ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Bolsheviks and Feminists

In Cooperation and Conflict

Marxist attempts at integrating gender in the class-struggle framework was uneven in the Russian revolutionary movement. A class reductionism often held back the Bolsheviks, but contests with the liberal feminists, as well as the objective reality of more women entering the labour force, led to changes. Women activists took the lead in this. The Revolution of 1917 saw a much greater degree of women’s involvement. Women workers provided leadership in the early stages of the February Revolution, though it often remains unacknowledged by mainstream (including mainstream left) historiography of the revolution. At the same time, gendering the practice of class went hand in hand with a sharp rise in class issues against undifferentiated feminism, for liberal feminism supported the war and the bourgeois Provisional Government.

Classical Marxism and Women’s Liberation

Gender was not a conceptual category used often by Social Democrats in late 19th or early 20th century. So, it is possible, and necessary, to point to flaws in Marxist thinking of that period, particularly when shades of “Marxist” dogmatism cites Lenin or Engels in order to shout down women’s struggles for equality. But it is also necessary today, in the centenary of the Russian Revolution, to go beyond academic condescension and the liberal-to-right-wing attacks; it is important to look at the concrete achievements of the left wing of Marxism in connection with the issue of women’s liberation, with special reference to the Bolsheviks.

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Updated On : 7th Nov, 2017
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