Staunton, November 27 – Violence against women has become so common in Russia that news about it “recalls reports from a combat front,” Vladislav Inozemtsev says, with women mistreated because so many Russian men, encouraged by “the traditional values” the regime promotes, consider women to be second-class citizens.
All this has created a new and more fundamental political divide between those “who think in the categories of ‘traditional values’ and ‘state utility’ and consider women as a naturally lower class and means for the reproduction of government souls” and those who view women as equal to men and meriting equal opportunities (echo.msk.ru/blog/v_inozemcev/2544343-echo).
This issue eclipses all others, the Russian economist argues; and it divides “the official Russian political class and its agents from the healthy forces of society.” Inozemtsev adds that he never ceases to be surprised that the violation of women’s rights in and of itself has not led to massive political self-organization.
In any normal society, women who resist violence in the home would be seen as heroes and have a chance to become political leaders. And the more such women gain prominence in politics, the better the chance that discriminatory laws will not be adopted and gender equality will be insisted upon.
But in Russia, were “’a woman’s party’ to arise, its leaders would become only the Tereshkovas and Lakhova, and the chances of their receiving broad support would be nil,” Inozemtsev continues.
Russians have “unjustly forgotten” the role women played in Russia’s “most worthy” revolution, that of March 8, 1917; and they have underrated “the influence which Russian women exert on attitudes in society [because] they are most of all affected by economic problems and above all are concerned about the fate of their children.”
Inozemtsev continues: “We do not want to recognize that Russian women are more educated than men, make a larger contribution to the upbringing of the rising generation, more carefully look after their health and are less inclined to any type of radicalism” than are their male counterparts.
Indeed, he says, women “are the only force capable of returning a dying society to normalcy.” Russia needs not a return to the prejudices of domostroy but “an active political feminism,” one that will go beyond the provision of “’equal representation’” which can be easily manipulated and form a political force demanding gender equality in all spheres.
It is long past time, he says, to understand that “the women’s question in Russia is many times more important than disagreements relative to the methods of struggle with corruption or the arrangements of democratic procedures. Because to be a liberal who denies gender equality is possible but to be a defender of the latter and not be a liberal and a democrat isn’t.”
The lack of a feminist movement, growing from below and calling for the resolution of the problems of society and prepared to fight for political representation, Inozemtsev says, reflects “the success of state propaganda which has prompted Russian women to believe in their own weakness.”
“This faith,” he adds, “is almost the only thing on which the current powers that be rest. And open expressions of doubt about it is the most reliable tactic to bring about its end.”