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Legitimizing Soviet trade: gender and the feminization of the retail workforce in the Soviet 1930s.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, entrepreneurs in France, Britain, Germany, and the United States created new retail venues and merchandising techniques that facilitated the growth of modern consumer society. As the commercial landscape was transformed, women gained prominence not only as consumers, but also as retail employees, and by the 1920s they constituted the majority of salesclerks. Initially contemporaries worried about saleswomen whom they saw as susceptible to materialistic temptations and vice in the face of advances by male customers, coworkers, and storeowners. Concerns began to fade, however, as retail trade and consumption were refigured as vehicles for the propagation of bourgeois and national values and taste. Saleswomen were reimagined as respectable and even talented employees who mobilized their "feminine knowledge" and maternal nature to promote sales. The woman salesclerk, along with the woman shopper, came to epitomize mass consumption and modernity. (1)

In the Soviet Union women became a significant part of the retail labor force only in the 1930s. Like their Western counterparts, they were touted as having particular womanly attributes that could further retail trade and they were identified with modernity. Unlike them, however, their employment did not signify the success of capitalist consumerism. Rather it denoted the dawning of a new socialist era of rapid industrialization and the development of a specific form of "Soviet trade." In 1931 the Communist leadership initiated a campaign to develop Soviet trade in an effort to create an explicitly non-capitalist system of modern retailing. It pursued this campaign throughout the 1930s, even as famine decimated the rural populace in 1932-3 and Soviet citizens continued to struggle to find basic goods and foodstuffs. In the drive to establish "socialist" retailing, the woman retail employee came to symbolize the transformation and legitimization of the state-controlled retail system. Described in the press and at trade organizations' meetings as a "great force," women retail workers received widespread acclamation for their achievements. (2) The state rewarded them with financial bonuses, vacations, the Badge of Honor, and even the Order of Lenin, the highest Soviet award. (3) It recognized tens of thousands of women in retailing as labor heroes: exemplary workers (otlichnitsy), shock workers, and Stakhanovites. (4) "Women's stores"--shops staffed primarily or exclusively by female personnel--were idealized as paragons of the new Soviet trade and praised for their successful commodity turnover, "ideal cleanliness," "accurate" display of goods, and excellent customer service. (5)

This essay examines the changes in official Soviet policy and discourse vis-a-vis women retail workers, looking at recruitment efforts and their limits as well as the new meanings ascribed to women's retail work. Although scholars have begun to explore the phenomenon of women's wage labor in the U.S.S.R. in the 1930s, none has investigated the role of women workers in the retail sector. (6) This analysis explores the feminization of the retail workforce as a window on the Soviet regime's efforts to mobilize retail trade and women in new ways in the 1930s. It argues that the feminization of the retail workforce resulted in more than an influx of women workers; it turned out to be critical to the regime's campaign to remake retail trade. As the trade campaign got under way and the female workforce grew, authorities rationalized women's employment by constructing a new woman retail worker who carried out "revolutionary, Bolshevik work." (7) They identified "feminine" qualities with excellence in retailing and the "new" trade practices promulgated in the campaign for Soviet trade. Highly valued attributes of the idealized new trade that reportedly distinguished it from both capitalist trade and the already existing state-controlled system became coded as "feminine." The feminization of the retail workforce therefore contributed to the gendering of Soviet trade. In addition, the new retail system that emerged in the 1930s was officially legitimized, at least in part, because of its feminine face. (8)

The new woman retail worker served as a site for the regime's concerns about the feasibility of and hopes for a socialist transformation that would create a functional non-capitalist retail system. Recasting the woman employee allowed authorities to begin to resolve anxieties about the possibility of defining a distinctively socialist form of retailing. Significantly, the construction of the new woman retail worker and the feminization of the retail sector had important implications not only for the incipient "socialist" trade system but also for the Soviet project as a whole. Because the feminization of the retail workforce was accompanied by a new discourse of women's retail work that involved the reimagining of the feminine and the domestic, it bolstered a broader transformation in the 1930s of official understandings of women's roles and womanly characteristics. It contributed to the Communist leadership's efforts to attribute new importance to women as well as to the feminine and domestic in the crusade to build Soviet socialism.


The Soviet regime's celebration of women retail workers in the 1930s is surprising given its overwhelmingly negative discourse about retail trade and consumption in the preceding decade. In the 1920s, Communist leaders encouraged an anti-materialist aesthetic and condemned consumerism as bourgeois and hedonistic. The ideal new Soviet person focused on production, not consumption, and rejected decadence. Retail trade was identified with capitalism, corruption, and an ugly materialism. Trade policies reflected the regime's uncertainty about how to reconcile retailing with the building of socialism. During the Civil War it banned private trade. However, in 1921, in reaction to economic turmoil, it adopted "NEP"--a set of polices known collectively as the New Economic Policy--which established a mixed economy of privately-owned and state-controlled enterprises and businesses, including retail trade. Though technically legal, private retail trade was never fully accepted, and throughout the 1920s, it endured a barrage of criticism that discredited it as counterrevolutionary and antithetical to socialism. (9)

During the 1920s the Soviet regime was also critical of the state-controlled consumer cooperative and state trade system that supplemented private retailing. Because it functioned poorly and was underdeveloped, Communist leaders rebuked the system for not meeting consumers' needs. Arguing that it was overrun with greedy "Nepmen" and speculators, they conflated it with the private system and made it a scapegoat for shortages. They also complained that its unresponsive and inefficient staff contributed to public outrage about poor product quality, shortages, and long lines. As a serious distribution and consumption crisis emerged in the late 1920s, the cooperative and state trade system garnered additional criticism. According to Communist authorities, it did not adequately replace the private retail network, which the regime had purposely destroyed in the late 1920s, and it was continually plagued with corruption. Moreover, they claimed the system did a bad job of handling rationing, which had been reintroduced in 1929 and 1930 to deal with the economic crisis at hand. (10) Whether privately-owned or state-controlled, the official image of retail trade was a negative one. (11)

How did women and a concept of femininity come to play a role in the campaign to transform and legitimize trade? Public applause for women retail workers in the 1930s stood in stark contrast, after all, to the regime's expressed ambivalence about women in general in the 1920s. Although in principle the Soviet leadership supported gender equality and even established laws and policies to that end, it continued a longstanding tradition in Russia of associating women with backwardness. That the majority of women remained outside the regulated productive sector and official politics made it all the easier to represent them as "backward": Communists viewed wage labor and political engagement as necessary for women's emancipation and full inclusion in the Soviet polity. (12) While a discourse of equality promoted the "sameness" of women and men and informed early legislation, at the same time a parallel discourse focused on gender differences between men and women, and presented women's particularities as a problem. Women's continued dominance in the private sphere of the household, for example, heightened suspicion about their activities outside the home, because of concerns that the private contaminated the public. (13) Soviet authorities mobilized contradictory discourses, fluctuating between characterizing "woman" as a comrade or a baba ("backward" woman). (14) Woman was the new wage earner who had joined the revolutionary struggle as well as the worker who was not Soviet enough. She was the politically enlightened proletarian and the passive religious peasant. She was the self-sacrificing mother as well as the self-indulgent woman susceptible to petit-bourgeois habits. (15) Ultimately, however, Communists remained uncertain about how to incorporate women into the social order as modern Soviet subjects, fearing that women's economic, political, and social "backwardness" would thwart revolutionary change. As a result, even though the new government claimed that it supported gender equality, official discourse often represented women as backward and identified them with a narrow domestic purview.

The association of women salesclerks with the positive transformation of retailing is also surprising because retail work was not typically a woman's job when the Bolsheviks first came to power in 1917, nor was it in the 1920s. Constituting approximately 11-13 percent of the cooperative and state trade workforce in the mid-1920s, most women employees worked as secretarial or cleaning help. The relatively few who worked in stores did so primarily as cashiers and not as salesclerks. (16) The reasons for women's limited employment were twofold. First, while the state made some efforts to hire female employees in the 1920s, its main emphasis was on recruiting women into the state-controlled sector in their capacity as consumers: getting them to join consumer cooperatives and shop in cooperative and state stores as opposed to private ones. (17) Second, many male trade authorities and workers saw retail work as men's work and did not deem women particularly well-suited for it. Naturalizing women's qualities, they used language that associated women's supposed drawbacks with biological deficiencies, and criticized women's lack of necessary physical strength, "natural timidity," and tendency to get ill. They also pointed to women's ostensible backwardness, adding socio-cultural reasons for not employing them: women had less know-how and lower rates of literacy than their male counterparts and were allegedly more religious and prejudiced. (18) Women, in other words, were seen as less capable of being modern and rational. (19) And, some argued, instead of being disciplined workers, women were beloruchki: literally "white-handed individuals." That is, they did not want to dirty their hands by engaging in necessary retail-related tasks that were filthy and unbecoming for them. (20) Others simply proposed that women were not valuable. As one male trade leader put it, "women know only how to wag their tongues, and they are not capable of doing anything." (21) Given the generally disapproving attitude toward retail trade and women in the 1920s, the subsequent influx and celebration of women workers in the retail sector indicates major shifts in official policy and discourse.

Mobilizing Women and Rehabilitating Retail Trade

The 1930s marked a significant change in the Soviet approach to retail trade. The task of reconstructing retailing became a central concern. Confronted with a consumer goods and supply crisis that provoked provisioning-related unrest and contributed to rapid labor turnover, the government responded pragmatically by embarking on a campaign in 1931 to develop retail trade and to make it "Soviet." (21) Aiming to improve commodity distribution within the larger imperative of industrialization, it sought to radically transform the ineffective and overly bureaucratic state-controlled trade system by establishing a modernized and expanded retail infrastructure and introducing new technologies and work practices. The idea was to rationalize and redefine retailing by distributing goods in a cultivated manner: efficiently, honestly, and cleanly. Envisioning a modern and yet non-capitalist system of retailing, political leaders linked the development of "Soviet trade" to a form of industrialization and state building that was morally as well as technically superior to capitalist ways. Soviet trade was part of the process by which a rational, industrial, and "cultured" socialist order would be achieved.

