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A Genderless Protest: Women Confronting Romanian Communism

[journal article]

Petrescu, Cristina

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Abstract Far from accomplishing its utopian plans of transforming society, communism did not turn gender equality into a reality either. This paper moves beyond the common-place approaches that simply underline the failures of this political system and presumes that women experienced communism in very diverse and often ambiguous ways, for public and private roles conflicted more often than not. From among the few individuals who dared to articulate critical thoughts on Romanian communism prior to its collapse of 1989, the present paper recuperates the experience of three women. Members of the urban educated elite, they believed nonetheless in different values and pursued different strategies of expressing discontent with the regime. These female critics of the communist system went beyond personal or group interests, but among the issues of public concern they raised none belonged to a feminist agenda. Yet, these women acted as if gender equality was a reality in Ceauşescu’s Romania: they considered themselves the equal partners of like-minded men, while their male peers accepted them as such, for equalitarian perceptions of genders shaped the public roles assumed by non-conformist Romanian intellectuals. The example of these three women does not prove that communism succeeded in redefining the status of women, but it illustrates how the urban educated social group experienced gender relations then. No feminists in thinking, these three women were so in their behavior. Their criticism of Ceauşescu’s communism was genderless, but it nonetheless strengthened the idea that women are no less than men.
Keywords feminism; gender role; resistance; cultural diversity; woman; dissident; communism; social change; gender relations; Romania
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture; Women's Studies, Feminist Studies, Gender Studies
Document language English
Publication Year 2014
Page/Pages p. 79-101
Journal Annals of the University of Bucharest / Political science series, 16 (2014) 2
ISSN 1582-2486
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works