It took Yuri Vetokhin three attempts to escape from the Soviet Union. The first attracted the attention of the KGB, and the second got him nine years in prison. Rather than giving up, he trained at marathon swimming, then at the age of fifty-one wangled passage on a Soviet "cruise to nowhere", jumped into the shark-infested waters of the Moluccan Sea, and swam twenty hours to freedom in Indonesia.
All that swimming must have given him time to think; his 1986 memoir includes a penetrating analysis of how the Soviet system manipulated female psychology and used feminism for its own ends, reproduced below.
Today's reader may groan when Vetokhin draws a sharp contrast between the USSR and the 1980s USA and pays lip service to the Western variety of feminism, praising the fact that "under capitalism ... women have all rights". When he makes the case for laws "directed towards consolidating the rights of the head of the family and increasing his sense of responsibility for raising the children", it's impossible not to notice that by now, those rights have been chipped away in the USA every bit as much as they had been in the old USSR. In fact, when reading Vetokhin's treatment of the "woman question" in the Soviet Union, the parallels to today's USA jump off the page at you, from a crummy economy where two incomes are a necessity, to a legal system that greases the skids in favor of divorce.
Vetokhin paints Soviet feminism as an active measure taken by the Communist elites, in order to keep society atomized and diminish the family as a nexus of resistance to Communist ideology. In today's America, you'll get called a conspiracy theorist if you consider the possibility that feminism may have been anything other than a grassroots movement, never mind that the CIA funded Gloria Steinem. In fairness, the CIA funded an awful lot of stuff, and certainly American elites have no coordinating organization as visible as the CPSU, so convergent evolution may be a sufficient explanation; maybe human nature plus Enlightenment legal norms are a combination just naturally toxic to families.
Either way, Vetokhin's analysis of how feminism served as a tool of oppression in the USSR, and his prescriptions, are remarkably relevant to the USA today.
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The "Women's Issue" in the Soviet Union
Yuri Vetokhin, "Inclined To Escape", ISBN 9780965476027, 1986, Chapter 66.
"All their 'woman question' is only lack of originality. I assure you that all this 'woman question' has been invented for them by men in foolishness and to their own hurt." -Dostoevsky, The Possessed
"The aim of the Party was to prevent men and women from forming loyalties which it might not be able to control." -Orwell, 1984
"It was always the women, and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the Party, the swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and nosers-out of unorthodoxy. " -Orwell, 1984
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The so-called "women's issue" arises from the age-old tactic of power-lovers, "divide and conquer." The Communists, who more than anyone else strive for absolute power, first conceived an artificial division of society into rich and poor, then into the working class and bourgeoisie and, finally, into men and women. The Communists attempt with diabolical tenacity to incite them against one another. In the Soviet Union, where there is supposedly no bourgeoisie, the Communists have directed particular efforts to creating antagonism between men and women.
"My home is my castle," the English and Americans say of their families. Such a situation is not at all convenient for the Communists, since a strong family might resist evil Communist morals and bring up their children in the traditional religious spirit. In order to undermine the family and ultimately destroy it, the Communists have identified the weak link and have begun hammering away at this weak link with all the heavy tools of their monopolistic propaganda. The weak link in the family is the woman, who from time immemorial has been more skillful than the man in solving practical problems but, with some exceptions, less capable of understanding abstract problems.
Due to the extremely low standard of living in the USSR Soviet women are forced to work alongside men in heavy labor for very long hours. In addition, when she comes home from work she must do the housework, since even two salaries (hers and her husband's) are insufficient to allow her to manage without preparing meals at home and doing the laundry. Her daily exhaustion and inability to feel that she has her own home, since she is forced to live in communal apartments, naturally leads to frustration. Here propaganda: subtly suggests to her that the person toward whom this frustration should be directed is responsible for all her unhappiness. It is, of course, her husband. Her husband, when he comes home from work, "sits in an armchair with the newspaper instead of helping his wife with the housework or children."
Of course, the propaganda specialists do not tell her that this is normal and results from the physiological differences between men and women and also from the fact that the man did not play with dolls when he was a child or learn how to cook, and therefore, after he gets married, has little inclination to help his wife with such things. In addition, propaganda with good reason suggests to the woman of limited outlook that her love for her children is somehow exceptional and therefore she is superior to man. Instead of explaining this love as the most primitive instinct (for a female wolf also loves her cub) and reminding her that the child was at one point part of her body, so she loves it in virtually the same way she loves her arm or leg, the Communists compose all kinds of hymns in praise of maternal love. However, such propaganda never talks about the fact that genuine and truly noble love, is the love for a stranger. At the same time, on party orders, Soviet writers dream up "ideal" husbands in their polished novels and scenarios for screenplays, playing them against real husbands who are made to look like good-for-nothings or idiots.
