry is provided by Ward’s study of cotton workers during the NEP.44 Ward expresses some of the objections put forward by the workers themselves to the operation of the ban on night shift employment for female labour. Some male workers clearly felt that if selected categories of employees were exempted totally from night work, then others would be condemned to working permanently at night. Women workers themselves objected to being excluded from night shifts and Ward cites reports of female textile workers in the Ivanovo district refusing to obey the terms of the legislative regulations.

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Official pleas to the workers, however, continued to urge the women to think first of their own health and that of their children before insisting on working at night. 45 Local party committees at individual enterprises were instructed to ensure that women workers complied with the terms of the prohibition in order to safeguard the health of both the mother and child. A case was reported where at one factory a nursing mother who had been employed on the night shift for only one week ceased to produce any milk to feed her baby. On the basis of such reports, local departments for the protection of women’s labour and party cells at the factories were instructed to speed up the rates of transfer of pregnant women and nursing mothers from night shift employment. 46 However, as Ward points out, pregnant women and nursing mothers themselves could be the most vociferous of the protestors. 47 In Rodniki, where special arrangements had been made for the employment of pregnant women and nursing mothers exclusively on daytime shifts, women won the assent of their local trade union organization in ignoring the restrictions on their employment at night. Further to this, Ward notes that the newspaper of the textile industry, Golos tekstilei, reported cases in which pregnant women were forced to conceal their pregnancies and that some women may even have resorted to backstreet abortions in order to avoid the legal prohibitions on their hours of work. More generally, women raised a number of important objections to the suggestion that they should be excluded from night work. A series of articles in the women’s journal, Kommunistka, drew attention to their complaints. Loyalties to other workers on their shifts, attachment to the operation of specific equipment and machinery and fears of reductions in wages, as Ward has also pointed out, all influenced the demands which women put forward to be allowed to work on night shifts. Women feared that by not working at night they would lose access to their machines and tools, and pregnant women and nursing mothers in particular argued that their wages would be lower if they were only allowed to work during the day.48 The habits of set work patterns proved difficult to break. It was argued that ‘on other machines output decreases. They fear that pregnant women and nursing mothers will not be allocated to the best machines. In addition, they do not know with whom they will be working.’ 49 Payment by piece rates meant that workers wanted to ensure being placed with the most efficient colleagues on alternate shifts. One report noted that ‘they are afraid of losing their own machines or their work mates on their shift, or they consider that it would be more convenient


Gender in Russian History and Culture

to work at night’. 50 The ban could also have a detrimental effect on family relations and many women disliked having to work a different shift from their husband. Despite the wide-ranging discussions on expanding night shift employment by women more generally, the prohibition was maintained officially for the employment of pregnant women from the seventh month of pregnancy and nursing mothers in the first six months of breastfeeding.51 The most difficult period of night work, from which such workers were to be excluded entirely, was regarded as falling between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. Women themselves argued that with the efficient organization of shifts, working at the most difficult hours of night could be avoided and that these hours could be reserved for special work brigades or used for maintenance and running repairs on the machines. 52 On the basis of this argument it was suggested that the first daytime shift should not begin before 4 a.m. and the late shift was not to finish after 1 a.m. On the other hand it was argued that by not starting the first shift until 6 a.m. factories were still able to run two full daytime shifts on which pregnant women and nursing mothers could be employed. 53 Individual factories continued to operate their own policies on shift arrangements, some of which facilitated the employment of pregnant women and nursing mothers for a minimum number of hours at night. In Shuya, for example, pregnant women and nursing mothers were given the option of working at night. Pregnant women and nursing mothers, according to one account, were also being admitted to night work in Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Vladimir, Tver and parts of the Moscow region.54 The disputes arising over the prohibition on the night shift of pregnant women and nursing mothers in the textile industry are also illustrative to a limited extent of the continuing competitive economic rivalry between the two major industrial centres, Moscow and Leningrad, at the end of the 1920s. The Department of Labour Protection of Narkomtrud RSFSR, officially at least, clearly regarded the transfer of pregnant women and nursing mothers from night shifts as an urgent matter by 1929. In Leningrad, however, various objections were raised. In this region most of the textile factories still operated on an eighthour, two-shift pattern, with the second shift running from 4 p.m. to midnight. It was argued that if women were to finish work by 10 or 11 p.m., then their machines would be left standing idle for the final part of the shift and the norms of output for those remaining at work would have to be raised. In Leningrad also, women complained of being taken away from their machines and transferred to lesser paid jobs.55

Melanie Ilic


A handbook on the work of the state scientific-research Institute for the Protection of Labour published in 1930 provides some indication of the outcomes of their earlier observations into the impact on workers of night shift employment. It is interesting to note that the institute was headed by Kaplun. The report suggested that if employment at night stopped before 2 a.m. and did not begin before 5 a.m., and that if workers were able to gain sufficient rest at home after their shift, then the negative consequences of night work, such as lower productivity and greater fatigue, could be significantly ameliorated. Moreover, the observations conducted by the institute revealed that night work did not seem to have such a detrimental impact on women as it did on men: ‘The woman’s organism is more easily adapted to night work than men’s, which is apparently a consequence of the fact that women generally before all else are mothers, they have a much greater reason than men to accustom their bodies to sleeplessness.’ 56 The report argued that where factories already operated a night shift there would be no benefit in prohibiting night work to women. Lili Korber’s account of life in a Soviet factory confirmed the continued employment of women on night shifts in the Leningrad metallurgical factory where she herself found temporary employment at the beginning of the 1930s. 57 It seems that even the provisions prohibiting the employment of pregnant women and nursing mothers were also being ignored by the beginning of the 1930s. One commentator claims that ‘illegal overtime and night work for pregnant women, as well as underground work for all women, seem to have been fairly common during the 1930s’. 58 Despite the widespread discussions in the 1920s and early 1930s on the question of the regulation of the hours of work for female labour and the introduction of the legislative prohibition on night work, it is evident that not only in these decades but also throughout the entire Soviet period women were widely employed on night shifts, often in greater proportions than men, and in overtime work in a whole range of sectors of the economy in direct contravention of the Soviet Labour Codes.59

The official debates on the regulation of women’s hours of work illustrate a number of issues relating to gendered employment practices in the interwar Soviet Union. Women’s physiological constitution and their social role as mothers resulted in female workers being viewed as physically weaker and more vulnerable elements in the labour force.


Gender in Russian History and Culture

A number of legislative measures were introduced, including the night work regulations, which aimed to protect women from the worst excesses of industrial employment. However, some of the protective labour laws also excluded women from the more highly skilled and more highly paid areas of employment. In the example of the night work regulations, women were clearly able to articulate their opposition to those which undermined their earning potential and levels of skill, and which threatened to separate them from their workmates and machines. It was the economic imperatives of the industrialization drive, however, with the need to expand industrial output and recruit increasing numbers of workers to industrial production, which resulted in the official retraction of some of the earlier restrictive practices with respect to the employment of women and, on an informal level, the widespread infringement of the remaining protective labour laws in the 1930s.

Notes 1. The research presented here forms part of a much broader study of Soviet women workers and protective labour legislation. See M. Ilic, Women Workers in the Soviet Interwar Economy: from ‘Protection’ to ‘Equality’ (Basingstoke, 1999). 2. F. C. Giffin, ‘The Prohibition of Night Work for Women and Young Persons: the Russian Factory Law of June 3, 1885’, Canadian Slavonic Papers, vol. 2, no. 2 (1968) pp. 208–18. A succinct account of the debates and their outcome is also to be found in R. Glickman, Russian Factory Women: Workplace and Society, 1880–1914 (London, 1984) pp. 146–9. 3. J. D. White, The Russian Revolution, 1917–1921 (London, 1994) p. 15. 4. H. Seton-Watson, The Russian Empire, 1801–1917 (Oxford, 1967) p. 527. 5. Glickman, Russian Factory Women, pp. 148–9. 6. Decree of Sovnarkom RSFSR, 29 October (11 November) 1917, ‘O vos’mychasovom rabochem dne, prodolzhitel’nosti i raspredelenii rabochego vremeni’, Sobranie uzakonenii i rasporyazhenii RSFSR, no. 1, article 7, 1917. 7. Z. A. Astapovich, Pervye meropriyatiya sovetskoi vlasti v oblasti truda (Moscow, 1958) pp. 54–5. 8. Decree of Narkomtrud RSFSR, ‘O nochnoi rabote zhenshchin’, Sobranie uzakonenii i rasporyazhenii RSFSR, no. 48, article 470, 1919. 9. Decree of Narkomtrud RSFSR, 25 December 1919, ‘O nochnoi rabote v tabachnom proizvodstve’, cited in Byulleten’ NKT, nos. 11–12 (1919) p. 80. 10. S. I. Kaplun, Zhenskii trud i okhrana ego v sovetskoi Rossii (Moscow, 1921) p. 20. 11. Z. Tettenborn, Sovetskoe zakonodatel’stvo o trude: lektsii, prochitannye na kursakh dlya Inspektorov Truda (Moscow, 1920) p. 95. 12. ‘O vremennoi razreshenii sverkhurochnykh rabot zhenshchin v sovetskikh uchrezhdeniyakh’, Sobranie uzakonenii i rasporyazhenii RSFSR, no. 65, article 587, 1919. Cited also in Byulleten’ NKT, nos. 11–12 (1919) p. 80.

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13. Decrees of Narkomtrud RSFSR and VTsSPS, ‘Ob okhrane truda beremennykh i kormyashchikh grud’yu zhenshchin’, Sobranie uzakonenii i rasporyazhenii RSFSR, no. 91, article 477, 1920, and ‘O vospreshchenii nochnykh rabot beremennymi i kormyashchimi grud’yu zhenshchinami’, ibid., no. 91, article 478, 1920. 14. S. I. Kaplun, Sovremennye problemy zhenskogo truda i byta, 2nd edn (Moscow, 1925) pp. 91–2. 15. Ibid., pp. 94–5. 16. M. Bukhov, Kak okhranyaetsya trud rabotnits po sovetskim zakonam (Moscow, 1925) p. 5. 17. See articles 130 and 131. 18. Decree of Narkomtrud, ‘O nochnikh rabotakh v khlebopekarnyakh’, Izvestiya NKT, no. 7 (1923), p. 8. All references to Narkomtrud after the foundation of the USSR in 1922 are to Narkomtrud SSSR, unless otherwise indicated. 19. Decree of Narkomtrud, ‘O nochnoi rabote zhenshchin na telegrafe i telefone’, Izvestiya NKT, no. 6 (1923) p. 14. 20. See, for example, A. Pasternak, Chto dolzhna znat’ rabotnitsa ob okhrane zhenskogo truda: s prilozheniem deistvuyushchego zakonodatel’stva v oblasti okhrany zhenskogo truda i okhrany materinstva (Kharkov, 1923) p. 11, and Bukhov, Kak okhranyaetsya trud, p. 6. 21. ‘O nochnoi rabote zhenshchin na transporte’, Izvestiya NKT, no. 12/36 (1923) p. 8, decree no. 159. See also Trud, 2 December 1923. 22. Decree of Narkomtrud, 2 April 1924, ‘O nochnoi rabote zhenshchin na zheleznodorozhnom transporte’, Izvestiya NKT, no. 14 (1924) p. 12, decree no. 147/363. See also Trud, 13 April 1924. 23. For example, see V. V. Sokolov, Prava zhenshchiny po sovetskim zakonam (Moscow, 1928) p. 20. 24. D. Koenker, ‘Men against Women on the Shop Floor in Early Soviet Russia: Gender and Class in the Socialist Workplace’, American Historical Review, vol. 100, no. 5 (1995) p. 1454. Koenker proceeds to note that ’perhaps women who worked at night were considered to be outside the protection of the law’. 25. ‘O nochnykh rabotakh zhenshchin’, Izvestiya NKT, no. 9 (1924) pp. 12–13, circular no. 23/907. 26. Ibid. 27. GARF, f. 5515, op. 4, d. 8, l. 202. Minutes of a meeting of the Commission on 19 June 1924: a report by Vinnikov, of the Labour Protection Department. 28. VTsSPS, Shestoi s’’ezd professional’nykh soyuzov SSSR (11–18 November 1924) (Moscow, 1925) pp. 184–5. 29. Ibid., pp. 222–4. 30. Ibid., pp. 638–9. See also A. Artyukhina, ‘Chto skazal 6-i s’’ezd profsoyuzov o rabotnitse’, Rabotnitsa, no. 24 (36) (1924) pp. 3–4. 31. E. Waters, ‘From the Old Family to the New: Work, Marriage and Motherhood in Urban Soviet Russia, 1917–1931’ (Ph.D. diss., CREES, University of Birmingham, 1985) p. 100. See also E. H. Carr, Socialism in One Country, vol. 1 (London, 1958) pp. 368–9 and The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917–23, vol. 2 (London, 1952) p. 70.


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32. ‘O nochnykh rabotakh zhenshchin’, Izvestiya NKT, no. 20 (1925), p. 11, circular no. 109/346. 33. Soviet Russia: an Investigation by British Women Trade Unionists: April-July, 1925 (London, 1925) pp. 26–7. The report cites the examples of the relaxation of the night shift regulations for workers in transportation and the postal and telegraph services, which were covered by specific decrees. 34. P. D. Kaminskaya, Sovetskoe trudovoe pravo (Kharkov, 1925) p. 216. 35. Decree of TsIK and Sovnarkom, ‘o semichasovom rabochem dne’, Sobranie zakonov i rasporyazhenii SSSR, no. 4, article 30, 1929. 36. ‘Ob izmenenii st. 8 postanovleniya TsIK i SNK soyuza SSR ot 2 yanvarya 1929g. o semichasovom rabochem dne’, Sobranie zakonov i rasporyazhenii SSSR, no. 16, article 133, 1929. The decree is dated 22 February 1929. 37. N. E. Akim, ‘K voprosu o vyrabotke ratsional’nogo rezhima dlya tekstil’nykh fabrik s semichasovym rabochim dnem’, Gigiena, bezopasnost’ i patalogiya truda, no. 9 (1929) p. 46. 38. Ibid., pp. 46–8. 39. It should be noted, however, that multi-shift working patterns were not widely adopted throughout Soviet industry. As Granick has pointed out, there were problems not only with labour supply (including difficulties in operating night shifts where no public transport was available) but also administrative, managerial and technical issues to be overcome. See D. Granick, Soviet Metal Fabricating and Economic Development (London, 1967) pp. 99–103. 40. Tolstopyatov, ‘Ratsionalizatsiya proizvodstva, provedenie 7 chasovogo rabochego dnya i uchastiya v ekonomrabote soyuzov’, GARF, f. 5451, op. 12, d. 168, ll. 17–19. The convention was held on 25–30 June 1928. 41. I. Reznikov, ‘Semichasovoi rabochii den’’, Trud, 3 January 1928. 42. The problems experienced by this group of workers in Shuya are discussed in N. Alekseeva, ‘Na khoroshie mashiny – v dnevnuyu smenu’, Rabotnitsa, no. 48 (1928) p. 6. The dangers of night-time employment for pregnant women and nursing mothers are outlined also in I. S., ‘Beremennym i kormyashchim grud’yu nel’zya rabotat’ noch’yu’, Rabotnitsa, no. 48 (1928) p. 18. 43. See for example the discussion in Z. Prishchepchik, ‘Semichasovoi rabochii den’ i nashi zadachi’, Kommunistka, no. 3 (1928) p. 30. 44. C. Ward, Russian Cotton Workers and the New Economic Policy (Cambridge, 1988). See particularly pp. 214–27 for the debates on the issues which follow. 45. See for example the articles by Z. Prishchepchik, ‘O semichasovom rabochem dne’, Kommunistka, no. 1 (1928) p. 29, and ‘Semichasovoi rabochii den’ i nashi zadachi’, Kommunistka, no. 3 (1928) p. 30. 46. See Prishchepchik, ‘Semichasovoi rabochii den’ . . . ’, p. 30 and the example provided by N. Gurvich, ‘Opyt perekhoda na semichasovoi rabochii den’’, Kommunistka, no. 3 (1928) p. 37. 47. See for example the account given by Borisova, ‘Trudnosti perekhoda’, Kommunistka, no. 5 (1928) p. 48. 48. A-na, ‘Itogi promyshlennogo soveshchaniya’, Kommunistka, no. 2 (1928) p. 24. 49. N. A., ‘Pereshli na semichasovoi’, Kommunistka, no. 2 (1928) p. 64. 50. Prishchepchik, ‘Semichasovoi rabochii den’ . . . ’, p. 29.

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51. ‘Usloviya truda pri 7-chasovom rabochem dne’, Trud, 12 January 1928. 52. N. A., ‘Pereshli . . . ’, p. 66. 53. B. Kaplun, ‘Kogda nachinat’ rabotu?’, Trud, 12 January 1928. Kaplun was acting as special correspondent at the Sobolevo-Shchelkovskoi textile factory, which needed to recruit 400 new workers on transferring to the three-shift system of operation. 54. Prishchepchik, ‘Semichasovoi rabochii den’ . . . ’, p. 29. 55. See ‘O vyvode beremennykh i kormyashchikh iz nochnykh smen po tekstil’noi promyshlennosti’, GARF, f. A-390, op. 3, d. 1267, l. 122, and the various notes on this matter, ll. 116–21. 56. S. I. Kaplun, Nauka na sluzhbe okhrany truda: kak rabotaet gosudarstvennyi nauchnyi institut okhrany truda (Moscow, 1930) p. 19. 57. L. Korber, Life in a Soviet Factory (London, 1933) passim. 58. N. T. Dodge, Women in the Soviet Economy (Baltimore, 1966) p. 64. 59. See, for example, the evidence which came to light under Gorbachev in A. Levina, ‘Tysyacha i odna noch’, Rabotnitsa, no. 4 (1988) pp. 12–15, and ’Zhenshchiny v SSSR’, Vestnik statistiki, no. 1 (1990) p. 42. These and other protective labour law violations are discussed in M. Ilic, ‘“Generals without Armies, Commanders without Troops”: Gorbachev’s “Protection” of Female Workers’ in R. Marsh (ed.), Women in Russia and Ukraine (Cambridge, 1995) pp. 228–40.

8 Rationality versus Romanticism: Representations of Women in the Stalinist Press Lynne Attwood

Introduction If the ‘new Soviet man’ of the Stalin era was presented as the very embodiment of human capability, at least his feats of overfulfilment were confined to one setting, the workplace. The new Soviet woman had a more complex set of tasks. She was expected to be an exemplary performer both at work and at home, and to embody the different and often contradictory qualities and traits which were supposedly appropriate to each of these spheres. This chapter will explore the ways in which these demands were propagandized to women through the magazines Rabotnitsa (The Woman Worker) and Krest’yanka (The Peasant Woman). These publications have been chosen as they were aimed at ordinary women (the so-called ‘female mass’), rather than at activists, and they were the only such publications available throughout the country and throughout the span of the Stalin era (appearing weekly until the end of the war and monthly thereafter).

