H.S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University
Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute
In this article, the authors juxtapose the attempts to «create» the national
construct of average Ukrainian man and woman with the gender/mental peculiarities
of various regions of Ukraine, in this specific case — of Zaporizhzhia.
It is known that a powerful Anarchist movement was active in Huliai-Pole, but
little is known about women in it. Studies about women’s activities in the events
of revolutions in the early 20th century are also few. There are several works by
local historians, O. Kryvishyi and I. Savchenko, about the Bolshevik women. So,
the authors set out to identify these «missing» women and to describe the country’s
gender and mental landscape as well as to understand how gender relations
changed in Zaporizhzhia region with introduction of the Soviet gender policy.
In this article, we combine elements from two interdisciplinary theories —
gender and mentality. This enables us to identify the gender norms of Zaporizhzhia
in the first twenty years of the 20th century. We especially focused on the
analysis of the phenomenon of «Marusia the Rioter» along with Nestor Makhno’s
anarchist movement and the fact of opening one of the first Ukrainian women’s
departments in 1919 (under the influence of Alexandra Kollontai’s speech) that
was discovered by historians. Consideration of «coexistence» of the Bolsheviks
and «the women’s issue» in Zaporizhzhia before and after the Soviet authorities
came to power helps us understand the logics of implementing the gender policy
from 1923 to 1930, when a broad-scale proletarianization of the land started
after the building of the Dnipro Water Power Plant.
We established that the diversity of political ideologies and practices of their
peaceful coexistence and the, domination of anti-state peasant riot automatisms
allowed for some free movement space for gender opportunities. Our opinion
is that the borders between the normal and the marginal in gender manifestations
became more vague (not necessarily being more or less patriarchal at
that). Instead, we understand «Soviet feminism» of the 1920s as a challenge for
gender-related and mental changes in the land that had to manifest themselves.
It was proven that different actors understood gender policy differently (actors
being central and local authorities, women’s departments, delegates, women).
This caused a kind of «quiet», or hidden, sabotage, just a decorum of following
directives. Women did not openly petition against their previous discriminatory
practices, but, rather, adapted to the new conditions trying to minimize their losses, created new practices of survival. So we can use Michael Kimmel’s term
about «lasting discreetness of masculinity» to describe the Bolsheviks’ emancipation
project, rather than collective emancipatory self-expression of Zaporizhzhia
female residents. It is especially noticeable when analyzing proletarianization/
masculinization of women’s labor.
The materials of the article can be used in the further studies of gender issues,
historical country study and histories of mentalities.
Keywords: gender/mental context, Oleksandrivskiy county (Zaporizhzhia),
«Soviet Feminism», Bolshevik/Soviet ideologization, gender policy, «invisible»
women, automatism of daily life, emancipatory practices, patriarchate, femininity/
masculinity, women’s labor, women revolutionaries, women rioters, women
anarchists, women Bolsheviks, women workers, women peasants.