As the regime pursued its trade campaign, it acknowledged the obvious need to remake retailing and consumption in the public eye. It was necessary to recast the image of retail trade from an anti-revolutionary practice to a vehicle for socialist acculturation. The party-state approached this task by positing that the new retail system would serve as a mechanism for Sovietizing people, that is, for incorporating them into the social order and introducing them to socialist values. By participating in the campaign to develop Soviet trade and acquiring new political consciousness and skills, salesclerks would contribute to both the positive transformation of retailing and of themselves. Characterizing Soviet trade as a cultural enterprise, political leaders also envisaged retail workers providing quality customer service by edifying consumers about commodities and imbuing them with a new "socialist" consumer aesthetic. (22) Rather than mere distributors of goods, salesclerks would serve as cultural emissaries to uneducated customers and help to shape aesthetic norms of consumption. Asserting that consumption was a symbol of and device for social integration and cultural refinement, Soviet authorities sought to legitimize consumption by linking it to industrialization and the state campaign to promote kul'turnost'--civilized behavior and cultured attitudes. (23) They claimed that the acquisition of contemporary and cultured consumer products demonstrated the transformation of backwards peasants, nationalities, and workers into modern and civilized Soviet men and women. Rather than a sign of decadence or bourgeois materialism, consumption--so long as it was rational and discerning--marked economic and cultural growth, and the successful building of socialism. Although throughout the 1930s goods shortages persisted and store shelves were often empty, authorities promulgated Soviet trade and proper "socialist" consumption.

During the 1930s, the Soviet regime also adopted a new approach to women. In 1928 there were approximately 3 million women in the paid workforce. By 1940 there were over 13 million. (24) The dramatic increase in women's employment was due primarily to demographic and economic changes prompted by rapid industrialization and forced collectivization. Unemployment of the 1920s gave way to a significant and unanticipated labor shortage in 1930, which jeopardized not only the fulfillment of the First Five-Year Plan but also the stability of the economy as a whole. In 1930-31, the state revised its plans for the mobilization of women's labor to meet economic goals. (25) The Council of People's Commissars RSFSR (Sovnarkom) and the People's Commissariat of Labor (Narkomtrud) composed a list of jobs and occupations earmarked for the predominant or exclusive employment of women. (26) The goal was to replace men with women so the men could be redirected to skilled and physically intensive industrial work. The new policy for women's involvement in the labor force was based on the concept of "integration through segregation," that is, the (re)gendering of entire sectors of the economy as female. (27)

The regime also made a more sustained effort than in the previous decade to mobilize non-wage earning women into various social and cultural initiatives. This move was expedient: women's unpaid labor as activists underwrote industrialization and served as a training ground for their possible move into the waged workforce. It also helped to socialize non-wage earning women by getting them out of the home and integrating them into Soviet initiatives. Political leaders especially promoted women's participation in the wife-activists' movement and the state campaign for kul'turnost', encouraging women to get involved in a myriad of activities, including literacy work, workplace inspections, auxiliary labor, political agitation, and cultural uplift.

Women's new roles in wage labor and the public sphere were facilitated by rhetorical changes. First, as women moved en masse into the workforce, women's work was reevaluated. Whereas in the 1920s economists, labor analysts, and party officials had emphasized women workers' physical weaknesses, inexperience, and lesser productivity, in the early 1930s they highlighted women workers' achievements, even honoring female labor heroes. (28) They argued that many physical and skills barriers to women's employment had been removed due to mechanization as well as educational initiatives. And they ascribed positive attributes to women that provided additional reasons for employing them throughout the national economy, such as women's greater efficiency and work discipline compared to their male counterparts. (29) Second, official discourse about non-wage earning women changed. If in the 1920s it had generally characterized these women as unproductive and backward, in the 1930s it reconfigured them as valuable assets. As tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of women became activists, they received praise for their participation in state-building efforts. Soviet authorities extolled wife activists in particular for their 'social mothering' and 'social cleaning,' expressing widespread appreciation for the possibilities of women's supposed maternal disposition and household expertise in the public sphere, especially in regards to the drive to civilize and modernize the general populace. (30) Associating women activists with refined manners and cultivated behavior, political leaders depicted them as important symbols and agents of the transformation of ordinary individuals into cultured Soviet citizens.

Women's Employment in Retail Trade

Women became a significant proportion of the retail workforce only after the emergence of both unanticipated labor shortages (associated with rapid industrialization) and a major consumer goods and distribution crisis (associated with the abolition of private retailing). Women's mass entry into retailing needs to be understood in this larger context. The feminization of the retail sector was thus due primarily to the imperatives of industrialization and the regime's decision to initiate a campaign for Soviet trade. (31) The People's Commissariat of Supply, the Central Union of Consumer Cooperatives (Tsentrosoiuz), and the Trade Union of Cooperative and State Trade Workers actively recruited women workers in response to central directives in 1931 for the cooperative and state trade network to become one of the economy's spheres for the increased and predominant employment of women. (32) Trade authorities also turned to women to augment the ranks of workers because they recognized that the development of Soviet trade required a larger workforce and that women remained an underutilized source of wage labor. Regional and local branches of trade organizations and the trade union for retail workers subsequently pledged to meet the newly decreed responsibility "to hire women exclusively, replacing men's labor with women's," and to disallow "the reduction of women in the trade apparatus," except for when they violated rules. (33)

Initially, non-wage earning wives and daughters of workers as well as women already in the workforce (but in other spheres) were targeted for employment. In 1931, for example, Tsentrosoiuz instructed republican, regional, and provincial consumer cooperatives to recruit primarily workers' wives and family members and to employ no fewer than 6,500 in Moscow, 10,300 in the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic, and 3,450 in the North Caucasus. (34) This recruitment strategy allowed for the economizing of resources in urban and industrial areas; the employment of these women did not necessitate as much expenditure on new services as did other groups (e.g., peasants). According to Communists, these women were also more reliable than other potential recruits because they were already of the working class. (35)

In seeking to explain women's mobilization, trade officials emphasized pragmatic reasons. First, men's labor was needed for industry. Second, retail work had become more appropriate for women because of the benefits of technology and rationalization. Though the mechanization of retail trade was still in its infancy, it would facilitate the "widespread introduction of women's labor" by making some aspects of trade work easier. The mechanization of the transport and storage of goods, for example, meant that men's "strength" in retailing could be redirected to industry. A more rational division of labor also allowed for women's greater employment in the retail sector. If men carried out the particular tasks that required more physical strength, then women could take on the remaining duties. (36)

Although trade authorities could have explained women's mobilization by referring merely to practical and economic exigencies, they chose instead to reframe women's work, arguing that women workers were actually better suited than men to meet the requirements of the new retail system. Imagining Soviet trade as honest, modern and rational, responsive and edifying, efficient and cultured, Communist leaders and trade officials constructed a new woman retail worker--indeed a new woman--whose merits would promote their vision. Her virtues were grounded in gender stereotypes operating at two levels: those based on allegedly innate or essential characteristics of women and those based on presumptions about their domestic experience. If in the 1920s women's ascribed qualities had supposedly hindered their ability to work effectively in retail trade, in the 1930s they contributed to their successes. Significantly, most of the qualities officially applauded in the 1930s were not the same ones highlighted by male trade leaders and employees in the 1920s. For example, women's reliability as workers and civilized behavior were promoted as feminine virtues in the 1930s, whereas women's tendency to get ill and shyness were promoted as feminine shortcomings in the 1920s. The employment of women in the 1930s offered the promise that they would exert a positive influence on retailing by extending their womanly disposition and domestic skills to the trade sector. Casting women retail workers in the role of helpmates, authorities suggested they would advance the trade campaign's goals to transform the fundamental nature and characteristics of the extant system and to alter the negative social meaning and practices of trade. Although some critics continued to raise the same objections to women's employment that were voiced in the 1920s, the emphasis in official discourse shifted from a negative to a positive evaluation of women retail workers, contributing to efforts to give a more legitimate, modern, and Soviet image to both retail trade and women.

Politically Naive

In the context of trade reform efforts, women's most stereotypical limitation--their alleged lack of political consciousness-was explicitly reframed as a positive feature. It was considered a boon in an economic sector that had supposedly been populated by "alien and enemy elements," "counterrevolutionaries," and "SR-Menshevik elements." (37) The Secretary of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions argued that "the involvement of workers' wives and family members" as workers in cooperatives would help "secure their liberation from alien elements and wreckers." (38) Similarly, a high-ranking trade official called for the greater recruitment of women "to render the cooperative apparatus [politically] healthy." (39) Others claimed "that there [were] more foreign elements among men than among women." (40) According to trade functionaries, new women workers "enlivened" the retail system, because unlike many of their male counterparts, they were not members of any real or imagined opposition. Women's lower level of political awareness supposedly made them less susceptible to anti-Soviet political affiliations than men. In the context of the Purges in the mid-1930s, this characterization of women's political innocence gained even greater public value. Symbolically, women's increased presence in trade highlighted the decreasing number of politically suspect men, and more importantly, underscored the integration of the retail sphere into the political mainstream.

