Advertisement

Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 256–274 | Cite as

Banning “Homosexual Propaganda”: Belonging and Visibility in Contemporary Russian Media

  • Emil Persson
Original Paper

Abstract

This article investigates Russian mainstream media’s coverage of the 2013 legislation banning “propaganda for non-traditional sexuality”. Inspired by theories on belonging, media and visibility, it reconstructs a dominant narrative representing non-heterosexuals as threatening the future survival of the nation, as imposing the sex-radical norms of a minority onto the majority, or as connected to an imperialistic West which aims to destroy Russia. This story, it is argued, functions as a hegemonic grammar regulating how non-heterosexuality is seen and heard in the public sphere. However, it is argued that sometimes the linearity and cohesiveness of the narrative breaks down, when things appear that do not fit this model of interpretation. The analysis illustrates how contestations of belonging in contemporary media are increasingly structured according to the logic of visibility: dominant actors attempt to regulate what can be seen and heard in the public sphere whereas oppositional actors attempt to establish their own visibility in the mediated space of appearance, putting forward alternative constructions of the nation and who belongs to it.

Keywords

Homosexuality Russia Media Belonging Visibility LGBT 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The author expresses his gratitude to Elena Zdravomyslova, Maud Eduards, Susan Jackson and Monika Edgren, as well as to four anonymous reviewers, for their constructive suggestions of how to improve this article.

