Feminism in Russia has its long and challenging history. If for many countries it’s something new, Russian feminists have been fighting for a long time.
Russian women are on top lists of the most beautiful women in the world. Their light skin color, beautiful face traits and amazing sense of modern trends make them real fashion icons. So, it seems they enjoy every single moment of life and their men fulfill every single wish of theirs.
Now perhaps you will think they do not even care about their rights’ protection or equality in different aspects of life. But they do. The roots of feminism in Russia date back to the 18th century.
However, the 21st century has shown that every single right and freedom won during previous centuries are in danger. Women still face discrimination. Russian women’s rights activists still try to voice their problems and gain equality.
Feminists go to the bitter end, organize riots. But it is here that the controversy starts. Russian women are divided into two groups. The first group supports the idea of feminism. Whereas the second one does not see the point of it at all. Intrigued? Stay tuned! More follows!
What is Feminism in Russia Like Today?
Feminism is nothing new to Russia. It appeared in the 18th century, influenced by European Enlightenment. It was closely connected with revolutionary politics.
During Soviet times, in the early 1960s and 1970s, women continued to face gender bias in several career-paths, in politics, as well as income inequality and endured a greater burden of household work. In spite of this, the concern with feminism waned during this period. But still, even in the 21st-century feminism in Russia bears that very same spirit.
Women’s rights activists such as the punk-rock band, Pussy Riot initiated anti-government movements in 2012 against President Vladimir Putin. The results were really shocking. During a lawsuit, a lawyer representing the Russian Orthodox Church called feminism a “mortal sin”.
However, in the 2000s, women took seats in local governments, though those positions were low-level ones. Step by step they started taking more seats.
In 2003, for instance, 43% of local administrators in St. Petersburg were women. And this was only the beginning. On March 18, 2018, whole Russia will vote for their new president.
You know what is cool about this? Women are also going to take part in the presidential campaign. Their list includes politicians, advisors and even TV host Ksenia Sobchak. So, looking forward to knowing the results.
However, feminism in Russia still has a long way to go. The roots of such approach lay in the Soviet Union actually which is not that far away. Under Lenin, women were granted more opportunities and freedoms. However, Stalin changed the situation.
He made it common that a true good communist woman should also be a perfect home-maker and child-riser. Though Soviet propaganda supported gender equality, in actual fact there was nearly no equality. Just like every totalitarian political structure, though.
Women Right’s Issues in Russia
According to the World Economic Forum’s annual report, Russia is on the 75th place in the list of 142 countries which are included in the Gender Gap Index this year. The report states that men and women are equal in Russia in terms of education and health. Politics, however, is something different. Russian women still face a lot of discrimination in this sphere.
Regardless the traditional image of a woman in Russia, the Soviets were among the first to give women the right to vote and made abortion legal.
However, it doesn’t prevent the country from facing gender bias, inequality, and the stuff. All in all, this western concept of feminism in Russia has never had much support, especially from the side of patriarchal society. This is why women’s rights activists face tougher treatment.
During the women’s day like other feminists, Russian women’s rights activists as well march along the streets of Moscow to speak against the traditional image of a woman. The campaign was known as the Feminist Festival.
It was held on March 8, 2o17. It might sound strange but the festival got no support. In contrast, most politicians accuse women’s rights activists of exaggerating everything and their dusky goals. Even the media dubbed this movement of feminists kind of aggressive. Others find feminism imposing outlandish lifestyle demands on women.
So, let’s come to think about this! Is something more expected in the society where even women find feminism irrelevant? These women grin at the word “feminism”. And here is the reason why.
Feminism in Russia has some challenges because the still are anti-feminist women
I do not know whether foreigners will be surprised at this fact but Russia is all about strict gender roles. Perhaps if we consider that Russia a patriarchal society there is nothing surprising about this neither I’ll invent a bicycle by revealing this fact.
So, this means that Russian women are supposed to take care of themselves and family, dress beautifully and stay ladylike whereas men should be responsible for income.
I want you to be very attentive with this expression “being ladylike”. You know why? Dear feminists, please do not judge very strictly and do not even freak out! This is just a viewpoint. And who said that all women around the world are supposed to support the idea of feminism
Anyway, Russian women find feminists kind of acting like men. To their mind, it is aggressive, vulgar and lazy stuff to deal with.