Essentially Good

Official Soviet discourse championed women as "good girls" who would bolster the regime's campaign to remake retail trade. (41) Assertions about women's moral probity served as a core rationale for their employment. Trade administrators, journalists, and women workers claimed that "theft was less common" in stores and consumer cooperatives staffed by female salesclerks, store directors, and consumer cooperative leaders. (42) Men were said to be the ones overwhelmingly responsible for "abuses of power"--including the cheating of customers. (43) Apparently "experience [showed] that when it came to honesty," retail work was "a womanly affair." (44) The Chair of Tsentrosoiuz essentially dictated the new party line on women workers to representatives of the press in 1933 when he argued:
 It is necessary to say that where there is a woman store manager,
 where there is a woman chairperson of a rural cooperative store,
 things are better and we do not have such theft and embezzlement.
 Here [with women] we have a very big reserve and the central question
 now is how to activate the recruitment and participation of
 women. (45)

Newspapers, trade-union meetings, and worker reports underscored the achievements of new women retail workers by noting the absence of customer complaints and charges of embezzlement levied against them. (46) Because a key component of the trade campaign was the repeated insistence on the need to replace dishonest workers with upright and dependable ones, all of the talk about (and seeming proof of) women's integrity was significant. It suggested that women would serve as a valuable moral force in a sphere plagued by traces of the greedy "Nepman spirit." In addition, it justified women's recruitment, for countless male trade officials and workers had been fired, punished, arrested, and tried for allegedly stealing, embezzling, and "wrecking." Regardless of women's actual level of integrity, the image of ethical women workers allowed for symbolic contrasts with both the crimes of immoral male trade officials and workers in the Soviet Union and the alleged dishonesty of capitalist retailing. The mass entry of women in trade signaled that "virtuous" women were replacing "corrupt" men, and that a new non-capitalist retail system was in the process of becoming. (47)

Women were also characterized as "good girls" because of their supposed self-discipline. Trade functionaries pointed in particular to women's reliability and sobriety. (48) Women workers reportedly shirked work less often than their male counterparts. As a result, women were considered more dependable. And in contrast to men on the job, they tended to be sober. Since authorities considered insobriety to be one of the "main reasons for theft" in the trade apparatus, (49) and viewed drunkenness as a sign of a person's lack of kul'turnost', the employment of sober women workers provided clear advantages. (50) By not skipping out of work as much as their male coworkers and by remaining sober, women offered the likelihood of greater productivity, less corruption, and more cultivated behavior in the retail sector.

Cultured Behavior

Representations of women worker's virtues were directly tied to the state campaign for kul'turnost'. As the Soviet regime pursued its plans for rapid economic transformation in the 1930s, it aimed to transform individuals through a "complex of practices." (51) Cultural activists promoted the importance of sobriety, personal hygiene, proper speech, basic literacy, and political awareness. The idea was to discipline people by inculcating in them a set of behaviors and attitudes that fit with the regime's image of the ideal new Soviet person. Women came to have a salient role in this state campaign to civilize and modernize the masses. Communist leaders paradoxically identified women with economic and political backwardness (particularly in the 1920s) at the same time they associated them with kul'turnost'. In their opinion, women tended to have a more cultivated sensibility than men. Thus, in the 1930s, they mobilized women's alleged civilizing influence to advance the state campaign for kul'turnost'. So too did trade authorities. Depicting women's kul'turnost' as an innately feminine virtue in the context of trade reform, they underscored women's propensity to be tidy and organized, courteous and attentive, and tasteful. According to them, these attributes helped to improve the retail sector. Women's kul'turnost' had obvious value for official efforts to overcome negative images of the state-controlled trade system as dirty, unresponsive, and crude.

Trade functionaries proposed that cleanliness and tidiness were "natural" characteristics of women. (52) Reportedly women rooted out dirt and kept stores more sanitary and better organized than their male coworkers. (53) A store director in Uzbekistan summed up a common perspective when he opined, "Where a woman works the workplace is always cleaner, tidier, and better." (54) The press likewise asserted that "almost everywhere" female trade employees "introduced elements of culture"--e.g., cleanliness--in their workplaces. (55) Women's apparent attention to detail and hygiene--key elements of kul'turnost'--became important to descriptions of progress in stores. Ridding the retail sector of flies, grime, and the irrational and inefficient display of goods served as markers of the construction of Soviet trade. After all, the ideal new retail system was envisioned as modern, hygienic, and rational. (56)

Women's supposed tendency toward solicitude was another reason the trade establishment and press credited them with the ability to improve retailing. Concern for others was presented as a critical component of the provisioning of quality customer service: a hallmark of Soviet trade. The economist and editor of the journal Soviet Trade argued that affairs ran more smoothly and "the approach to the needs of customers was more attentive" in stores and consumer cooperatives with female directors and leaders. (57) Journalists proposed that "female labor [was] often more effective than male labor, especially with respect to the quality of service for the customer" and that women had an aptitude for "servicing the consumer in a cultured way...." (58) They applauded shops staffed exclusively by women, where one could feel "caring concern (zabotlivost') about the enterprise and the consumer." (59) Trade authorities also claimed that women handled consumer goods "more thoroughly and carefully" than men. (60) Casting women as "natural" caretakers (which was linked to broader representations of and assumptions about women's motherliness), they repeatedly emphasized their capacity to provide polite and solicitous service. (61) Notably, women's attentiveness contributed to their "authority" and helped them to earn "the trust" and "respect" of customers. This not only served to legitimize the retail system, but also, apparently, to secure greater consumer activism. (62) Moreover, women's proclivity for providing good customer care was characterized as furthering the trade campaign's goal of eradicating "distributionism"--a legacy of the older cooperative and state trade system--in which apathetic trade workers were indifferent to customers' needs, product quality, and the general shopping experience. (63) By this logic, women's employment in retailing promoted "cultured Soviet trade."

Women's refined taste was yet another element of their kul'turnost' that trade authorities decided could be used to remake retailing. Ostensibly women retail workers had better taste than male employees, which was significant because of the cultural imperatives of the new Soviet trade. (64) Helping to create a more smoothly functioning retail system and being responsive to consumers were key components of providing good customer service. Edification, however, was also important. In contrast to capitalist retailing, which purportedly worked against consumers' welfare, Soviet trade was supposed to work on behalf of consumers by assisting in their cultural uplift. Trade leaders exhorted salesclerks to introduce customers to new items, particularly the products associated with industrial society, and to help instill "Soviet taste" for contemporary, cultured, and rational commodities (which would ideally replace irrational and petit-bourgeois taste for unnecessary and useless items as well as for extravagant and overly ornate goods). (65) Women's "tastefulness" made them particularly qualified to fulfill these tasks.

Domestic Skills

In addition to the laudatory reframing of "essentially" feminine and even matronly attributes, trade authorities recharacterized women's formerly suspect role as keepers of the household as an invaluable asset that provided women retail workers with useful knowledge and skills. (66) In essence, they proposed that women's presumed know-how in domestic affairs made them "natural" retail experts. Women's household experience prompted them to be more economical than men, "looking after every kopeck." (67) Women's "housewifely eyes" and consumer experience as "the principal buyers of all that [was] necessary for the family" made them especially attuned to problems in stores. (68) Women allegedly had particular insight into what good customer service should look like because they often met the opposite, coming "into daily contact" with employees' inability to provide "cultured service for their customers." (69) Certainly men could and did provide good customer service. According to official discourse, however, both women's "nature" and their everyday domestic chores meant they had a special aptitude for this important task. Women salesclerks were expected to contribute to the public cause of trade reform by mobilizing their domestic expertise.

Representations of women workers highlighted their skills in offering product information and domestic advice. These skills were deemed important because trade leaders directed store personnel not only to introduce customers to new consumer goods and Soviet taste but also to provide them with basic instructions, such as how to prepare canned food or clean certain fabrics. (70) Employees in the new trade system were expected to teach consumers how to utilize new foodstuffs and consumer goods. Although newspapers and trade-related reports noted that men as well as women advised consumers, they underscored women workers' efforts at consumer education and often linked them to their domestic experience. (71) The implication was that women's duties in the "private" sphere of the household made them extra capable of meeting retail responsibilities in the public sphere.

Recruitment Efforts and Their Limits

Despite the mandate to hire women and the new official discourse about the benefits of women workers, women's entry into the retail workforce was not a seamless process and the number of women workers in the cooperative and state trade network varied considerably throughout the Soviet Union in the 1930s. (72) Fewer women in rural areas worked in the system than in cities. Women in non-Slavic regions did not make as many inroads as their counterparts in Slavic areas. (73) These employment variations were likely due to a complex of regional differences: religious practices, cultural norms, general job opportunities, child care possibilities, existing economic infrastructure, history of retailing, and level of administrative integration with and bureaucratic proximity to Moscow. (74)

Women also did not move evenly into all sectors of the retail workforce. In part this was because government organs and trade leaders fostered a gender-based division of work. Thus, for example, when Sovnarkom and Narkomtrud advocated women's employment in cooperative and state trade, they generated a list of suitable jobs, which explicitly excluded women from meat-slicing work. (75) Associated with strength and skill (since slicing machinery was still relatively rare), meat-slicing was often considered men's work in 1930 and in later years. (76) Similarly, in 1931 the governing board of Kievtorg was unwilling to send textile goods and ready-made clothing to a women's store, because the board members considered the sale of these goods to be a "man's business." (77)

