MARYA THE BOLSHEVIK
Marya Grishagina was a big woman, tall and full-breasted. Her husband, Prokofi, also called "the Goat", was much shorter than her and had a very hot temper. He was always banging on the table "like a blacksmith on an anvil", shouting and threatening to kill his wife. Marya acted meekly, pampering him like a serving maid, feeding him, bringing him water, a pipe with tobacco, etc. The Goat was also insistent in bed.
"That was the Bolsheviks' style--to let women have their way."
Then the Bolsheviks came to power, and Marya lost all shame, rushing off to listen to the Orators. She even invited an orator to her home and stood up to give a speech of her own. The villagers laughed at her, and the Goat beat her for this. Marya warned the Goat him not to hit her again, or she would fight back.
The Road to Revolution:
A History of the Bolshevik Party
Marya took to sleeping separately and rejected the Goat's embraces. Marya had given birth to two children, both of whom died, and she refused the Goat's demands for a third child. "I'm not a cow to give you calves every year," she declares.
The Goat is desperate, not knowing what to do. If he should beat her, she'd probably drag him in front of the Bolshivks who would lock him up. That was the Bolsheviks' style--to let women have their way. So he let her have her freedom, even though he was afraid of what people would say.
Marya started bringing books and newspapers home to read. Then she started butting into the muzhiks' business, which angered them. "Marya, go cook the cabbage," they would tell her. Then Marya got the idea to create a Women's Department and, much to the muzhiks' surprise, woman after woman came to join her. They had study sessions in the Goat's house. The local Commissar came to help them. If the Goat tried to say anything, the women all told him to shut up. In his heart, the Goat was ready to tear all this Revolution in two, but he was afraid if he did anything there might be unpleasantness.
The Commissar brought books to Marya and spent much time with her. The Commissar tells Marya that her husband is insignificant and that she should leave him. The Commissar embraces her and pulls her close. The Goat sees this and confronts them. They say they knew he was watching and they were just teasing him.
The time came to elect a member of the Soviet. The women all clamber for Marya. The men thought it was all a joke. But none of them really wanted the job and the women nagged them so much that Marya was elected the first woman in the Soviet of Peasants' Deputies. The new job changed Marya, turning her into a model of businesslike efficiency. Much to the horror of many of the villagers, she started calling everyone "Comarde". She began to wear a muzhik's blouse and a pointed hat with a star pinned to it.
The Goat could bear it no longer and begged for a divorce. Marya gave it to him willingly. She worked among the villagers for five months, then rode off in a wagon load of Bolsheviks for parts unknown. Someone says they saw her in another village. But maybe it was just another woman who looked like her. There are a lot of such women around nowadays.
Biography of Aleksandr S. Neverov