‘Rationality’ versus ‘romanticism’ In all societies undergoing industrialization in the modern era, confusion had arisen over women’s roles. In pre-industrial societies, work and family life had taken place in the same geographical space, and although men and women performed different tasks, both played a vital economic role. Now there was a split between public and private activities, with work located in one place and family life in another, and it was unclear what roles women would perform. 158

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There were two opposing positions. They have been given a variety of names, but I shall borrow those first used by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English over 20 years ago: the ‘rationalist’ and the ‘romantic’. 1 Adherents of the ‘rationalist’ approach argued that women were a vital economic resource and should be involved in the public world of work. Differences in male and female personality and behaviour were largely cultural constructs, and women were innately no less suited than men to work outside the home. Most of the functions they performed in the family could be taken over by public institutions. ‘Romantics’, on the other hand, wanted to confine women to the family. They insisted that differences between the sexes were rooted in nature, with women naturally more tender, loving and nurturing; they were the moral backbone of society, a humanizing influence on men. The ‘romantics’ feared that if women ceased to provide domestic services for their own families, in their own homes, for love rather than money, the world would become a cold place, ‘without love, without human warmth’. 2 The rationalist approach has generally been associated with women’s equality, and was supported by many feminists. Yet Ehrenreich and English argue (like many feminist theorists in recent years) that it is no less ‘masculinist’ than the romantic approach, ‘rush(ing) too eagerly into the public sphere as men have defined it’ and promoting not equality but ‘assimilation, with ancillary changes (day care, for example), as necessary to promote women’s rapid integration into . . . the world of men’.3 We should bear this in mind when we look at attitudes towards women’s roles in the Soviet Union. In the West, despite the rationalist and egalitarian discourse of the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century women’s movement and the real legislative and socio-economic changes in gender roles during that period, the romantic view remained dominant, until feminism reopened the debate in the 1960s. Marxism, with its stress on the social construction and malleability of roles and institutions, was clearly closer to the rationalist position, and so Soviet policy-makers set off along this road. Indeed, some of the more radical activists insisted that the family would cease to exist altogether and all its functions would pass to state institutions. By the time Stalin consolidated his power at the end of the 1920s, however, the family was being seen as a necessary source of stability to counteract the turmoil wrought by the Revolution, Civil War and now the first Five-Year Plan. Insisting that women had a natural propensity for domestic work also relieved the authorities of the task of financing institutions and services to take over the functions of the family. However, the Soviet state was at the same time embarking on a rapid


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programme of industrialization and could not allow women to devote themselves entirely to domesticity. As the rationalists had argued, women constituted a vital economic resource. Accordingly, the Soviet rulers tried to have it both ways; rationalism and romanticism were promoted simultaneously. To some extent it could be argued that they were less at odds with one another in the Soviet context than they were in the West. The socialist workplace was, at least in theory, the antithesis of the savage, cut-throat world of the capitalist market. In some ways it mirrored the family, with its sibling-like work collectives and fatherly enterprise directors. All the same, the qualities appropriate to the workplace were not identical to those celebrated in the family. At work, women were applauded for being rational, self-confident, innovative, ambitious and competitive (albeit in a ‘friendly socialist’ way). More traditional feminine qualities were supposed to come to the fore when they came home: emotionality, intuition, diffidence and submission. Some ‘romantic’ notions of female qualities were now encouraged in the ‘rational’ sphere of the workplace; a female propensity for selflessness and self-sacrifice, for example, would help increase productivity and hold their wages down. There was more concern about ‘rational’ traits, such as ambition and competitiveness, infiltrating family life, since this might result in their challenging the authority of their husbands and deter them from spending their ‘free’ time on unpaid domestic service. A precarious balance was required, then, a balance which, as we shall see, was periodically adjusted in accordance with the changing economic and demographic needs of the state.

Women and work Women’s mass entry into the workforce was in itself taken as evidence of emancipation, but the fact that some women were entering spheres of work traditionally seen as ‘male’ and requiring ‘masculine’ skills and attributes was, at least in the early years of industrialization, a particular cause for celebration. In 1926 Rabotnitsa had published a series of articles about male resistance to women entering male bastions such as metal and machine-tool work, insisting that they would excel in these jobs if only their male colleagues supported them instead of trying to make them feel inadequate. 4 Ten years later the magazine was congratulating its readers with the news that women ‘form more than one quarter of all metal workers and machine construction workers, almost a quarter of all workers in the coal industry . . . ’. 5

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With the onset of the shock-worker and stakhanovite movements, heroic feats of female overfulfilment filled the pages of Rabotnitsa and Krest’yanka. These achievements were attributed mainly to women’s newly acquired ‘rational’ traits. The magazines praised women for proving to be no less innovative than men, constantly developing new and more efficient work techniques. One heroine of labour realized that: ‘When certain machine parts are being used, this can mean standing doing nothing for 5–10 minutes.’ Accordingly, she began working several machines at once so that she was never standing idle while the machines were engaged in processes which required no human assistance.6 Another young woman ‘found that one of four levers which strengthened the machine part took a long time to operate, and it was possible to work without it’; once she did so she dramatically increased her production output. 7 In the countryside, livestock workers also found innovative ways of persuading their beasts to overfulfil production plans. Milkmaids discovered that more frequent milking led to vastly improved yields; they now milked their best cows six times a day whereas before they had milked them only two or three times. 8 Competition between female workers spurred them on to even greater productivity, but the magazines were careful to stress that this never led to rivalry or animosity. 9 Personal ambition even had its place. Female stakhanovites insisted that they ‘had only one desire – to make more parts, and to make them better, than anyone else’, 10 while the recordbreaking pilot Polina Osipenko pledged ‘to fly higher, further and faster than all the girls in the world’. 11 Such achievements were rewarded in material terms, and the women’s magazines happily listed the bonuses, salary increases, radios, bicycles and holidays by the sea which were bestowed on the best female workers. 12 Yet these were all presented as incidental. Women, it turned out, were not motivated by personal gain; they were concerned with the well-being of society as a whole. The pilot Valentina Grizodubova summed up this view of female mentality: ‘Whenever Soviet woman works, she is led by a single aim: to be of use to her beloved motherland.’13 There is also clear romanticism in the portrayal of Stalin’s personal influence over female stakhanovites. Their love for the leader outweighed all other factors in their achievement of record-breaking feats.14 It inspired them, lifted their spirits, helped them overcome hardships and withstand prejudices. The inspiration of ‘our own dear father Stalin’ sustained the celebrated tractor driver, Pasha Angelina, in the face of male farm workers’ animosity.15 The milkmaids were inspired by love of


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Stalin ‘to struggle more persistently to [find ways to] develop their cows’. 16 (It also, no doubt, helped them to cope with the huge burden of work six daily milkings must have placed on them.) This love is portrayed for the most part as that of the dutiful daughter towards her father; female stakhanovites and record-breakers continually express their gratitude for Stalin’s ‘great paternal concern’.17 However, there is also an erotic tinge to the relationship, with Stalin sometimes cast more as a film star than a father. When P. A. Davydova returned home after meeting Stalin in Moscow, she was apparently met at the station by a crowd of excited women who demanded to know details of Stalin’s appearance and behaviour, such as ‘how comrade Stalin talks, loudly or quietly?!’18 When the record-breaking pilots Polina Osipenko, Valya Grizodubova and Marina Raskova first met Stalin, Grizodubova asked him shyly, ‘“Would you allow me to kiss you, comrade Stalin?” But then’, Raskova recalled, ‘Polina and I kissed him without permission . . . ’. When Stalin addressed Raskova she was so overcome with emotion that she was unable to respond, so Stalin tactfully gave her time to regain her composure by talking to the other pilots. It is significant that he asked them not about the flight they had just completed, but about their children.19 Rationality, innovation, hard work and a competitive spirit had to be interwoven with more traditionally feminine traits and roles: adulation, shyness, modesty and, above all, maternity.

Motherhood Motherhood was an essential feature of the Soviet woman, and she was encouraged to break records in this field as well. To this end, abortion was made illegal in 1936. Neither Rabotnitsa nor Krest’yanka acknowledged the fact that the new law was aimed at increasing the birth rate. Instead it was hailed as evidence of the Party’s concern for women. The ‘romantic’ notion of female nature was exploited here for all it was worth. Abortion, it turned out, was never the woman’s idea; it was simply not possible for a woman to want to destroy her own child. ‘There is no physically and morally healthy woman in [the Soviet Union] who does not want to have a child,’ Rabotnitsa insisted.20 Men were different, however. Not all of them welcomed the responsibility of parenthood; they managed to convince their wives that abortion was ‘a small matter’ and that they really did not want to ‘spoil [their] appearance for nine months . . . ’.21 Women needed protection from such men, and the new law would provide it. As women who were caught seeking abortions were the victims of male manipulation,

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they themselves would be punished by nothing more than ‘social censure’ the first time, or a fine of 300 roubles for subsequent offences. In contrast, their husbands faced two-year prison sentences. To quote Rabotnitsa again, ‘the husband will be held firmly responsible for compelling his wife to have an abortion, and consequently for damaging her health’. 22 Hence at the same time as proclaiming women equal to men, the women’s press was portraying them as dependent creatures incapable of making their own decisions and standing up for themselves. The patriarchal state was stepping in to protect women from the patriarchal family. In fact, the courts did not prove to be so lenient towards women, and subsequent reports in the press make it clear that some did receive prison sentences. It seemed that there were some aberrant creatures who defied female nature. Discussing the case of two women who were each sentenced to two years in prison for having abortions, a Rabotnitsa correspondent pondered: ‘Material necessity? The lack of living space? Family conflict? No. Simply the lack of desire to give birth to a child, something abnormal in a healthy woman.’ 23 Maternity inevitably had a pronounced negative effect on women’s capacity to work, but there was little hint of this in Rabotnitsa and Krest’yanka. It was sometimes acknowledged that women had little free time, but it turned out they did not actually need any, as nature ensured that their satisfaction came from serving others. The ultimate ‘new Soviet woman’ was both multi-child mother and stakhanovka. K. Ryazhenova, for example, was an award-winning worker at a car factory, and mother of four children. Her three sons were at an age when ‘one often hears about children falling under bad influences’, and so I try to follow every step my children take, know how they are studying, how they relax, who are their friends, where they go, what interests them. . . . All the free time I have from work I spend with my children, apart, of course, from the time I devote to social work: I am a member of the departmental trade union committee and a member of the management committee of my daughter’s kindergarten. . . . When I get home from work I prepare supper and help my sons do their homework [while] my daughter plays with her doll . . . ; I sit near them, listening intently as I sew something or other. . . . I am often at the school, I talk to the Pioneer leader, I have been several times to the swimming pool and talked to the instructor. I go to the children’s club where Yura is training to play in the children’s orchestra. . . .


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Yet she could not afford to neglect her job at the factory, not only because this was an essential contribution to society’s well-being, but also because she was ‘a model for my children’, her job was the means by which she ‘inculcate[d] in them a love of work’. This superwoman concluded her article by insisting that she was in no way special: ‘I consider that I only do what every mother is obliged to do.’ 24 From the above it would appear that Ryazhenova was a single mother, but this was not the case; she mentioned her husband just once, saying that he helped the boys with their homework when she was on the night shift. In reality, female stakhanovites prioritized their careers to such an extent that family interests were pushed to one side, with many remaining unmarried and childless. Such women were clearly not appropriate role models for Soviet womanhood as a whole. Accordingly, there had to be an alternative way for women to enter ‘the ranks of the most amazing people of our country’25 which was not incompatible with their being ‘multi-child mothers’. Instead of breaking records themselves, they could help their husbands do so. The wives of stakhanovites did not have to work outside the home, and Rabotnitsa and Krest’yanka applauded the tender ministrations of these kept women no less than the arduous work of female stakhanovites. They gave enthusiastic reports of conferences organized by the wives of stakhanovites and other members of the Soviet elite (military leaders, miners, engineers), in which they discussed new ways of ensuring the well-being of their husbands. 26 These included keeping the home clean and comfortable, professing constant interest in their husbands’ work, and bringing up their children in an exemplary manner. They also had to find time to develop their own intellectual powers, as their husbands required interesting and cultured companionship. This might involve getting up very early in the morning in order to study and improve themselves before beginning the day’s devotion to husband and family.27 Rabotnitsa did encourage stakhanovite wives to make a contribution to ‘social life’ as well, but the suggestions it offered are firmly in the ‘romantic’ mould: they should help organize crèches and kindergartens, dining rooms, libraries and so on. 28 It was acceptable for wives of key workers to devote themselves to housekeeping because their behind-the-scenes support increased the productivity of their husbands, and hence benefited society as a whole. A short story in Rabotnitsa, ‘Housewife’, makes this clear. The protagonist, Evdokiya Mikhailovna, had just turned 51, and worried that she had done nothing with her life apart from cooking, shopping and rearing children. Her stakhanovite husband had won prizes, including seaside

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holidays, and appeared in the newspaper. The only honour she had received was a message of thanks for her volunteer work improving the factory settlement. Suddenly a letter arrived from the Factory Enterprise Committee, thanking her for the indirect help she had given them over the years and telling her that her husband’s good work depends largely on you. You feed him on time, send him off to work on time, worry about him, keep up his morale. . . . By providing a good, correct family life, you have developed in your husband an honest attitude towards work, preserved his strength, and made sure he does not go absent or get ill. Your modest work as a housewife is necessary and useful both to our enterprise and to our country. There were also letters from her adult children: her son, a military surgeon in the Far East, and her daughter, a teacher in Smolensk. Both insisted that she was responsible for making them strong and healthy, teaching them how to work honestly, and instilling in them a sense of duty. Evdokiya Mikhailovna realized that here was her reward, her own ‘Order of Lenin’: ‘in these letters . . . were reflected the imperceptible but responsible and fruitful work of the housewife’. 29 Men might need fame and prizes, but knowing she was appreciated was enough for the selfless Soviet woman. It was a different matter if the wife of an ordinary worker stayed at home. This was not acceptable, as she served only her own family, not society as a whole. Such women were ‘backward elements’ with no sense of social responsibility. If they lived in communal apartments, they were notorious for picking fights with the other wives: ‘If there are one or two such housewives in a flat, it is torture for the other inhabitants. The smallest trifle is enough for a quarrel to arise between the women. . . . ’30 When one Rabotnitsa reader, ‘Mariya S.’, confessed that she did not work, letters poured in from furious readers denouncing her as a parasite who placed concern for herself and her own family above the social good.31 Women had to combine family life with work in social production, they told her. Other women managed it, and it was simply selfishness that prevented her from doing the same. 32 Housework was portrayed as exclusively a female responsibility. Only one reader had a husband who helped at all: she held down two paid jobs, looked after an extended family of eight people, and had recently started studying in the evenings as well, and her husband had now ‘begun to free me from the job of going to the market, he helps to chop


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the wood and the coal, and he does some other household tasks as well’.33 There was no trace of resentment concerning his lack of help in the past, nor the minimal contribution he was making at present. She was simply full of pride that he respected her so much that he offered any help at all. In some regions, such as mining communities, there were insufficient jobs for women. These wives could make their social contribution by volunteering to help with their husbands’ work. One miner’s wife, V. A. Zubkova, told Rabotnitsa that she had organized a brigade of 400 housewives to act as volunteer auxiliary workers. ‘We hack coal, transport it to the railway line, load it on to the wagons. . . . We fought, together with our husbands on the front in the Civil War, to achieve a new, happy life. How could we not help on the work front?’34 Men might require wages for their work, but not, apparently, these new Soviet women.

Beauty and fashion The combination of ‘rational’ and ‘romantic’ traits entered into images of female beauty promoted in the Stalin era. Until the end of the 1920s there had been some confusion about what the ideal socialist woman should look like. Il’ya Lin, writing in Rabotnitsa in 1927, insisted that fashion, jewellery and cosmetics were bourgeois preoccupations which had no place in Soviet society. They were ‘a demonstration of wealth’, which was inappropriate in Soviet society, because people were respected for what they achieved rather than what they owned. They were a means by which women ensnared male providers, which was unnecessary in the Soviet Union, since Soviet women were able to provide for themselves. They were also a way of disguising poor health, which did not exist in the Soviet Union, because people lived such healthy lives: hence Soviet women’s ‘figures are beautiful, their cheeks are rosy, and their lips are red [because] their organisms are healthy; they do not need cosmetics’. 35 In the 1930s cosmetics were back in favour, however. They provided an important counterbalance to the heavy work women performed. Women were now said to have a ‘natural’ desire to look attractive, which meant to look traditionally feminine. Readers of Rabotnitsa and Krest’yanka were now given a regular supply of dress patterns and knitting tips; there were advertisements for scent and cosmetics; and articles called for the production of more fashionable dresses, hats and shoes. 36

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Pains were taken to convince readers that no type of work was incompatible with femininity. A female construction worker on the Moscow metro project explained: I go to work underground in resin shoes, trousers, my head covered with a scarf. But at home and on my day off I love my clothes to be fashionable, beautiful and smart. All our girls love to dress well. If you were to meet one of our metro builders at the theatre or at a party, you would not be able to guess that she works underground.37 A short story about a distinguished female bricklayer assured readers that in the evenings, after her shift, the heroine changed out of ‘the apron which was red from the bricks; instead her slender figure was enveloped in a blue woollen dress’. 38 A story by N. Leshchinskii provides a portrait of the new Soviet woman incarnate. Zinaida had a rare combination of female beauty, deep intelligence and a broad mental outlook. . . . She devoted considerable time to her appearance, but managed to convey the impression that her beauty was not something she had to work at, but was entirely natural. . . . She dressed, it is true, pleasantly, with taste, and with a good understanding of what suited her face and figure. But all this was done modestly. . . . She powdered her face, but in such a way that you would not be able to say that she powdered it. She painted her lips, but with such subtlety, so artistically, that it seemed that nature had given her such cherry-coloured lips. . . . The expression on her beautiful face, combined with such modesty, such simplicity, seemed to me in some way special, I would say wise. . . . This is exactly what the Soviet woman should be. . . . 39 Furthermore, she had a responsible job – as an economist in a machinetool factory – and was anxious to have children!40 The ironic twist is that Zinaida was a spy, intent on getting the narrator, a military engineer, to fall in love with her, and then pass state secrets on to her. This does not alter the fact that she provided the classic image of the new Soviet woman. This was 1938, when enemies were taking on the most perfect of disguises. . . . Women who did not manage to combine heavy work with femininity were now a cause for concern. In a short story by Fedor Panferov, published in both Krest’yanka and Rabotnitsa, a journalist was sent to


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interview the female president of a collective farm. He was expecting ‘a simple country woman in a long wide skirt, a blouse with gathered sleeves, a blue headscarf on her head, and a shy and modest manner’. Instead, to his confusion, he was met by a creature in khaki-coloured jacket and great heavy boots, who approached him with a wide stride ‘like a man’s’, and greeted him in ‘a deep, throaty voice’. She seemed to talk ‘not in her natural voice but in a deliberately masculine way [and] strode in an intentionally masculine manner’. As they talked, her repressed femininity momentarily struggled to the surface; her blue eyes ‘poured out tenderness and warmth, like those of a kind mother as she approaches her child’s cradle . . . ’. But they clouded over again, and ‘Tat’yana Khrebtova became once again “a female bloke” [muzhichka]’.41 This, the author makes clear, was not an appropriate image of the new Soviet woman.

Women and the war The German invasion of Russia in June 1941 produced some alterations in the images of Soviet women. In Rabotnitsa and Krest’yanka women took on a symbolic form, particularly on the magazines’ covers. Throughout the 1930s, female lathe-workers and tractor drivers had alternated with mothers and infants. These were now replaced by huge female figures wearing headscarves and flowing skirts, urging their sons on to battle.42 In case readers missed the point, it was echoed in the articles: ‘For . . . lucky Soviet youth, the motherland has been . . . a most solicitous and loving mother’;43 it was now her children’s duty to return this devotion. In reality women did not just urge their sons to fight; many took up arms themselves. Before the war, Rabotnitsa and Krest’yanka had applauded women’s readiness to defend their country. The feats of the celebrated female pilots had an openly acknowledged military purpose; Osipenko declared that she and her comrades wanted ‘to show what Soviet women are capable of when our participation is required in a future war’, and pledged that they were ready to do anything required of them, be it setting a world flight record or carrying out ‘a terrible raid on the camp of an enemy which had dared to attack our country’.44 Yet in the first years of the war it was more expedient to have women stay at home and take over the jobs that men had vacated. The magazines which had celebrated women’s entry into ‘male’ professions for a decade now began urging them, as if for the first time, to ‘master the male professions’!45

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As the occupying forces pushed further into the country, women were encouraged to engage in more direct action, however, and the pages of Rabotnitsa and Krest’yanka were full of the exploits of female snipers. The friendly socialist competitions of the 1930s over the production of machine parts were replaced with equally friendly competitions over the production of German corpses.46 Yet killing people was not incompatible with the ‘romantic’ image of women. Indeed, it was women’s natural femininity, maternal care and tenderness which made them so effective as fighters. As Vera Ketlinskaya explained in Krest’yanka, these were wives and mothers, they passionately love their children, their families, their hearths. But they do not want to rear children for captivity, they do not want to see their loved ones turned into slaves. . . . Love and motherhood . . . do not deaden their urge to fight to the end for the independence of the motherland, but fan it into a terrible flame.47

The postwar period As the war came to an end, the phenomenal losses it had exacted in human terms meant that women had another patriotic duty: replenishing the population. Now, multi-child motherhood would be rewarded with military-style medals. When men returned from the war with their own medals on their chests, they would be delighted to find, as Krest’yanka put it, ‘the signs of honour and glory fastened to the breasts of Soviet women’ as well.48 For a woman to qualify for one of these awards, she had not only to produce the requisite number of children, but also to rear them. Hence she would only receive a Heroine Mother award, for example, when the youngest of her ten children was a year old, and if none of the other nine had died in the meantime. 49 Mothers who did not bring up their own children did not qualify. The fact that the awards were given only to mothers and not to both parents, reinforced the notion that rearing children, as well as giving birth to them, was an exclusively female function. Vera Dunham’s analysis of postwar fiction indicates that attempts were made to persuade women to relinquish high-powered positions they had gained in the war to the men returning from the front. A common storyline was for a soldier to come home and find his wife was now an important professional, in some cases even the director of the collective farm or the factory where he had previously worked. Still


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traumatized from the battlefield, he now had to suffer the indignity of taking orders from his wife; he became increasingly depressed, the wife mistook this for laziness, and the marriage reached the point of collapse. It was saved when she came to realize that men need to be in positions of superiority over their wives, and that women themselves really prefer it to be so. 50 This is not the pattern which emerges from short stories in Rabotnitsa and Krest’yanka. Instead, these magazines portray men learning to cope with, and even appreciate, their newly confident wives. This might be explained by the fact that they were aimed at a different constituency from those studied by Dunham: at factory and farm workers, rather than the new ‘middle class’. Although the female protagonists in some of the stories do hold important managerial positions, few of the magazines’ readers would be likely to do so, and were therefore not a threat to male egos. More importantly, they were still needed in the workforce. In one Rabotnitsa story, the protagonist, Aleksei, came back from the war confused, depressed and unable to work. His wife was now a construction worker, and at first he was angry and resentful when she set off in the mornings. In due course she was transferred to a new construction site on their street, visible from their window, and he was able to watch her work. He found himself fascinated. ‘Throughout the years of their marriage he had seen her wash clothes, cook, scrub the floor, but this was absolutely different.’ His new respect for his wife snapped him out of his depression, and he even began preparing lunch for her and her colleagues. 51 In another tale, an officer called Ryabushkin came home to his doting and childlike wife, Nastya. He was a kind-hearted man, but ‘had a haughty manner with women; he liked his wife to be obedient, and considered the husband to be the top person in the family’. He tried to persuade Nastya to take the day off work to celebrate his return but she refused, though she did race home to cook him lunch. He attributed her refusal to her usual lack of courage; she was too scared to stand up to the factory boss. He later discovered that she was now the factory boss. His initial shock turned to pride when he saw his wife confidently chair a meeting. 52 Yet at the same time there was an enhanced stress on motherhood. Stories depicted family reunions and celebrations in which war heroes congratulated their mothers on their equally heroic deeds: ‘you were so proud of your decorated sons. Now how proud we are of our heroinemother!’53 Work now had to fit around maternity, not the other way round. An article in Krest’yanka about a collective farm noted that

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although Anna Platonova was one of the farm’s best workers, she was ‘remembered above all as a mother who gave the country eight soldiers and workers’. 54 In a play by R. Bruislovskii, the protagonist is a war widow, the director of a collective farm, and – most important of all – a heroinemother. When she was interviewed for a local newspaper, the journalist was far more interested in what her children did, than in her own achievements. (When she listed them, she did so not, as one would expect, according to age, but according to sex: the six sons first, then the five daughters. In due course it becomes clear that they were actually born in that order; we learn that the sons were all adults, while two of the girls were at school and the last was ‘still playing with dolls’. One can interpret this symbolically: the writer has placed the girls at the bottom of two hierarchies, one based on sex and the other on age.) Indeed, it turns out that the woman’s professional achievements were due to her children; she was able to bear such responsibility only because of the help and comfort she derived from them. Her final message for his readers was: ‘Soviet women! Children are our great joy, our happiness!’55 In another tale, a young man fell in love with a woman who had adopted three war orphans, and had the most ‘splendid maternal eyes’. 56 The ubiquitous message is that women’s happiness comes primarily from having babies rather than directing farms and factories, and that men are attracted by women’s maternal qualities rather than their professional ambitions. A story by Lev Ivanov makes this particularly clear. The protagonist is a young woman called Lelya, one of the eldest children in a large family. She had had enough of small children, and when her admirer Myshkin proposed to her, she told him she had no intention of marrying and having a family. ‘I want to live for myself’, she said, and insisted that she would become a brigade leader or even the director of the farm. When the war broke out, Myshkin went off to the front and returned a hero. Lelya now fell in love with him, but to her horror he turned instead to one of her sisters, a tender, nurturing creature who was ‘the very image of her [multi-child] mother’.57 Lelya had lost her man because of her excessive commitment to work and her inadequate maternal orientation. Her devotion to success at work was presented not as an admirable urge to serve society, but as selfishness: as ‘want(ing) to live for (her)self’. Professional ambition was no longer an appropriate female quality for the new Soviet woman. By the end of the Stalin era, the new woman was primarily maternal and domestic, but ready and able to adapt if she was suddenly called on


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to do so. In 1951 Rabotnitsa offered this portrait of the ideal, to which parents and teachers should aspire when bringing up their female pupils and daughters: ‘a modest, shy, diffident and quiet girl’, ‘sensitive and attentive to her comrades’, always willing to help her mother with the housework as well as engaging in ‘social work’ (visiting the elderly, doing their housework and making presents for them on their birthdays, helping in the local kindergarten, sewing dolls’ clothes for the kindergarten’s children). ‘But what passion she displays when she becomes aware of injustice . . . ! What a sense of responsibility she has towards everything she does!’58 In other words, the ‘romantic’ qualities of women should now be firmly in the forefront, with the ‘rational’ hovering in the background so that they could be brought back into play if required.

Conclusion Despite its rulers’ protestations of women’s equality, Stalinist society retained a conservative and traditional understanding of gender difference. However, this had to be adapted to economic conditions; given the industrialization drive and the attendant need for labour, women could not be allowed to devote themselves exclusively to family life. Even if the traditional ‘romantic’ view of women’s roles was favoured, this had to be combined with elements of ‘rationalism’ which justified women’s mass entry into the workforce. The precarious balance between these roles, and the qualities which were supposed to reflect them, was adjusted from time to time in accordance with prevailing economic and demographic priorities. That women worked outside the home was hailed as evidence of equality. What it really meant in the Stalinist context was that female labour was exploited in the workforce as well as the home. The ‘new Soviet woman’ was characterized, above all, by duty and self-sacrifice. She was supposed to work like a man, but with no thought of personal profit. She was meant to be ambitious, but to direct this ambition towards the well-being of society. She was meant to be active and innovative at work, but bow to her husband’s authority in the home. It could be argued that the promotion of such a distorted understanding of equality had more chance of success in the Soviet Union than elsewhere, for two reasons. Firstly, this image of women was not unfamiliar to Russians. The strong, hard-working, all-capable Russian peasant woman who was also a self-sacrificing mother had figured prominently in pre-revolutionary literature and mythology. 59 What Stalin did was place

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her on a pedestal, applauding her propensity for hard work and selfsacrifice and insisting that this was the basis of her equality. Secondly, throughout the Stalin era an intense patriotism was promoted, which prioritized service to the state above all other social and personal considerations. As Maureen Honey has written of American women in the Second World War: ‘The progressive idea that women could perform all kinds of work in society was accompanied . . . by a shrill patriotic appeal that undermined its potential as a feminist reordering of national values. . . . The emphasis was not on women’s right to be treated fairly and judged as individual workers but on their heroic service to the nation . . . .’ 60 In the Soviet Union, too, women’s ‘rights’ were presented in such a way that they were synonymous with duties. These rights boiled down to the expectation that women would make no less a contribution to society than men.61 The contradictions between the romantic and rational approaches to women’s roles were not resolved, however. This is particularly evident during the war itself, when the new Soviet woman transmogrified into Mother Russia. Portraying the country in such a human and emotionally charged form is clearly a way of encouraging soldiers to fight with more commitment; but for it to be fully effective, there has to be an understanding of women as creatures in need of protection. It is more likely that soldiers will be inspired by the image of the tender, nurturing, all-loving mother of the ‘romantic’ mould, than of the tractor driver and machine-tool worker promoted by Stalinist propaganda throughout the previous decade. Accordingly, the woman-as-mother was promoted even when the exigencies of war demanded that she also be fighter and killer. In short, the balance between the rational and romantic images remained precarious, with a continuing discomfort around the shifting boundaries of what were considered appropriate female roles. A generation later, when the ‘demographic crisis’ had become a major cause for concern, the ‘rational approach’ would be openly challenged. In the 1970s it was argued that the early revolutionaries had got it wrong and equated gender equality with women’s sameness to men. This had had a series of negative consequences: women had become masculine and aggressive, their neglected offspring had grown into juvenile delinquents, there was a rising divorce rate and a collapse in the birth rate. The new slogan was: ‘being equal does not mean being the same’. In effect, the ‘romantic’ understanding of women’s roles now ruled supreme. Throughout the Stalin era, however, the Soviet regime attempted to have it both ways.


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Notes 1. See B. Ehrenreich and D. English, For Her Own Good (New York, 1978) pp. 1–29. 2. Ibid., p. 20. 3. Ibid., pp. 20–1. 4. See Bol’shakov, ‘Mozhet li byt’ zhenshchina slesarem?’, Rabotnitsa, no. 8 (1926) p. 20; ‘Mozhet byt’ zhenshchina slesarem (otvety na stat’i v zhurnale Rabotnitsa, no. 7)’, Rabotnitsa, no. 11 (1926) p. 17; ‘U stanka na vyskunskikh zavodakh’, Rabotnitsa, no. 11 (1926) pp. 13–16; V. H., ‘Strashno podoiti k podmasteryam’, Rabotnitsa, no. 13 (1926) pp. 15–16. 5. Rabotnitsa, no. 36 (1936) p. 4. 6. P. Dolgova, ‘Initsiator-mnogostanochnitsa’, Rabotnitsa, no. 11 (1940) p. 9. 7. K. Bykova, ‘Sorevnovanie dvukh podrug’, Rabotnitsa, no. 3 (1937) p. 8. 8. ‘Stakhanovki o svoei rabote’, letter from P. P. Fomina, Krest’yanka, no. 25 (1936) p. 4. 9. Bykova, ‘Sorevnovanie’, p. 8. 10. D. Zhiganova, ‘Kak ya rabotayu’, Rabotnitsa, no. 4 (1939) p. 13. 11. P. Osipenko, ‘Vo imya ukrepleniya mogushchestva rodiny’, Rabotnitsa, no. 21 (1938) pp. 5–6. 12. See, for example, E. S. Evseeva, ‘Beremsya za vypolnenie programmy’, Rabotnitsa, no. 17 (1938) p. 16; and A. Kotlyarevskaya, ‘Sorevnovanie dvukh podrug’, Rabotnitsa, no. 9 (1938) p. 12. 13. Quoted in ‘Torzhestvennoe sobranie 8 Marta v Bol’shom teatre’, Rabotnitsa, no. 8 (1938) pp. 7–8. 14. See, for example, A. Morozova, ‘Chego ya dobilas’ za god posle soveshchaniya v Kremle’, Rabotnitsa, no. 3 (1937) p. 7. 15. ‘Samaya shchastlivaya’, Krest’yanka, no. 8 (1941) pp. 6–7. (For more on Angelina, see Mary Buckley and, particularly, Sue Bridger in this volume. [Editor’s note]) 16. Ibid. 17. See, for example, the letter from the pilots Osipenko et al. to Stalin after completing their record-breaking flight from Moscow to the Far East, in Rabotnitsa, no. 29 (1938) p. 3. 18. Rabotnitsa, no. 3 (1937) p. 12. 19. M. Raskova, ‘Zapiski shturmana’, Rabotnitsa, no. 6 (1939) pp. 12–13. (Compare this with Kalinin’s conversation with the young Nikul’shina, reported in Mary Buckley’s chapter. [Editor’s note]) 20. ‘Materinstvo – eto osobennoe chuvstvo, ono prekrasno!’, Rabotnitsa, no. 17 (1936) p. 5. 21. Ibid. For more examples, see also ‘M. E.’, ‘Podstrekateli abortov: po pis’mam, postupivshim v redaktsiyu’, in Rabotnitsa, no. 10 (1936) pp. 14–15; and ‘Obsuzhdaem zakonoproekt o zapreshchenii abortov, o pomoshchi rozhenitsam, rashirenii seti rodil’nykh domov, yaslei i t.d.’, Rabotnitsa, no. 17 (1936) pp. 4–6. 22. ‘Materinstvo – eto osobennoe chuvstvo’ p. 5. 23. E. Pvatakova, ‘Podpol’nye abortarii’, Rabotnitsa, no. 17 (1941) p. 19. 24. K. Ryazhenova, ‘Mat’ i deti’, Rabotnitsa, no. 25 (1938) pp. 10–11.

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25. N. A. Kuznetsova, ‘Domokhozyaiki dolzhny pomoch’ muzh’yam i detyam stat’ stakhanovtsami’, Rabotnitsa, no. 3 (1936) p. 13. This is part of a longer article, ‘Rabotaet po stakhanovski’, pp. 12–13. 26. See, for example, Rabotnitsa, no. 1 (1937) p. 17. This issue was devoted to the All-Union Conference of Wives of Commanders of the RKKA. 27. Kuznetsova, ‘Domokhozyaiki dolzhny pomoch’ muzh’yam’, p. 13. 28. See L. Bogutskaya, ‘Bol’shoe delo’, Krest’yanka, nos. 15–16 (1936) p. 18; and D. Sokolov, ‘Zheny stakhanovtsev ne khotyat otstavat’ ot muzhei’, Krest’yanka, nos. 15–16 (1936) p. 21. 29. F. G. Tremyakov, ‘Domashnyaya khozyaika’, Rabotnitsa, no. 15 (1939) p. 16. 30. L. Veselova, ‘Uvazhat’ chelovecheskuyu lichnost’’, Rabotnitsa, no. 26 (1940) pp. 14–15. 31. See ‘Kem mne byt’?’, Rabotnitsa, no. 15 (1940) p. 17; and no. 16 (1940) p. 18. These letters were probably either fabricated, or were selected for publication because they put forward Rabotnitsa’s favoured position. 32. ‘Kem mne byt’?’, letter from K. Dub, Rabotnitsa, no. 16 (1940) p. 18. 33. ‘Kem mne byt’?’, letter from E. Kupriyanova, in ibid. 34. V. A. Zubkova, ‘Pomozhem nashim muzh’yam’, Rabotnitsa, no. 16 (1939) p. 7. 35. I. Lin, ‘V chem krasota’, Rabotnitsa, no. 26 (1927) pp. 15–16. 36. See, for example, a collection of articles in Rabotnitsa, no. 3 (1937): A. Ashmarina, ‘Pochemu takoi skudnyi assortiment golovnykh uborov?’, pp. 13–14; M. Yurin, ‘Plet’ev mnogo, a vybrat’ nechego’, pp. 13–14; M. Sh., ‘V Leningrade plokho chinyat obuv’, p. 15; and readers’ letters on the subject, ‘Rabotnitsy nedovol’ny pochinkoi obuvi’, p. 16. Also M. Yurina, ‘Malen’komu grazhdaninu trebuetsya parikmakher’, Rabotnitsa, no. 4 (1937) p. 17. 37. See the short piece by ‘E. F.’ in Rabotnitsa, no. 2 (1937) p. 15. 38. O. Donchenko, ‘Doch’’, Rabotnitsa, no. 7 (1948) pp. 14–16. 39. N. Leshchinskii, ‘Strashnaya bolezn’’, Rabotnitsa, no. 20 (1938) pp. 17–18; continued in nos. 21, 22, 23 and 24. 40. Ibid., no. 21 (1938), pp. 18–19. 41. F. Panferov, ‘Tat’yana Khrebtova’, in Krest’yanka, no. 20 (1937) pp. 11–13, and Rabotnitsa, no. 12 (1938) pp. 17–18. 42. See, for example, the painting by P. Sosolova on the front cover of Rabotnitsa, no. 2 (1941). 43. ‘Rodina zovet’, Rabotnitsa, no. 19 (1941) p. 6. 44. P. Osipenko, ‘Vo imya ukrepleniya mogushchestva rodiny’, Rabotnitsa, no. 21 (1938) pp. 5–6. 45. Slogan appearing in Rabotnitsa, no. 33 (1941) p. 7. 46. See, for example, E. Kononenko, ‘Devchata’, Krest’yanka, no. 2 (1943) pp. 18–19. 47. V. Ketlinskaya, ‘Zheny i materi . . . ’, Krest’yanka, no. 4 (1944) p. 19. 48. Editorial, inside front cover, Krest’yanka, nos. 8–9 (1944). 49. Motherhood medals were introduced in the Family Law of 1944: Motherhood Medal, 2nd class for 5 children, 1st class for 6; Motherhood Glory for 7, 8, 9 children (3 classes), and Heroine Mother for 10. See M. Buckley, Women and Ideology in the Soviet Union (Hemel Hempstead and Ann Arbor, 1989) p. 134. [Editor’s note]


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50. See V. S. Dunham, In Stalin’s Time: Middle-Class Values in Soviet Fiction, 2nd edn (Durham and London, 1990) p. 218. 51. K. Mazovskii, ‘Solnechnaya storona’, Rabotnitsa, no. 11 (1945) pp. 15–16. 52. E. Kononenko, ‘Nastya’, Rabotnitsa, nos. 11–12 (1946) pp. 14–15. 53. S. Gal’pern, ‘Sem’ya’, Rabotnitsa, nos. 8–9 (1944) pp. 15–16. 54. ‘Glava sem’i’, Krest’yanka, no. 7 (1947) pp. 22–3. 55. R. Bruislovskii, ‘Rasskazhite vashu biografiyu’, Krest’yanka, no. 3 (1947) pp. 19–20. 56. A. Preobrazhenskii, ‘Tri petra’, Rabotnitsa, no. 7 (1945) pp. 14–15. 57. L. Ivanov, ‘Lelya’, Krest’yanka, no. 7 (1945) pp. 20–1. 58. A. Sergeeva, ‘O vospitanii devochek’, Rabotnitsa, no. 11 (1951) pp. 25–6. 59. See B. Evans Clements, ‘The Birth of the New Soviet Woman’, in A. Gleason, P. Kenez and R. Stites (eds), Bolshevik Culture: Experiment and Order in the Russian Revolution (Bloomington, Ind., 1985) p. 232. 60. M. Honey, The Making of Rosie the Riveter: Class, Gender, and Propaganda during World War II (Amherst, 1984) p. 51. 61. For example, Kalinin, commenting on women’s entry into the armed forces, said that this was evidence of their having ‘won equal rights in yet another area: to defend their motherland directly, with firearms in their hands’. Quoted in Zhenshchiny strany Sovetov (Moscow, 1977) p. 188.