As more women moved into the retail sector, the gender-based division of work changed. As a result, by the mid-1930s the sale of textile goods and ready-made clothing was no longer viewed as a man's job. (78) Nonetheless, despite some modification of women's work roles, a gender-based division of labor persisted. Men continued to dominate meat-slicing jobs. They also constituted the majority of warehouse workers. When in the mid-1930s Chulkova became the first woman to work as a storage person in her warehouse, she was laughed at because such work was "not a woman's affair." (79) The division of labor remained substantially gendered in another way. Although the overall number of women workers increased significantly in the 1930s, the percentage of women in management and leadership positions remained disproportionately low. (80) Thus in 1934 women comprised 28.3 percent of employees in consumer cooperatives, but only 6.9 percent of their leadership. (81) In 1935 they constituted 45.3 percent of salesclerks but only 15.8 percent of store directors, assistant store directors, and heads of retail sections and departments. (82) In 1939, women constituted approximately 18 percent of all store directors in cities, whereas they comprised 60 percent of salesclerks and 70 percent of cashier workers. (83)

The Soviet trade establishment issued repeated decrees to advance women workers. In 1933 and 1935, for example, the presidium of Tsentrosoiuz called for the "more bold and decisive promotion of women into leadership positions." In 1936 it called for additional measures to help fulfill this mandate. (84) Trade leaders emphasized the "positive results" achieved by women who had been promoted. (85) They also tried to protect women in leadership positions (chairs, store directors) by instructing regional and local officials not to fire them without the explicit permission of higher bodies. In addition to these steps, Narkomvnutorg and Tsentrosoiuz established educational initiatives so that a greater number of women could be trained and then promoted into leadership positions. (86) Nevertheless, while some women in the 1930s gained responsible and high-status posts, many plans and directives for that end were not implemented. (87) The trade establishment itself failed to promote women evenly in its administrative apparatus: out of all the trade organizations in the USSR in the mid 1930s, women comprised 4.6 percent of management personnel versus 68.1 percent of clerical staff. (88) Men continued to dominate the more powerful and authoritative positions in Soviet trade.

Thus despite women's mass entry into retail trade in the 1930s, central and local targets for the recruitment, training, and promotion of women retail workers were underrealized. (89) One reason for this was indifference. According to tradeunion reports, "not enough attention" by economic organizations as well as trade unions was paid to meeting plans. (90) Targets were also hampered by opposition to women's employment. Many personnel officers and store managers resisted hiring women. (91) Even some local trade officials ignored the new mandates to recruit women. When asked, for example, how many women's stores had been opened in his regional consumer cooperative system, a local official dismissively replied that "this business" had already ended. In other words, in his opinion the opening of women's stores and similar initiatives to recruit women had been temporary tactics that no longer warranted any energy. (92) As a result of such hostility to women's employment, sometimes even after women completed training courses and started new jobs they were dismissed for no apparent reason. (93)

Discrimination and animosity also posed limits on the advancement of women to high level posts and on the acceptance of their authority once promoted. Women encountered particular opprobrium when they challenged traditional gender roles by moving into leadership positions. (94) When a rural party organization recommended N. Federova become the new chair of a rural cooperative society, cooperators, "particularly the male ones," expressed skepticism about her abilities. Nor did the male chair of the rural soviet support her candidacy. Reportedly he said: "How can this illiterate baba be expected to manage such affairs (Gde ei, etoi bezgramotnoi babe, s takim delom spravit'sia)." (95) V. F. Polozhenskaia recounted a similar story of ill will from her male colleagues who resented her appointment as store manager and "did not want to help" her. (96) Women workers promoted as Stakhanovite instructors likewise experienced suspicion and hostility. (97) Even some trade leaders themselves remained resistant to the idea of promoting women, stating that "Any hastiness in terms of advancing women to responsible posts could turn out to be very harmful:" after all, "a woman is [just] a woman." (98)

In addition to discrimination and hostility, insufficient child care stymied plans for women's employment. Although Communists had pledged to free women for wage labor by developing state-run communal institutions that would assume many of women's domestic functions, in the 1930s women continued to lack adequate means with which to help them juggle their dual roles as mothers and workers. (99) Like women workers elsewhere, women retail employees faced a "double burden"--laboring both as paid workers and as unpaid wives and mothers. Plus they had little access to child care. Despite state efforts to establish additional child-care options for trade workers' children, and despite the actual growth in facilities in the 1930s, the network of child care remained wholly inadequate. (100) In 1936, for example, 2074 women worked at the Moscow Central Department Store, yet the store did not have its own creche and its nursery school served only 50 children. (101) Similarly, in 1937 Glavtorg RSFSR had 15 kindergartens with a total of 2,000 spaces for its approximately 126,000 employees. (102) In addition, the child care that was available was often of low quality. In a nursery school in Michurinsk, for example, children suffered from deficient nutrition as well as a lack of blankets for naps. (103)

Inadequate funding hindered efforts to expand child care. Even when the Central Committee of the Trade Union for State Trade Workers (PRGT) doubled its expenses for child care in 1936 compared to its funding in 1935, the outlay remained unsatisfactory. (104) Indecision and confusion about where funds were to come from and problems securing necessary materials also affected construction. (105) In October 1936, for example, the PRGT faulted trade organizations for failing to pursue the building of child-care facilities that had been recently decreed. In its opinion, however, part of the blame lay with Narkomvnutorg for issuing no instructions or answers about how to finance construction or about how to procure scarce materials, such as cement. (106) Nor did institutional struggles for limited resources help matters. Thus, for example, in 1937 city soviets in Gorky and Cheliabinsk handed over some of Narkomvnutorg's child care facilities to municipal health departments to use as children's hospitals. When Commissar of Domestic Trade Veitser protested this decision by explaining that Narkomvnutorg SSSR had "satisfied an extremely negligible percent of its [child care] needs," Sovnarkom RSFSR responded positively and revoked the transfers. (107) Trade workers in Iaroslavl were not so fortunate. A kindergarten built for their children was seized and used as a hospital. (108)

Lack of child care impeded women's training and education. As one women worker explained, women had to rush home after work to feed their children, even though some had a "great desire to study." (109) It hindered potential women workers' ability to attend and complete classes, thereby limiting their chances for being hired. (110) And it affected women's chances for upward mobility, since additional training was often linked to promotions. According to some trade authorities and workers, the paucity of child care also impaired women's work performances. One worker who made this case at a trade-union meeting asked his audience to imagine a cashier who had to go to work and leave her child at home without supervision. In this situation, he argued, the quality of her work would be diminished. Instead of thinking about how to provide better service to the consumer, the cashier would worry about "what was going on with the child." (111) A store manager confirmed this scenario when he discussed why one saleswoman's work performance was so poor. Because she had to leave her young child at home alone, she "thought more about her child than about work." Once the store manager found a place for her child in a nursery school, her work performance improved dramatically. (112) Problems with child care affected not only women workers and their children but also the entire trade apparatus. The situation of child care was so "catastrophic" that many women workers ended up leaving their jobs, which exacerbated the retail sector's already existing problem of high labor turnover. (113)


Notwithstanding the limits of recruitment, women moved en masse into cooperative and state trade in the 1930s. The feminization of the retail sector buttressed the trade campaign by contributing to the gendering of Soviet trade. As women entered the retail workforce, authorities identified ideal characteristics of the new retail system as womanly. This move served to shape the new trade and to further legitimize it by distancing it from previous retailing. It also provided women with opportunities for new professional identities, labor hero status, and recognized public roles for feminine and domestic work.

Perhaps not surprisingly, female employees utilized the newfound validity of feminine and domestic characteristics by emphasizing them in worker reports and at trade union meetings to point to their various accomplishments in consolidating a new retail order. They deployed gender stereotypes to underscore their value as workers. Women leaders in the trade apparatus also mobilized women's supposed feminine and domestic attributes to point to why more women should be hired and placed in managerial and leadership positions. The chairwoman of a consumer cooperative, for example, explained that female salesclerks were "more polite and cultured" than male ones, and that women should therefore replace the already existing male employees. Another woman trade leader reminded her audience that on account of their drinking binges, even good men workers were "weaker" than women workers and hence were not well suited for leadership roles. (114) Although women trade leaders' and retail employees' positive comments about women's qualities and work practices in the 1930s were not exactly novel, such remarks acquired new resonance during the trade campaign.

The new meanings ascribed to women's retail work reinforced the broader change in official discourse about women. The Soviet regime's increased emphasis on women's "womanly" roles in the 1930s, including in retail trade, in conjunction with the abolition of the Women's Section of the Communist Party in 1930, the outlawing of abortion in 1936, and new pronatalist policies, have generally been interpreted by scholars as proof of a retreat from women's liberation under Stalinism. Paradoxically, however, these changes were accompanied by the regime's greater recognition of women as workers and unpaid activists. Women were integrated as productive citizens in Soviet society. Although negative images of women continued to circulate in the 1930s, representations of women as a paid or voluntary force actively assisting in the construction of socialism gained ascendancy. (115) Women received great kudos for their contributions to industry, agriculture, retail trade, collective voluntary activities, and the metamorphosis of everyday life. (116) The predominant public image of woman was transformed from baba to comrade, albeit an often overtly "feminine" comrade.

Significantly, women's involvement in the remaking of retail trade, like their mass participation in wage labor and volunteer initiatives, broke the monopoly of the masculinized proletarian as the ideal. Thus, for example, women became retail labor heroes by attending carefully to the needs of customers and offering useful domestic advice. In the process, they gained social legitimacy that in the 1920s had been restricted primarily to men and industrial workers. In the 1930s, authorities celebrated both the industrial and skilled male labor hero and the solicitous and cultured female retail hero. The celebration of the latter underscored the new authority of retail work, women, and the feminine. Indeed, the official acknowledgment of women's contributions and the promotion of Soviet retail heroes highlighted women's transformation from "symbol of backwardness" to "symbol of modernity." (117)

Although both retail trade and womanly traits were publicly valorized in the 1930s, one should take care not to overdraw the point: neither the retail sector nor femininized customer service were as venerated as heavy industry and masculinized industrial productivity. While to some extent retail work was proletarianized and promoted by Stalin as "revolutionary, Bolshevik work," it was never considered as revolutionary as skilled industrial labor. (118) Still, retail trade, womanly attributes, and women retail workers were incorporated actively into state building and mobilized on behalf of Soviet socialism.

