Mother, Wife, Draft Animal: The Woman in Eastern Europe

Novinite Insider » OPINIONS | July 11, 2019, Thursday // 11:30
Bulgaria: Mother, Wife, Draft Animal: The Woman in Eastern Europe

During communism, the woman had to survive, split between the grueling routine and the obligation to be happy. Equality was - but only on paper. And today there is no particular change, wrote NCC.

In an extensive article on Neue Zürichher Zeitung (NSC), the Ukrainian cultural critic and journalist Kateryna Botanova looks at the role of the woman in Eastern Europe since the first decades of the last century to this day. She notes as an achievement the emancipatory potential of early Soviet socialism, which gave women a selective right as early as 1917, as well as a good kind of kindergarten system. But Botanova claims that this potential has been stifled in Stalin's time. She points out that his legacy appeared to be the same in all the countries of the former Eastern Bloc: selective women's rights, free kindergartens, schools and hospitals, but also the frustration of any public criticism and feminine rights struggle.

Two interesting phenomena

From this, two interesting phenomena can be concluded: "On the one hand, there is a firm belief that women and men behind the Iron Curtain are on equal terms, and on the other hand there is the understanding that in the time of Communism women - especially before the Iron Curtain - lived in something like a real paradise regarding social sex. "

Botanova also claims that socialism has formed a very pragmatic type of woman: "The woman as a fighter, the woman as a mother, the woman as a freighter: she must somehow survive, crucified between the declared equality, the obligation to be happy and an exhausting everyday life who did not have the opportunity to talk about the situation she was in. Although women in socialism actually held leadership positions and worked in traditionally male areas with heavy physical labor, they were also responsible for the whole family and they were doing all the chores and taking care of the kids. "

The NCC's publication also states that many and varied duties have formed a "male-type" woman, but she has no right to express her own desires or needs. To such a woman, there was no reason to even withdraw the right to abortion, it was enough to cultivate the ideal of a male girl, a character fighter who only copes with everything. It is enough to leave him the right to vote, but to lose the right to speak.

The author gives an example of Russia, calling her a European pioneer in the fight against human rights. There is, in fact, a very liberal right to abortion, but at the same time a totally censored public space in which all activities and protests in defense of the rule of law inevitably lead to punishment, emigration or death.

The right to abortion, in combination with a few very tough women from the government and some very modern people from the economy, could easily deceive us that there is gender equality in Russia. At the same time, women are orienting themselves towards some traditional values ​​fueled by conservative social ideas and expectations, and domestic violence is becoming less and less.

And today?

The author of the NCC's commentary argues that there is no need to introduce media legislation or to block discussions about female quota and equal pay for the restriction of female freedoms in Eastern Europe. It is enough, Botanova writes, not to touch anything in the field of early childhood and school education, as well as in health care, and to keep the current total silence on the issue of the pay gap between men and women. "It is enough not to talk about the salaries of educators and teachers, nor about the quality and barriers to education. It is enough to keep the number of kindergartens and schools in the new neighborhoods of the big cities at the current low level, and not to draws attention to the lack of such facilities in villages and small towns, and it is enough to delay the health reform and to silence the sexist reactions of politicians to the public.

In a number of eastern European countries, nothing is done against the restriction of women's freedoms: politicians say there have already been significant achievements in this area, and there are now more important issues on the agenda. "But in this way a status quo is cemented, which discriminates one at the expense of the others," concluded Kateryna Botanova.

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