Domestic Violence and Russian Women
August 11, 2008 11:04 AM   Subscribe

outrage-filter try 2?
I'm sure this will wendell.
posted by nomisxid at 11:17 AM on August 11, 2008

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:17 AM on August 11, 2008

Eh. Still an interesting topic, and now it is a passable post.
posted by everichon at 11:23 AM on August 11, 2008

The other post was better, because the title defused the In Soviet Russia jokes.
posted by DU at 11:24 AM on August 11, 2008

перфоратор их в Дика
posted by horsemuth at 11:45 AM on August 11, 2008

I think that BBC link qualifies as best of the web, those are some very compelling first hand accounts.
posted by The Straightener at 12:06 PM on August 11, 2008

Keep the jokes coming, guys. We all appreciate it, I'm sure.

In other words: this is hardly the stuff of mockery, surely?
posted by jokeefe at 12:11 PM on August 11, 2008 [7 favorites]

posted by loiseau at 12:15 PM on August 11, 2008

I blame misogynist videos.
posted by oddman at 12:19 PM on August 11, 2008

For heaven's sake, why SHOULDN'T this have been posted? Has sexism and domestic violence has been done already? Moving on, next topic? What am I missing? This post seems perfectly legit to me.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:23 PM on August 11, 2008 [7 favorites]

Seriously, did all of you "this isn't the best of the web" guys already know all this stuff? Because although this may not be the best-written-up FPP ever, the articles linked to are detailed in-depth looks at a Russian social problem I, for one, hadn't known existed on this scale until reading said articles.

Said splice, I'm sure when you came across this that your first thought was "this is the best of the web!" and this is the sole reason why you posted this.

God forbid that anyone would post anything about they felt strongly about in real life on MeFi. I'm sure that, say, the post about Orson Scott Card's homophobic rant was simply made because it was "the best of the web," yes?
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:30 PM on August 11, 2008 [13 favorites]

[a few comments removed - this is in metatalk, if you'd like the comment on the worthiness of the post, that might be a good place to do it.]
posted by jessamyn at 12:32 PM on August 11, 2008

Does anyone know of a related charity? Or should I just be donating to Kiva or a local shelter for battered women and count my lucky stars that I'm not living in Russia?
posted by giraffe at 12:49 PM on August 11, 2008

It's sad that people are saying things such as 'I blame the vodka', 'perforator ikh v dika', and some of the snarky comments on the first post.

Has this stupid bullshit pervaded our society so much that rather than get outraged, most people yawn?

This is why people can't have nice things.
posted by kldickson at 12:50 PM on August 11, 2008

Thanks for posting this; it's important stuff that doesn't get enough coverage. I love Russian culture, but the sexism (like the brutality to army recruits, and I don't think they're unrelated) is not tolerable. Hopefully brave women will keep speaking out and the culture will change as it has elsewhere, if far too slowly to help the women now suffering.
posted by languagehat at 12:52 PM on August 11, 2008

languagehat I suspect you are likely right that the brutality towards soldiers and the brutality towards women are closely related. Prior to the US occupation Japan was not at all a good place to be a woman and it featured exactly the same sort of casual brutality towards its soldiers that Russia did, and still does. It likely also feeds into the brutality towards homosexuals there. Brutality begets brutality.

Unfortunately given Putin's style I doubt either will be changing soon.

The judicial attitude towards women is hardly limited to Russia though. Some people may recall that not very long ago an Italian judge threw out a rape conviction on the grounds that the victim was wearing tight jeans on the night she was raped, and in the judge's personal experience "you can't get tight jeans off a woman without her cooperation".

And, as the stats linked by Mister_A demonstrate, while women in the US have it better, we've still got a long way to go.
posted by sotonohito at 1:15 PM on August 11, 2008

In a letter to the UK section of Amnesty International, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in 2003 that the Russian Parliament, the Duma, as well as a large part of the population, would consider a law on violence in the family as an interference with private family matters. It had therefore been decided not to pursue the introduction of such a law any longer.

