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All to freedom: how in the USSR they wanted to abolish marriage and what came of it
All to freedom: how in the USSR they wanted to abolish marriage and what came of it

Immediately after the appearance of the USSR, the state was seized by a fever, which later received the name of the Soviet sexual revolution. It was connected with the desire of the authorities to get rid of marriage as an outdated institution that hinders the progress and emancipation of women. What did this striving lead to?


Having seized power, the Bolsheviks enthusiastically began to reshape society. This applied to everything - from nutrition to sports. And, of course, the family could not escape this fate.

Free, free of all

Family law, inherited by the Soviets from the Russian Empire, really needed to be adjusted. For example, it was not easy to part with a spouse in pre-revolutionary Russia: in 1880, only 920 divorces were registered in the country, in 1890 - 942. However, the Bolsheviks approached the matter on a grand scale: instead of making life easier for women, they decided to radically change it. Lenin himself said that “in the field of marriage, a revolution is approaching, consonant with the proletarian one,” and it was not long in coming.

The first to be eliminated was the main "competitor" who had previously been in charge of family affairs - the church. Just two months after the October Revolution, a decree was issued declaring only civil marriages legal. The church wedding was declared a "decorative" ceremony: no one forbade it, but it became a voluntary choice for the newlyweds that did not entail any legal consequences.

To conclude an alliance no longer required parental consent or permission from superiors. Abolished and "social qualifications" - no longer matters belonging to any class, nationality or religion. However, some restrictions still remained, for example, a ban on relations between relatives in a straight line, with persons already married, and with the insane. An age limit was also set: only a 16-year-old girl could get married, an 18-year-old man could get married.


Another decree - "On the dissolution of marriage" - appeared at the very beginning of 1918. It was truly revolutionary: now it was possible to disperse not only by mutual consent of the spouses, but even at the request of one of them. Instead of the Holy Synod, divorce cases were now considered by local civil courts, spending half an hour on it. Remember how Ostap Bender married citizen Gritsatsuyeva to steal a chair? He knew perfectly well that it would not be difficult to get rid of marital ties. And so it happened: in Chernomorsk he was caught up by a letter from the registry office with a notice that his wife had divorced him.

Citizens took advantage of the opportunities received with pleasure. Judges from different regions reported a huge number of divorce lawsuits filed "for no good reason, but simply for purely animal hobby." “With such freedom, men have the opportunity to seduce and make unhappy any number of girls, alternately resorting to divorce an indefinite number of times,” complained justice officials of the Smolensk Provincial Executive Committee.

In 1920, ahead of all of Europe, the Bolsheviks legalized abortion. This was of tremendous importance - for the first time in the history of Russia, women were given the opportunity to independently make decisions about motherhood. In those years it was vital: free and most harmless termination of pregnancy in the hospital was a salvation for the inhabitants of the country where the war was still going on. Poverty, death of husbands, terrible living conditions - the appearance of a child in such conditions for most girls would be a disaster, not a joy.

Abortions and simplified divorce procedures have become a real gift for women.However, what began later can hardly be called a blessing: attempts to create a “new” proletarian morality led not to “a revolution in the field of marriage,” but to a wave of rape that swept across the country.

Love, like a glass of water, is given to the one who asks for it


The image of a liberated woman, on a par with a man participating in the construction of a new state, fell in love with the society. And soon there was one that became his embodiment - Alexandra Kollontai.

Kollontai was the people's commissar of state charity in the first Soviet government and took an active part in the development of decrees on divorce and marriage. In addition, she created the Zhenotdel in the party, which dealt with issues of emancipation. Alexandra started a war on "kitchen slavery": so domestic work was replaced by public services. Public catering - a system of cheap state canteens - can now only be remembered with nostalgic sighs, but now it is simply impossible to imagine life without kindergartens.

Legends circulated about the love affairs and novels of the “Valkyries of the Revolution”. Kollontai's views on sex are reflected in her story "Love of Three Generations", where Komsomol member Zhenya argues: "It's all so simple. And then, because it does not oblige you to anything. I don't understand, Mom, what worries you so much? If I was selling myself or if I was raped - that's another matter. But I did it voluntarily and willingly. As long as we like each other, we are together; will pass - we'll figure it out. There is no damage."

"For the class tasks of the proletariat, it is completely indifferent whether love takes the form of a long and formalized union or is expressed in the form of a passing connection," said Kollontai. The people liked this position too. Even the head of the People's Commissariat for Education, Anatoly Lunacharsky, said: "There is no love, but there is a physiological phenomenon of nature, and veal tenderness has absolutely nothing to do with it." Slogans "Marriage is a relic of the past!" and "Love is a bourgeois excess!" moved by leaps and bounds across the country.

It did not come to the Decree on Sex, but in the 1920s different societies began to appear in the USSR, such as the League of Free Love and Down with Shame! Members of the latter would put any modern actionist to shame with their performances: for example, in 1924, men and women from "Shame" walked the streets of Moscow and rode in trams, "dressed" in one ribbon over their shoulders, on which the name of the society flaunted. Apparently, the "above" did not object: the "naked" procession under the walls of the Kremlin was led by Karl Radek, one of Lenin's associates. There were rumors that Stalin himself had received a similar parade.