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Aldrich, R. (2003). Colonialism and homosexuality. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, B. (1983). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  3. Anthias, F. (2006). Belongings in a globalising and unequal world: Rethinking translocations. In N. Yuval-Davis, K. Kannabiran, & U. Vieten (Eds.), The situated politics of belonging. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  4. Appadurai, A. (1996). Modernity at large. Cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis/London: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  5. Arakelyan, D. (2013). V Volgograde zverski ubili parnya netraditsionnoi orientatsii (Boy with non-traditional orientation brutally killed in Volgograd). Komsomolskaya Pravda, 11 May 2013.Google Scholar
  6. Aslamova, D. (2013). Parizh protestuet protiv odnopolykh brakov, chtoby deti ne stali predmetom torgovlya (Paris is protesting against same-sex marriages, to prevent children from becoming a commodity). Komsomolskaya pravda, 25 March 2013.Google Scholar
  7. Baev, N. (2013a). Valerii Zorkin: ‘Gei-parad—eto grekhovnoe posyagatelstvo na bazovye tsennosti bolshinstva’ (Valerii Zorkin: A gay parade is a sinful intrusion into the basic values of the majority). Gayrussia.ru, 20 May 2013. Accessed 12 June 2013 from http://www.gayrussia.eu/russia/6585/.
  8. Baev, N. (2013b).Gomofobnuyu Rossiyu khotyat sdelat’moralnym liderom’ mira (Homophobic Russia to become “moral leader” of the world). Gayrussia.ru, 8 June 2013. Accessed 12 June 2013 from http://www.gayrussia.eu/russia/5800/.
  9. Baev, N. (2013c). Senator Dzhabarov obvinil Zapad v rasprostranenii gomoseksualnosti. (Senator Dzhabarov accuses the West of spreading homosexuality. Gayrussia.ru, 10 May 2013. Accessed 18 June 2013 from http://www.gayrussia.eu/russia/6464/.
  10. Banting, M., et al. (1998). Sexuality. In D. Shepard & C. Kelly (Eds.), Russian culture studies. An introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Bhabha, H. (1990). The third space: Interview with Homi Bhabha. In J. Rutherford (Ed.), Identity: Community, culture, difference. London: Lawrence & Wishart.Google Scholar
  12. Blagoi, I. (2013). Obnazhennye feministki i demonstratsii geev stali fonom vizita Vladimira Putina v Niderlandy (Naked feminists and gay demonstrations made up the backdrop of Vladimir Putin’s visit to the Netherlands). Channel One, 14 April 2013. Accessed 11 June 2013 from http://www.1tv.ru/news/polit/230800.
  13. Brighenti, A. (2007). Visibility: A category for the social sciences. Current Sociology, 55(3), 323–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brown, M. (2000). Closet space. Geographies of metaphor from the body to the globe. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Buruma, I., & Margalit, A. (2004). Occidentalism: the West in the eyes of its enemies. New York: Penguin Press.Google Scholar
  16. Butler, J. (2004). Precarious life: The powers of mourning and violence. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  17. Butler, J. (2010). Frames of war: When is life grievable?. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  18. Casper, M. J., & Moore, L. J. (2009). Missing bodies: The politics of visibility. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Dhoest, A., Castelló, E., & Bastiaensens, S. (2013) Mirrored Nationalism: Spanish and Belgian newspapers depicting the others’ Conflict. Conference presentation at Ethnicity, Race and Nationalism in European Media and Film: Rights, Responsibilities, Representations, University of Manchester, 23–25 May 2013.Google Scholar
  20. Elkov, I. (2013). Ne detskii mir. Irina Bergset obyavila voinu norvezhskim pedofilam (No children’s world. Irina Bergset declared war on Norwegian paedophiles). Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 7 March 2013.Google Scholar
  21. Emelyanov, G. (2013). Protivniki odnopolykh brakov ustroili pogromy v tsentre Parizha (Same-sex marriage opponents organized pogroms in the centre of Paris). Channel One, 27 May 2013. Accessed 14 June 2013 from, http://www.1tv.ru/news/world/233860.
  22. Frolov, S. (2013). Rossiya ne zhelaet‘golubet’(Russia does not wish to “turn blue”). Trud, 1 March 2013. Accessed 12 June 2013 from http://www.trud.ru/article/01-03-2013/1290080_rossija_ne_zhelaet_golubet.html.
  23. gayrussia.ru (2013a). Gomofoby zakidali’Raduzhnyi fleshmob’ v Sankt-Peterburge dymovymi shashkami (Homophobes threw smoke bombs on “Rainbow flashmob”). Gayrussia.ru, 17 May 2013. Accessed 12 June 2013 on http://www.gayrussia.eu/russia/6543/.
  24. gayrussia.ru (2013b).Vladimir Milov sravnil odnopolye braki s atomnymi stantsiyami (Vladimir Milov compared same-sex marriages to nuclear plants). Gayrussia.ru, 10 May 2013. Accessed 26 June 2013 from http://www.gayrussia.eu/russia/6463/.
  25. gayrussia.ru (2013c). Valerii Zorkin razreshil rossiiskim regionam zapreshchat publichnye aktsii seksmenshinstv (Valerii Zorkin allowed Russian regions to ban public actions by sexual minorities). Gayrussia.ru, 22 March 2013. Accessed 26 June 2013 from http://www.gayrussia.eu/russia/6097/.
  26. gayrussia.ru (2013d). Glava komiteta ZAGS Udmurtii rada, chto v Rossii zapreshcheny gei-braki (Head of Udmurtian ZAGS committee is glad that gay marriage is forbidden in Russia). Gayrussia.ru, 15 May 2013. Accessed 26 June 2013 from http://www.gayrussia.eu/russia/6512/.
  27. Hall, S. (1997). The Spectacle of the other. In S. Hall (Ed.), Representation. Cultural representations and signifying practices. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  28. Hansen, L. (2000). The little Mermaid’s silent security Dilemma and the absence of gender in the Copenhagen school. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 29(2), 285–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Healey, D. (2001). Homosexual desire in revolutionary Russia. The regulation of sexual and gender dissent. Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Human Rights Watch (2012). Russia: Block St Petersburg’s Homophobic Law. Accessed 29 April 2014 from http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/03/12/russia-block-st-petersburg-s-homophobic-law.