The regime's promotion of the feminine and the domestic was contradictory: it allowed for a certain disruption of traditional gender discourses even as it reaffirmed them. Femininity could be exalted, while the naturalizing of women's qualities and experiences, and even the rewarding of them, could also work to reinforce gender differences between men and women, and thereby facilitate gender segregation and gender hierarchy in the labor force, including in retail trade. Notably, the Soviet regime succeeded in drawing women workers into retailing, but not in providing them proportional entry into managerial and leadership positions. Unexamined stereotypes and discrimination played a role in this, but no doubt so did the emphasis on women's feminine qualities and domestic experience. Underscoring women's differences may have reinforced the popular stereotype of women workers as first and foremost mothers and wives who would not be reliable and long-term workers. (119) Emphasis on the womanly also may have served to justify women's entry into the trade sector and to limit its scope. Trade authorities and others often invoked women's womanly attributes to justify their employment in stores, but not usually to justify their employment in other trade-related positions, such as administration, management, or economic planning. Women trade workers became associated with service whereas men trade workers became identified with leadership and management.

Still, new understandings of the feminine and the domestic, including in the retail sector, contributed to a regendering of Soviet subjectivity. Moreover, they facilitated the incorporation not only of women into the socialist order but also of the feminine and the domestic into the public sphere. In the 1920s the regime often effaced the feminine and domestic in its pursuit of gender equality, assuming male characteristics as universal (and supposedly gender-neutral) and encouraging women to become more like men. Or the political leadership construed them as negative in its criticism of women's essential limits and "backwardness." In the 1930s, by contrast, the regime applauded "womanly" attributes and suggested they could bolster Soviet goals. In some instances it even encouraged men to adopt these characteristics. As a result, the discursive shift in official understandings of the feminine and the domestic also altered ideals for men. In trade, for example, both men and women received acclaim and reward for feminine behavior, and the ideal Soviet retail worker was expected to combine positive feminine traits of attentive service, honesty, and kul'turnost', with more traditionally masculine traits of efficiency and productivity. Thus the regime's broader reevaluation of the feminine and the domestic fostered both the feminization of the retail workforce as well as the gendering and recharacterization of trade, and ultimately, promoted the feminization and domestication of socialism itself.


I would like to thank Susan Reid and Jessica Shubow as well as the anonymous reviewers for Journal of Social History for their helpful comments on this article. Earlier versions were presented at the AAASS National Convention in 2000 and the 12th Berkshire Conference on the History of Women in 2002.

I am grateful to those who provided feedback on earlier versions: Laura Engelstein, Julie Hessler, Ellen Furlough, Stephen Kotkin, Rebecca Neary, and Elizabeth Wood. Research for this article was supported in part by funds from the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Mississippi as well as the Council on Regional Studies and the Center for International Studies at Princeton University.

1. For more on women retail employees, see Susan Porter Benson, Counter Cultures: Saleswomen, Managers, and Customers in American Department Stores, 1890-1940 (Urbana, 1986); Sarah S. Malino, "Behind the Scenes in the Big Store: Reassessing Women's Employment in American Department Stores, 1870-1920," in Martin Blatt and Martha Norkunas, eds., Work, Recreation, and Culture: Essays in American Labor History (New York, 1996), 17-38; Theresa M. McBride, "A Woman's World: Department Stores and the Evolution of Women's Employment, 1870-1920," French Historical Studies 10 (Fall 1978): 664-83; Ellen Furlough, Consumer Cooperation in France: The Politics of Consumption (Ithaca, 1991); and Carole Elizabeth Adams, Women Clerks in Wilhelmine Germany: Issues of Class and Gender (New York, 1998). The scholarship on women consumers is too extensive to cite in full. See Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class (New York, 1994); Eds. Victoria de Grazia and Ellen Furlough, The Sex of Things (Berkeley, 1996); Mary Louise Roberts, "Gender, Consumption, and Commodity Culture," The American Historical Review 103:3 (June 1998): 817-44; Leora Auslunder, Taste and Power: Furnishing Modern France (Berkeley, 1996); Elaine Abelson, When Ladies Go A-Thieving: Middle-Class Shoplifters in the Victorian Department Store (New York, 1989).

2. "Zhenshchina v kooperatsii--bol'shaia sila," Sovetskaia torgovlia (hereafter referred to as ST) 16 May (1936): 1; Iu. Berkovich, "Zhenshchina v sovetskoi torgovle," ST 8 March (1936): 2; V. Nodel', "Torgovye kadry i problemy rukovodstva," ST 1 (1934): 90; and Rossiiski gosudarstvennyi arkhiv po ekonomiki (RGAE), f. 484, o. 1, d. 2725, 1. 21. In calling women trade workers a "great force," the press and others echoed Stalin's comments about the value of women in collective farms in 1933. See Joseph Stalin, Selected Writings (New York, 1942), 294. There is, of course, some irony in Stalin's dictum, given the resistance of some women peasants to collectivization. For more on this resistance, see Lynne Viola, "Bab'i Bunty and Peasant Women's Protest during Collectivization," The Russian Review 45: 1 (1986): 23-42.

3. For women's rewards, see "Desiat' biografii," ST 8 March (1937): 3; "1,400 zhenshchin-ordenonosok," ST 8 March (1937): 2; Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii (GARF), f. 5452, o. 28, d. 100, ll. 5, 11; RGAE f. 484, o. 1, d. 2725, ll. 69-71.

4. For example, see RGAE, f. 484, o. 1, d. 2667, ll. 66-71; d. 2725; o. 3, d. 625, ll. 24, 98-9; d. 629, l. 125; f. 7971, o. 1, d. 245, ll. 147, 205-11.

5. GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 68, l. 65; d. 234, l. 148; RGAE, f. 484, o. 1, d. 2725, ll. 99-100; Benedikt Mart, "Zhenskii magazin--luchshii v Kieve," Rabotnitsa 43 (1931): 9; Brigada "SKT"--Bazanov, Matanov, Poliakova, "Zhenskomu magazinu No. 31 Moskoopprodukta--konkretnoe rukovodstvo i pomoshch'," Snabzhenie, Kooperatsiia, Torgovlia (hereafter referred to as SKT) 53 (1932): 3[5 March]; and "Kak idet podgotovka k 8 March v raionakh Moskvy," "Zhenskii, udarnyi," ST 8 March (1935): 1; and V. N. Plost, "Nashi izdeliia poluchili vysokuiu otsenku," ST 16 Feb (1937): 3.

6. Scholarship on women workers in the 1930s includes: Wendy Z. Goldman, Women at the Gates: Gender and Industry in Stalin's Russia (Cambridge, 2002); Melanie Ilic, Women Workers in the Soviet Interwar Economy: From 'Protection' to 'Equality' (London, 1999); Matt F. Oja, "From Krestianka to Udarnitsa: Rural Women and the Vydvizhenie Campaign, 1933-1941," in The Carl Beck Papers in Russian and East European Studies (Pittsburgh, 1996); Mary Buckley, Women and Ideology in the Soviet Union (Ann Arbor, 1989); Jeffrey Rossman, "The Teikovo Cotton Workers' Strike of April 1932: Class, Gender, and Identity Politics in Stalin's Russia," Russian Review 56:1 (1997): 44-69. For more on women and wage labor in the 1920s, see Diane P. Koenker, "Men against Women on the Shop Floor in Early Soviet Russia: Gender and Class in the Socialist Workplace," American Historical Review 100: 5 (1995): 1438-64.

7. I.V. Stalin, "Otchetnyi doklad tovarishcha Stalin o rabote TsK VKP (b)," in XVII s" ezd vsesoiuznoi kommunisticheskoi partii (b): Stenograficheskii otchet (Moscow, 1934), 26.

8. It should be noted that the legitimacy and authority extended to women retail workers were accompanied by a similar discourse on the value of women consumers. Although Soviet functionaries and the media exhorted men consumers to participate in the remaking of retail trade and consumption, they emphasized women's roles and supposed talents as consumers. For more on the identification of women with consumption in the 1930s see Sheila Fitzpatrick, "Becoming Cultured: Socialist Realism and the Representation of Privilege and Taste," The Cultural Front: Power and Culture in Revolutionary Russia (Ithaca, 1992), 219-29; Julie Hessler, "Cultured Trade: The Stalinist Turn to Consumerism," in Sheila Fitzpatrick, ed., Stalinism: New Directions (New York, 2000), 200-202; Amy E. Randall, "The Campaign for Soviet Trade: Creating Socialist Retail Trade in the 1930s" (Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 2000), ch. 6; and Susan Reid, "Gender and Power in Soviet Art of the 1930s," Slavic Review 57:1 (1998), especially 141-8.

9. In addition, private traders and store proprietors regularly faced restrictions, heavy taxation, and prosecution.

10. For the regime's treatment of private trade in the 1920s, see Alan Ball, Russia's Last Capitalists: The Nepmen, 1921-1929 (Berkeley, 1987), especially 56-82, 100-8; Robert Davies, The Soviet Economy in Turmoil (Cambridge, MA, 1989), 76-7; I. Ia. Trifonov, Likvidatsiia ekspluatatorskikh klassov v SSSR (Moscow, 1975), 225-30; and L. F. Morozov, Bor'ba protiv kapitalisticheskikh elementov v promyshlennosti i torgovle: dvadtsatye--nachalo tridtsatykh godov (Moscow, 1978). Rationing, which had been introduced during the Civil War and subsequently eliminated under NEP, was reintroduced in 1928 and 1929.

