Monday, October 15, 2007

Down with kitchen slavery!

Down with kitchen slavery! Let there be new household life!
G. Shegal, 1931

In 1917 the majority of laws of Russian Empire were repealed. Instead the first Soviet Constitution of 1918 declared full rights of women in divorcements, private property, children wardship, work and profession opportunities, choosing of place of living, education and suffrage. A decree which was stating the equal payment for men and women was also issued that year. Finally woman has got the same rights as men. The flip side of the coin was that woman had to work as hard as men as well.

At the same time the reforms of the economy were hampered no only by the Civil War but also by the runaway inflation. To give payment to the workers the Government had to print more money, which only made the situation worse. So the commodity-money relations were partly abolished: instead of wages workers were receiving rations, necessities, canteen coupons. Rent and transport fares were cancelled as well as payments for other public utilities. Free trade of food and goods was prohibited. The state was mobilizing the workers and was giving them full allowance (sort of).

The thirties perfectly utilized this experience. The country needed as much workforce as possible to complete the first Five Year plan, so women who were nursing children at home and did the cooking seemed to be a waste of resources. A great many of day nurseries, large-scale mechanized canteens, kindergartens were being built to free soviet woman from household routine and make them work on the machines instead. For many of soviet woman who had just arrived from the country this was a significant step forward, as it implied getting certain education and hopes of better living in future.

The poster above is an illustration of this trend. The woman dressed in red working overalls and a kerchief opens a large window showing a woman exhausted by laundry a bright perspective with new modern buildings with signs saying: “Club”, “Mechanized Canteen”, “Nursery”.

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