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However, the fall of the Soviet Union threw everything into disarray. There was a push to embrace traditional peasant culture again and a sense of uncertainty about everything became the order of the day.
However, the economic issues are only a part of the equation.Beginning in 1914 with the First World War and the Bolshevik Revolution through forced collectivization, Stalin's terror, and the Second World War there was over thirty years of continual upheaval that ripped apart the existing social fabric, killing tens of millions of people, and leaving enormous psychological scars on the survivors.Then beginning in 1945 the USSR spent the next forty-six years slowly sinking into a cesspool of corruption and cynicism that eventually led to the economic and political collapse of the Soviet Union and most of its communist allies. Women also suffered during the wars and revolutions, but for many women the period also presented previously unimaginable educational opportunities, professional advancement, political influence, and personal accomplishment.In fact, because of the numbers of men killed by 1945 the Soviet Union had the most unbalanced sex ratio of any nation, a fact that persists in Russia today where there are approximately 86 men for every 100 women.So, the Soviet Union's official policy of equality of the sexes dovetailed well with the demographic realities from the end of the Second World War through 1991. Everyone shared in the economic stagnation and collapse during the last twenty years of the Soviet Union, but the social status of women was high, certainly higher than in many Western countries, and their professional opportunities were essentially unlimited.Russia always had a tradition of heavy drinking, but during the time of the czars poverty helped control alcoholism and later the Soviet Union made repeated attempts to keep drinking under control.
However, those controls disappeared after 1991 and the damage is amazing.
For a peasant his only escape from the grinding poverty and hard labor was vodka and the only place his personal authority meant anything was inside of his own home, which he ruled with an iron fist.
Russian folk sayings such as, "A wife is not a pot; she will not break" and "If the thunder is not loud, the peasant will forget to cross himself" give an idea of what life was like for the average peasant woman.
The Soviet Union was, at least in theory, fully committed to equality of the sexes and women quickly began to move into many professions that previously had been off limits to them.
Women became doctors, engineers, and scientist, and these changes were accelerated by the stupendous number of men that died during the wars, revolution, and purges, perhaps as many as thirty million during the Second World War.
Russian's are the heaviest consumers of alcohol in the world.