Women’s rights in imperial Russia. Outcasts of history

The thaw of the 1980s allowed Russian historians to become re-acquainted with the pre-revolutionary and non-Marxist methods of interpreting historical events. These approaches paved a new way for interpreting history, allowing a departure from merely descriptive methods. Since the 1990s a new understanding of women’s rights in pre-Bolshevik Russia began to emerge.

I grew up listening to Soviet propaganda, praising the regime for giving women so much: education, ability to have a career and money on par with men, benefits for mothers, divorce and so on. To a certain extent, reality was confirming the party message. Women worked as teachers, doctors, and engineers. Valentina Tereshkova even went to space. Would something like this be possible during the tsarist rule? No, of course not. That is why our history textbooks presented life in pre-revolutionary Russia as full of suffering and exploitation, accompanied by rebellions and wars. Then the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution came, which changed Russia and the world, or at least that is what we were taught.

January 2, 2019 - Irina Yukina