Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Russian family life has had a turbulent past with differing levels of control by the government and this was no different during wartime. Traditional gender roles were challenged by wartime needs, passion was at an all time high because of the unknown nature of a war, and the aftermath left many children born out of wedlock.

The atmosphere of wartime left people feeling a new passion that came with the unknown of whether you would ever see that person again. Before wartime, these feelings of overwhelming passion and excitement were “dismissed as bourgeois nonsense.” These feelings were one of many factors that left many children out of wedlock after the war.

Because of this, the Soviet government had to adapt and support unwed mothers because they needed the population growth, after the sky rocket in abortion rates after Stalin made abortion illegal because he realized that it was not conducive for population growth. Now more than ever, the Soviet Union needed to replenish their population after the loss of so many lives in the war, especially the lives of Soviet men. Here we see the Soviet government using family life to manipulate the population again and unwed mothers as a political issue, rather than a social one.

You can learn more about the Soviet government’s changing role in family life, in my last blog post as well.

Not only did women’s family roles change, but they began to take a more serious and dangerous role in the war, “the Soviet Union was unique in placing women in harm’s way in combat roles,” which added to the struggling aftermath of family life after the war. The image I chose for this post is of one of these women named  Roza Shanina, who was a one of the most acclaimed snipers of the war. She had 59 confirmed kills. She was praised for her precision and ability to make doublets, which is when two targets are hit with two bullets in quick succession. She was killed in action during the East Prussian Offensive.

More than 800,000 women went to the frontline of the Eastern front. 520,000 of those women served as regular troops in the Red Army and another 300,000 served in combat and anti-aircraft positions. “These women were much more intimately involved in their country’s defense and frontline combat than the woman of any other combating society in World War II,” this was part due to the loss of men due to the long period of fighting.

It can be argued that women’s roles in the war were among the many reasons that allowed the Soviets to be surprisingly successful. “The upheavals and turbulence of the 1930s had taught the mass of Soviet citizens a healthy respect for the power of the state and had inspired belief in its solidity and permanence,” and these beliefs were reinforced by the authoritarianism that allowed more mobilization of troops by compelling both men and women to war-related work (Freeze 385).



Photo source: https://klimbim2014.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/roza-shanina-soviet-sniper-ww2-bw.jpg


Freeze Book: Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: a history. Oxford: Oxford U Press, 1997. Print.



7 thoughts on “Hit Me With Your Best Shot

  1. I really like how your posts are coming together to tell an almost chronological story, you must be an expert on this now! I loved the image you included. Symbolically I believe it representing the changing of the times, as you can see a female with a weapon, appearing confident and steadfast in her mission. That sense of identity came from the war time nationalism.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really liked this post and how it related to some of the other posts you have made! I think the trend of women’s role becoming more important during wartime is really interesting, and it seems like the Soviets took it even further than other countries at the time. I think the role of women in an egalitarian Communist society is really interesting & you did a great job exploring it!!


  3. I enjoyed reading your post this week! I have always been interested in Russian women serving in combat positions during World War II, and while her name is escaping me at the moment, I believe their most prolific sniper of the war was a woman. Additionally, what is interesting to me is the divide that currently exists in America over whether women should be serving in frontline positions, but what might be different from our situation compared to that of the Soviet Union during World War II is the issue of necessity.


  4. Wow great post! Katelin Gamble also wrote about women’s roles during WWII if you want to check that out. Women were just as big a part of the war effort in the USSR as they were in the US. They also held a prominent role in partisan bands which operated in Nazi controlled territory. Keep up the good work!


  5. So many good posts about women and changing gender roles this week! In addition to all of the examples here, we shouldn’t forget the “Night Witches” either.


  6. I really like how you connected your two blogs together, you do a great job explaining the changes that were associated with these times! I think it’s amazing that the role women played differed so greatly in such a relatively short period of time; one second they’re looked to as a means to rebuilding the population and the next they’re being allowed to risk their own lives to help in the war effort. Also, I think the image itself is really interesting because I feel as if the pictures we commonly see of men in war make them look so serious, while she’s smiling and obviously very openly pleased with herself.


  7. I read another post about women’s roles and was extremely interested to see so many posts about this topic. We really don’t think about Russian women being involved in the war, especially not on the front so it was interesting to read about that! I also thought it was very interesting that you said abortion was outlawed because it was not helpful to population growth. I think that’s just a very different perspective than here in the U.S., especially because we did not lose as many people during the war.


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