Strong Female Russian Role Models

This blogpost is about feminism and capitalism. Only joking (kind of).

I played around with my new iPad which I now use to do all my digital work (as a tablet and directly in ProCreate App). I switched because I love wacom but I wanted to make my drawing set up as minimal as possible and I feel I’ve achieved it with this change. So that’s to my capitalist part of the blog.

Now to feminist.

I’m from a Russian family (born and bred in Latvia, russian is my first language, my grandparents live in Belarus but are a mixture of all sorts of things), been living in the UK for 13 years now, so my identity is a little bit confusing to me too. So we all have heard about those russian woman stereotypes, obedient fairy tale characters, mail order brides, quiet hardworking sturdy women, babushkas. In 19th century Nekrasov wrote a social commentary about russian women, how the could enter the house on fire (and save everyone), stop the horse with a stern look, carry big kids on the hip on the way to the church, do all the field work (as the man would be exiled, drunk or something else), romanticising the idea of a russian woman but he kinda had a fun point, as when they had not much to rely on, they had to make their own life :) My experience is of course different as industrial revolution happened, serves got abolished and I can barely remember USSR but I grew up surrounded by these women (and echoes of that romanticised idea) and now I growing into one of them. So I put together three characters loosely based on real people ;)

Meet Rabotnitsa // Factory Worker. She’s good with heavy tools and has lots of technical knowledge, loves a beer and a cigarette, works in a man dominated field but doesn’t go outside of the house without a bold lipstick (smuggled Chanel) and a strong floral print. Probably gets paid less than her male colleagues who get promoted over her, still shows up, part of anti government resistance movement, probably has gatherings at her place (and no she doesn’t cook for the events).

This girl was inspired by a russian folk tale about a girl Vasilisa, who is sent into the forest (by her evil stepmother and stepsister) to take the magical light from Baba Yaga (which is an impossible task and she’ll be eaten alive most likely), she tricks Baba Yaga, brings the light home in the 💀 skull, the light burns her stepmother and stepsister to ashes 🔥. Tell me a better revenge fairytale story 💀🔥 🏠

💀 This woman is loosely inspired by Anna Cherpanova, ataman and gang leader in post revolution russia. She and her husband lost all to bolsheviks including title and 💰, so they and some other noblemen and merchants who lost all came together to rob and bring havoc to local people and disrupt plans of new government and Anna became a gang leader and was notorious for her cruelty, rage and fearlessness. Once hid in a swamp for over a week breathing through a straw. The gang stopped operating in 1924 and she disappeared and apparently lived somewhere into old age 👵🏻 She sounds like a terrible person but surely not the one who would be told by men what to do with her life or any government to be honest.

It was a fun project to draw and experiment with ProCreate brushes and iPad.