Last week, we talked a lot about how the western gaze was applicable to the Soviet’s vision of the veiled Uzbek women. I feel like we really focused on the reported health issues associated with the veil, but I am not sure if we talked about the inherently patriarchal structures at play. There are some points of validity to the claims that women were being oppressed; we see that with the Jahon Obidova story.
As the 13-year-old-fourth-bride to a 65 year old man, Jahon was subjected to horrifying circumstances: “I was not only his slave, without contradiction, silent, obedient, but also the slave of his wives, his children, who repaid all my service daily with kicks, curses, and abuse, because I was still a child who could not stand up to herself, and besides, I was from a poor family” (310).
However, I want to play devil’s advocate and say maybe that this account is the work of Soviet propaganda? I say this because the story fits the party-line a little too well. Also, the citation provided by Marianne Kamp is suspicious. The quote above is cited to her fifth footnote: a book published in 1938 … I want to specify that I am NOT supporting the idea that Jahon did not experience these things, but instead I might suggest that she was encouraged to talk about her experience in a very particular way. Thoughts?
Anyway, I think Jahon’s story further complicates our assessment of the USSR’s cultural programs because she is a success story. Their programs provided her with opportunities that she would not have had.