9 Complex ‘Realities’ of ‘New’ Women of the l930s: Assertive, Superior, Belittled and Beaten Mary Buckley

Reality, image and realities ’Reality’ is an elusive term for complex phenomena. Many of us find it indispensable to our discourse on Soviet life, indeed on life in general, as we contrast propaganda and ‘reality,’ ideology and ‘reality,’ official discourse and ‘reality,’ images and ‘reality’ and icons and ‘reality’. In these dualities, ‘reality’ is invariably distorted, masked or reconstructed by propaganda about it. Citizens are informed by rulers about the meanings of the worlds in which they find themselves. Reality is thus consumed by a targeted audience, internalized and variously filtered. Reactions are various, not identical. When ‘image’ and ‘reality’ become intertwined and tangled, as elements in each start to appear inseparable, even if they were once considered distinct, conceptual haziness develops. Here we continue to use the concept, but with a feeling that it may not be sharp enough, or that it may be too ‘catch-all’ to capture the subtleties and complexities of its content. None the less, despite its analytic inadequacies, the term remains irritatingly indispensable. If one tries to jettison it, one is overcome by feelings of conceptual impotence and a longing immediately to apply it. Unease develops because ‘images’ of a period become part of its ‘reality’, even if they do not appear to reflect daily life, but rather allow an escape from it, or recast it, piecing together an alternative, more palatable, version. The hilarities, for instance, in Grigorii Aleksandrov’s film Veselye Rebyata (The Happy Lads), at first seem a thorough whitewash of the 1930s. The simple naivety of the characters, their tricks and fun and 177


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raw emotions, give absolutely no indication of life’s brutalities, of collectivization, dekulakization, purges, arrest and gulag. What is not said, the weight of silence and omission, prompts a discomfort in the Western viewer present-day. Yet, simultaneously, one knows that in Russian society jokes and black humour accompany political repression and are a cathartic mechanism for coping; that simple generosities punctuate deprivation, making life poignantly human and modestly dignified; that conscience and moral probity do mix with wicked betrayal, personal abuse and the flaunting of petty powers by the subaltern and pathetic bureaucrat. ‘Realities’ may be harsh, but they are not one-dimensional. Moreover, individuals experience them differently, despite communalities of historical experience, variations across regions, generations, genders, education levels, occupations, religions and personalities. There is thus not one reality, but realities within the same broad historical context. This preamble does not pretend to resolve these conceptual tangles or the hazardous linking of notion to empirical referents, nor to shed fresh light on the anxieties of the social scientist as ‘analyst’ of earlier realities in other cultures, indebted to selected and available sources, sensitive to what might not be known, but not ‘knowing’ what it is. Rather, these reflections are no more than an essential backdrop to thoughts on images and realities of the 1930s, since it must be clear that the two notions are complexly interrelated, even if paradoxically distinct.

Objectives One object of this chapter is to focus on contrasts in realities of the 1930s. A strong image was of woman, like man, triumphing over technology. The machine could vary – car, tractor, motorcycle or textile machinery, but in all cases woman commanded it to advantage. Such an image was projected in posters, paintings, plays and film and was lived by women such as Praskov’ya Angelina and Dar’ya Garmash on tractors, or Mariya and Evdokiya Vinogradova in textile factories (women who were affectionately known as Pasha, Dasha, Marusya and Dusya). In the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), women snipers also controlled their weaponry and knew how to use a parachute. A contrasting ‘reality’ belittled woman’s efforts and wedged her into narrow roles. All historical periods have their tensions, contradictions and so-called ‘vestiges of the past’ (perezhitki proshlego). Aside from the obvious and already much discussed points about the re-emergence of older traditions in legislation of the mid-1930s on divorce and abortion,

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other documents of the 1930s nicely illustrate the persistence of ‘traditional’ attitudes held about women, among both rulers and ruled, at a time of huge potential for changing gender roles. Another sharp image of the 1930s is of women who were successful because Soviet socialism heralded fresh opportunities for women. Ideology trumpeted that Mariya Demchenko and Khristina Baidich set fresh records in sugar beet. But successful women, and women who were striving for success, were sometimes targets of physical and verbal abuse. This chapter explores the idea that women shock-workers and stakhanovites, more than men, were subject to maltreatment because men found female achievements threatening to male superiority, pride and the comfortable gender status quo in which women in the public sphere were inferior. Furthermore, female stakhanovites sometimes aggravated male insecurities by pointing out that they were ‘better’ than men. This is a hitherto neglected theme of the 1930s which merits attention. A final, relatively undiscussed reality of the 1930s is the sorts of demands that women and men made on the state, consistent with their self-perceived status. In particular, stakhanovites made demands on trade unions for the perks that the regime was supposed to bestow upon them. Workers were not necessarily the cowed and passive ‘victims’ of totalitarian state oppression. They could be assertive in pursuit of their rights, not just in letters to the press, to top leaders or to local party and soviet institutions, but also in requests to trade unions to improve their living conditions. Stakhanovites on state farms, for instance, made regular entreaties. Notwithstanding the fact that female stakhanovites were attacked by some men for the benefits that they received, it did not stop them from demanding their perks when these were not forthcoming. So, too, did obshchestvennitsy request funding and support for their activities. These ‘female activists’ or ‘public-spirited women’ were in many ways a contrast to heroic female stakhanovites, since one of the main tasks of an obshchestvennitsa, as a member of the dvizhenie zhen (wives’ movement), was to support her husband, get involved in his workplace and help him in his activities, rather than develop her own female role in paid social production. None the less, obshchestvennitsy also made demands on trade unions for their projects, activities and pursuits, not all of which lacked self-interest. ‘New’ women of the 1930s, then, in image and in reality, assumed fresh assertive roles, harnessing machinery and adopting new work techniques. But reality shone less brightly than image. Some realities included resilient misogynistic attitudes, and the verbal and physical


Gender in Russian History and Culture

abuse of women. While some women may have been deterred by maltreatment from pursuing their aims, others insisted that they were none the less ‘better’ than men and demanded any perks not received which they considered their due.

‘New’ women harness technology and adopt new working techniques The famous painting entitled New Moscow by Yurii Pimenov shows a woman of the 1930s driving a car down a street in the capital.1 The picture suggests her independence, modernity and capability. She is driving alone, needing no one alongside to give support or tips on how to drive better. Like the ‘new’ Moscow, she is a ‘new’ urban woman, independent, ready to adapt her lifestyle to changing times and to benefit from them. She is up to date, has mastered the latest technology of the road and is going forward. This is progress. Whatever comes next will be better since advances under Soviet socialism come only in exponential curves. Most Soviet women, of course, did not look like this independent driver, possessed no car and had no hope of having one. But the painting conveyed the message that a new era had dawned, changes were apace and gender roles were being redefined. And although most Soviet women were not about to speed around cities in private transport, in the factories stakhanovite women did accelerate their pace of work, increase the number of machines on which they worked and attempt to use technology in a fresh way. As Evdokiya Vinogradova put it at the First All-Union Conference of Working Men and Women Stakhanovites in November 1935: ‘Before we worked on 16 to 26 machines and ran from one to another, in a rush. Now I work on 144 machines. We attend to them according to a strict route. So then what? We always fulfil the plan by 102, 103, 106 per cent.’2 Consistent with progaganda, the public message here was that women, like men, needed to change the way in which they worked in order to increase productivity. More machines and higher output brought increased wages for ‘new’ women. They thus became part of a labour elite, privileged to receive more money, presents such as flowers, bicycles, record players and watches, invitations to attend conferences (where they rubbed shoulders with top leaders), newspaper coverage and some fame. Rural women of the 1930s, too, mastered technology. Mar’yana Bazhan in Pyrev’s film Traktoristy (Tractor Drivers) rides a motorbike with ease and is brigade leader of a women’s tractor team. Images of the 1930s

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and 1940s portrayed rural women as heroically hard-working, smiling and keen, often brandishing the sickle with determined gestures. In films, they gathered the harvest with enthusiasm, as in Ivan Pyrev’s musical comedy Kubanskie Kazaki (Cossacks of the Kuban) marching with pitchforks – military style – and bursting into jubilant song as they participated in the process of providing ‘bread for the Motherland’. If they worked with animals, they were familiar with the latest feeding techniques, with the ‘individual approach’ to cows, pigs and sheep, championed by rural stakhanovites, which required that they develop a solid emotional relationship with their animals, understanding their specific needs, whims and problems. Glasha in Pyrev’s Svinarka i Pastukh (The Woman Swineherd and the Shepherd) epitomized the attentive udarnitsa (shock-worker) of the countryside. She was careful about how she fed her pigs and knew what to do if a piglet stopped breathing after birth. Shock-workers and stakhanovites who worked the land were familiar with the qualities of the soil they tilled, the required amounts of manure needed for sugar beet and how to keep weeds and pests at bay. Not all rural women gathered in harvests in happy song, as portrayed on the big screen. None the less, rural stakhanovites, like their urban counterparts, increased productivity, attended special rallies and conferences and were rewarded with higher pay and presents. And also like their urban counterparts, they were sometimes disliked for their success and its attendant attention, perks and fame.

‘New’ women belittled In contrast to such images and propaganda, traditional attitudes in the countryside often belittled woman’s efforts, talked down her potential and rigidly cast her in what were perceived to be appropriate roles for her. Evidence of attitudes can be gathered from biographies, newspaper articles, procuracy reports, conference materials and conversations between peasants and leaders. Yakovlev of the Central Committee’s agriculture department, for example, in 1937 met kolkhoz chairs and tractor drivers from Kursk oblast. After posing numerous general questions, conversation turned to whether or not there were any good rural workers on farms in Kursk. The archives carry the following dialogue: Voice Voice

If I picked someone, there’s Nefedova, she’s not bad. She’s a woman – and always will be.


Gender in Russian History and Culture

Voice At night it’s necessary to take them by the hand, and the muzhik has his way. Voice Women are long in hair and short in brain. Voice That’s old-fashioned.3 Yakovlev soon intervened: Yakovlev Don’t you have those women who can harvest 120–150 centners?’ After further discussion, Yakovlev advised: Women are no worse than men. Your men and women can harvest 180 centners per hectare. 4 Whereas Yakovlev in this example tried to exert influence by suggesting that female labour was not automatically useless labour, Kalinin fared less well in two dialogues in 1934 with the young peasant Nikul’shina. In May, Kalinin chatted to znatnye lyudi (‘leading figures’ or ‘distinguished people’ – similar to shock-workers and precursors of stakhanovites) sent to him from Krest’yanskaya gazeta (The Peasant’s Paper). His first words to the 19-year-old Nikul’shina from Sal’skii district in Azovo-Chernomorskii krai concern her marital status, not her work. Precisely because she is young, Kalinin advises her to marry. Nikul’shina wisely replies as follows: Nikul’shina I still need to put in some work. Kalinin And you think that if you get married, you won’t need to work.5 Nikul’shina quickly changes the subject, moving on to tell the story of how she joined a collective farm and then the Komsomol, both against her father’s will. She soon became a brigade leader but many individual peasant farmers (edinolichniki) ‘said it was a hopeless brigade, last year was becoming undisciplined and this year was disintegrating’. 6 Nevertheless, the brigade was fine and Nikul’shina had 25 men in it. She was proud that: . . . they listen to me and obey my orders. One of them once said ‘let’s put a man in Nikul’shina’s place as brigade leader, it’s not interesting being subordinate to a woman’. They said to him: ‘we’ll

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bash your head in. Who will replace her? We’ll tell the political department, because she’s a good leader and never curses us.’7 Nikul’shina’s tale highlights the resilience of traditional attitudes which held that women should not be brigade leaders. Certainly some rural men disliked being in an authority structure in the public sphere which meant being told what to do by a woman. Nikul’shina, however, seemed unperturbed by this, confident in her own abilities. And clearly some men in her brigade liked her leadership style. Whereas many farm directors, chairpersons and brigade leaders were criticized in the 1930s for bullying peasants, for throwing their weight about and for treating others in arbitrary ways, Nikul’shina did not berate others. Kalinin and Nikul’shina met again in November 1934 when Kalinin received kolkhoz brigade leaders and shock-workers who had been decorated at an All-Union competition. His first question to her is one which she swiftly dismisses, preferring to get down to the reason for her presence: Kalinin Still not married? Nikul’shina No. I promised you that I would join the harvest campaign and become the most advanced in our district in supplying grain for the state. I achieved this task. According to the plan I should have fulfilled the state grain delivery in 12 days. I succeeded in doing this in five days. And I came first in our district. Kalinin How many hours a day did you work during harvest-time? Nikul’shina We worked around the clock, without stopping the hum of the threshing machine. That’s how I threshed so well and so fast.8 Whether partly scripted in advance or not, these dialogues suggest that, rhetoric aside, Nikul’shina is indeed keen to work and proud of her successes. She is an assertive ‘new’ woman, not fazed by male chauvinism in her brigade. Kalinin’s words to her are kind ones, his queries about her marital status probably more typical of Russian concerns for one’s personal happiness than reflection of indifference to her work. Nikul’shina’s reaction, however, to patriarchal questions is an interestingly cool one which firmly and abruptly changes the subject. Marriage is clearly not her top priority, at least not her top public priority. So she does not indulge Kalinin in his question. Attempts on the farm to undermine Nikul’shina clearly failed. Other shock-workers and stakhanovites, however, suffered tougher fates.


Gender in Russian History and Culture

Brigade leader Kipenko, for example, told Kalinin how she had been fired at and also ‘beaten up several times’, ending up in hospital.9 Procuracy archives and newspapers such as Krest’yanskaya gazeta and Sovkhoznaya gazeta (The State Farm Paper) document numerous cases of the baiting and persecution (travlya) of female stakhanovites, as well as systematic mockery (sistematicheskie nasmeshki), humiliation (izdevatel’stvo), opposition to stakhanovism ( protivodeistvie) and resistance (soprotivlenie). 10 Acts against female stakhanovites ranged from spreading unpleasant rumours about them and face-to-face rudeness, to stealing their manure at night, wrecking their snow screens, throwing them into manure pits, shoving them about, smashing their windows, burning down their huts, ruining their clothes, taking their medals away, beating them up and murdering them. Many opponents of stakhanovism feared that as a consequence of stakhanovite feats, they would be expected to work harder and to meet new output targets. While many female stakhanovites remained undeterred, either complaining to farm and local authorities, newspapers and top leaders, others did back away from stakhanovism, preferring to live a quieter life. 11 Articles in Sovkhoznaya gazeta suggested that female stakhanovites suffered more hostility than males. For instance, coverage of the northern Caucasus noted that, ‘on the First of May state farm, they treat women in a humiliating way, especially stakhanovites and shock workers’.12 Here the diligent pig breeder Comrade Tanina had promptly helped out in heavy rain, even though it was her day off. Soaked to the skin, she requested permission to go and change her dress. Pisarev, who was in charge, ‘cursed her and threw her out of the pigsty’. 13 Pisarev also called Mariya Mishenkova names, beat her and threw her out of the pigsty. Her crime had been to turn up for work ten minutes early for the evening feed. She had not wanted to drag out the feeding into the night since her only lantern was defective. For this ‘arbitrariness’ she apparently deserved a beating. 14 And a technical worker on the same farm announced that ‘he did not need women brigade leaders’.15 The leadership styles of these men contrasted with that of Nikul’shina. In general, newspaper articles of the mid- and late 1930s did not emphasize that women stakhanovites were more badly treated than male. Instead, most merely described how they were badly treated. This article, however, made a particular point of stressing the gender difference, which suggests than discrimination was especially bad. Moreover, anger against women may have flared up because some women insisted that they were much better workers than men.

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‘New’ women are better than men Articles, speeches at conferences and archival materials are punctuated by the notion that not only were female stakhanovites excellent workers but that often female labour was superior to male. This message may have been especially galling to those men offended by women with ability. Comments about women’s abilities range from lukewarm acknowledgements that women can work as well as men, to enthusiastic praise for women’s superior skills. In Yakovlev’s conversations with peasants from Kursk, for example, he prompted recognition of the fact that women could work better than men. At one point in the dialogue about transporting manure Yakovlev was informed that work discipline was bad and that men were not enthusiastic. Yakovlev asked: Yakovlev Is it better working with women or are they worse than the men? Answer Women work at threshing. There are women who work better than men.16 Kalinin, too, in conversation with Komsomol district committee secretaries in October 1942 (over a year after the German invasion), praised female labour and joked about the work habits and laziness of Russian men: ‘Men have always worked in our country. Just as it was under Tsarism: woman sows and her husband walks behind giving her seed. (Laughter).’17 Moreover, ‘women used to be leaders. . . . Women in our country are independent.’ 18 It was not just the ‘new’ women in Kalinin’s view, who were assertive. This had long been the case (notably for widows or temporarily single women). When one of those present commented that young girls on collective farms often worked ‘better,’ Kalinin replied: ‘That’s natural. Women are more diligent (staratel’nye). Men like to have a smoke, have a chat. That’s a characteristic of the Russian.’19 Subsequently commenting upon the mobilization of girls for war, Kalinin declared that: Women are as good at waging war as men are. I was at a school for snipers, they are sent there straight from the front. There were ten girls out of 200 people. Nearly all were excellent, all were in the Red Army, not especially young, around 24 years. They were married, their husbands dead or at the front.20


Gender in Russian History and Culture

Kalinin, then, openly admitted that women could be more dedicated workers than men, assume leadership roles and even fight just as well as men. The idea that some women worked better than men was suggested at conferences too. At the Second All-Union Congress of Collective Farm Shock Workers, Aleksandra Levchenkova, from Mikhailovskii raion (district) in Voronezh oblast observed: ‘Many women, the majority of them, in their work cope as well as men. Women do not go on drinking binges, do not play cards, do not get involved in deceit. Women relate to the collective farm with care (Applause), to the collective good (Applause).’21 As a collective farm chair, Levchenkova must have been an able woman to attain that position. Although here she does not explicitly say that women work better than men, that is surely her implication as she lists men’s negative qualities. Pasha Angelina, however, the famous stakhanovite tractor driver (discussed in greater detail by Sue Bridger in this volume), went further. Her women’s tractor team, in her estimation, outstripped men and would remain ahead of them. She told the Second All-Union Congress of Collective Farm Shock Workers: ‘Comrades, now I will tell you that my brigade for the last three years has held the red challenge banner from the political department and has not ceded it to men.’22 The sharp message here is that women are better than men. Conference gatherings of shock-workers and stakhanovites gave women a platform to announce that they could work better than men. One Comrade Kofanova, a combine driver from a machine and tractor station (MTS) in AzovoChernomorsk krai, made a similar statement in December 1935 at a Conference of Advanced Male and Female Combine Drivers with Members of the Central Committee and Government. Kofanova announced: ‘For good work they gave me a bonus, promoted me to a brigade leader. Then they put me on the red blackboard. And I was an advanced worker in the district, beating all the male combine drivers. (Applause).’23 Pasha Angelina went beyond simply outshining men in socialist competitions, by being asked to help out male tractor brigades on seven collective farms in addition to her normal workload. With irony, Angelina told the Second All-Union Congress of Collective Farm Shock Workers: ‘. . . we taught the tractor drivers how to work on the machines, we showed them how women had mastered this complicated machine!’24 Official ideology of the 1930s did not champion the idea that women were better than men. Rather, they were equal, working ‘side by side’, and advancing ‘shoulder to shoulder’.25 Successful women, however,

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like Aleksandra Levchenkova and Pasha Angelina, occasionally let off steam about male inadequacies and about female diligence, as though exasperated by the drunkenness, male violence against women, petty male pride and absurd notions of automatic male superiority that surrounded them. Moreover, shock-work and stakhanovism allowed women to show how good they could be and to receive official credit for their achievements. Although not all kolkhoz chairs or state farm directors encouraged women stakhanovites, often putting obstacles in their way, or simply lacking the necessary inputs to help them excel, those who did accept them and show backing, enabled women to shine and to take the credit.

