Equality & Revolution: Women's Rights in the Russian Empire, 1905-1917

TitleEquality & Revolution: Women's Rights in the Russian Empire, 1905-1917
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsRuthchild, Rochelle Goldberg
Number of Pages356
PublisherUniversity of Pittsburgh Press

On July 20, 1917, Russia became the first major power to grant women the right to vote and hold public office. But after the October Revolution and the establishment of the Soviet Union, those who had pioneered the suffragist cause were all but erased from accounts of Russian history. The women's movement, when mentioned at all, was portrayed as rooted in the elitist and bourgeois culture of the tsarist era, meaningless to proletarian and peasant women, and even counter to socialist ideology. In this volume, the author reveals that in fact Russian feminists appealed to all classes and were an integral force for revolution and social change. The author offers a telling examination of the dynamics present in imperialist Russia that fostered a growing feminist movement. Based upon extensive archival research in six countries, she analyzes the backgrounds, motivations, methods, activism, and organizational networks of early Russian feminists, revealing the foundations of a powerful feminist intelligentsia that came to challenge, and eventually bring down, the patriarchal tsarist regime. The author profiles the individual women (and a few men) who were vital to the feminist struggle, as well as the major conferences, publications, and organizations that promoted the cause. She documents political party debates on the acceptance of women's suffrage and rights, and follows each party's attempt to woo feminist constituencies despite their fear of women gaining too much political power. She also compares and contrasts the Russian movement to those in Britain, China, Germany, France, and the United States. This volume offers a study of the struggle for women's political rights in late imperial Russia, and presents a significant reinterpretation of a decisive period of Russian--and world--history.

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