11. For negative depictions of private traders as well as cooperative and state trade employees during the NEP years, see Ball, Russia's Last Capitalists, esp. 165-68; Sheila Fitzpatrick, "After NEP: The Fate of NEP Entrepreneurs in the 1930s," Russian History/Histoire Russe 13: 2-3 (Summer-Fall 1986): 187-234; Julie Hessler, "Culture of Shortages: A Social History of Soviet Trade, 1917-1953" (Ph.D. diss, University of Chicago, 1996), chap. 3.

12. Many Communists as well as non-party supporters saw non-wage earning women--and housewives in particular--as "politically unconscious," or worse, as "philistine women hostile to communism." These views are quoted in Elizabeth Wood, The Baba and the Comrade: Gender and Politics in Revolutionary Russia (Bloomington, 1997), 204. For more on suspicion toward women, see idem, 203-12.

13. Anne E. Gorsuch, Youth in Revolutionary Russia: Enthusiasts, Bohemians, Delinquents (Bloomington, 2000), 102.

14. For more on this process, see Wood, Baba and Comrade; and Barbara Evans Clements, "The Birth of the New Soviet Woman," in A. Gleason, P. Kenez, R. Stites, eds., Bolshevik Culture: Experiment and Order in the Russian Revolution (Bloomington, 1985), 220-37.

15. The media regularly raised the specter of women's self-indulgent consumption. The bourgeois NEPman was often accompanied by a fashionably dressed NEPwoman. Notably, women were often identified with self-indulgent consumption in the pre-revolutionary period. See Christine Ruane, "Clothes Shopping in Imperial Russia: the Development of a Consumer Culture," Journal of Social History 28:4 (1995): 765-82.

16. See Tsentral'nyi Komitet Profsoiuza Sovetskikh i Torgovykh Sluzhashchikh (TsKP-STS), Rabota sredi zhenshchin chlenov nashego soiuza (Moscow, 1926), 13-14. Norton Dodge states that women made up 16 percent of the workforce by 1929. See Norton Dodge, Women in the Soviet Economy (Baltimore, 1966), 178. The percentage of women workers in cooperative and state trade was relatively low in comparison to their percentage in other service industries, such as public catering. Moreover, their participation in the trade workforce fell far short of the total percentage of women employed in the general labor force, which was 27.2 percent in 1929.

17. E.g., see RGAE, f. 484, o. 3, d. 399. Also see N. Ostrovskaia, "Vovlechenie rabotnits i krest'ianok v kooperatsiiu," Kommunistka 3 (1924): 33-6.

18. GARF, f. 5468, o. 9, d. 317, l. 10; o. 11, d. 300, ll. 107-107ob; o. 12, d. 251, ll. 2, 6, 6 ob, 12 ob, 16, 18, 27ob, 35ob, 42.

19. Though most trade administrators and workers appear to have linked men with retail work and evaluated women retail workers negatively, some individuals recognized women worker's achievements and skills and advocated women's employment. They argued that women's inexperience could be remedied by training programs and that women's physical weakness did not have to be an impediment, so long as conditions were adapted for women workers. Some even praised women workers for their commendable qualities: sobriety, politeness, and honesty. E.g., see GARF, f. 5468, o. 12, d. 251, ll. 16 ob, 28ob, 29, 31.

20. GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 68, l. 64. Although this source is from 1931, the idea that women could not handle work that involved grime appears to have been a common sentiment throughout the 1920s. For example, see Zheludova's comments about reactions to women workers in the 1920s in RGAE, f. 484, o. 1, d. 2725, l. 68.

21. RGAE, f. 484, o.3, d. 527, l. 70.

22. On provisioning-related labor unrest and disorders in 1930 and 1931, see Elena Osokina, Za fasadom, "Stalinskogo izobiliia": Raspredelenie i rynok v snabzhenii naseleniia v gody industrializatsii, 1927-1941 (Moscow, 1997), especially 81-5. Also see Goldman, Women at the Gates, 86. On labor turnover and its connection to provisioning, see Moshe Lewin, The Making of the Soviet System: Essays in the Social History of Interwar Russia (New York, 1985), 220-1; Stephen Kotkin, Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as Civilization (Berkeley, 1995), 95-9; Davies, The Soviet Economy in Turmoil, 279-80.

23. For more on Soviet trade as a cultural enterprise, see Amy E. Randall, "'Revolutionary Bolshevik Work': Stakhanovism in Retail Trade," The Russian Review (July, 2000): 425-41; and Hessler, "Cultured Trade: The Stalinist Turn to Consumerism."

24. For more on the campaign for kul'turnost', see below, p. 973.

25. Buckley, Women and Ideology in the Soviet Union, 113. Economic planners had not anticipated this increase at the outset of the First Five-Year Plan in 1928. Instead they had forecast a modest 5.5 percent increase of female laborers over the course of five years. See Gail Warshofsky Lapidus, Women in Soviet Society: Equality, Development, and Social Change (Berkeley, 1978), 98.

26. Women workers made up a disproportionate number of the unemployed in the 1920s, and as a result, they constituted a reserve source of labor. For more on women's unemployment during NEP, see William Chase, Workers, Society, and the Soviet State: Labor and Life in Moscow, 1918-1929 (Urbana, 1987), 110, 149-50; Wood, The Baba and the Comrade, 155-60; Goldman, Women at the Gates, 16-21; and idem, Women, the State and Revolution: Soviet Family Policy and Social Life, 1917-1936 (Cambridge, 1993), especially 109-16.

27. Sovnarkom drafted this list in October 1930 and published it in December 1930. Narkomtrud then reissued it in January 1931. See Goldman, Women at the Gates, especically 169-73; Dodge, Women in the Soviet Economy, 64-7, 175-6; Richard Stites, The Women's Liberation Movement in Russia: Feminism, Nihilism, and Bolshevism, 1860-1930 (Princeton, 1978), 395; Lapidus, Women in Soviet Society, 98, 121; Ilic, Women Workers, 216-7. The list broadened women's existing labor roles by promoting female employment in occupations and work spheres formerly monopolized by men, including a wide range of jobs in heavy industry (construction, machine building, mining, and so on). Simultaneously, it reinforced gender divisions within the labor force by planning to expand female employment in unskilled jobs and occupations with low wages and low status. It also determined women's labor to be unacceptable in certain jobs because of the preconceptions that women were physically weaker than men and that certain jobs and machinery were harmful to the "female organism" and women's ability to reproduce. The "physical particularities of the female organism" were often discussed in relation to women's labor. For example, see GARF, f. 6893, o. 1, d. 159, ll. 73ob, 74. Ideas about women's bodies and wage labor are examined in Janet Hyer, "Managing the Female Organism: Doctors and the Medicalization of Women's Paid Work in Soviet Russia During the 1920s," in Women in Russia and Ukraine, ed. Rosalind Marsh (Cambridge, 1996), 111-20. For more on women, reproduction, and anxieties about female biology, see Eric Naiman, Sex in Public: the Incarnation of Early Soviet Ideology (Princeton, 1997), especially pp. 181-207. Notably, the increased mechanization of production and the development of new technical equipment contributed to the regime's opinion that women's physical "limitations" and lack of skills (compared to men) were becoming less significant and that women could be hired in some of the jobs and occupations previously dominated by men. See B. Marsheva, "Zhenskii trud v 1931 godu," Voprosy truda 1 (1931): 34. Various governmental bodies set subsequent quotas for the employment and education of women workers.

28. Goldman, Women at the Gates, 144.

29. Wood, The Baba and the Comrade, 158-9.

30. B. Marsheva, "Poltora milliona zhenshchin vovlechem v stroitel'stvo sotsializma," Trud 6 March (1931): 4. Research data backed up these claims and confirmed women worker's dependability and productivity. Research conducted by the Institute for Labor Protection, for example, not only verified women factory workers' competency but also suggested they were often better on the job than their male co-workers. Data also showed that men violated work discipline more than women. And it indicated that women had fewer absences than men, even including pregnancy-related absences. See Marsheva, "Zhenskii trud," 34.

31. For more on the wife-activists' movement, see Mary Buckley, "The Untold Story of Obshchestvennitsa in the 1930s," Europe-Asia Studies 48: 4 (1996): 569-86; idem, "The Soviet 'Wife-Activist' Down on the Farm," Social History 26:3 (2001): 282-98; Sheila Fitzpatrick, "Becoming Cultured: Socialist Realism and the Representation of Privilege and Taste," 232-33; idem, Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s (Oxford, 1999): 156-63; Robert Maier, "Sovety zhen as a Surrogate Trade Union: Comments on the History of the Movement of Activist Women in the 1930s," in Politics and Society Under the Bolsheviks: Selected Papers from the Fifth World Congress of Central and East European Studies 1995 (New York, 1999), 189-98; Rebecca Balmas Neary, "Mothering Socialist Society: The Wife-Activists' Movement and the Soviet Culture of Daily Life, 1934-1941," The Russian Review 58 (July 1999): 396-412; Kotkin, Magnetic Mountain, 127-9, 186; Thomas Schrand, "Soviet 'Civic-Minded Women' in the 1930s: Gender, Class, and Industrialization in a Socialist Society," Journal of Women's History 11:3 (1999): 126-50; and Vsesouiznoe soveshchanie zhen khoziaistvennikov i inzhenernotekhnicheskikh rabotnikov tiazheloi promyshlennosti--stenograficheskii otchet (Moscow, 1936).

