Stalin the feminist

How is that for a somewhat strange juxtaposition: Stalin and feminism. Of course, the real achievements of the Bolsheviks are usually written out of any history of feminism, since as we all know, it is really a Western phenomenon. The catch is that the likes of Kollontai, Zetkin and others did like to be known as feminists, since they saw it a distinctly bourgeois phenomenon. So perhaps Marxist or materialist feminism is a better term. But was Stalin one too? Here is his statement on International Women’s Day in 1925:

There has not been in the history of mankind a single great movement of the oppressed in which women toilers have not participated. Women toilers, the most oppressed of all the oppressed, have never kept away from the high road of the emancipation movement, and never could have done so. As is known, the movement for the emancipation of the slaves brought to the front hundreds of thousands of great women martyrs and heroines. In the ranks of the fighters for the emancipation of the serfs there were tens of thousands of women toilers. It is not surprising that the revolutionary working-class movement, the mightiest of all the emancipation movements of the oppressed masses, has rallied millions of women toilers to its banner.

International Women’s Day is a token of the invincibility of the working-class movement for emancipation and a harbinger of its great future.

If the working class pursues a correct policy, they can and must become a real working-class army, operating against the bourgeoisie. To forge from this reserve of women toilers an army of working women and peasant women, operating side by side with the great army of the proletariat—such is the second and decisive task of the working class.

International Women’s Day must become a means of transforming the working women and peasant women from a reserve of the working class into an active army of the emancipation movement of the proletariat.

Long live International Women’s Day! (Works, vol. 7, pp. 48-49).

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