October 1917-1953, Soviet Policies and Women's Emancipation Part 2
The relationship between Bolsheviks and peasants was tumultuous. The phenomenon of Bab’i Bunty (approximately: Women’s riots) illustrate the particular relations between peasant women and the Soviet rule during collectivization. Collectivization was a forced process in many villages, especially in Ukraine. Women were leading the protests, sometimes qualified as riots by local Bolshevik activists. Indeed, peasant women epitomized the old society they sought to transform. They were considered backwards, simple-minded and easily influenced:
“The Communist Party claimed that the underlying basis of women’s protest during collectivization was irrational female hysteria unleashed by the “kulak agitprop” […] reinforced by the women’s petit bourgeois […] instincts” (Viola and Farnsworth 1992)
Women used the contempt of Soviet leaders towards themselves to express their anger and discontent. Indeed, they were subjected to little repression. The case of peasant women highlights the challenge for Bolsheviks to reach out over its working class base, no matter the gender. However, their disregard towards peasant women suggests an underlying misogyny.