‘New’ women demand their perks Women who became shock-workers, znatnye lyudi and stakhanovites not only became accustomed to talking at conferences and in the press of their achievements, output, work techniques and goals, but also pursued their rights if they felt in any way slighted, held back or maltreated. Their letters to the press have already been documented. 26 Hitherto, however, little has been said about their relationship with trade unions. Both stakhanovites and obshchestvennitsy, two very different sorts of women, made demands upon trade unions for support, benefits and a righting of wrongs. Trade unions were thus a political port of call when the workplace or farm failed ‘new’ women. And men, too, regularly made demands on trade union resources. Stakhanovites’ demands on trade unions fell into several categories. Here focus falls on living conditions, education and perks. It should be noted, however, that demands were much broader, including requests for checks on farm management. By contrast, the demands of obshchestvennitsy were generally for one purpose alone – resources to pursue their projects. In both cases, however, the trade union was approached for the help and for resources denied by the stakhanovites’ workplace or the workplace of the husbands of obshchestvennitsy. Trade union archives carry letters from stakhanovites and from members of the wives’ movement, as well as numerous responses to them. In the case of stakhanovites, responses to them far outnumber the original letters on file. A standard letter sent to directors of state farms from trade union central committees in defence of stakhanovites looked as follows: To the director and workers’ committee of ‘Korolevo’ state farm, Belorussia.


Gender in Russian History and Culture

According to available evidence, up until now normal living conditions have not been created for the stakhanovite cattle-breeder of Korolevo state farm, Rosa Rybinskaya, who was decorated by the All-Union Competition Commission. In her flat there is practically no furniture, no winter clothes and no felt boots; her cow has no cattle shed. Comrade Rybinskaya is not studying and is still illiterate. We suggest: 1. Help to furnish her flat with the necessary furniture. 2. Help for her to obtain in the nearest town a winter coat, felt boots and leather boots. 3. Provide a cowshed for the cow. Give her the necessary feed. 4. Organize study for Comrade Rybinskaya, attaching a special teacher to her. Signed: Ostrovskii, Deputy People’s Commissar of State Farms Novikov, Deputy Chair of the Central Committee of the Union of Workers of Dairy Farms in the Central and Southern Oblasts.27 In cases such as these, the ‘available evidence’ was a letter of complaint from the shock-worker or stakhanovite. Sometimes letters, if considered serious, were sent to an administrator in the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture, requesting pressure be put on a particular farm. The one which follows made it explicit that a peasant had complained about her lot: The Central Committee of the Union of State Farm Dairy Workers has received a complaint from the decorated Comrade Mariya Ivanovna Konstantinova of Oreshkovo state farm in Moscow oblast. According to the complaint, normal everyday living conditions have not been created for her and there is also a range of other shortcomings on the farm.28 The letter then elaborated: 1. The flat where Comrade Konstantinova lives fell into an unfit state and for her to continue living there is impossible since the ceiling threatens the life of all her family. 2. Checking of arrival at and departure from work has recently not been carried out.

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The Central Committee of the Union requests that you give the appropriate instructions to the director of the state farm about the elimination of these shortcomings. Inform the Central Committee of the Union of the measures taken. Signed: Andreev, Chair of the Central Committee [of the Union of Workers of Dairy Farms in the Central and Southern Oblasts – M.B.]29 Letters are also on file which inform the stakhanovite of what she can expect to receive. Another letter to Belorussia informed Comrade Lisovskaya that in response to her letter a request had gone to the director of her state farm so that her domestic situation could be put in order and she would obtain clothes and boots for her family. In addition, a ‘special supply and organization of the best food in the canteen’ had been requested for shock workers. 30 Similarly, Anna Boika received the following response from Chernyak, an instructor of the same Central Committee. We received your letter. All your needs upset us a lot. Today we are sending a special letter to the director of the state farm and to the workers’ committee so that they help you set up home and study. We recommended that the director and the workers’ committee find you a flat and help you obtain furniture and clothes. The workers’ committee has been instructed to help you to study and to prepare for entry to a brigade leaders’ course. 31 Other stakhanovites’ letters concerned narrower questions. Comrade Egorenkova had been given a record player. It did not work and she wrote requesting repair. The trade union wrote to the Chair of the Workers’ Committee of her state farm, demanding that it determine whether the record player could be repaired, and if not, to arrange to have it sent back.32 Another stakhanovite requested an increase in grant money. 33 More common was a singular request for help in studying. In response, the union generally wrote to the workers’ committee asking for special instruction to be arranged. 34 Likewise, special work clothes were often wanting. 35 Occasionally, however, the union wrote back to say as far as they were concerned the relevant clothing had been sent. 36 Responses to shock-workers’ and stakhanovites’ complaints generally suggest that trade unions were keen to be accommodating. It is not


Gender in Russian History and Culture

clear whether farm directors or workers’ committees were as prompt in their readiness to solve the problems referred to them. Even so, correspondence on file shows that ‘new’ stakhanovite women stood up for what they felt was due to them and usually received positive responses from unions. They may have been disliked by less productive peasants for being eligible for perks and presents, and for pushing to have them, but this did not always deter them from requesting what they felt was wrongfully missing from their lives. Obshchestvennitsy, too, had the confidence to request resources from unions. But their status was not independently won like that of female stakhanovites, being instead derived from their husbands. As members of the wives’ movement, they won their raison d’être from their husbands’ managerial or stakhanovite status. Obshchestvennitsy were thus worthy extensions of persons pursuing worthy goals. None the less, this gave the wives an assertiveness to request help. Moreover, their social deeds drew them out of the home and gave obshchestvennitsy a role in the collective. This, in itself, may have contributed to obshchestvennitsa developing a sense of self. 37 She was not the ‘new’ woman championed in ideology, who joined the labour force, earned a wage and recognized the superiority of socialism. She was, however, an ‘activist’ outside the home, applauded by the regime. Letters to unions were varied in their requests. Miners’ wives wrote asking for ‘means’ to furnish a special room for engineering technical workers. A room was available but it had no chairs or books. They added that there was no children’s room although this was sorely needed for when the wives studied together. After itemizing their activities which included participation in stakhanovites’ 24-hour shifts, help in the school and kindergarten as well as shifts in the hostel, they ended in rather clumsy Russian, ‘And from your side we await material help, that is, the distribution of financial means.’ 38 Wives of engineering technical workers in Rostov-on-Don wrote a lengthier letter asking for sums for varied activities: children’s sport, a ballet school, furniture for the House of Culture, books, a crèche for 75 babies, a ‘hygiene’ room for women as well as personal expenses such as trolleybus rides. Since their husbands’ factory was large, employing 23 000 workers, there was much to be done. The letter to Shvernik at the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions (VTsSPS) concluded, ‘Nikolai Mikhailovich, we ask you to help us realize the itemized measures and send us 70 000 roubles.’39 Another rather open-ended letter from wives in a Kaluga machinebuilding factory informed VTsSPS of their activities among housewives

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of transport workers, of their sewing and knitting circles, shooting, training, study of foreign languages, self-defence work and artistic pursuits. The wives then announced, ‘All this demands material expenditure, but we do not have any money.’ 40 They informed the union headquarters that they were a group of 317 housewives and 40 children although ‘this is not the limit, the growth of our aktiv continues and by 20 April we will be an aktiv of not less than 500.’41 The final request was simply and directly put: ‘We ask that you send us 20 000 roubles, allowances for all the work presented.’ 42 Both stakhanovites and stakhanovites’ wives, then, used their status to request resources and sometimes triumphed. Stakhanovite women, however, made persistent requests from 1935 to 1939 whereas the demands of obshchestvennitsy petered out after 1937 when trade union funding for their activities ceased.43 Stakhanovite women’s requests were of much higher priority for the regime. Moreover, trade union documents carried reports calling for ‘more attention and care for stakhanovites’.44 Female stakhanovites were ready to make use of this.

Conclusion The above discussion shows that undeterred by tauntings and physical abuse, many female stakhanovites stood their ground, even insisted in public arenas that they were ‘better’ then men. Although some women were too frightened to continue being stakhanovites and sought a quiet life free of harassment, others demanded from unions the perks that were due to them and complained to press and union if they did not receive them. Accommodating unions agreed to help them, as did many a male kolkhoz chair or state farm director. There appears, however, to have been no uniform pattern of treating female stakhanovites at the local level since they were supported on some farms and not encouraged on others. Several intervening variables were relevant here such as attitudes, the rate of turnover of farm directors and farm chairs, the availability of scarce resources to be distributed, such as feed, the overall success of the farm and the fertility of the soil.45 Obshchestvennitsy, too, as determined and active housewives, were ready to exert pressure on unions for funding for their projects. Although not paid by the state as independent workers, and a huge contrast to the stakhanovite women, these wives nevertheless fought for the interests of their communities and expected support from the system. When it was not forthcoming locally, they sought help from the trade union hierarchy at the centre. They were not merely passive


Gender in Russian History and Culture

do-gooders, but energetic women who attempted to extract as much as possible from the system. The 1930s, then, provided women with expanding possibilities for being assertive, despite the horrors of repression. Shock-work and stakhanovism, above all, offered to the diligent, ways of demonstrating their abilities, fulfilling their need to excel and to receive recognition. Men, too, enjoyed these possibilities. For women, however, they carried special significance. Women could break out of the confines of traditional expectations of their gender. They could assume new roles on tractors and combine harvesters, often amid opposition from men and women alike. 46 They could become what they had never hitherto been. Moreover, they could even legitimately compete with men in socialist competitions, and win. They could demonstrate that they were ‘better’ in a culture where women were seen by men as ‘inferior’. They could realize socialist ideology on equality by showing that they were equal to any task performed by the male. Furthermore, ironically, they could do this at a time when leaders were reinstating family values and attempting to instil stability in family life. One unintended consequence of female stakhanovism was a challenge to the interpersonal status quo of gender relations.

Notes 1. In the Tret’yakov Gallery, Moscow. 2. Pervoe vsesoyuznoe soveshchanie rabochikh i rabotnits stakhanovstev, 14–17 noyabrya 1935: Stenograficheskii otchet (Moscow, Partizdat TsK VKP(b), 1935) p. 26. 3. Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsial’no-politicheskoi istorii (RGASPI) [formerly RTsKhIDNI], f. 17, op. 120, d. 292, l. 29. 4. Ibid., l. 34. 5. Ibid., f. 78, op. 1, d. 490, l. 7. 6. Ibid., ll. 8–10. 7. Ibid., l. 10. 8. Ibid., f. 78, op. 1, d. 506, l. 8. 9. Ibid., f. 78, op. 1, d. 490, l. 13. 10. For more detailed analysis of resistance to stakhanovism and attacks on stakhanovites, see M. Buckley, ‘Categorising Rural Resistance to Stakhanovism’, in K. McDermott and J. Morison (eds), Politics and Society under the Bolsheviks (Basingstoke, 1999) pp. 160–88. 11. Ibid. 12. Sovkhoznaya gazeta, 12 October 1936, p. 3. 13. Ibid. 14. Ibid. 15. Ibid.

Mary Buckley 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37.


39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46.


RGASPI, f. 17, op. 120, d. 292, l. 5. RGASPI, f. 78, op. 1, d. 920, l. 12. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid., l. 13. Vtoroi vsesoyuznyi s’’ezd kolkhoznikov-udarnikov, 11–17 fevralya 1935 g: Stenograficheskii otchet (Moscow, 1935) p. 48. Ibid., p. 101. Krest’yanskaya gazeta, 4 December 1935, p. 1. Vtoroi vsesoyuznyi s’’ezd kolkhoznikov-udarnikov, p. 101. M. Buckley, Women and Ideology in the Soviet Union (Hemel Hempstead and Ann Arbor, 1989) pp. 108–38. See M. Buckley, ‘Krest’yanskaya gazeta and Rural Stakhanovism,’ Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 46, no. 8 (1994) pp. 1387–407. Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii (GARF), f. 7689, op. 11, d. 50, l. 73. Date 1935. Ibid., f. 7689, op. 11, d. 422, l. 43. Ibid. Ibid., f. 7689, op. 11, d. 50, l. 65. 2 November 1935. Ibid., l. 49. Ibid., f. 7689, op. 11, d. 421, l. 22. 22 May 1939. Ibid., f. 7689, op. 11, d. 421, l. 17. 13 June 1939. Ibid., f. 7689, op. 11, d. 421, l. 40. 28 April 1939. Ibid., f. 7689, op. 11, d. 421, l. 69. 12 April 1939. Ibid., f. 7689, op. 11, d. 421, l. 99. 20 June 1939. For elaboration see M. Buckley, ‘The Untold Story of Obshchestvennitsa in the 1930s,’ Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 48, no. 4 (1996) pp. 569–86. Details of official ideology and examples of ’husband talk’ by the wives at conferences can be found in Buckley, Women and Ideology, pp. 108–17. Letter to Prokof’ev at the Presidium of VMBIT (Vsesoyuznoe mezhsektornoe byuro inzhenerov i tekhnikov pri VTsSPS), copied to Shvernik at VTsSPS (Vsesoyuznyi tsentral’nyi sovet professional’nykh soyuzov), GARF, f. 5548, op. 16, d. 63, l. 25. Not dated, but almost certainly 1936. Ibid., f. 5548, op. 16, d. 63, l. 23. 16 November 1936. Ibid., f. 5548, op. 16, d. 63, l. 203. Ibid. Ibid. For details, see Buckley, ‘The Untold Story’. GARF, f. 5451, op. 19, d. 233 (1), l. 25. See M. Buckley, ‘Heroines and Heroes of Stalin’s Fields: Images and Realities of Rural Stakhanovism’, manuscript in preparation. M. Buckley, ‘Why be a Shock Worker or a Stakhanovite?’ in R. Marsh (ed.), Women in Russia and Ukraine (Cambridge, 1996) pp. 199–213.

10 The Heirs of Pasha: the Rise and Fall of the Soviet Woman Tractor Driver Sue Bridger

Your duty, your path, is to become the heirs of Pasha Angelina. We need your youthful energy. 1 Throughout the 1970s clarion calls like this were repeated across the Soviet Union in newspapers and magazines, on TV and radio as the Communist Party, summoning up the images of 1930s stakhanovism, attempted to recruit a new generation of women – ‘to the tractor!’ Just a decade later, the entire rationale for this campaign was being called into question in a debate on women’s working lives which was ultimately to lead to the outright banning of tractor driving for women; appropriately enough, the demise of the woman tractor driver was one of the final enactments of a state which was itself about to be consigned to history. The archetypal figurehead of the Soviet road to sexual equality went down with the ship and, by this time, few either noticed or mourned her passing. This chapter seeks to explore the images of women in the ‘man’s world’ of the tractor driver through these two decades of the 1970s and 1980s. The question of perceptions of sexual difference and their relevance to employment is examined both in relation to contemporary Party policy, and to the changing view of the 1930s and the role of women in the building of the Soviet state. Firstly, however, the campaign of the 1970s needs to be placed into the context of the chequered history of women’s tractor driving which preceded it. 194

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Emulating Pasha: heroism, victory and disenchantment The training of machine operators and mechanics did not become an acute need until the mid-1930s. Yet courses were set up on an ad hoc basis during the First Five-Year Plan, supplying the machine and tractor stations (MTS) which held the machinery available for use on the collective farms with at least some trained staff from among the peasant population. From the very first, long before the potential supply of male recruits into this work was exhausted, women were encouraged on to training courses. Their participation was enthusiastically recorded and became a key element in Soviet propaganda of the period. To the world at large, the woman tractor driver, arguably more than any other icon of the 1930s, came to personify both Soviet economic progress and the realization of sexual equality and social justice in a socialist state. For home consumption, the combination of woman and tractor was to appear in countless newsreels and films such as Eisenstein’s The General Line as a symbol of the politically conscious over the ignorant and conservative. If the attraction of women into skilled mechanized work in agriculture was seen as a powerful propaganda weapon, broader and longer-term considerations were also at work. As early as 1930 the question of the national interest rather than female emancipation was clearly in the minds of those entrusted with promoting women’s new endeavour. Speaking at a conference of shock worker tractor drivers, for example, the trade union leader, N. M. Antselovich declared: Those who philosophize that women are not suited to tractors forget that you won’t find so many men these days. . . . Take those areas where industry is developing – there is not enough labour power. Besides, we must also consider the interests of the country’s defence. . . . When danger threatens the country we won’t all be sitting on tractors.2 As the need for machine operators increased, it was the patriotic rather than the potentially emancipatory aspects of the work which provided the justification for the training and employment of women. By 1934 the entire movement was being described in terms of ‘a strengthening of the home front’ which would have ‘enormous significance from the point of view of the defence capability of the country’.3 The first significant influx of women into tractor driving completed their training courses early in 1929, principally in the Don region. It was here that Mariya Soboleva and Lidiya Artemova, generally regarded


Gender in Russian History and Culture

as the first Soviet women tractor drivers, began their careers on the newly founded state farm ‘Gigant’. Although Mariya Soboleva led a women’s tractor brigade here as early as 1929, it was the much younger Praskov’ya Angelina who was to be acclaimed as the initiator and leader of the campaign to draw women into mechanized work. Pasha Angelina, as she was invariably known, became a tractor driver in 1929 on the Starobeshevo MTS in the Donetsk region. Only 16 when she began this work she braved the opposition of her village and went on to form her own brigade in 1933. By 1936 the movement which had been launched under her leadership had trained over 100 young women and made Angelina a household name. Perpetually associated with the slogan of her 1938 campaign, ‘100 000 friends – to the tractors!’, she became established as a national figure and never ceased to enjoy the patronage of the Party. From the time of her rise to fame until her death in 1959 she was a deputy to the USSR Supreme Soviet without interruption and delegate to each Party Congress, receiving the highest state honours for her work in the brigade which she led for 25 years. 4 As the 1930s proceeded, the numbers of women reported to be employed as tractor drivers grew impressively, reaching 19 000 by 1935 and 64 000 by 1940. A further 23 000 women were, by this time, employed as combine drivers or assistants. Yet the proportion of women among MTS employees remained very low: on the eve of war only 8 per cent of tractor and combine drivers and 2 per cent of mechanics were women. 5 Despite the massive increase in training for women following Pasha Angelina’s appeal, the majority of trained women failed to take up relevant employment. Poor living and working conditions on MTS were blamed for this state of affairs, yet these were by no means the only reasons. Social and psychological pressures as well as the inappropriate background of many trainees were significant factors preventing women from working on the MTS, as a 1940 report to the Central Committee concluded: In some night school classes women who had no direct connection with the collective farms (teachers, librarians, bookkeepers, etc.) were being taught and after learning about the tractor these women did not take up the work. The weakness of work by the MTS in organizing special women’s tractor brigades is a great hindrance in keeping women at work in tractor brigades. One or two women tractor drivers appointed to men’s brigades do not work for long as a rule but leave the brigade for family reasons, i.e., on the insistence of their parents or husband. This especially affects the national areas and the areas

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of the Non-Black Earth Zone. A single brigade in the areas of the Non-Black Earth Zone often serves between three and five collective farms and the woman tractor driver is drawn away from her own collective farm for long periods. 6 It was only as the needs of defence and national survival became paramount that women were induced to overlook the hardships of life on the MTS. As long as male labour was available, the powerful image of the technically competent woman remained far removed from the reality of most women’s lives on the collective farms. The outbreak of war brought with it a rash of appeals to women to train as tractor drivers; in addition, the thousands who had trained in the late 1930s but had not taken up employment were urged to use their skills in the service of their country. By 1942, the proportion of women on courses for tractor drivers had shot up from 8.5 to 51 per cent. With the invasion in the summer of 1941 courses were drastically reduced in length – from four months to 25 days for tractor drivers – simply to ensure that a workforce would be available, however illprepared, to bring the harvest in that year. In subsequent years, short intensive courses became the norm, tractor drivers being trained in three months instead of the previous four or five, and combine drivers in four months instead of six. As the teachers on these courses were themselves called up they were often replaced by women engineers and mechanics, drafted in from the cities and often expected to teach trainees for over 12 hours a day. By the end of the war over 2 million agricultural machine operators had been trained, three-quarters of them women.7 This time, in contrast to the campaigns of the 1930s, women were recruited to work in the MTS en masse. By 1943, at the height of the war, more than half the country’s tractor and combine drivers were women, together with three-quarters of the assistant combine drivers. The rapid training courses of the war years which made possible these huge overall increases were, however, too short to provide most women with more than the bare essentials of these skills; managers of MTS and collective farms as a result complained that their new women workers were unable to deal with essential repairs. Whatever conflicts this gave rise to at the time, the problem was likely to be portrayed as part of the struggle for victory, as in this characteristic passage from the memoirs of a collective farm manager in the Altai region of Siberia: Quite young girls of 17 or 18 became tractor drivers. MTS courses were organized for them straight out in the fields during haymaking


