Monday, December 14, 2020

Sex Education Played Key Role in Changing Other Russian Attitudes at End of Soviet Times

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 12 – The death of prominent Soviet Russian sexologist Lev Shcheglov yesterday has prompted a Moscow commentator to point to the ways in which the activist scholar’s comments about sexuality gave Russians a new sense they could control their own bodies and thus control their own lives.

            As a result, Dmitry Gubin says, Russians no longer felt that the state could or should control everything; and thus, as they were encouraged by Shcheglov and others to adopt a more independent approach to their sexuality, they gained a sense that they had the right to have a freer approach to other things as well (

            That new attitude, one expressed in the Soviet-era remark that “in the USSR, there is no sex” because the government doesn’t want to talk about it, gave people the confidence to think that they should be in control of more things as well, exactly the kind of shift in attitudes the regime couldn’t tolerate.

            Shcheglov was not the only sexologist who rose to public prominence at the end of Soviet times. Perhaps more well-known at least in the West was Igor Kon, whose book, The Sexual Revolution in Russia, appeared in English in 1995; but because of his appearances on television, he was one of the most influential.

            His death this week marks the passing not only of this generation of sexologists in Russia but also the closing of a chapter in Russian history as the Kremlin seeks by its opposition to what it calls “non-traditional” relations to drive Russians back into a situation in which they will no longer feel they are in control of their bodies or anything else – or should be.

            Consequently, those like Gubin, who are mourning his passage are mourning more than that. They are expressing regret at the reversal of a trend in personal sexuality that had broad political consequences and that, if it continues, means that Russia will become ever more repressed and repressive as a result.  


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