Redefining the “Soviet”

Dmitrii Moor: Woman to the Rudder (1923) For International Woman's Day

Dmitrii Moor: Woman to the Rudder (1923)
For International Woman’s Day

The Bolsheviks identified the need for political, economic and social reconstruction. According to the Freeze text, these changes must include “values, myths, norms, mores, aesthetics, popular images, and traditions” (Freeze 329). To redefine the Soviet Union, all changes had to include all parts of society in order to create a common collective state with a conditioned mentality. This was the most evident during the 1920s, when the Bolsheviks believed the transition, called “‘building socialism’ was the inculcation of a new world-view” (Freeze 329); however, in efforts to create the “new soviet man,” the regime ultimately created the “new soviet woman.”

In 1929, the new soviet person “would live simply but cleanly, and their work lives and home lives would be stitched together seamlessly” (Seventeen Moments). The Soviet Union promoted education of people, including those who had not had access prior to the revolution. Women and other nationalities were gaining opportunities, although under the vision of a socialist state with a collective culture. As the Bolsheviks performed changes, the youth of the state were influenced by specific ideas and traditions. The Bolsheviks were creating a new definition for the family and the individual (Freeze 331). The old way of life was falling aside for a new society.

Transitions from the church, promotion of work, abortions, the ease to divorce, and other social reforms showcase how the Bolsheviks were changing society. These concepts are easily seen in “Bed and Sofa,” a film produced in 1927. The story opens on a couple living in a communal living space in Moscow. As we discussed in our lecture, the right to living space in Moscow was limited and in order to work someone needed a living space. This restructuring of living allowed the emergence of Volodia, Kolya’s friend. When Kolya was away on a trip, Volodia showed Luida the bourgeois way of life, taking her flying and to the movies. This vision of a changing lifestyle of Russian citizens is reflected in Luida’s transition to Volodia’s side. Volodia’s personality would soon reflect Kolya’s, leaving Luida to wonder about her future — a question intensified by her pregnancy. The decision to keep the child and move from the city alone shows how the role of women had left the home. The patriarchal society before the revolution was equalizing and men and women were taking on the role of individuals (although limited in several regards). The collective society of the Bolsheviks was taking form, creating a new society within the family circle. Youths would continue these values and traditions after the older generations lost power.


Works Cited:

Dmitrii Moor: Woman to the Rudder (1923) citation:

Seventeen moments:

Bed and Sofa image:

Gregory L. Freeze, Russia: A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 329-340.

Bed and Sofa. Dir. Abram Room. Perf. Nikolai Batalov, Lyudmila Semyonova, Leonid Yurenyov. Sovkino, 1927. Film.