32. By 1935, approximately 31 percent of all trade workers and 45 percent of salesclerks were women. Kadry sovetskoi torgovli (Moscow, 1935), 11. The intensification of women's labor in Soviet trade continued throughout the 1930s, and by 1939 women comprised approximately 60 percent of salesclerks and 70 percent of cashier workers in urban areas. See Vsesoiuznaia perepis' naseleniia 1939 goda: Osnovnye itogi--Rossiia (Moscow, 1939), 178. The total percentage of female employees in cooperative and state trade went from 22 percent in 1930 to 38 percent in 1940. See Dodge, Women in the Soviet Economy, 179. After WWII the feminization of retail trade continued.

33. For example, the Central Committee of the Trade Union of Cooperative and State Trade Workers (PRKG) planned to increase the overall percentage of female employees in 1932 to 50 percent of the total trade workforce, with significantly higher or lower targets depending on the region. Other sources indicate that the goal set in 1931 for the trade sector was higher than 50 percent. For example, see Marsheva, "Zhenskii trud," 36. Similarly the Moscow branch proposed that women constitute 90 percent of all trade workers. See GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 69, l. 40. It should be noted that the People's Commissariat of Supply was renamed the People's Commissariat of Domestic Trade (Narkomvnutorg) in 1934, and that the Trade Union of Cooperative and State Trade Workers was split up into two different trade unions. These successor bodies continued the policy of recruiting women. For more on central directives to recruit women, see GARF, f. 6983, o. 1, d. 159, ll. 3-25, 42-43, 77ob.

34. E.g., Moskovskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv (MGA), f. 2458. o. 1, d. 34, l. 121.

35. I. M. Novikov, Novyi etap v rabote potrebitel'skoi kooperatsii (Moscow, 1931), 47. Likewise, in 1931 the PRKG planned to hire 50,000 workers' wives to work in 5,000 new food stores. See "V tochnosti i bez promedleniia vypolnit' reshenie TsK partii o potrebkooperatsii," Rabotnitsa 25 (1931): 3. For similar examples, see MGA, f. 2458, o. 1, d. 50, ll. 82, 87; GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 234, l. 131.

36. Wendy Goldman and others discuss the value of resorting to workers' wives and daughters. See Goldman, Gender and Industry, 152-3.

37. L. Gatovskii, et al., "Voprosy razvertyvaniia sovetskoi torgovli," Problemy ekonomiki 1 (1932): 58; G. Neiman, "Za razvernutuiu sovetskuiu torgovliu," Planovoe khoziaistvo 2 (1932): 78; M. P. Agapitov, et al., Organizatsiia i tekhnika sovetskoi roznichnoi torgovli (Leningrad, 1933), 250; GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 68, ll. 64, 67. The introduction of machines also allowed for the deskilling of certain tasks, such as the slicing of meat, which enabled unskilled workers--including women--to take on jobs in a relatively quick manner that had previously required lengthy training. See GARF, f. 5452, o. 28, d. 119, l. 318.

38. E.g., S"ezdy sovetov RSFSR v postanovleniiakh i rezoliutsiiakh (Moscow, 1939), 436, 439; Novikov, Novyi etap, 46. SR refers to the Socialist Revolutionary Party, which had been discredited by the Bolsheviks in the early years of Soviet rule.

39. "Rech' sekretaria VTsSPS tov. Shvernika," Izvestiia 27 July (1930): 4.

40. "Preniia po dokladu T. Zelenskogo," Izvestiia 5 March (1931): 2; and "Potrebkooperatsiiavazhneishii rychag bol'shevistskogo nastupleniia," Pravda 6 March (1931): 6.

41. GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 68, l. 66.

42. This does not mean that women were exempt from prosecution for criminal activities in trade. For example, the newspaper Rabochaia Moskva reported that 100 speculators were arrested in the second week of August in 1936, including some housewives. See Rabochaia Moskva 12 Aug (1936): 4.

43. RGAE, f. 484, o. 3, d. 661, l. 5; o. 1, d. 2725, l. 15; V. Nodel', "Torgovye kadry i problemy rukovodstva," ST 1 (1934): 91; Iu. Berkovich, "Zhenshchina v sovetskoi torgovle," ST 8 March (1936): 2.

44. GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 68, l. 67; RGAE, f. 484, o. 3, d. 660, l. 5; d. 662, l. 16; o. 1, d. 2725, l. 21.

45. RGAE, f. 484, o. 3, d. 660, l. 3. For similar sentiments, see GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 414, l. 124; RGAE, f. 484, o. 3, d. 661, l. 36.

46. RGAE, f. 484, o. 1, d. 2455, l. 14.

47. RGAE, f. 484, o. 1, d. 2667, ll. 96-115; o. 3, d. 629, l. 18; "Budem podlinnymi khoziaevami svoikh kooperativov," SKT 8 March (1934): 1; Gin, "Initsiative rabotnits," SKT 27 Feb (1932): 3.

48. Presumably the majority of these men were transferred to other work spheres, unless they were actually charged with transgressions.

49. RGAE, f. 484, o. 3, d. 661, ll. 27, 36; GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 68, ll. 64-5.

50. Postanovleniia VIII s'ezda, 86.

51. It appears that drunkenness was primarily an issue among male trade workers. There was virtually no indication of women's insobriety in archival files and published primary sources from the 1930s, while there were repeated examples of men's drunkenness. E.g., see MGA, f. 2458, o. 1, d. 365, l. 6; GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 68, l. 65, and o. 28, d. 542, l. 11; RGAE, f. 7971, o. 1, d. 370, ll. 196, 205ob, 206ob; "Zhiznennyi i godovoi balans zavmaga Smirnova," SKT No. 257 (1933): 5; Men'shikov, "Kak my rabotaem," ST 18 April (1936): 3.

52. Vadim Volkov, "The Concept of Kul'turnost': Notes on the Stalinist Civilizing Process," in Stalinism: New Directions, 210-30.

53. E.g., RGAE, f. 484, o. 3. d. 662, l. 17.

54. RGAE, f. 484, o. 3, d. 629, l. 17; GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 68, l. 65.

55. "Rech' tov. Toiba," Pravda vostoka 22 Jan (1936): 3

56. Berkovich, "Zhenshchina v sovetskoi torgovle," 2.

57. For more on how trade authorities envisioned the new system, see Randall, "The Campaign for Soviet Trade: Creating Socialist Retail Trade in the 1930s."

58. Nodel', "Torgovye kadry," 91; Berkovich, "Zhenshchina v sovetskoi torgovle," 2.

59. Cited in Sheila Fitzpatrick, "After NEP: The Fate of NEP Entrepreneurs, Small Traders, and Artisans in the 'Socialist Russia' of the 1930s," 208; and G. Kalish'ian, "Za kul'turnuiu torgovliu khlebom," Rabotnitsa 1 (1935): 14, respectively.

60. Gin, "Initsiative rabotnits," 3.

61. RGAE, f. 484, o. 3. d. 662, l. 17.

62. GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 68, l. 65; RGAE, f. 484, o. 3, d. 631, l. 102; o. 3, d. 661, l. 13; f. 484, o. 1, d. 2667, l. 69.

63. RGAE, f. 484, o. 1, d. 2667, ll. 69, 101, 105, 107-8.

64. RGAE, f. 7971, o. 1, d. 245, l. 212.

65. RGAE, f. 484, o. 3. d. 662, l. 17.

66. For example, see Editorial, "Zadachi stakhanovskogo goda v torgovle," ST 1 (1936): 10; "Za kul'turnuiu sovetskuiu torgovliu," Pravda vostoka 28 Jan (1936): 4.

67. In the 1920s, official Soviet discourse usually characterized women's association with the domestic as a negative. As Elizabeth Wood has noted, however, during the Civil War and in the immediate post-war period, the Bolsheviks called on women to utilize their domestic experience to serve the public cause. See Wood, The Baba and the Comrade, 61-67, 143. During the 1930s, women's domestic experience was often officially recognized as positive.

68. RGAE, f. 484, o. 1, d. 2725, l. 21. Presumably they were thrifty because of their experience as managers of the household economy.

69. GARF, f. 5468, o. 13, d. 162, l. 150; S. Smidovich, "Beseda s delegatkami o kooperatsii," Krest'ianka 4 (1929): 1; Gik, "Rabochee snabzhenie--v ruki rabochikh," Rabotnitsa 38 (Oct 1930): 3; Tri goda bor'by za sovetskuiu kul'turnuiu torgovliu (Moscow, 1934), 35; E. V. Butuzova, "My za rubezhom," in Bez nykh my ne pobedili by (Moscow, 1975), 407; F. U. Lobachev, "Luchshe ispol'zovat' tsennuiu pomoshch'," ST 10 May (1936): 3. Party officials utilized a similar rhetoric about the value of women's "housewife's eye" during the Civil War and in the immediate post-war period. See Wood, The Baba and the Comrade, 66, 143. For more on the idea of women as experienced consumers, see Fn 8.

70. M. Shaburova, "Sovety i organizatsiia zhenskikh trudiashchikhsia mass," Rabotnitsa 19 (1934): 2-3. For a similar view see Kalish'ian, "Za kul'turnuiu torgovliu khlebom," 14.

71. Bolotin, "Stakhanovskie metody," 4.

72. E.g., "Liubliu svoe delo i gorzhus' svoei rabote," ST 1 (1936): 52.

73. The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, for example, recruited more women and family members than the 1931 Tsentrosoiuz plan called for, but the Tatar Consumer Cooperative Society did not meet its assigned target. See Novikov, Novyi etap, 47.

74. For example, in 1933 women made up 28.3 percent of all trade workers in the Soviet Union, but only 12.5 percent of the trade workers in Chuvashia, and 14.5 percent of the total in Kirghizia. See Nodel', "Torgovye kadry," 91.

