The Emancipation of Women
PDF EBook by Vladimir Ilich Lenin
EBook DescriptionThis book compiles Lenin's speeches and writings on women's emancipation, which he believed could only be accomplished by the political empowerment and economic independence of women as carried out by a mass revolutionary women's movement. The Emancipation of Women PDF EBook Lenin consistently acknowledges the limitations of the highly progressive legislation on gender equality enacted by the Bolshevik government, recognizing that active political struggle and women's participation in the organization and administration of the Soviet state did more to break down the patriarchal relations of capitalism than any laws ever could. Unlike some factions of his party who considered women's issues negligible at best, Lenin viewed women as a vital political force which must be won over to the revolution through agitation and organizing directed towards their needs and aspirations. His conversations with Clara Zetkin reveal Lenin's conservative attitudes towards the new modes of sexuality sweeping through industrialized Russia after the revolution—he dismisses the 'new morality' as bourgeois promiscuity and seems to underestimate the extent to which the burgeoning emphasis on 'free love' emerged organically from a society undergoing revolutionary transformation. He advocates for greater discipline, especially among the youth, but admits that, "Communism should not bring asceticism, but joy and strength, stemming, among other things, from a consummate love life."
A recurring theme in these documents is the "barbarously unproductive, petty, nerve- PDFracking, stultifying and crushing drudgery" of housework and its stranglehold on women's autonomy. His oft proposed solution to women's domestic servitude—communal childcare, food service, and housework—combines a progressive socialisation of reproductive labour with a regressive insistence that women must continue to bear responsibility for these services. Clearly women must be, and were, heavily involved in organising socialised domestic work since they possess the necessary technical knowledge, but it seems that the real emancipation of women from these domestic burdens entails the equal participation of men. Clara Zetkin recalls Lenin's concern with the patriarchal prejudices which prevent most men from helping with housework; download; he names the re-education of men as an urgent political task in order to "root out the old slave-owner's point of view, both in the Party and among the masses." However, a reading of his wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya's biography finds her shouldering the whole domestic burden, cooking and cleaning for her husband on top of her busy political work. Like many of us who hold radical convictions but live within oppressive systems, Lenin reproduced patriarchy in his relationship while combating it in society.
Lenin's ideas on socialist reproduction were shaped by his female comrades like Alexandra Kollontai, Comissar of Social Welfare. She helped found Zhenotdel (Women's Department), an organisation established in 1919 to create communal dining halls, houses, nurseries, and launderies, with promising results: "between 1919 and 1920, it's estimate that 90% of the Petrograd population was fed communally, and in 1920, 40% of Moscow housing was communal" (Women and Socialism). Although Zhenotdel was largely successful at providing for communities and fostering women's political and economic empowerment, the initiatives suffered from lack of resources due to civil war, and a resurgence of conservatism in the Party ensured Zhenotdel received less funding in the mid 1920s. It was abolished in 1930 as a wave of reaction set in under Stalin, criminalising abortion and harkening for a return to the nuclear family. Stalinism eroded many of the gains in women's legal equality and self-organisation won by the revolution, while the state's growing productivity brought a higher standard of living for workers, and opened up new opportunities for women to advance in higher education, science, and the military. Such is the dialectic.
Women and Socialism by Sharon Smith. Like this book? Read online this: Men Who Hate Women and Women Who Kick Their Asses, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation.
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