Russian Women's Studies: Essays on Sexism in Soviet Culture

By Tatyana Mamonova; Margaret Maxwell | Go to book overview

Foreword

Russian Women's Studies is the culmination of Tatyana Mamonova's work at the Bunting Institute ( Harvard University), at the University of Michigan and at the Women's Research Insitute ( Hartford College for Women). Exiled from her native land at the time of the Olympic Games in 1980, and from her beloved city, Leningrad, whose embodiment of a love of life and beauty she, herself, so perfectly reflects, Tatyana Mamonova did not permit herself to be silenced or grounded.She made immediate contact with women activists in the West, women's organizations in Europe, America, Japan, India, Australia and Africa.Using her journalistic skills and poetic inclinations she began writing, publishing and speaking freely, consistently, purposefully, while continuing her leadership of the unofficial women's neofeminist movement in the USSR, and maintaining contacts with the movement's confidents there, in connection with her position as editor-in-chief of Almanak: Zhenshchina i Rossiya ( Almanac: Woman and Russia), and periodically publishing certain materials.

Tatyana Mamonova's native city, Leningrad, can justifiably be called the capital of Russian feminism.The famous (in their day) Higher Education Courses for Women were founded in St.Petersburg (the original name of Leningrad) in the nineteenth century.A significant event was the All-Russian Women's Congress which met in the same city in 1908 with more than a thousand women in attendance.Therefore, it is no accident that the city's history should provide the impetus for the neofeminist movement during the 1980s. The October Revolution of 1917 repudiated this early feminist movement as "bourgeois", but established proletariat zhenotdeli* throughout the country. Alexandra Kollontai, an outspoken Russian feminist for a decade before the Revolution, gained considerable popularity in Soviet Russia after 1917 and was appointed to the Politburo as head of the Central Zhenotdel.But alas, even the proletarian form of feminism existed for only a

____________________
*
Zhenotdeli: Working Women's Sections set up after the 1917 Revolution to promote women's concerns within the Communist Party.

-xiii-

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