There is a tale that in the first Charter of the Russian Communist Youth Union there was a clause as follows: "Each Komsomol member is obliged to surrender to any member of the Komsomol on demand, if he regularly pays membership fees and is engaged in social work." However, historians have not been able to find any confirmation of the existence of this situation. However, there is a reliably known story that happened in 1918 in Saratov, which echoes the legend about state regulation of sex.

In February 1918, Izvestia of the Saratov Council published the Decree of the Saratov Provincial Council of People's Commissars on the abolition of private ownership of women, which declared girls from 17 to 30 years old to be "the property of the entire working people." The right to use the "property" was granted to all men "no more than four times a week and no more than three hours." The decree turned out to be a fake: it was composed by the owner of the Saratov tea house, Mikhail Uvarov, who ridiculed new views on family and marriage. However, he paid for it: a few days later he was killed by anarchists who did not appreciate the joke.

The document was reprinted by many newspapers. Most of the editors posted it in the section of anecdotes, but it also happened that the libel was taken for a real decree and with revolutionary fervor proceeded to implement it.The White Guards used Uvarov's "linden" for propaganda against the power of the Bolsheviks: by decree they frightened the peasants - they say, under this power, you will all sleep "under one blanket."

However, it is not surprising that they believed in the idea of ​​the owner of the tea house: it was very in the spirit of those years. Later, the well-known communist Sofya Smidovich in the newspaper Pravda expounded the idea of ​​women as the property of the entire people quite seriously: “Everyone, even a minor Komsomol member and every student of the workers' faculty has the right and is obliged to satisfy his sexual needs. […] If a man lusts for a young girl, be she a student, a worker or even a school-age girl, then the girl must submit to this lust, otherwise she will be considered a bourgeois daughter unworthy to be called a true communist."

In the collection of scenarios for Komsomol propaganda performances of the 1920s, there was one very funny one: “Two people come out on the stage with posters“Every Komsomol member must meet him halfway, otherwise she’s a bourgeoisie”and“Every Komsomol member can and must satisfy his sexual aspirations”. Music is playing. The girl on the stage goes and sits on the bench on which the young man sits. The song "Yablochko" is cut off. After silence, the Komsomol member turns to the Komsomol member, ending the conversation with the word "let's go." The music is playing "Yablochko" again. Komsomol members are leaving. Two people with placards converge in the middle of the stage and each with conviction pronounces what is written on his placard."

In the story “The Trial of the Pioneer,” the chairman of the Pioneer Court says: “Let the Nepman sons practice love and write poetry, but we have enough of a healthy need, to satisfy which we will not go to prostitutes because we have comrades. Better to be a bully than to breed love. " Communities of working youth appeared, where young men and women not only ran joint households, but also "resolved the sexual issue" without creating permanent couples.



Abstinence in the USSR was declared philistine. A glass of water theory emerged that said having sex should be as easy as quenching your thirst. And, of course, women were put in charge to ensure that everyone was drunk. These ideas are still alive: for example, similar theories are now being promoted by the founder of the men's movement "Antifeminist Left Front" Alexei Podnebesny. History has already shown what the implementation of such ideas can lead to: in the 1920s, a wave of rapes swept across the USSR - men used the new morality as an excuse for crimes.

The Chubarov case was the loudest: in 1926, 40 workers in Chubarov Lane on Ligovka raped a 20-year-old girl who had come from a village to Leningrad to study. The accused, most of whom were Komsomol members and candidates for membership in the CPSU (b), declared that there was no crime, because the girl was obliged to meet the wishes of the proletarians. One of the witnesses simply did not understand the prosecutor’s question about why he didn’t call for help and didn’t try to contact the police. This was just one crime out of many: only in the Moscow court in 1926, 547 cases of rape were considered, in 1927 - 726, in 1928 - 849.


Towards the end of his life, Lenin himself began to worry about the theory of a glass of water. “Although I am least of all gloomy ascetic, but to me the so-called new sex life seems to be a kind of good bourgeois house of tolerance,” he wrote shortly before his death. As the precedent in Leningrad shows, he had weighty reasons for fears. The Chubarov affair became a turning point: the Bolsheviks came to the realization that the new morality, perhaps, distinguishes the Union from the capitalist world, but hardly for the better. A rollback followed: in the second half of the 1920s, the authorities began to gradually outlive the achievements of the sexual revolution, returning to a more traditional model of relations between men and women.

On the way back, there were enough excesses: for example, abortions so important for women were limited in 1927, and prohibited in 1936.In 1944, the concept of "illegitimate" returned to the legal field - outside of marriage, a child could not get a man's surname, even if he gave his consent, and a dash was put in the "father" column in the birth certificate. There were other complications, but this is a completely different story, as interesting as the chronicles of the Soviet sexual revolution, which did more harm than good.

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