Gender in Russian History and Culture

or harvesting. You’d go to them sometimes and see that the tractor would be standing still and two or three of them would be rummaging around it. ‘What’s happened?’ – ‘There’s water in the oil, the engine’s gone dead.’ The girls would mess around for a long time but they wouldn’t get anywhere. Once in a while one of them would straighten up, turn away and put her scarf to her eyes where uninvited tears had welled up. She would wipe them away and get back to work. The girls would struggle on and on but at last they would start the engine. That’s how much work it took for the girls to master the machine. But they did it. Our women . . . what genuine heroism they showed.8 The shortage of skilled labour on the farms often meant that those who were trained were obliged to work extremely long hours at peak times. As one woman put it, ‘There was a lot of land and not many tractors, but we had to grow the grain. So sometimes we had to work round the clock and even sleep in the fields beside the tractors.’9 Living conditions for women on the MTS were often appalling, and even with localized efforts to recruit non-working women to cook and clean and to provide childcare facilities for them, they remained so in most areas throughout the war. Despite the many difficulties which they faced women’s brigades regularly achieved better results than men in fulfilling the plan and economizing on fuel. Nationwide socialist competition for women machine operators involved thousands and made household names of a handful of women to rank alongside Pasha Angelina. The most wellknown of the wartime generation of young women tractor drivers was Dar’ya Garmash whose brigade was acclaimed as the best in the USSR in 1942. As stars of the home front, women such as Garmash became the focus of attention in morale-boosting efforts to stress the unity of the nation in repelling the enemy. The press published fan mail from the troops and the women tractor drivers’ patriotic replies, as in this letter to Garmash from a Lieutenant Grishin and his comrades: Dear girls, we are delighted by your heroic work and send you enormous thanks for your labours and your concern for the Red Army. We know that it’s hard for you in these days of the Patriotic War, each of you is doing a man’s job. But it can’t be helped – war demands sacrifice and work. We swear on our honour, girls, that we will ruthlessly destroy the forces and equipment of the enemy. 10

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Rather less personal but no less stirring were appeals to those on active service by the most visible representatives of the women who had taken on men’s jobs, such as this call to arms from Pasha Angelina herself: We are honourably discharging our duty towards the country. We are gathering the harvest, threshing, ploughing, sowing and working the fields even better than before the war. We are conserving every drop of fuel for our fighting machines, for you, comrade tank drivers, pilots and drivers! If we are needed we too will take rifles in our hands and take to the tanks. Protect our Homeland staunchly and courageously to the last drop of blood! And we here, on our native fields, will work in top gear, for two: for ourselves and for those who have left for the front.11 Through published letters and statements such as these the connection was firmly made between the heroism of the front-line troops and that of the women left behind, establishing the tractor drivers as the most valorous of the women now ‘manning’ the home front. Now that women formed the majority of the country’s tractor and combine drivers, they were far less likely to face the problem of being the only woman in a male brigade. What was more, however inauspicious the beginnings of this mass movement might have been, women had more than proved their worth for their efficiency and hard work. As the propaganda image had at last become reality, women tractor drivers, it might be assumed, were here to stay. Shortly before his death in 1946, Kalinin, chair of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, observed: The collective farm women made possible our great victory over the enemy. And I hope that they will spare no efforts to achieve a high standard of agricultural production. It is in this that women will have a great role to play. Nothing can be done about this – that is how history has turned out. Of course, when all the men come back from the war and at the same time the younger generation is drawn into production, the make-up of the labour force will change. But women have already gained such a strong position in production that they won’t be pushed out, even if that’s what the men would like. 12 As Kalinin was hinting, wartime losses were indeed such that women remained indispensable in the postwar agricultural workforce. Yet their position in the machine and tractor stations was not maintained. As


Gender in Russian History and Culture

soon as the war ended, women began to leave the MTS in droves. From a peak of 55 per cent in 1943, the proportion of machine operators fell to 17 per cent by 1947 and to only 5 per cent by 1949.13 In peacetime conditions, women were no longer prepared to tolerate the dreadful living conditions, the lack of childcare facilities and, above all, the prolonged separations from home and family which work on an MTS inevitably entailed. After the profound trauma of the war, rural women were effectively in retreat, not only from the MTS but equally from the collective fields, to concentrate their efforts on the survival of their families from subsistence farming on their plots. As the number of women machine operators fell year by year, fewer young women were attracted to the work. In 1948, 51 per cent of women combine drivers were under 25; just two years later the proportion of women in this age group had fallen to 29 per cent. Similarly, tractor driving ceased to be dominated by young women. By 1950, the loss of female labour to the MTS was being seen as a serious problem. 14 With industrial production taking priority, the MTS suffered considerable labour shortages as the availability of agricultural machinery began to increase. The government responded to the situation by attempting once more to attract young women on to training courses. A Ministry of Agriculture directive of 1951 instructed the MTS that at least 30 per cent of their trainees should be women; in practice, recruitment never came anywhere near this level. Instead, the decline in numbers of women machine operators employed soon took their proportion below pre-war levels; by 1954 only 2.4 per cent of tractor and combine drivers were women. Five years later, after the abolition of the MTS and the transfer of their equipment and staff to the collectives, numbers had almost halved: only 17 000 women now drove tractors and combines in the USSR, a mere 0.7 per cent of all drivers. 15 The legendary figure of the woman tractor driver had become very firmly an image of the past; driving agricultural machines was once again most definitely a man’s job. With the passage of time, however, the problem for Soviet planners was that there were not enough men to be found. Through the 1960s the level of mechanization in farming increased significantly, as did the numbers of young men being trained in rural vocational–technical colleges. Unfortunately, the proportion staying to work on the land was very low. Farmwork involved long hours, considerable discomfort on poorly designed machines and regular losses of earnings when machines

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broke down; small wonder that young men preferred to take their technical skills into industry where a more regulated working week and the pleasures of the city were on offer. As men were once more abandoning the land, women were called upon again to fulfil their patriotic duty in growing the nation’s grain. In January 1969 the USSR Council of Ministers’ Resolution, ‘On the Wider Encouragement of Women to Take Part in Skilled Work in Agriculture’, provided a boost to the recruitment of women. Vocational training for women was to be developed and farm managements were instructed to assign women the newest machines, provide full technical back-up and set work quotas for them at 10 per cent lower than those for men. In 1975, further benefits were announced: retirement at 50 for women with 15 years’ service as machine operators and an extra six days’ paid holiday per year for all women in this work. Meanwhile, the press campaign to encourage new recruits was gathering momentum.16

In memory of Pasha: the new generation of heroines We’re the heirs of Pasha, We sow and we plough, The country enthralled by our fame; And all our people Proudly recite Their very own heroines’ names.17 If the sentiments expressed in this song composed in honour of the 1970s women tractor drivers were more than a slight exaggeration, it was certainly not for want of trying. For more than a decade the exploits of these women were consistently featured in the Soviet media in a sustained attempt to encourage others to follow in their footsteps. Although women in this period were constantly described as a ‘reserve army’ of tractor drivers, photographs of the leading lights of this new movement regularly adorned the front pages of rural newspapers and magazines. With the renewed support of the Party, the press coverage suggested, the movement was growing apace. The 1970s campaign was determinedly heroic in style, consciously recalling the language and imagery of the 1930s for a new generation. Rallies were held for women tractor drivers before the start of the spring sowing and covered enthusiastically in the press. ‘Their work,’ Krest’yanka magazine announced, ‘continues and develops in today’s conditions the


Gender in Russian History and Culture

traditions of the Stakhanovites of the 1930s’; the women duly responded in true 1930s style, pledging to fulfil the Five-Year Plan in three years. Where the Komsomol became involved, reviving the legendary slogan, ‘Girls – to the tractors!’, the connection might be rammed home even more forcefully by providing new recruits with red kerchiefs ‘as a reminder of the heroines of the thirties’.18 Above all of this, however, towered the figure of Pasha Angelina. Every year from 1973, the All-Union winners in socialist competition received the title of ‘Pasha Angelina Prizewinner’, an idea launched at a conference of women machine operators in Angelina’s home village of Starobeshevo. Thirty women, carefully selected to represent each of the Union Republics, were brought to Moscow to receive their prizes – roses and a bronze bust of Pasha Angelina – from the hands of the Minister of Agriculture. Speeches were read, songs sung, promises of even greater production made and all 30 were then driven off to a reception at Krest’yanka’s offices. Names and personal details, photographs and comments were published in the magazine and the winners were added to the roll of honour of the nation’s finest who, since 1966, had been made members of the ‘Pasha Angelina Club’. Finally, in 1978, the first of a series of books was published with full biographies of the prizewinners. The Pasha Angelina Prize deliberately brought together the young unknowns – new recruits to tractor driving – with veterans of the movement: in 1975, for example, the wartime heroine, Dar’ya Garmash, received an award, in 1977 it was the leader of the Central Asian movement in the 1950s, Tursunoi Akhunova, who featured among the prizewinners. In this way a physical link was created between the generations of heroines, all the way back to those who had worked with Angelina herself. The head of the Pasha Angelina Club, Galina Burkatskaya, twice Hero of Socialist Labour, embodied the connection. ‘I spent my youth, my Komsomol years, with Pasha,’ she wrote in her foreword to the volume on the 1975 prizewinners. ‘Later, when I was a collective farm manager, I met Angelina at virtually every conference of leading farmworkers and MTS workers.’19 The patriotic duty of the new generation in taking up the baton was underscored by Pasha Angelina’s words engraved on each bronze awarded to the winners: ‘Our generation never sought an easy life, an easy path for itself. We gave our all for the country we loved and that was the best and the dearest thing in our lives.’20 Yet, if the generations were constantly compared, the decades were not. A rural labour shortage in the Brezhnev era was, after all, scarcely in the same league as the national mobilization demanded by rapid industrialization or the Second World War. Besides which, if

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a movement was to be so firmly built on heroism, it appeared illogical to expect women en masse to respond. In all of this torrent of propaganda the central question of whether women actually wanted to work as tractor drivers was never addressed. Despite all the hullabaloo, by 1978 there were still only 24 000 women machine operators in the country, a mere 0.6 per cent of the total. 21 What this meant in practice was that so few women were driving farm machines that most rural women would never have set eyes on one in the flesh. While the Party was at pains to promote an image of tractor driving as entirely accessible to women, the heroine image inevitably distanced the lives of the movement’s stars from those of the majority of rural women. When only paper role models were available, women’s continued absence from these jobs had to be more than simply ‘a matter of taste’, as one state farm Party organizer suggested to me in 1980.22 By constantly stressing the extraordinary feats of women tractor drivers, the Party’s propagandists were shooting themselves in the foot. ‘Ordinary’ women would be no more likely to see themselves in this role than as the ‘Heroine-Mothers’ who, paradoxically, began to reappear in the press by the end of the same decade. As the rural sociologist, Zinaida Monich, observed when describing the situation, ‘The type of woman to do this work is usually very energetic, the astronaut type.’23 This choice of image was unlikely to be accidental: of all the available heroes to send public greetings to Pasha Angelina Prizewinners, it was indeed astronauts who were chosen. In 1978, for example, four Heroes of the Soviet Union, back from space, sent their congratulations to the newly announced winners in a missive which read: There is a great deal in common between work on the land and work in space. Each is unthinkable without a thorough knowledge of the newest technology and each has the same goal – to work for the good and the happiness of our Soviet people and for peace throughout the world. 24 Put like this, it was not surprising that young rural women were sticking with milking cows or, more frequently, heading for a job in a factory and a bit of frivolity in the city. As the eminent rural sociologist, Yurii Arutyunyan, summed it up to me in 1980, ‘Women are only seriously attracted into this work at a time of national crisis, in wartime for example. Otherwise, what you read is principally propaganda; it presents a desirable goal rather than reflects reality.’25


Gender in Russian History and Culture

The interesting element in this constant presentation of tractor driving as an act of heroism, however, was the assessment of the job by women themselves. A regular feature of interviews with women who had taken up the work was their description of its advantages by comparison with their previous work. Although this could, of course, be viewed as simply another element of propaganda there is a sense in which it is fundamentally at odds with the promotion of the heroine image. This observation from a woman who had trained to work on tractors in middle age is very typical: I know that many women don’t go on machine operators’ courses because they think that a tractor driver’s work is hard. This is a great misconception. When I worked in a brigade as a manual labourer, dragging animal feed by hand and distributing it, I used to get so tired that I sometimes had to go to bed when I got home. Now I come home from work in good spirits. 26 While it would be quite wrong to minimize the discomfort experienced by tractor drivers – both male and female – and its potential effect on health, it is difficult for anyone who has witnessed the feats of weightlifting performed by dairy women to imagine that driving tractors could possibly be more damaging. So if the job itself was not beyond women’s capacities, what exactly was the problem? Tractor driving was viewed as a ‘man’s job’ not because it was too difficult for women but because men were the ones who did it: it was not so much a ‘man-sized’ job as a men’s club. That this was the overriding problem for women became clear in the many accounts by women who had taken up tractor driving and intended to stay there. Throughout the 1970s and well into the late 1980s, when a change of administration was allowing far greater frankness, interviews, readers’ letters and journalists’ investigations made it clear that there was great resistance on the farms to the attempt to recruit women into this work. Farm managers who failed to assign women work or who gave them the most ancient and dilapidated tractors to ensure that they never got out into the fields, were ably assisted by male tractor drivers who were openly hostile and contemptuous and, in some cases, even sabotaged the women’s machines. 27 In part, no doubt, this was a grassroots response to the ‘favouritism’ enshrined in law. Similarly, women were likely to be regarded with suspicion and resentment as the recipients of the Party’s patronage, especially if they were invited to special conferences

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and interviewed in the press. Perhaps, however, it was just as much a question of an unwanted change of culture. A cartoon published in Krest’yanka in 1975 illustrated the problem. Three tractors are standing in a field at break time, two drivers are sitting on a bench with a bottle and one is saying to the other, ‘It’s a miserable business having a woman in the brigade. You can’t even make up a threesome!’28 The results of all of this for women were a movement which failed to develop, and ample encouragement for those already in work to give up the unequal struggle. By the time glasnost made it possible to discuss the failure of a Party campaign, the far from impressive numbers of women involved were dwindling with every passing year. The ‘heroines’ themselves had become an ageing and increasingly irrelevant band. In 1987, Krest’yanka magazine embarked upon an investigation into the reasons behind the dwindling numbers of women still at work.

Pasha rejected: the end of a Soviet legend One of the first articles in Krest’yanka’s investigation examined the situation in Saratov region on the Volga, where the once flourishing women’s teams had almost completely collapsed. The piece revealed a classic situation in which the male tractor drivers of the region had in the early 1970s been attracted into construction work on a major irrigation canal and a campaign had been mounted to train unskilled women farm labourers to take their place. By 1978, 117 women were working as tractor drivers in women’s teams and brigades, their movement celebrated in the press and on television. Yet, nine years later, the women’s teams had vanished and the remaining few women drivers were mostly scattered in male work brigades. The reason certainly did not lie in the fact that the ‘reserve army’ was no longer needed: local officials stated that the region was short of several thousand machine operators. Yet women could no longer be recruited into the work: ‘There are no problems, it’s just not a woman’s job’, was the opinion of local farm managers pressed on the subject.29 The vexed question of creating special conditions for women was presenting a rather different problem in the Saratov case from the usual ones of resentment and hostility. Women on one of the farms investigated had all been assigned T-40 tractors, an appallingly heavy machine to drive, but ‘just right for women’, in the view of the farm’s manager because it was small. Equipped with their small, clumsy machines, these women were not likely to be involved in major work out in the fields and, indeed, were protected from it: ‘We don’t let them out of the farm


Gender in Russian History and Culture

gates.’ The result of all this ‘protection’ was the permanent assignment of the women to servicing the livestock units, a pattern of work which could scarcely be said to offer preferential conditions: ‘They work the usual regime’, the chair of the Lebedevskii state farm’s trade union committee, N. P. Sulimin, confidently explained. ‘Like everybody else: ten hours a day in summer, seven in winter.’ Later it turned out that ‘seven hours’ meant from seven in the morning until seven at night, and even longer in the summer. ‘We asked them to take us off servicing the livestock units, at least in winter,’ Roslyakova said on behalf of all the women, ‘it’s OK, we accept it in the summer when the men are busy in the fields. But then they get a lot more free time in the winter! We’re stuck with the same regime all year round and we’re pushed to the limit. And after all, we’ve got children and homes to look after.’30 As women in this case were clearly not trusted to take their place equally alongside men, the result of viewing them as an inferior workforce was actually to give them a heavier job. When some of the most apparently successful groups of women in this work were contending with issues such as these, the lack of attraction of the job for others becomes self-evident. It could be argued that, given women’s additional domestic burden and the fact that the machines were designed for male workers, women displayed a remarkably high degree of resilience and commitment to their work at a time when the turnover of male machine operators was very high. As Edvin Nugis, trainer of the Soviet ploughing team observed in a later Krest’yanka article, in view of the circumstances in which they were expected to work, ‘it is simply amazing that we still have 17 000 courageous women tractor drivers left’. 31 From 1987, however, tractor driving was just one more addition to the growing list of jobs in which women’s working conditions were coming under scrutiny. Now that journalists were allowed to report not merely the fact of women’s extensive involvement in the workforce but, more importantly, to depict what women actually did at work, public reactions were varied. As the decade wore on, calls for increased and improved mechanization, the enforcement of health and safety legislation and a stronger role for the trade unions were largely overtaken by demands simply to remove women from unacceptably heavy work. In a country intent upon enjoying its new-found consumerism, glamour and femininity were the watchwords of the day. Expecting any woman

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to work in difficult conditions was beginning to look incompatible with these new concerns. In addition, the endless debates about the falling birth rate which had bubbled up in the mid-1970s had not gone away with a change of political direction. Rather, they were becoming interwoven with discussions of femininity, to question whether the Soviet model of emancipation was really what women – and indeed society – either wanted or needed. In the case of tractor drivers, concern for the effects of constant vibration on the wombs of the mothers of the future was high on the agenda. As the period of reform progressed, revelations about working conditions and debates about femininity and motherhood combined with a third factor, the rejection of Stalinism, whenever the question of women’s roles was discussed. With the reassessment of Soviet history and the rehabilitation of former ‘enemies of the people’ under Gorbachev, came the questioning of many of the certainties and stereotypes which marked the Stalinist legacy. Among these were the stock images of female emancipation – including the woman tractor driver – which now were seen increasingly as an anachronism and as legitimate targets for criticism. An extract from an interview with Al’bert Likhanov, head of the Soviet Children’s Fund, which appeared in Rabotnitsa magazine in 1988 neatly illustrates the interweaving of these key themes: We have found so many fine words to extol the work of the woman tractor driver or worker in construction and heavy industry. Like the discoverers of a new world, we placed into women’s hands the controls of tractors and combines, pickaxes and drills, hammers and sickles, if you’ll pardon the metaphor. Isn’t it time we stopped? Isn’t it time we understood that, slowly but surely, we are killing all that is female in a woman? Isn’t it time we realized that a woman’s health is a lot more important to society than equality with a man in purely male professions?32 In the countryside, however, the notion that women should be protected from having to do traditionally male jobs has a very particular resonance. As one of the women tractor drivers at a Krest’yanka round table in 1987 remarked, ‘No one makes us choose a “man’s job”, but where are the “women’s jobs” in the village? I think dairy women, for example, work harder than machine operators.’33 This same issue, echoed again and again over the years, reached a crescendo in the late 1980s as the rural press published letter after letter from rural women expressing their despair at conditions in dairying. Of all groups of women workers


