Beth Turner

What Leninism Means to Women

Source: Workers’ Weekly, January 23, 1925
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: David Tate
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2009). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

When Lenin died and the Workers’ and Peasants’ Republic was plunged in mourning we know that the immediate affect on the people was to bring thousands of new recruits into the Communist Party. Among this “Lenin Levy” as it is called, one of the most significant features was the large number of working women.

There must have been a reason for this. The attitude of Lenin towards what is known as the “Women Question” was the determining factor. Lenin was the first great man to point out that the woman question was not a separate problem but one bound up with the problems before the working class.

Many reformers had approached this question from the point of view of what they would like for woman and what they thought women would like. They dreamed of labour-saving devices that would make for them perfect homes, better economic conditions that their children might be healthier and more free.

But Lenin saw that sentimentality would not help women out of the morass they were in. He taught that the most beautiful homes and hygienic nurseries were but prisons if women were solitary, and apart from life and the great struggle for economic freedom that is taking place to-day. He saw also that it is not practical to suppose that these things can be achieved by working women while the whole of the class of which they are a part is in a state of subjection and slavery.

Economic conditions already, he pointed out, were driving women out of the home. They were being compelled to work in the factory and form contacts with their fellows. This broadened their outlook and roused in them the first faint glimmerings of social responsibility. This sense of social responsibility must be developed and would prove the salvation of the women. Therefore, he continually advocated communal kitchens and public nurseries. There must be no hampering laws that created chasms between the sexes, and in his book The Great Initiative Lenin wrote exultantly:—

“We have literally left not one stone standing upon another of the edifice of degrading laws which denied rights to women, which placed formidable obstacles in the way of divorce, which penalised children born out of wedlock.”

Service and social responsibility was what Lenin demanded of women in return for equality. Realising this and knowing what the Revolution had done for them these Russian women knew that the highest tribute they could pay to Lenin was to come into the Party in which he had worked so earnestly, and defend with all their strength the liberties that had been given them by the Soviet State.

So, in this country wherever women respect the memory of Lenin we ask them to come into the Communist Party and help in the struggles of their class. With a powerful capitalist class, such as we have here, the fight will be a bitter one and with the clash of interests between employers and employed becoming more evident we do not know when the hour will come when we shall be called upon to do our part.

Wage-slave, wife, or mother, a woman’s interests are inseparable from the interests of her class. The Communist Party will give her the training and equipment and opportunity necessary to enable her to take part in a conscious united effort against the oppressors.

Thus, and thus only will the memory of Lenin remain a living force and inspire us, to work unwearyingly for the time when women shall be free members of a free army of workers.