Feminism and Eternal Feminine: The Case of a Happy Union

Vassilieva, Elena (2003). Feminism and Eternal Feminine: The Case of a Happy Union. MPhil thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f6e2


The dozen or so women in this [feminist] group called Woman and Russia, produced one issue of the journal of the same title when a split between them occurred resulting in two groups, Woman and Russia and Maria. The former was headed by Tatyana Mamonova, writer and the most active contributor to the first issue, an enthusiastic supporter of many ideas of the contemporary Western feminism. Expelled from the Soviet Union for their activities in 1980, the authors of both journals continued working in the West. Subsequently Mamonova was warmly welcomed by the Western feminist Organizations, while Maria took a stance unpalatable both to the Soviet authorities and to most of the Western feminism. Its authors (Tatyana Goricheva, Yulia Voznesenskaya, Natal'ya Malakhovskaya, Galina Grigorieva, and others) preached a return to the traditional family ideals which were to find their justification in the religious and spiritual tradition of the Russian people. The freedoms and rights granted by the Soviet legislation were announced to have resulted in a near-catastrophic state of moral deterioration, to which Western feminism could give no solutions; instead the "new Russian feminism" was to be pursued.

The "new Russian feminism" had painfully little new to offer to Russian women - its ideals were obedience to God, spiritual responsibility for the family, and fulfillment in motherhood. Soon Maria members disposed of the "feminist" allegiance of their group entirely and preferred to associate themselves with the politically neutral "women's cause" or "women's solidarity".

Why did this commitment attract a prevailing majority within the group as well as the sympathies of fellow dissidents, whereas Mamonova was supported by very few in her country? This work will try to elucidate the content of the "new Russian feminism", i.e. the religious feminism of the Maria group, as well as the reasons for its popularity with the Russian intellectuals. The events of the end of 1979 - beginning of 1980, i.e. the publication of both groups' journals, the intervention of the KGB and the subsequent expulsion of the major contributors from the Soviet Union on the eve of the Olympic games, were extensively covered in the West in 1980-1981. However, the entire undertaking was dismissed as a courageous but very short-lived and theoretically obscure attempt at articulating female grievances against the Soviet system and its patriarchal character. While indeed detached from feminist theoretical discussions and largely rooted in experience, Woman and Russia was described by one Western publication as the "howl" of Russian women. It is one of the objectives of the present work to demonstrate the roots of the feminist publications, and, especially those of Maria, in the intellectual and political concerns of the post-war generations of Russian intellectuals.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions