The 'Great Retreat' - Family Life in Stalin's Russia

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Family Life under Lenin and the Early Bolsheviks

Lenin's policies, Peopel wanted to move away from tradition as marriage was seen as a 'bourgeois institution'

Under Lenin, the bolsheviks had made divorce easier, they attempted to liberate women from the ******* of marriage, children and family

This created problems by the 1930's, made worse by the social unheavals created by collectivisation and the five year plans

Stalin reassrts traditional gender roles and sexual attitudes in the great retreat

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Problems

Marriage- Previously not valued, seen as 'Bourgeois institution'

Sex- Initial freedom following fredom in 1917 revolution- but this seemed to lead to break down of familys and divorce

Divorce- Spiralling divorce rates: 1927- 2/3 in urban areas and in the countryside it was at 30%

Led to huge social problems: number of orphan children increased and women were impoverished

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Solutions- Marriage

Re-empahsis on value of marriage in 1930's by Stalin's governement

Perviously banned wedding rings (1928) were re-introduced in 1936, also marriage certificates were printed on high quality paper, symbolising the importance of the union.

Married party given more spacious accomidation and their own (dacha) hoilday home, encouraging family holiday

Communist husband main income earner expected to be devoted to family and expelled from party if had ann affair

Soviet propaganda promoted marriage effectivly, 1937 census- 91% men and 82% women aged 30-39 were married

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Solutions- Sex

Stalin reintroduced traditonal perspective on sexual morality. 1934 the government did a campaign aimed at young peopel promoting sexual abstinance. Backed up by the police action against any young women with an immoral appearence.

Collective farm chairman supported the initiative by ordering 'medical virginity checks' on young women.

Incest, bigamy, adultery, male homosexuality re-crimilised in 1936 after being legalised in 1930.

A.V.Malodetkin, imprisoned for being married to four women, sentenced in 1936 to 2 years in prison

Turned against contraception, under the five year plans Gosplan assigned no resources to production of contraception aid, so all contraceptive devices all but disappeared during the 1930's

Soviet state consolidated this in 1936 in secret directive that offically ended sale of all birth-control resources

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Solutions- Divorce

Communist experiments with free love and relaxed divorce laws during the 1920's resulted in spiralling divorce rates. State responsible for dealing with problems, mid 1930's took steps to stem rising tide of family break-ups by limiting divorce avaliability.

June 1936, new divorce laws making divorce more complex and expensive. 1st = 50 roubles (weeks wages), 2nd = 150 roubles, 3rd = 300 roubles

Men were expected to pay 1/3 of earnings to support their child or 60% if they left more than 3, penalty for failing to pay was 2 years in prison

Women who couldn't get help from courts turned to loacl party bosses, some parties were even prepared to track down absconding husbands forcing them to make regular payments to support ex-wives and children. Siberian communist party went further organising conference of young women encouraging them to dicuss the ways in which their lives have been ruined by men

Soviet press also played part, hounding men who deserted their wives. Trade unions newspaper 'Trud' reported story of a banker who moved from city to city to evade duties. According to 'Trud', he abandonded himself to a life of 'wildness, degeneracy and baseness'

Some offical support for women, only avaiable for women who were prepared to conform to the role of wife and mother

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