75. Dodge makes some of these points when discussing the overall percentage of women wage earners (in all fields) in different Soviet republics. See Dodge, Women in the Soviet Economy, 239.

76. GARF, f. 6983, o. 1, d. 159, l. 18.

77. GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 68, l. 66.

78. Mart, "Zhenskii magazin--luchshii v Kieve," 9.

79. Kaminskii, "O podgotovke rabotnikov prilavka," ST 7-8 (1936): 88.

80. GARF, f. 5452, o. 28, d. 119, II. 213, 213ob. When promoted to section head Chulkova resolved to hire "only women" and to show that women could do the same work as men. Interestingly, she argued that when women began to work for her the previous "filth and disorder" in the workplace disappeared. Thus Chulkova highlighted women's equal capacities at the same time that she asserted women's superiority by noting their better ability to keep things tidy.

81. E.g., GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 69, l. 60. This pattern was not unique to the retail sector. Notwithstanding the significant increase in women's labor throughout the Soviet economy in the 1930s, the majority of women workers remained in low paying and low status jobs. See Goldman, Women at the Gates, esp. 212-9; Buckley, Women and Ideology, 117-8; David L. Hoffmann, Peasant Metropolis: Social Identities in Moscow, 1929-1941 (Ithaca, 1994): 121. Even in predominantly female professions, such as elementary school teaching, women workers faced a gender hierarchy that did not privilege them. Larry E. Holmes, The Kremlin and the Schoolhouse: Reforming Education in Soviet Russia, 1917-1931 (Bloomington, 1991), 50.

82. Nodel', "Torgovye kadry," 90.

83. Kadry sovetskoi torgovli, 11, 94.

84. Vsesoiuznaia perepis' naseleniia 1939 goda: Osnovnye itogi--Rossiia, 176, 178. The numbers for 1935 and 1939 are not entirely comparable. The percentage for 1939 includes heads of store sections along with salesclerks in stores and stalls.

85. RGAE, f. 484, o. 1, d. 2667, ll. 66-68.

86. I. Zelenskii, "Bol'she zhenshchin na rukovodiashchuiu rabotu," ST 10 March (1936): 2.

87. RGAE, f. 7971, o. 1, d. 233, l. 111; D. Zenin, "Podrugi," ST 1 May (1936): 3; "Informatsiia," ST 3 (1936): 80; "Informatsiia," ST 4-5 (1936): 156; "Informatsiia," ST 4 (1937): 70-71.

88. For an example of women's promotions, see GARF, f. 5452, o. 28, d. 542, l. 8.

89. Kadry sovetskoi torgovli, 11, 94. The Trade Union of State Trade Workers likewise failed to promote women to leadership positions. See GARF, f. 5452, o. 28, d. 296, l. 111.

90. E.g., the Ural oblast consumer society planned to increase the number of female recruits to 70 percent of the total new recruits by the first of January 1932. Despite the plan, the personnel division only enrolled 120 women in daytime courses (out of 300 students) and 480 women in evening classes (out of 900 students) to become trained store managers, salesclerks, and accountants. The educational plan did not meet the 70 percent target and the number of new female hires did not reach even 40 percent. M. Mints, "Uraloblsoiuz sryvaet podgotovku kadrov iz zhenaktiva," SKT (1931), exact date missing.

91. MGA, f. 2458, o. 1, d. 51, l. 14. For similar views, see GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 68, l. 67; d. 234, l. 135.

92. MGA, f. 2458, o. 1, d. 34, l. 79; GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 68, ll. 65, 67; d. 69, l. 31; d. 208, l. 62.

93. GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 234, l. 143.

94. GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 69, ll. 44, 72-3.

95. This was certainly not specific to women in the retail sector. For more on hostility to women in leadership positions, see Mary Buckley, "Complex 'Realities' of the 'New' Women of the 1930s: Assertive, Superior, Belittled and Beaten," in Linda Edmondson, ed., Gender and Russian History and Culture (New York, 2001), esp. 181-4; and Goldman, Women at the Gates, esp. ch. 6.

96. Berkovich, "Zhenshchina v sovetskoi torgovle," 2. Federova is quoted in Berkovich.

97. V.F. Polozhenskaia, "Ia s rabotoi spravilas'," ST 8 March (1936): 3. For additional examples of men who were unhappy with a woman's promotion and authority, see Antonova Ekaterina Vasil'evna, "Piat' let v odnom sel'po," ST 8 March (1936): 3; and G. Nikolaev, "Vydvizhenka," ST 16 August (1937): 2.

98. For example, see Tsentral'nyi gosudarstvehnyi arkiv obshchestvennykh dvizhenii g. Moskvy (TsGAOD) f. 69, o. 1, d. 944, l. 51. For more on opposition to Stakhanovite instructors, see Randall, "'Revolutionary Bolshevik Work': Stakhanovism in Retail Trade," 437.

99. RGAE, f. 484, o. 3, d. 629, l. 101.

100. Other industries and state agencies also grappled with this problem in the early 1930s. See Goldman, Women, the State and Revolution, 314.

101. For efforts to expand options, see MGA, f. 2458, o. 1, d. 50, l. 87; Tsentral'nyi gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Moskovskoi oblasti (TsGAMO), f. 747, d. 625, ll. 9, 16, 20; GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 69, l. 28; o. 28, d. 208, ll. 7, 42; d. 296, l. 113; RGAE, f. 7971, o. 1, d. 236, l. 63. For more on the failure to address needs, see GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 69, l. 64; d. 234, ll. 138, 149, 151.

102. "V tsentral'nom univermage," ST 28 May (1936): 1.

103. GARF, f. 5452, o. 28, d. 365, l. 51. Glavtorg was the chief administration that exercised control over a group of torgs (trade organizations). Glavtorg RSFSR supervised 57 torgs.

104. GARF, f. 5452, o. 28, d. 365, l. 51.

105. Otchet tsentral'nogo komiteta, 49. If we divide the amount spent on daycare in 1936 by the number of trade-union members listed in June 1937 (638,067, p. 9), the trade union spent approximately 4.7 rubles on child care for each member. Presumably the expenditures on child care increased in 1937 and presumably not all trade-union members needed child care. The amount spent on child care, however, could not meet the overwhelming need.

106. GARF, f. 5452, o. 28, d. 208, ll. 2-5; d. 382, l. 43; RGAE, f. 7971, o. 1, d. 487, l. 3.

107. GARF, f. 5452, o. 28, d. 126, ll. 1, 1ob.

108. RGAE, f. 7971, o. 1, d. 488, ll. 359-360.

109. GARF, f. 5452, o. 28, d. 365, l. 51.

110. Brigada "SKT", "Zhenskomu magazinu No. 31," 3.

111. GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 69, ll. 30, 55.

112. MGA, f. 2458, o. 1, d. 45, l. 18.

113. V. A. Karakhin, "Chutko podkhodim k kazhdomu prodavtsu," ST 1 (1936): 56. For a store director's similar evaluation of the importance of child care for women workers, see GARF, f. 5442, o. 28, d. 428, l. 498.

114. GARF, f. 5452, o. 23, d. 234, l. 140; o. 28, d. 296, l. 113; RGAE, f. 484, o. 3, d. 631, l. 30. It should be noted that usually women workers also did not have access to facilities at stores--e.g., breastfeeding rooms--with which to make their mothering easier. See GARF, f. 5452, o. 28, d. 428, l. 512.

115. RGAE, f. 484, o. 3, d. 661, ll. 13 and 27 respectively.

116. Victoria Bonnell, Iconography of Power: Soviet Political Posters Under Lenin and Stalin (Berkeley, 1997); Choi Chatterjee, "Soviet Heroines and Public Identity, 1930-1939," in The Carl Beck Papers in Russian and East European Studies (Pittsburgh, 1999), Elizabeth Waters, "The Female Form in Soviet Political Iconography," in Barbara Evans Clements, Barbara Alpern Engel, and Christine D. Worobec, eds., Russia's Women: Accommodation, Resistance, Transformation (Berkeley, 1991), 238.

117. For the glorification of women in agriculture, see Oja, "From Krestianka to Udarnitsa." Also see Buckley, "The Soviet 'Wife-Activist' Down on the Farm"; and Roberta Manning, "Women in the Soviet Countryside on the Eve of World War II, 1935-1940," in Beatrice Farnsworth and Lynne Viola, eds., Russian Peasant Women (Oxford, 1992), 206-35.

118. Chatterjee, "Soviet Heroines and Public Identity, 1930-1939," 1.

119. Retail labor heroes, for example, were never as celebrated as those who won recognition in coal mining or metallurgy. The feminized retail sector continued to have a secondary status vis-a-vis the masculinized industrial sector. For similar arguments about labor and economic hierarchies, and the subordination of agriculture to industry, see Bonnell, Iconography of Power, 122; Reid, "All Stalin's Women," 147; Waters, "The Female Form," 240-1.

120. As scholars have shown, this essentialized view of women affected the hiring, retention, advancement, and acceptance of women workers in the 1920s. See Koenker, "Men against Women on the Shop Floor in Early Soviet Russia," 1442; Goldman, Women, the State and Revolution, 109-18; and Wood, The Baba and the Comrade, 157-60. Such a perspective appears to have adversely affected women's employment and promotion in the trade sector in the 1930s; for example, some store managers opposed women's promotion by arguing that women's family obligations would hinder their dependability. See Tov. Moroz, "Podgotovit' novye kadry prodavtsov," Trud 1 Jan (1935): 2; Vasil'evna, "Piat' let v odnom sel'po," 3.

By Amy E. Randall

University of Mississippi

Department of History

University, MS 38677-1848
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