Capitalism shakes the branches
By Leslie Feinberg
As city life and capitalist industrialization
were shaking up family and sexual relations for Russian male workers, women also
felt their impact.
Historian Dan Healy wrote, "Same-sex relations between women in tsarist and early Soviet Russia reflected the general transformation of women's roles and opportunities. For increasing numbers of women, the ties of the patriarchal village were loosening and breaking, and as with migrant men in the city, links to family ... were not always sufficient to maintain traditional forms of surveillance, including the monitoring of sexual behavior." ("Homosexual Desire")
While capitalism shook the branches of this rooted patriarchal system, it left the trunk intact.
Russian women were still weighed down with the burden of patriarchal family relations that served the class interests of the semi-feudal, semi-imperialist state.
Laura Engelstein writes, "Imperial Russian law established a system of power within the family at least as autocratic as the one governing the operation of the state: the husband wielded absolute authority over the wife, and the father entirely dominated the children. Women could not leave their households or undertake paid employment without the formal permission of father or husband, who controlled their access to the necessary official papers. No law protected women against physical abuse short of severe bodily injury.