Gender in Russian History and Culture

in the former USSR, it was dairy women who most frequently retired early due to ill health. Still worse was the fact that livestock farming had an appalling safety record: in 1991, figures were finally released showing that no fewer than 1400 women had been killed in accidents on livestock farms in the previous two years; a period in which safety records had been improving significantly in other farming jobs.34 Yet the silence was deafening when it was a question of women being moved out of dairying. Concepts such as chivalry and protection were in abundance whenever women were faced with the complexities of technology. Where the means of production were somewhat more primitive it was evident that no one was likely to be trampled in the rush to take over from women’s ‘golden hands’. At Krest’yanka’s round table, the rural sociologist, Vladimir Staroverov, ironically summarized the situation: If we’re going to talk about ‘chivalrous duty’, I regard that as being about providing women with good machines, not exploiting women’s enthusiasm by asking them to work on tractors which are hard work for a man, knight that he is. I’m convinced that improving machines and attracting women to work on them must go hand in hand. In republics with a high level of mechanization, the proportion of women working in agriculture is considerably lower than where the level of mechanization is low – because manual work is ‘women’s work’. It can’t be easier to work manually than on a machine. We’ve just completed a survey in Moldavia. There it’s mostly vegetables and orchards, women’s jobs – because it’s hard to mechanize them. Who smokes tobacco? The men. But it’s the women in white headscarves who grow it. Along come machines and it’s ‘Move up, girls, here I am, your knight, come to replace you. Don’t ask me what you’re going to do or what you’ll earn. That’s your problem. Machines are a man’s business.’35 As Staroverov was suggesting, when agriculture modernizes women frequently become marginalized. Not only were they unable in the USSR to make headway in jobs defined from the first as ‘male’ professions, but they were also often unable to benefit from the automation of traditional women’s work in livestock units. Where fully automated units were introduced in the USSR, women were frequently replaced by men who were then seen as a new breed of machine operator. Conversely, where the Komsomol in the 1980s made strenuous efforts to recruit demobilized conscripts into undermechanized dairy units in

Sue Bridger


labour-shortage areas, the experiment was a resounding failure, with the departing young men usually observing, ‘It’s obvious that this just isn’t a man’s job.’36 A series of unavoidable conclusions spring from this state of affairs. Women had to be ‘courageous’ and ‘heroic’ to be tractor drivers because it was a ‘man’s job’; what this meant was that they had to understand and control machinery. But women who had been trained to do this thought that tractor driving was an easier job than dairying, and not a ‘man’s job’ at all. Men, on the other hand, refused to work in dairying unless it had an extremely high level of mechanization, in which case the work became much lighter. The only qualification needed to do a really heavy job, it would therefore appear, was to be a woman. In 1990 the determination of the Soviet government to put right the mistakes of the past produced a piece of legislation aimed at easing the burdens of women working on the land. Tucked away among its provisions on working hours and maternity leave were the clauses which overturned six decades of Soviet propaganda. From 1 January 1991 women could no longer be trained to drive tractors; from 1 January 1992, it would be illegal to recruit women to drive either tractors or lorries.37 More quietly, perhaps, but just as surely as in the running down of the red flag over the Kremlin, this stroke of the pen symbolized the end of the Soviet era. The new chivalry of an emergent capitalist economy had triumphed over the egalitarian dogmas of the past. Meanwhile, out on the farms, the dairy women with their massive sacks of animal feed carried on regardless.

Notes 1. Krest’yanka, no. 3 (1977) p. 21. 2. Yu. V. Arutyunyan, Mekhanizatory sel’skogo khozyaistva SSSR v 1929–57gg. (Moscow, 1960) p. 59. 3. G. Novikov, Zhenskii trud v kolkhozakh (Leningrad, 1934) p. 80. 4. P. N. Angelina, Lyudi kolkhoznykh polei (Stalino, 1959); Skvoz’ gody i buri (Moscow, 1969) pp. 80–95. 5. Arutyunyan, Mekhanizatory, pp. 59–60. 6. Ibid., p. 60. 7. Ibid., pp. 68–9, 75; Sovetskaya derevnya v pervye poslevoennye gody 1946–50gg. (Moscow, 1978) p. 120. 8. M. Efremov, Moya zhizn’ (Barnaul, 1950) p. 76. 9. Zhenshchiny-mekhanizatory (ocherki o zhenshchinakh udostoennykh v 1977 godu priza imeni Pashi Angelinoi) (Moscow, 1979) p. 197. 10. Yu. V. Arutyunyan, Sovetskoe krest’yanstvo v gody Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny (Moscow, 1970) p. 129.

210 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27.


29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35.

Gender in Russian History and Culture Krest’yanka, no. 5 (1982) p. 15. M. I. Kalinin, O kolkhoznom stroe i kolkhoznitsakh (Moscow, 1947) p. 16. Arutyunyan, Mekhanizatory, p. 115. Ibid., pp. 295, 298. Ibid., pp. 115–16; Itogi vsesoyuznoi perepisi naseleniya 1959 goda. SSSR (svodnyi tom), ( Moscow, 1962) Table 46. V. I. Staroverov, Gorod ili derevnya (Moscow, 1972) p. 81; Izvestiya, 27 May 1975, p. 2. ‘Ikh sud’by’, Krest’yanka, no. 3 (1978) p. 8. S. Shevtsova, ‘Tebe, zemlya!’, Krest’yanka, no. 5 (1976) p. 7; V. Kurdov, ‘Krasnye kosynki’, Krest’yanka, no. 7 (1976) pp. 8–9. ‘Ikh sud’by’, p. 8. Ibid. ‘Prazdnik rozhdennyi trudom’, Krest’yanka, no. 5 (1978) p. 6. Personal interview with Party organizer, Gastello state farm, Minsk Region, Belorussia, 19 December 1980. Personal interview with Zinaida Monich, Minsk, 30 October 1980. ‘Prazdnik rozhdennyi trudom’, p. 7. Personal interview with Yurii Arutyunyan, Moscow, 25 November 1980. Krest’yanka, 3 (1976) p. 2. See Susan Bridger, Women in the Soviet Countryside (Cambridge, 1987) pp. 34–9; G. Ronina, ‘Obida traktoristki Kovalevoi’, Sel’skaya nov’, no. 8 (1987) pp. 9–11; Yu. Govorukhin, ‘Naprasnye khlopoty?’, Sel’skaya nov’, no. 3 (1991) p. 1. Reproduced in Bridger, Women in the Soviet Countryside, p. 38. For the threesome, see Larissa Lissyutkina’s entertaining comment on Soviet-era vodkasharing: ‘Since the 1960s sexual morality has been extremely free and easy, whilst in the family itself the age-old tradition of the wife’s economic dictatorship continues to hold sway. This can be seen in the fact that the husband is expected to hand over his entire salary to his wife who has total charge of all domestic expenditure. The husband used to get a rouble a day from his wife and this was the origin of the tradition of making up a threesome to drink vodka. A bottle used to cost 2 roubles 87 kopecks and, if every man had a rouble, then three Russian ‘male chauvinists’ could allow themselves the luxury of a bottle of vodka and a little packet of processed cheese – which cost 13 kopecks – to go with it. People used to say that the state planning committee, Gosplan, had set these remarkably harmonious prices on purpose, taking into account the economic model of the rouble in the daily life of the people.’ L. Lissyutkina, ‘Emancipation without Feminism: the Historical and Socio-Cultural Context of the Women’s Movement in Russia’, in S. Bridger (ed.), Women and Political Change: Perspectives from East-Central Europe (Basingstoke, 1999) p. 183. N. Korina ‘Nakazany . . . rulem’, Krest’yanka, no. 3 (1987) pp. 22–3. Ibid., p. 23. N. Korina, ‘O traktore i o sebe’, Krest’yanka, no. 8 (1987) p. 15. I. Sklyar, ‘707-i: imenem detstva’, Rabotnitsa, no. 6 (1988) p. 4. Korina, ‘O traktore’, p. 16. Krest’yanka, no. 2 (1991) p. 5. Korina, ‘O traktore’, p. 17.

Sue Bridger


36. D. Barchuk, ‘A gde zhe parni?’, Komsomol’skaya pravda, 23 December 1986, p. 1; V. Pashentsev, ‘Blizhe k ferme’, Komsomol’skaya pravda, 24 December 1988, p. 1. 37. Details of the legislation can be found in V. Demin, ‘Pomoshch’ prekrasnomu polu’, Chelovek i zakon, no. 3 (1992) p. 9.

Index abortion criminality, 162–3 health, 163 male manipulation, 162–3 penalties, 163 pregnant workers, 151 traditional attitudes, 178–9 Abyss, The, 93–100, 105–6 Agrippina, 4 Akhunova, Tursunoi, 202 Akim, N. E., 149 Alberti, 62 Alekseev, Ivan, 41 Aleksei Mikhailovich, Tsar, 32 Alexander I, Tsar, 1, 16 Alexander Nevsky Monastery, 1–3 Alexandra Feodorovna, Grand Duchess, 17 Amfiteatrov, A. V., 107 Andreev, Leonid, 93–115 Andreev, V. V., 29 Angelina, Praskov’ya (Pasha), 161, 178, 186–7, 194, 196, 198–9 Anichkov, E. V., 106–7 Antselovich, N. M., 195 Aplin, Hugh, 59, 61, 63 aristocratic women, see gentry women Artemova, Lidiya, 195 Artsybashev, Mikhail, 93 Arutyunyan, Yurii, 203 Arzamas, 19 asceticism, Old Believers, 34, 38, 41–2, 44–5 Astapovich, Z. A., 142 Avraamii, 33 Avvakum, 31–5, 37–8 Basargin, A., 106 Batyushkov, Konstantin, 55 behaviour books, 4, 20 Bekhterev, V. M., 124–5 Belinskii, Vissarion, 63–4 Berlin Institute for Sex Research, 125

Berwick, Baroness, 10 Bjørnson, Bjørnsterne Martinius, 99 Blackwell, Elizabeth, 73 Bobarykin, 8, 11 Bogdanovich, A. I., 99–101 Bolshevik policy gender dissent, 116 homosexuality, 117, 123–4 night work, 142, 147 prostitution, 128 see also Soviet Union Borisovich, Andrei, 43 Boudier de Villemert, Pierre, 4 bourgeoisie and gentry women, 77, 83 Germany, 100 ideology, 76, 84–5 New Woman, 77 Bowers, Toni, 3 Brezhnev, Leonid, 202 Brukhanskii, N. P., 121, 123–4, 126–7 Brusilovskii, L. Ya., 129 Bryullov, Karl, 6 Bunina, Anna, 55–7, 65 Burenin, Viktor, 100–1, 103–6, 108 Burkatskaya, Galina, 202 Canova, Antonio, 3 capitalism, 73, 77, 209 Catherine II (the Great), Tsaritsa, 1, 4, 16–18 celibacy, Old Believers, 34, 40–2, 45 cemeteries, 1–3 censorship, literature, 93, 96, 110 chastity glove morality, 99 Old Believers, 42 Russian Orthodox Church, 108 Cheka, 122 Chekhov, Anton, 102 212

Index Childe Harold, 22 children childcare facilities, 150 daughters, education, 3–6 mothers, see motherhood Chizh, V. F., 117 Chuvakov, V. N., 97 Civil War, 128, 143, 159, 166 civilization gentry women, 79 industry, 77 literature, influence, 55, 57 middle class, 76 rationalism, 87 social progress, 78 Colloquy of Lovers of the Russian Word, 56 common people degradation, 84 education, 86 nyanya, 6, 76, 79, 84 competition economic determinism, 81 night work, 140–1 ‘socialist’, xiv, 160 Condé, Prince de, 8 Coppélia, 9 cosmetics, 166 countryside, see rural employment crime abortion, 162–3 Moscow Bureau for the Study of the Personality of the Criminal and Criminality, 119 sodomy, 117, 123–4, 126, 128, 131 Crimean War, 73 cross-dressing, 119 d’Allonville, Armand-François, 8 d’Allonville, Cathérine (Ekaterina Armonovna), 8–15 Danilova, Mar’ya, 30, 32, 37–8 Dante Alighieri, 20 Davydova, P. A., 162 de la Barre, Poullain, 4 Demidov Family, 1–2 Denisov, A. and S. (brothers), 31, 37–8 Denisyuk, N., 105 d’Epinay, Louise, 4, 19 d’Espinassy, Mademoiselle, 5, 15


Diderot, Denis, 18 disease female homosexuality, 117 venereal disease, 97, 106 see also health divorce, 178 domestic work, 148, 159–60, 164–6 Domostroi, 4, 7 Dosifei, 32 Dostoevskii, Fedor, 107 Dunham, Vera, 169–70 Durova, Nadezhda, 59 economics capitalism, 73, 77, 209 division of labour, 77, 82 economic determinism, 81 Five-Year Plan, 159, 195, 202 industrialization, 160, 172 New Economic Policy (NEP), 145, 150 political economy, 74–5, 82 rural, see rural employment work, see work Edel’shtein, A. O., 119–21, 123, 126, 129–30 Edgeworth, Maria, 62 education coeducation, 85 common people, 86 conjugal education, 3 daughters by mothers, 3–6 éducation maternelle, 3, 6 Enlightenment, 4 gentry women, 80 moral, 1–23, 76 motherhood, 1–23 neutering sexuality, 80 New Woman, 74, 77, 79, 87 physical education, 77, 85 self-regulation, 85 Ehrenreich, Barbara, 159 Eisenstein, Sergei, 195 Elizabeth, Tsaritsa, 16 emancipation gentry women, 83 homosexuality, 117, 119, 125, 130–1 middle classes, 76 morality, 84 motherhood, 117



emancipation – continued New Woman, 74, 78 serfdom, 73, 77 tractor drivers, 207 work, 160, 195 Emel’yanov, Vasilii, 43 Emile, 18 employment countryside, see rural employment nights, see night work tractors, see tractor drivers unemployed, see unemployment working time, see hours of work see also work endocrinology, homosexuality, 123–4, 127 England, ideal country, 78 English, Deirdre, 159 Enlightenment human rationality, 75 repressive rationalism, 77 reverse side, 79 women writers, 53 women’s education, 4 Epilogue to The Kreutzer Sonata, 96, 107 equality feminism, 86 gentry women, 80 humanity, 81 ideology, 186 New Woman, 74, 80 Old Believers, 80 politics, 117 rationalism, 80, 159 Soviet Union, 195 work, 172 Evenings by the Karpovka, 65–6 Evgenii Onegin, 12, 21–2 Expert Medical Council, 116, 126, 128–9 factories protective regulation, 139 see also work families night work, 140, 148, 150, 152 Old Believers, 35, 44 pre-industrial society, 158 public institutions, 159 see also married women

fashion New Woman, 83 Stalinist era, 166–8 Fedor, 33 female homosexuality Bolsheviks, 117 case histories, 117–18, 120, 129–30 diagnosis, 118–23 intermediate sex, 116, 121–2, 126, 130 married women, 122, 129 masculinization, 119–20, 130 medicalization, 117 murderer homosexuals, 119, 121 mutual consent, 121–2 non-conformity, 119–20, 127, 131 prophylaxis, 126 pseudologicality, 123 repression, 130–1 surgical intervention, 118, 127 terminology, 118, 126 theories, 123–8 tolerance, 130 transvestites, 116, 119–20, 126, 128–9 unruly profile, 120–1, 131 work, 126, 129 see also homosexuality femininity literature, 167–8 New Woman, 83 Other, 76–7, 79, 87 prostitution, 86 scientific, 76 tractor drivers, 206–7 feminism equality, 86 ‘rationalist’, 159 ‘romantic’, 159 women writers, 65, 86 Fénelon, François de Salignac de la Mothe, 4, 5, 16 fighting Civil War, 166 snipers, 169, 178, 185 World War II, 168–9, 178, 185 films new women (1930s), 180–1 tractor drivers, 195

Index Five-Year Plan, 159, 195, 202 Flaxman, John, 3 France, invasion of Russia, 55 French language, 54 Galiani, Ferdinando, 18–19 Gan, Elena, 52, 63, 65–9 Gannushkin, P. B., 130 Garmash, Dar’ya (Dasha), 178, 198, 202 Gel’man, Izrail, 118, 129 gender dissent, 116 intelligence, 80 literature, see women writers night work, see night work Old Believers, 29–51, 41, 43, 45 Pomorians, 43–4 power and, xiv salvation, 29–51 stakhanovites, 192 Theodosians, 41, 44–5 tractor drivers, see tractor drivers work, see work Genlis, Stéphanie Felicité Ducrest de St Aubin, Comtesse de, 16, 55 gentry women bourgeoisie, 77, 83 civilization, 79 education, 80 emancipation, 83 equality, 80 impoverishment, 77, 83 independence, 77–8 New Woman, 79 readership, 74 work, 84, 86 Germanicus, 4 Germany, bourgeoisie, 100 Giffin, F. C., 139 Gippius, Zinaida, 102, 108–9 Glickman, Rose, 141 ‘glove morality’, 99 Gnedich, Nikolai, 55 Goncharova, Natal’ya, 13–16, 19–20 Gorbachev, Mikhail, 207 Gor’kii, Maksim, 101–2, 109 Gournay, Marie de, 4 Gracheva, Varvara, 46


Greek Orthodox Church, 11 Grizodubova, Valentina, 161–2 Harussi, Yael, 57 health abortion, 163 Expert Medical Council, 116, 126, 128–9 night work, 143–4, 151, 153 People’s Commissariat of Health, 128 prostitution, 128 rural employment, 207–8 venereal disease, 97, 106 hermaphroditism, 120 heroines Heroine Mothers, 169, 203 heroines of labour, 161 new generation, 201–5 Hirschfeld, Magnus, 119–20, 123–7, 130 Hoffmann, E. T. A., 9 homosexuality Bolsheviks, 117, 123–4 decriminalization, 123–4, 126 degeneracy, 125 emancipation, 117, 119, 125, 130–1 endocrinology, 123–4, 127 Freudian theories, 127 intermediate sex, 116, 119, 121–2, 126, 130 lesbians, see female homosexuality literature, 117 medicalization, 117, 124 mental disorder, 117 nature/nurture, 123 pederasts, 120 prophylaxis, 125–6 psychology, 120 reflexological thesis, 125 sexual perversion, 124–5, 127 sodomy, criminality, 117, 123–4, 126, 128, 131 surgical intervention, 118, 123–4, 127 therapy, 126–7 Honey, Maureen, 173 hours of work most difficult hours, 152 nights, see night work nursing mothers, see nursing mothers



hours of work – continued overtime, see overtime pregnancy, see pregnant workers protective regulation, 139–57 three-shift system, 149–50 tractor drivers, 198, 206 two-shift system, 152 see also work Hubbs, Joanna, 3 humanity, equality, 81 Hyer, Janet, 128 ideology bourgeoisie, 76, 84–5 equality, 186 separate spheres, 17 Ignatov, I. I., 98 images reality, 177, 179 rural employment, 180–1 women writers, 52–72 In the Fog, 93, 97–100, 103–4, 106, 109 independence gentry women, 77–8 married women, 16 new women (1930s), 180 work, 82–3 industrialization, 139–40 rationalism, 160 women and work, 160, 172 Institute for the Protection of Labour, 153 intelligence, gender difference, 80 intermediate sex, homosexuality, 116, 119, 121–2, 126, 130 Ivanov, P., 109 Izvekova, Mariya, 57–8 jewellery, 166 Kalinin, Mikhail, 182–6, 199 Kaplun, S. I., 143–4, 147, 153 Kapnist, N. V., 7 Kapnist, P. N., 7–8, 10–13 Kapnist, V. V., 7 Kapnist-Skalon, Sof’ya, 7–13, 15 Karamzin, Nikolai, 53–5, 57, 59, 64 Karlinsky, Simon, 117 Kelly, Catriona, 62

