Russian Revolution Essays

Russian Revolution Essays-71
Katie Mc Elvanney explores how women’s lives changed during the Russian Revolution, tracing the history of female revolutionaries in Russia and the different ways women documented and participated in events.The life experiences of women in the Russian Empire before the Revolution were extremely diverse.Led by Poliksena Shishkina-Iavein, President of the League for Women’s Equal Rights and Russia’s first female gynecologist, and the revolutionary Vera Figner, the march was attended by up to 40,000 women.

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In 1874, thousands of Populists () went to the countryside to live among peasants in the hope of improving living standards and raising socialist consciousness.Some of the most well-known women revolutionaries of the 19th century include Vera Zasulich, Maria Spiridonova, Vera Figner and Ekaterina Breshko-Breshkovskaia (Catherine Breshkovsky).The rise of Social Democracy in Russia in the 1880s attracted both women workers and women from the intelligentsia.While wealthier women had access to limited education, especially after women’s higher education courses were introduced in the late 1870s, peasant women (who constituted the majority of the Empire’s female population in the 19th century) were mostly illiterate.Despite class differences, society was staunchly patriarchal and women of all backgrounds were not allowed to vote or hold public office until 1917.For Soviet critics, Western historians gave too much emphasis to the fall of tsarism rather than to the necessity for its overthrow in the February Revolution, and exaggerated the degree of social harmony in general while underestimating the role of the proletariat led by the Bolsheviks at the beginning of 1917.Moreover, the charge continued, there has been too much talk of the democratic gains of a spontaneous February being liquidated by the totalitarian reaction of an engineered October, when in fact the two Revolutions are complementary rather than antagonistic) In fact, however, West and East have been moving closer together in their interpretation, to such an extent that the two basic views overlap.The former view tends to downplay the role of women in the Revolution, painting them as impulsive and politically backward.The Women’s Day demonstration is often upheld as the main (and even sole) example of women’s involvement in the Revolution.Tsarist authorities swiftly crushed the movement and hundreds of male and female activists were arrested.New non-violent and violent groups soon emerged, including the revolutionary terror organisation People’s Will (), which was responsible for the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881.


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