Holy shit.

I support Amnesty financially but is there some other charity I could be donating to in order to try and change this or help these women just a little bit? Or is there something else I could do?
posted by sveskemus at 2:02 PM on August 11, 2008

The only anti-domestic violence non-profit in Russia that I know much about is ANNA; I have heard some very good things about their work, but haven't checked them out in detail.

The WAVE Network has a page of links with some other Russian organizations listed.

Maybe Miko or others who are currently working in the non-profit field will have more to add on this.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:09 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh my God. The stats in that second link are gut-wrenchingly depressing. It's a kind of institutionalised pathology. A hugely important cause that deserves heaps more attention, clearly.
posted by RokkitNite at 2:13 PM on August 11, 2008

[b]giraffe[/b] I donate money each year to a Romanian-language newspaper in Moldova that encourages Romanian literacy in villages far from the capital, Chișinău, where the effects of Soviet russification is still rampant. The amount I donate is enough for 12 families to receive a weekly paper for a year.

I view this form of charity as one that maybe helps reverse some of the decades of damage done to Romanian culture by Soviet rule, specifically with regard to how Russian and its alphabet was enforced as the language of government, literature and means of writing.
posted by vkxmai at 2:23 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I guess things are starting to look up in Russia then. According to the AI site, in 2002 there were 14,000 deaths which gives a figure of one woman dying every 38 minutes.
posted by JJ86 at 2:33 PM on August 11, 2008

I posted the original terrible post, and I wasn't outraged at all. I mean, I thought it was horrible that sexual harassment was so deeply entrenched in Russia, but I didn't intend to stir people into a froth, nor did I think there would be some ugly discussion. I just thought it was something worth knowing about, that I didn't know about until today.

I've been away from the blue for a while, but something I notice is that a lot of people are often more interested in whether or not the post is an official Good Post than what's in the post. I think they count the links first, the primary-ness of the links, and then they start reading. If something's not quite perfect, they practically ejaculate with glee over it.

Well, it's the Internet. So, as is often said about it: Eh, whatever.
posted by ignignokt at 2:37 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

One cultural difference between Russians and Americans is the assignment of blame. When my mobile phone was forcibly stolen from me on the Metro, my friends blamed me for having my phone in my hand. I was talking on it.

When Dasha and I returned home unscathed from this terrifying market bombing, we were chastised for "getting ourselves so close to it".

You can see the same assignment of blame in the testimony of these women. They are "at fault" for being beaten, raped, and worse: "And why did he beat me up? Oh, because I was foolish enough to let him do it."

In America you are able to blame freely. You're the victim of misfortune, fast food, credit card debt, the current administration. Our culture of litigation unyokes us from the consequences of our actions. But it is worth noting that this isn't afforded to all parties, and often women who suffer domestic violence face the most disgusting imaginable manifestation of this guilt at the hands of those that batter. They are made to feel fault for every blow, every slight and every sharp word.

As a man in Russia, I was surprised to discover that I was at fault for things I couldn't control. It taught me two things: a sympathy for the abused that I'd never felt, and a kind of ugly bitterness I hadn't known before.
posted by fake at 2:48 PM on August 11, 2008 [8 favorites]

I love Russian culture, but the sexism (like the brutality to army recruits, and I don't think they're unrelated) is not tolerable.

I'd be curious from perspectives as to whether this is worse, better, or the same as the Soviet days - mostly because the Soviet Union maintained an official image of being progressive for women, and I'm curious to what degree that was a facade.

(And, while flippant comments about vodka may well be arseholish jokes, I hardly think it's ridiculous to suggest that there's a connection between heavy drinking and violence, domestic or public.)
posted by rodgerd at 2:54 PM on August 11, 2008

I blame the fall of the Communists.

In Old Soviet Russia, women sexually harassed YOU. -Yakov
posted by wendell at 3:41 PM on August 11, 2008

The Soviet Union was progressive for women in many ways. While sexism existed and affected women in the Soviet era, women did have opportunities in areas of employment long before such opportunities existed commonly in the West. That's a good thing.