Ketlinskaya, Vera, 169 Kheraskova, Elisaveta, 6 Kholzakova, N. G., 118–19, 121, 124, 126–7 Khrushcheva, Elena, 33 Khvoshchinskaya, N. D., 75 Kireevskii, Ivan, 60, 63–4 Kirov, Ya. I., 120, 127, 130 Koenker, Diane, 145 Kolomenskii, Pavel, 46 Kol’tsov, N. K., 129 Konstantinova, Mariya, 188 Korber, Lili, 153 Kranikhfel’d, 99 Krasnushkin, E. K., 118–19, 121, 124–7 Krest’yanka, 158, 161–4, 166–70, 201–2, 205–8 Kreutzer Sonata, The, 93, 96–7, 99–100, 103–5, 107–10 Kroneberg, Nikolai, 104 Kul’man, Elisaveta, 58, 60, 65 Kuzmin, Mikhail, 93 Labzina, Anna, 6 Lambert, Anne-Thérèse de, 4–5, 15–16, 22 Lazar’evskoe Cemetery, 1–3 Leksa, Pomorian community, 35–6 Leningrad night work, 152–3 see also St Petersburg Leont’eva, Mar’ya, 17 Leprince de Beaumont, Marie, 16 lesbians, see female homosexuality Leshchinskii, N., 167 Levchenkova, Aleksandra, 186–7 liberalism, political economy, 74 Lichtenstern, Robert, 123–4 Likhanov, Al’bert, 207 literature censorship, 93, 96, 110 civilizing influence, 55, 57 didactic purposes, 75 erotomania, 100–1, 109 femininity, 167–8 homosexuality, 117 lecherous tomcats, 100 master discourse, 75 poetry, see poetry

Index postwar years, 169–72 prostitution, 94–100 purity/filth, 95–7, 101–2 rape, 94–5 sexuality, 93 taboo-breaking, 94–5, 108 venereal disease, 97, 106 women’s ancillary role, 53–4 work, 167–72 see also women writers Locke, John, 4 L’vovskii, Iov, 32 Manasein, M. P., 106 Maria Feodorovna, Grand Duchess, 17 Mariya Il’inishna, Tsaritsa, 30 married women conjugal education, 3 divorce, 178 domestic work, 159–60, 164–6 families, see families female homosexuality, 122, 129 independence, 16 instruction, 7 manufactured to order, 8–9 moral arbiters, 86 mothers, see motherhood night work, 140, 142 Old Believers, 39–45, 47 Pushkin’s letters, 13–16, 18–21 see also obshchestvennitsy Martin, Louis-Aimé, 20 Marxism, rationalism, 159 masculinities, xiv–xvi masculinization female homosexuality, 119–20, 130 work, 128, 130 Mastridiya, 34 maternity, see motherhood Maupassant, Guy de, 109 medicalization homosexuality, 117, 124 work, 130 Melaniya, 31–2, 36 Meleshchenko, 146 Merezhkovskii, Dmitrii, 102 metallurgy male domination, 160 night work, 142, 153


middle classes emancipation, 76 New Woman, 86 see also bourgeoisie Mikhail, Archbishop, 108 Mikhailov, M. L., 75 Milton, John, 20 Mirskii, V. [E. A. Solov’ev], 100 Mishenkova, Mariya, 184 modernization, 73, 76, 84 Monich, Zinaida, 203 moral education motherhood, 1–23 women writers, 76 morality bourgeoisie, 76 emancipation, 84 ‘glove morality’, 99, 108 moral arbiters, 86 moral development (vospitanie), 3, 20 New Woman, 87–8 sexual, 78 Morozov, Gleb, 31 Morozov, Ivan, 33 Morozova (née Sokovnina), Feodosiya, Boyarynya, 30–8, 47 Moscow Bureau for the Study of the Personality of the Criminal and Criminality, 119 Manufacturing Council, 140–1 night work, 140, 152 Old Believers, 30, 39, 41, 43, 45 Pokrov Chapel, 41 motherhood biological aspects, 6 emancipation, 117 ‘flight from’, xi, 128 Heroine Mothers, 169, 203 maternal duties, 6, 19 maternal mythology, x, 3 moral education, 1–23 Old Believers, 33–4, 36–7, 44–5, 47 pedagogical motherhood, 6, 16 pregnancy, see pregnant workers pre-Petrine culture, 3–4 procreation, mastery, 81–2 scientific motherhood, 84–5



motherhood – continued stakhanovites, 163–4 tsaritsy, 16–18 women writers, 62 work, 129–30, 163–4 see also nursing mothers Muskablit, F. G., 99 Napoleon Bonaparte, 55 Narkomtrud, 144–7, 152 Narkomzdrav, 116, 126, 128–9 Nevedomskii, M., 105–6, 109 New Economic Policy (NEP), 145, 150 New Woman education, 74, 77, 79, 87 emancipation, 74, 78 equality, 74, 80 fashion, 83 femininity, 83 gentry women, 79 irrational desire, 78, 83 middle classes, 86 mobility, 78–9, 83 morality, 87–8 rationalism, 83 self-discipline, 76, 86–8 sexual repression, 78, 85–7 work, 83, 87 new women (1930s) belittlement, 181–4 better than men, 179, 185–7 films, 180–1 image and reality, 179 independence, 180 misogyny, 179 physical abuse, 179–80 privileges/perks, 180, 187–91 technology, 180–1 trade unions, 187 working techniques, 180–1 newspapers readership, 104 representations of women, 158–76 stakhanovites, 184 Nicholas I, Tsar, 16 Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 106, 109 night work bakeries, 144 Bolsheviks, 142, 147

childcare facilities, 150 communications, 142, 144 competition, 140–1 cotton, 140–1, 150 definition, 141–2 essential services, 142, 144 families, 140, 148, 150, 152 hazardous occupations, 147 illness/detriment, 143–4, 151, 153 industrialists, 139–40 Labour Code (1918), 142–3 Labour Code (1922), 144–5, 147 married women, 140, 142 medical personnel, 142 metallurgy, 142, 153 Narkomtrud, 144–7, 152 nursing mothers, 143, 146–52 pregnant workers, 143, 146–53 printing, 145–6 protective regulation, 141–7 Russian Federation, 143 scientific evidence, 139 set work patterns, 151 seven-hour day, 150 sexual assault, 145 textiles, 140–1, 148–50, 152 tobacco, 143 trade unions, 142, 146, 149, 151 transport, 144–5 two-shift system, 152 unfavourable alternatives, 145 work mates, 151 see also work Nikitenko, Aleksandr, 58 Nikon, Patriarch, 29 Novikov, Nikolai, 53 Novosadova, Mar’ya, 40 Nugis, Edvin, 206 nursing mothers hours of work, 148 night work, 143, 146–52 overtime, 143, 147, 150 stated occupations, 144 trade unions, 149, 151 see also motherhood Oblomov, 77, 81, 83 obshchestvennitsy funding/resources, 179, 187, 190

Index trade unions, 179, 187, 190–1 see also married women Odoevskii, Vladimir, 58 Old Believers androgyny, 41 angels, 38–9 apostolic succession, 29, 46 asceticism, 34, 38, 41–2, 44–5 baptism, 29, 40, 45 bespopovtsy, 29, 35–6, 39–42, 46–7 celibacy, 34, 40–2, 45 charity, 39–40 chastity, 42, 108 confession, 29, 39–40, 45 families, 35, 44 female ministry, 40, 46–7 femaleness, 41 gender, 29–51, 41, 43, 45 hagiography, 31, 34, 38 leadership, 36, 40 literacy, 39 married women, 39–45, 47 motherhood, 33–4, 36–7, 44–5, 47 muzhestvo, 37–8, 41–3 original sin, 41 Pomorians, see Pomorians popovtsy, 29 prelapsarian relations, 40–1 resurrection, 38 sacramental capacity, 29, 45 schism (Raskol), 29–31, 33, 38, 47 sexuality, 39, 41, 45 social opportunities, 39 spiritual leaders, 36, 38, 40, 46 state authorities, 36 Theodosians, see Theodosians Orshanskii, L. G., 123 Osipenko, Polina, 161–2 overtime nursing mothers, 143, 147, 150 pregnant workers, 143, 147, 150, 153 rural employment, 143 trade unions, 143 see also work Panferov, Fedor, 167 Pasha, see tractor drivers patriotism, Soviet Union, 173, 195


Paul I, Tsar, 1, 16–17 Pavlishcheva, Ol’ga, 20 Pavlov, I. P., 125 Pavlova, Karolina, 58, 60 pedagogical motherhood, 6, 16 Pennington, Sarah, 4 People’s Commissariat of Health, 116 Peter I (the Great), Tsar, 53 physical weakness, 78–9, 153 pilots, 161–2, 168 Pimenov, Yurii, 180 Pitirim, Patriarch, 32 Pletnev, Petr, 58 Podarskii, V. G. [N. S. Rusanov], 99 poetry female homosexuality, 121 women writers, 55, 59, 61, 75, 121 politics equality, 117 political economy, 74–5, 82 repression, black humour, 178 Pomorians celibacy, 34, 40, 45 Classicism, 44–5 families, 44 female authority, 40 female sexuality, 45 gender, 43–4 historical legacy, 35 manliness, 43–4 married women, 41, 44–5, 47 motherhood, 36–7, 44, 47 recruitment, 39 spiritual authority, 36, 38 Vyg community, 34–6, 43, 45 work ethic, 44 see also Old Believers Popov, E. A., 124 postwar years, 169–72, 200 pregnant workers abortion, see abortion employment prohibited, 143–4, 146–7 hours of work, 148 night work, 143, 146–53 overtime, 143, 147, 150, 153 stated occupations, 144 trade unions, 149, 151 pre-industrial society, families, 158



Preobrazhenskoe community, 41, 46 prizes stakhanovites, 164–5, 190 tractor drivers, 202–3 procreation, mastery, 81–2 propaganda, 177, 180, 195, 203–4, 209 prostitution Bolsheviks, 128 dramatization, 128 health professionals, 128 literature, 94–100 ‘public women’, 83 registration, 98 smug acceptance, 98–9 unemployment, 145–6 Protopopov, V. P., 120, 124, 127 psychiatry, work, 129 psychology homosexuality, 120 women writers, 19, 62 publishing cooperatives, 75 Puchkova, K. N., 57 Pushkin, Aleksandr, 1, 7, 12–16, 18–21, 55, 58–9 Pygmalion, 9 Pyrev, Ivan, 180–1 Rabotnitsa, 158, 160–70, 207 Rakhmanov, A. K., 129–30 rape, literature, 94–5 Raskova, Marina, 162 rationalism civilization, 87 competition, 160 Enlightenment, 75, 77 equality, 80, 159 ethics, 75 feminism, 159 industrialization, 160 Marxism, 159 New Woman, 83 romanticism compared, 159–60, 173 reality, 177–9 religion Greek Orthodox Church, 11 Old Believers, see Old Believers Pomorians, see Pomorians Russian Orthodox, see Russian Orthodox Church

secularization, 73 Theodosians, see Theodosians repression black humour, 178 female homosexuality, 130–1 rationalism, 77 sexuality, 78, 85–7 Re-va, Zeneida, 64 see Gan, Elena Rosslyn, Wendy, 56 Rostopchina, Evdokiya, 58, 73–4 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 4, 18, 20, 107 Rozanov, Vasilii, 101–2, 108 rural employment abandonment of land, 200–1 collective farms, 179, 195, 197, 199 health and safety, 207–8 images, 180–1 inspiration, 161–2 kolkhoz chairs, 181, 187, 191 modernization, 208 overtime, 143 productivity, 161, 179 shock-workers, 181–3 stakhanovites, 179, 181 technology, 180 tractors, see tractor drivers Russian Orthodox Church Old Believers, 29–51 sacraments, 29 schism (Raskol), 29–31, 33, 38, 47 sexual ethics, 108 Ryazhenova, K., 163–4 Rybakov, F. E., 117 Rybinskaya, Rosa, 188 St Anne, 3 St Maximus the Greek, 38 St Petersburg cemeteries, 1–3 night work, 140 Old Believers, 30, 39–40 see also Leningrad St Yulianiya Lazarevskaya, 3 Samoilova, Countess, 6 Sand, George, 74 Sanin, 93 Schmidt, V. V., 146 scientific femininity, 76

Index scientific motherhood, 84–5 secularization, 73 Senkovskii, Osip, 61–2 Sentimentalism, 54 Sereiskii, Mark, 125–7 serfdom, abolition, 73, 77 sexuality education, 80 literature, 93 morality, 78 neutering sexuality, 80 Old Believers, 39, 41, 45 repression, 78, 85–7 see also female homosexuality, homosexuality Shchapov, Afanasii, 29 Shchepkina, Ekaterina, 53 shifts nights, see night work three-shift system, 149–50 two-shift system, 152 Shishkov, Admiral, Aleksandr, 54, 56 shock-workers complaints, 188–9 conferences, 186–7 credit, 187 maltreatment/abuse, 179, 184 privileges/perks, 189 productivity, 161 rural employment, 181–3 see also stakhanovites Shtess, A. P., 120–1, 125, 127, 130 Skabichevskii, A., 103–4, 109 Sklyar, N. I., 120, 126–7, 130 Smirnova, Aleksandra, 17, 19 Smol’nyi Institute, 4, 17–18, 22 Soboleva, Mariya, 195–6 Sofiya Alekseevna, Tsarevna, 53 Sologub, Fedor, 93, 102–4, 108–9 Solov’ev-Andreevich, E., 103 Soviet Children’s Fund, 207 Soviet Union Bolshevism, see Bolsheviks Civil War, 128, 143, 159, 166 equality, 195 Five-Year Plan, 159, 195, 202 Great Patriotic War, see World War II homosexuality, 116–38 Labour Code (1918), 142–3


Labour Code (1922), 144–5, 147 New Economic Policy (NEP), 145, 150 patriotism, 173, 195 postwar years, 169–72, 200 Stalin era, 158–76 stakhanovites assertiveness, 179 complaints, 188–9, 191 conferences, 187 credit, 187 gender relations, 192 innovation, 161 inspiration, 162 maltreatment/abuse, 179, 184, 191 motherhood, 163–4 newspapers, 184 prizes, 164–5, 190 productivity, 161, 180–1 rights, 179 rural employment, 179, 181 tractor drivers, 186 trade unions, 179, 187, 189–91 wives of, 164, 190–1 women better than men, 179, 185–7, 191 see also shock-workers Stalin, Joseph, 116, 124, 131, 159, 161–2 Staroverov, Vladimir, 208 Stasov, Vladimir, 74 Steinach, Eugen, 123–6 Stone, Lawrence, 23 Sumtsov, N. F., 104 Symbolism, 93, 102, 106, 108, 110 Tarnovskii, I. M., 117 Theodosians apostolic succession, 46 asceticism, 44–5 celibacy, 40–2 female authority, 40 female sexuality, 45 gender, 41, 44–5 manliness, 44–5 married women, 47 motherhood, 45, 47 Preobrazhenskoe community, 41, 46 recruitment, 39 single woman, 45, 47



Theodosians – continued virginity, 45 see also Old Believers Tolstaya, Aleksandra, 98, 104 Tolstaya, Sof’ya, Countess, 98, 101–5, 107–8 Tolstoi, Lev, Count, 15, 93, 96–9, 102–5, 107–9 Tolstopyatov, Deputy Commissar of Labour, 149 Tovrov, Jessica, 23 tractor drivers advantages, 204 emancipation, 207 fan mail, 198 femininity, 206–7 films, 195 hours of work, 198, 206 inferior treatment, 205–6 inspiration, 161 machine and tractor stations (MTS), 186, 195–8, 200, 202 men’s work, 204–5, 208–9 new generation of heroines, 201–5 Pasha: in memory of, 201–5; Praskov’ya Angelina, 161, 178, 186–7, 194, 196, 198–9; rejection, 205–9 prizes, 202–3 rise and fall, 194–211 stakhanovites, 186 training, 196–7, 200, 209 working conditions, 198 World War II, 197–9 see also rural employment trade unions new women (1930s), 187 night work, 142, 146, 149, 151 nursing mothers, 149, 151 obshchestvennitsy, 179, 187, 190–1 overtime, 143 pregnant workers, 149, 151 stakhanovites, 179, 187, 189–91 training, tractor drivers, 196–7, 200, 209 translating cooperatives, 75 transvestites, female homosexuality, 116, 119–20, 126, 128–9 Tur, Evgeniya, 75

unemployment dismissal, 142, 145 prostitution, 145–6 redundancy, 142, 145 rising levels, 145–6, 149 unions, see trade unions Urusova, Ekaterina, 56 Urusova, Princess, 30, 32, 38 Uspenskii, Boris, 54, 66 venereal disease, literature, 97, 106 Verevkin, N. N., 19, 61–4 Vernadskaya (née Shigaeva), Mariya, 73–92 Vernadskii, I. V., 74 Veselye Rebyata (The Happy Lads), 177 Vinogradova, Evdokiya (Dusya), 178, 180 Vinogradova, Mariya (Marusya), 178 violence/abuse new women (1930s), 179–80 night work, 145 rape, 94–5 sexual assault, 145 sexual harassment, 86 shock-workers, 179, 184 stakhanovites, 179, 184, 191 virginity, Old Believers, 42, 45 Volkonskaya, Mariya, 12 Volkonskaya, Zinaida, Princess, 58–60, 65 Volkova, Anna, 56 Voloshin, Maksimilian, 104 Voltaire, François Marie Arouet de, 55, 107 Vorotynskii, Prince, 32 Vyazemskii, Petr, 58 Vyg, Pomorian community, 34–6, 43, 45 War and Peace, 101, 103 Ward, Chris, 150–1 Waters, Elizabeth, 128, 147 wives, see married women Wollstonecraft, Mary, 22 woman question, 73, 75, 77 women writers ambivalence, 57 apologies, 57–8

Index blue stockings, 59 Enlightenment, 53 female characters, 64 feminism, 65, 86 freakishness, 62–5 handicaps, 56 image, 52–72 inferiority, 79 irrationality, 76, 78–9 literary criticism, 75 modesty topos, 56, 58 moral education, 76 motherhood, 62 New Woman, see New Woman nobility, 57 oxymoron, 56, 62 physiology/psychology, 19, 62 poetry, 55, 59, 61, 75, 121 political economy, 74–5, 82 prescriptive critics, 63 progressive perception, 60–1 protégées of men, 58–9 self-effacement, 56 sexual innuendo, 57 sexual morality, 78 social opinion, 64–5 useful knowledge, 75 see also literature Wood, Elizabeth, 128 Woolf, Virginia, 52 work bricklaying, 167 construction, 167 continuous working week, 148 domestic work, 159–60, 164–6 emancipation, 160, 195 equality, 172 factories, see factories female homosexuality, 126, 129 gendering of, xiii gentry women, 84, 86 hazardous occupations, 146–7 heroines of labour, 161 hours of employment, see hours of work


independence, 82–3 less skilled jobs, 145–6 literature, 167–72 masculinization, 128, 130 medicalization, 130 motherhood, 129–30, 163–4 New Woman, 83, 87 night shifts, see night work nursing mothers, see nursing mothers overtime, 143–4 pilots, 161–2, 168 Pomorians, 44 pregnancy, see pregnant workers protective regulation, 139–47 psychiatry, 129 rural, see rural employment seven-hour day, 148–50 shock-workers, see shock-workers stakhanovites, see stakhanovites three-shift system, 149–50 tractors, see tractor drivers two-shift system, 152 volunteers, 166 workplace, family analogy, 160 World League for Sexual Reform (WLSR), 125 World War II fighting, 168–9, 178, 185 patriotism, 173 snipers, 169, 178, 185 tractor drivers, 197–9 Yakovlev, 181–2, 185 Yakovleva, Mar’ya, 1 Zakrevskaya, Agrafenya, 12 Zavadovskii, M. M., 123 Zhukova, Mariya, 12, 19–20, 63–6 Zhukovskii, Vasilii, 58 Zinov’eva-Annibal, Lidiya, 93 Zola, Emile, 109 Zontag, Anna, 58 Zubkova, V. A., 166