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Revolutionary fist wrestling

Fist wrestling

Русская версия


My grandmother lived in Yekaterinburg (Ural, Russia) during the Revolution and the Civil War. She told me that just after the revolution a society of aggressive feminists was established and my grandmother foolishly got into it. It was called quite practical: “Equal in everything!”

Fist wrestling The leader of the society was a young lady named Ksenia (I don’t remember her last name). She was exceptionally energetic and propagated extreme opinions (it was common in revolutionary times). She urged women to forget about childbearing and family matters for a while until socialism wins (it was expected soon). In that transition period women had to be equal to man in every field; they had to develop strength and courage, to participate in labor and warfare just as men. In order to achieve that they had to wear men’s clothing, to have man-like haircut, to swaddle breasts and to do intense physical exercises every day. The feminists gathered in an old factory shop re-equipped into a gym and furiously trained there. The women greeted each other just like “comrade Katya” or “comrade Dunya”. They tried to look tough and jerky, they spoke in a hoarse voice and all smoke. They trained in serious hand-to-hand combat and in fighting with firearm and plain weapon. My grandmother told me about competitions in so-called “Fistwrestling” (mix of fist fighting and wrestling). According to her, fistwrestling bouts were brutal and usually finished with blood and traumas. Abilities to stoically endure pain and bleeding were valued. The women prepared themselves to be soldiers, so taking care of yourself was considered as a bourgeois prejudice. Not only extreme fanatics were there but some girls who accidentally got there (like my grand mom). It was military-like structure and it was extremely difficult to leave it, which would be considered as a betrayal of the revolution with all the consequences. My grand mom was lucky, she got there just before the society fell apart...

Everything was terminated in a simple way. All the sudden, Ksenia fell in love with a Red army commander and left the town with him in his echelon without telling anyone. As it’s said, “the chain is broken at the section where a woman’s heart is involved”. After her disappearance the society died (as many other revolutionary projects).



Nikolay Lukov
August 2003


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