Unfortunately, such progressive opportunities for women did not lessen their more 'traditional' roles. While a married couple might both have professional jobs, it was almost always the case that the woman was still entirely responsible for housekeeping, cooking, caring for the kids and treating the man as if he were the sole provider. Consequently, many of the patriarchal aspects of Russian culture did not evolve much, and remain - from an American perspective - pretty troglodyte.

There are a few other things which should be taken into account. The first - and I can't believe that no one brought this up - is the huge toll that the Second World War took on men. Roughly one in four Soviet men lost their lives in the war. Of course, this isn't just one in four men "in general," because a hugely disproportionate number of those men were in their mid-teens to their forties. In other words, if you were a Russian woman of child-bearing age shortly after the war, there would be two of you competing for each individual guy the same age. Imagine would it would be like if 38 million American men - nearly all of them in the first half of their adult lives - simply "disappeared." Finding the perfect guy just became impossible. Finding any old guy just became a years-long task.

Obviously, this had huge implications for culture in general. It explains in part why women in the Soviet Union were able to make good careers for themselves - with much of the male adult population dead, it wasn't a time to be picky about a worker's sex. It also hints at the desperation many women must have felt for partners, and I don't think it takes much effort to see what sort of privileges one would get by just being a guy, and how common it would be to take advantage of that fact. Many, many Russian men have talked about the tremendous unconditional love they were granted by their lonely mothers, the extents to which their mother sacrificed for them, and so on. When taking a wife or girlfriend, many of these extremely coddled and spoiled men were absolutely *shocked* at the idea that marriage was a give-and-take "patrtnership"; it went against their upbringing and their role models and felt wrong and caused anger.

Combine this an underpaid police force that can't be bothered with much of anything - except collecting "gifts", an historical unwillingness to openly discuss social problems, the rampant alcoholism among men, the continuing demographic trends involving men in Russia*, and well, the problem of domestic violence can easily be seen to have many roots.

(* Check this out, from this past February: The average male life expectancy in Russia is just 59. Now thousands of 'ghost villages' contain fewer than 10 people, most of them elderly women.)

Unlike in America, these women almost never have a viable choice "to leave," which is the real tragedy.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 4:34 PM on August 11, 2008 [13 favorites]

I have sent some of these links out to friends, and all have been aghast. And thanks for some of the excellent and well thought out explainations of Russian culture by the contributors here - it has been a revelation (though it makes sense).
posted by Megami at 6:39 PM on August 11, 2008

Thank you for this post. I had no idea that this was such a huge issue in Russia. I went to Russia just after the fall of Communism (1992) and, even though I liked it, I saw a pretty troubled society, and it seems that for the many ordinary Russians things haven't got much better. Unfortunately, women often bear the brunt of male feelings of hopelessness. This isn't meant in any way to condone any domestic violence, but that to me it seems that often, but not of course always, domestic violence is a symptom of a greater malaise.
posted by ob at 6:39 PM on August 11, 2008

Call me old fashioned, but I blame the patriarchy.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:17 PM on August 11, 2008 [4 favorites]

I can't believe that no one brought this up

I think you just pointed out another difference in American vs Russian culture -- WWII is just not so well characterized in the minds of many Americans, and not such a вечный огонь illuminating our national identity. A favorite question of my Russian friends was "Who won WWII?" and the expected answer was USA! USA!

The human cost Russia paid was extreme, and the effects far-reaching. Thanks for pointing that out.
posted by fake at 8:50 PM on August 11, 2008

(And, while flippant comments about vodka may well be arseholish jokes, I hardly think it's ridiculous to suggest that there's a connection between heavy drinking and violence, domestic or public.)

Just to note that this was the original impetus for Prohibition in the States, not, as is usually assumed, religious kill-joys trying to ruin everyone's fun.
posted by jokeefe at 3:14 PM on August 14, 2008

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