The Soviet government’s uniformly pro-marriage position

Young Soviet marriages have a rather poor survival rate. Marriage at 19, divorce at 23–often with a young child left in the breach–is the all-too-common scenario. …

A small quantity of condoms are produced by Soviet factories, but their unpleasant character and doubtful reliability make them little more than a popular topic for off-color jokes. Some Russians claim that birth-control pills can be obtained through the black market, but at outrageous prices and–of course–without a doctor’s supervision.

Low-price abortions are available, but the concomitant red-tape and the reputedly shoddy manner with which the operations are performed lend yet another topic for the well-developed sense of Soviet chorny (black) humor.

Parental pressure is another factor. Soviet males, in particular, claim that after having “walked” (khodili) with their girl friends for a year or so, they are pushed into marriage by the combined forces of the girls and their over-anxious parents.

The Soviet government itself also has a hand in the pro-marriage propaganda campaign. It has replaced the religious service of pre-revolutionary days with an equally elaborate state ceremony which takes place in a “palace of marital union” (dvorets brakosochetanija), complete with flowers, music, speeches by Soviet officials, etc.

Unlike most countries in the world, the Soviet Union would like to increase its birth rate. …

Soviet women work hard at their jobs all day, but even those who spend their work-day resurfacing Nevsky Prospect are expected to cook, clean and play the little wife when they come home. If they are unable to maintain a sweet temperament, and if marital joys have otherwise lost their attraction, the husband will begin to spend more and more evenings out with the “boys,” drinking vodka and exchanging anti-wife anecdotes. …

During my 4-month stay in the U.S.S.R., I encountered a startling number of divorced 25-year-olds, mis-matched couples, nagging young wives and cynical, irresponsible young husbands. The Soviet government, many Russians feel, should recognize the problem and modify its uniformly pro-marriage stance. It should not continue to jeopardize the domestic happiness of its young people in the hope of bolstering a declining birth rate.

(The author is a 1972 Radcliffe graduate who has traveled and studied in the Soviet Union and will file her observations regularly with the Crimson this summer).



7 responses to “The Soviet government’s uniformly pro-marriage position

  1. AustinCapitalist December 20, 2016 at 3:39 am

    It was pretty much a failure by any look at it, much like Singapore’s attempts are/will be. The Soviet Union had about the same TFR at this time, which is remarkable considering how wildly less developed and technological than it was during this period, a good proxy in general for birth rate in the past 50, 100 years.

    Far East Europe has ridiculous abortion rates, especially Orthodox countries. Catholics have the least abortion in Europe by far, followed by Protestants, and Orthodox are by far the worst. This is true even controlling for communism.

    • AustinCapitalist December 20, 2016 at 3:43 am

      Meant to say had about the same TFR at this time as the United States.

    • nydwracu December 20, 2016 at 5:08 pm

      Didn’t East Germany have some success in promoting fertility relative to West Germany?

      • AustinCapitalist December 20, 2016 at 9:05 pm

        Yeah, that difference was much more noticable and is probably true to some extent that East German government/media did a better job. But it was still significantly below replacement rate.

        For whatever reason development/GDP has heavily correlated with lower birth rates, you can say it’s correlated with modern westernization/ soulless modernity capitalistic neoliberalism or whatever, but it’s true. And West Germany had a signifcantly higher GDP per capita/development than East Germany during this time.

        Obviously it’s nowhere close to being perfect, but it’s not no correlation at all either. We need to get religion back, actual religion and not some new age or civic religion BS

  2. Pingback: The Soviet government’s uniformly pro-marriage position | Reaction Times

  3. AvaAve December 20, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    I found SOG
    at the corner of 1st and Amistad
    Where the west
    was all but lost

  4. Pingback: The Myth of the Socially Conservative Old Left | Carlsbad 1819

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: