Transformations and changes in contemporary Ukrainian femininity models

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2004

15 Pages, Grade: 1,7




1. Transformation of the old Soviet gender traditions into the new Ukrainian surrounding

2. A woman as embodiment of the national identity – Mother-Protector

3. Western models of femininity
3.1. A supported woman – Barbie
3.2. An independent woman - Business Woman


The list of the used literature sources



After the declaration of the Ukrainian independence and fall of the “iron curtain” the awareness of the Ukrainian women was drastically changed. Ideologically guided canon of femininity – “a Soviet super-woman” as “a working mother” – has lost its actuality; in the 1990s it was changed by new life standards, behaviour models, values and moral norms.

At once the nationalist movements appeared on the scene and demanded to design and maintain national identity with articulation of basic concepts of nationality. In Ukraine this process was socially defined through the modern reconstruction of patriarchy supported by the educational system, mass media, political discourse, and legislation. Having recognised Ukrainian as the official language, Ukraine began moulding ideology constructed on the conception of the pre-Revolutionary Ukraine. The entangled images of the Cossack republic and the image of Ukraine as Mother, together with vital revival of Orthodoxy, strengthened patriarchy in politics, social order and cultural structures of the modern Ukrainian society.

However through economical crisis and society instability, the image of Mother-Protector correlated with the historical past and traditional culture of the Ukrainians was shifted from its key position by unfamiliar before, but rather appealing “Western models of femininity”.

In this paper we try to find out how all these images of femininity were created, maintained and transformed through the recent years.

1. Transformation of the old Soviet gender traditions into the new Ukrainian surrounding

After the collapse of the Communist regime, the new-born Ukrainian state had to create its national identity, partially through the revival and transformation of the old traditions, partially by the new images of masculinity and femininity. In the first years of independence the state made weak attempts to get rid of the Soviet ideology in the gender matters.

According to Catherine Wanner[1] who made a wide research on the Ukrainian educational system, many teachers admitted that the Soviet society had poisoned and vulgarised the essence of a man and a woman in the process of striving for gender equality. They stated that such system authorised and masculinised women, especially on the working places, at the expense of men who were deprived of their authorities and their role of breadwinners. Aiming at the gender equality, the Soviet project deformed the inner psychological and other differences. However, at home the gender role representation remained traditional. Due to the educational system, mass media, political discourse, and legislation all levels of the Ukrainian society approved such gender distribution. Catherine Wanner proves that at the beginning of the 90s the Ukrainian school system remained faithful to the old public gender distribution. For instance, aiming to educate the future Ukrainian elite, one of the schools in its timetable offered a psycho-training course, separately for boys and girls. It exercised girls to be tender and caring, with the precise orientation to their future motherhood roles as a milestone of the Ukrainian independence and feminisation. On the contrary, boys were taught to be self-confident, solve problems and take decisions. Moreover, the school timetable also included the course aiming to inspire children to be creative, held also separately, because “boys and girls acquire different abilities, different education models and born for the different society roles”[2].

At the beginning of the 90s distribution of gender roles in Ukraine hasn’t rather differed from that in the Soviet Union. Based on the traditional Soviet role of a housewife and “natural” role of a mother, a “new” Ukrainian woman advanced for a medium and protector of traditions and as a mother of the whole Ukrainian nation by giving birth to the new citizens, educating them on the Orthodox moral code and creating political space for the wide usage and strengthening of the patriarchal system in the future.


[1] Wanner, Catherine, Burden of Dreams: History and Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine, Pennsylvania State University, 1998, p. 112.

[2] See above, p. 114.

Excerpt out of 15 pages


Transformations and changes in contemporary Ukrainian femininity models
Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg
Gender Issues in Contemporary Russia
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Doppelter Zeilenabstand.
Transformations, Ukrainian, Gender, Issues, Contemporary, Russia
Quote paper
Nataliya Gudz (Author), 2004, Transformations and changes in contemporary Ukrainian femininity models, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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