Femininity has a bad rap in North America nowadays. High heels, dresses, skirts and make-up are a sign that you are a miserable Evangelical victim in search of a husband to validate your existence by marrying you.
I’m not North American, though. I come from a different culture. And I believe that my feminism is as valid as anybody else’s. I don’t think that I have to modify who I am because of other people’s struggles, issues, and complexities. I totally get it that, for North American women, not enacting their femininity is a feminist achievement. For me, however, it’s the opposite.
As we often joke in my culture, in the year when American women gained their right to become miners and fire-fighters, we gained our right not to. In the Soviet Union, women gained the right to vote and the right (actually, the obligation) to work in 1917. Since then, everybody worked. You will be hard-pressed to find a Russian-speaking woman my age whose great-grandmother, grand-mother, mother and aunts did not work. Not working for any reason was punished with a jail sentence in the Soviet Union.
Outside of the short-lived Stalin-era ban on abortion, abortion on demand was the only available form of contraception. I know women who had over 40 abortions in their lifetime for the simple reason that absolutely no other means of contraception were available. (Except for the ultra-rich, of course.) So the right to an abortion was not the issue Russian-speaking feminists were concerned with either. (Things are changing now, and the corrupt Russian Orthodox Church is spearheading a campaign to destroy women’s reproductive rights in Russia, though.)
On top of that, the absence of any hygienic aides for menstruation and forced gynecological exams made women hate everything that reminded them of their gender.
Our feminist issues were different. The Soviet Union lost a huge segment of its male population to the genocide and the wars. After World War II, we had 1 male per 3 females in the population. The result of this demographic imbalance was that men became a precious commodity to be cherished and coveted.
(To be continued. . . soon. . .)