So the Soviet woman, if she is unable to think independently, is led by the Communists to the standard conclusion in the USSR: "My husband is an idiot, my child a genius, my neighbor an example for my husband."
However, the Communists are in no way attempting to make the woman raise her children more carefully. On the contrary, they limit themselves to purely declarative statements on maternal love, while at the same time urging her not to participate in their upbringing but to leave that to schools and Pioneer and Komsomol organizations. Soviet propaganda suggests to the woman that doing housework and raising children are degrading, especially for the educated woman. And the very standard of living which forces the woman to work requires her to first send her children to day nurseries, then to kindergarten, then to schools with extended hours. If she is unable to do this, her children spend the whole day in the streets unsupervised. Thus has the Party achieved yet another goal: the children are left without parental upbringing and government institutions can make ruffians out of them who know no endearments, kind words, compassion or forgiveness, i.e. all of the things that only their parents could give them. On the contrary, the indoctrinators are instrumental in alienating children from their parents, impressing on them that the interests of the Party are higher than those of their parents. From the time the children learn to talk and understand, the indoctrinators impress on them that the best example for them to imitate is teenager Pavlik Morozov who sent his father, a kulak, to his death.
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Women of limited outlook, frustrated by their impoverished way of life and incapable of realizing that the main reason for this is the Communist regime, readily swallow the bait proffered by Communist propaganda and are hooked by it. They themselves think up accusations against their husbands just as the propaganda intends, "Since my husband does not pay much attention to the children, it means he does not love them. Since he does not make much money, it means he is a poor worker and a good-for-nothing." In order to set husband and wife against each other even more, the Communists conceived a so-called "holiday," "International Women's Day," and recently even made this day, March 8th, a general holiday. On this day, and for a long time before it, propaganda extols "the equality of men and women in the Soviet Union" and insists that "under capitalism, on the contrary, women are deprived of all rights." The propaganda specialists could not care less that the facts prove the opposite. It is precisely under capitalism that women have all rights and often even occupy high party and government positions (Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Indira Ghandi, Bondaranaike and many others), while in the USSR there is not one woman in the government or party leadership, and many women are loaders. But the Communists need this blatant lie in order to bring women to the following conclusion, "Since I am a man's equal, my husband can no longer be considered the head of the family."
Everyone knows that divided leadership ruins everything, be it a government, military unit or family. A home ceases to be a "castle" if it lacks unified leadership. Very often this situation leads to family conflict. If the husband does not agree to divided leadership in his family and if he either cannot or will not take responsibility for his half of the housework, then the woman, again at the suggestion of the propaganda specialists, "in order to maintain her feminine pride" and remain "equal," complains about her husband at social organizations, such as party or plant committees. There her complaint is given standard Marxist trappings and she herself is surprised at how she has never before noticed that "her husband is 'politically backward'" and lives according to "the remnants of capitalism!' The secretary of the party committee, if the woman lodges her complaint with him, is sympathetically interested in her husband's political convictions and whether he believes in, perish the thought, God. Encouraged by the secretary of the party committee, the wife tells him everything. So it continues. The husband is called in for questioning. It is fortunate that it is only by the party organization and not yet by the KGB. Following the wife's complaint, the husband is often fired from his job and even arrested. Married couples no longer trust each other. Not only the "castle" but even the family itself no longer exists. Soon the situation results in divorce.
Left without a husband, the woman is no longer needed by the party committee, or the plant committee or any other "committee." The deed has been done. The goal reached. She is simply discarded like an empty bottle. The freedom she has obtained usually results in drunkenness and a lack of discipline. She often becomes a prostitute, sometimes a political prostitute. She completely neglects her children and the Communists indoctrinate them with ease in the evil spirit of Communism.
Resentful of the whole world, the divorced woman, continuously spewing forth a stream of vulgar language, is ready to denounce everyone. If she has any kind of memory, the Communists enlist her as an informer and for Judas pay she assiduously eavesdrops, spies on and reports to her bosses. Other divorced women find an outlet for their inexhaustible anger by working as prison wardens, torturers in special psychiatric prisons and even executioners. While I was in prison, I often heard from other prisoners that executioners in the USSR were always women. All the prisoners were convinced that certain of these divorced, disillusioned women were greater sadists than any man could ever be.
This bitter experience shows that a divorced, or in Communist jargon "emancipated," woman is not only unhappy but is a moral cripple who is not even capable of raising her children, or being a useful member of society. It was not without reason that in prerevolutionary Russia, during its blossoming, strict laws existed against groundless divorces and imprudent interference by society in the internal affairs of the family. It was not without reason that the laws were directed towards consolidating the rights of the head of the family and increasing his sense of responsibility for raising the children.