So, in accordance with it, most Russian women and men support the model of traditional gender roles. The recent study carried out by Levada center comes to share these figures.
Only 38% of Russians support the so-called domestic egalitarianism which refers to equality in household duties. It means that they find the home not only women’s domain. According to another poll, 78% believe that home is the place the Russian woman should be.
Though there is an interesting point. Amazing Russian saying states:
The man is the head whereas the woman is the neck”. This is really cool to understand who is the “lord” at home in Russia. The saying goes like women are the once to take charge of finance and important decisions.
I think Russia should start a movement to support men than women. Anyway, coming up next more feministic movements and the list of distinguished women’s rights activists in Russia.
Feminism in Russia Can Totally Be Described by “Pussy Riot”
Are you aware of those girls in colorful masks and T-shirts? If you do then you have perhaps some idea about punk rock group Pussy Riot. The group is a Russian feminist group that was founded in August 2011. Actually, these women’s rights activists touch upon many problems but they find that feminism in Russia is still an issue.
The group was composed of several performers and about 15 people who were kind of technical support for shooting and editing videos and posting on the internet. This group of feminists was organized because they found that members of government adopted policies discriminating against women.
Pussy Riot released seven songs and five videos. Besides they used to give some two-minutes guerilla performances. One of the band members described their two-minute concerts as performance art that created images of pure protest on feminism in Russia.
Feminism in Russia, or in some part of it Grows, but North Caucasus women are under threat
Even though some Russian women need no feminism, the streets of Russia are sometimes overwhelmed by campaigns and marches devoted to women.
The case is very different in the Northern Causacus. The North Caucasus where Chechnya is located seems that has nothing to do with laws and rules or movements that are enforced or held in Russia. To put it simply, those laws are used in the smallest degree.
This is why women’s condition has being deteriorated for many years. Muslim Chechens treat their traditions and culture as prior to laws. This is why forced marriage and other ways of women rights’ violations are inevitable there. And it was in May that Russian press was shocked to announce that a 17-year-old girl was made to marry a 46-year-old man.
Actually, the Russian government has nothing to do with it. Some NGO’s try to tackle the problem but there are no results. Chechen society was said to be more tolerant of women.
However, in 2008 they enforced a law about women’s dress code. Women are supposed to enter the educational institution with their body covered with long-sleeved dresses and headscarves.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is a popular Feminist in Russia
The names of women’s rights activists in Russia are closely connected with Pussy Riot. Nicknamed as Nadya Tolokno, Nadezhda is a Russian conceptual artist, feminist and political activist.
She was a member of the famous feminist group Pussy Riot. Besides, Nadezhda is co-winner of the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought awarded in 2014.
Pussy Riot was a real shock to the whole country. Many feminists from the group as well as Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were imprisoned. Though, after the court cases the documentary called “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer” debuted in 2013 during Sundance Film Festival.
Tolokonnikova appeared in Chapter 29 of House of Cards. This is a popular American television drama series that airs on Netflix. In the show, Tolokonnikova criticized the current Russian president Vladimir Putin for corruption.
Novelist Maria Arbatova also fights for women’s rights in Russia
Russian novelist, short story writer, playwright, poet, journalist, TV host, politician, Maria Arbatova is one of the most remarkable feminists. She wrote 14 plays which were staged both in Russia and abroad.
Her books and plays quite openly share the feminist ideology. It was due to her efforts that the notions of “feminism” and “feminist” got legitimacy after Soviet era.
Arbatova’s activities in this sphere have brought forward the topic of discrimination and bias against Russian women. She considers her work a “missionary” one. This is why she always refuses grants for her activities.
Isabela Magkoeva fights for equal pay and against domestic violence
This 26-year-old Russian lady is a political activist. Like many other women’s rights activist, Isabela finds any government as a place of violence and inequality. She appears in the spotlight of mass media quite often. And this is what she thinks as a feminist about feminism in Russia:
I’m all for gender equality and therefore a feminist, but… the root cause of patriarchy is employment inequality, and that’s what should be uprooted in the first place. Statistically, women in Russia earn 40% less on average than men, every third woman is subject to domestic violence, and so on.
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