  31. Kellner, D. (2003). Media spectacle. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kibalchich, E. (2013). Legalizatsiya odnopolykh brakov v Evrope stala povodom dlya voln podderzhki ili protesta (Legalization of same-sex marriages in Europe caused waves of support or protest). Channel One, 2 June 2013. Accessed 14 June 2013 from http://www.1tv.ru/news/world/234338.
  33. Kon, I. (1998). Moonlight Love. Accessed 26 June 2013 from http://www.gay.ru/english/history/kon/index.htm.
  34. Kuzina, S. (2013). Novaya beda dlya rossiiskikh sirot: gei-semi (Another misfortune for Russian orphans: gay families). Komsomolskaya Pravda, 21 February 2013.Google Scholar
  35. Lemke, T. (2011). Biopolitics: An advanced introduction. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Mazhaev, A. (2013). Sleduyushchee pokolenie muzykantov uzhe vosprinimaet menya veteranom stseny (The next generation of musicians are already seeing me as a veteran on the stage). Novye Izvestiya, 7 March 2013.Google Scholar
  37. Mosse, G. L. (1997). Nationalism and sexuality: Respectability and abnormal sexuality in modern Europe. New York: Howard Fertig.Google Scholar
  38. Neumann, I. B. (1996). Russia and the Idea of Europe: A study in identity and international relations. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. RIA Novosti (2013). Chizhov: Diskussiya po otmene viz mezhdu Rossiei i ES na finalnom etape (Chizhov: Discussion of abolishing visas between Russia and EU at final stages). RIA Novosti, 24 May 2013. Accessed 19 June 2013 from http://ria.ru/interview/20130524/939280140.html.
  40. Oates, S. (2007). The Neo-Soviet Model of the Media. Europe-Asia Studies, 59(8), 1279–1297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Olofsson, K. (2008). Introduction. In K. Olofsson (Ed.), From orientalism to postcoloniality. Stockholm: Södertörn University College.Google Scholar
  42. Orgad, S. (2012). Media representation and the global imagination. Oxford: Polity.Google Scholar
  43. Oye, D. S. (2010). Russian orientalism: Asia in the Russian mind from Peter the Great to the emigration. New Haven/London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Pain, E., & Verkhovskii, A. (2012). Civilizational nationalism: The Russian version of the ‘Special Path’. Russian Politics and Law, 50(5), 52–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Parker, A., Russo, M., Sommer, D., & Yaeger, P. (1992). Introduction. In A. Parker, M. Russo, D. Sommer, & P. Yaeger (Eds.), Nationalisms and sexualities. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  46. Patterson, M., & Monroe, K. R. (1998). Narrative in political science. Annual Review of Political Science, 1(1), 315–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Podosenov, S. (2013). Politicheskie eksperty predrekayut Rossii gei-revolyutsii (Political experts predict a gay revolution in Russia). Izvestiya, 24 June 2013.Google Scholar
  48. Potapov, O. (2013). Sodom i Gomorra Evropeiskoi politiki (Sodom and Gomorra of European politics). Komsomolskaya Pravda, 10 June 2013.Google Scholar
  49. Puar, Jasbir K. (2007). Terrorist assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer times. Durham/London: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pyatnitskaya, S. (2013a). V Nigerii sobirayutsya zapretit gei-braki i LGBT-soobshchestva (Nigeria plans to ban gay marriage and the LGBT community). Komsomolskaya Pravda 30 May 2013.Google Scholar
  51. Pyatnitskaya, S. (2013b). V Zimbabve ograbili ofis mestnoi assotsiatii geev i lesbianok (The office of a local gay and lesbian association was robbed in Zimbabwe). Komsomolskaya Pravda 6 June, 2013.Google Scholar
  52. Radzikhovskii, L. (2013). Zakat Evropy (Sunset in Europe). Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 19 March 2013.Google Scholar
  53. Rostovskii, M. (2013). Chto vdokhnovilo ubiits v Volgograde (What inspired the murderers in Volgograd). RIA Novosti, 14 May 2013. Accessed 26 June 2013 from http://ria.ru/columns/20130514/937179711.html.
  54. Shamir, I. (2013). Frantsuzskaya vesna (French spring). Komsomolskaya Pravda, 15 April 2013.Google Scholar
  55. Shevchenko, M. (2013). My ne Evropa? I slava bogu! (Aren’t we Europe? Thank God!). Moskovskii Komsomolets, 11 February 2013.Google Scholar
  56. Shkandrij, M. (2002). Russia and Ukraine: Literature and the discourse of empire from Napoleonic to postcolonial times. Chesham: Combined Academic Publ.Google Scholar
  57. Silverstone, R. (2007). Media and morality: On the rise of the mediapolis. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  58. Simons, G. (2010). Mass media and modern warfare: Reporting on the Russian war on terrorism. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  59. Smirnov, D. (2013). Vladimir Putin: ‘Khorosho khot gomoseksualisty ne razdelis!’(Vladimir Putin: Fortunately the homosexuals didn’t take off their clothes!) Komsomolskaya Pravda, 9 April 2013.Google Scholar
  60. Somers, M. R., & Gibson, G. D. (1994). Reclaiming the Epistemological ‘Other’: Narrative and the social constitution of identity. In C. Calhoun (Ed.), Social theory and the politics of identity. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  61. Thompson, J. B. (2005). The new visibility. Theory, Culture & Society, 22(6), 31–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Tickner, J. A. (1992). Gender in international relations: Feminist perspectives on achieving global security. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Voloshin, V. (2013). Oni soshlis—Milonov s Frayem (They met—Molonov and Fry). Komsomolskaya Pravda, 14 March 2013.Google Scholar
  64. Vorsobin, V. (2013). Vitalii Milonov: ‘Priyatno, kogda rugayut ne za to, chto ty podonok i negodyai, a za tsitirovanie Biblii’ (Vitalii Milonov: It is nice when you are scolded at not for being a jerk and villain, but for citing the Bible). Komsomolskaya Pravda, 11 March 2013.Google Scholar
  65. Yuval-Davis, N. (2011). The politics of belonging. Intersectional contestations. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Zdravomyslova, E (2013). Sexual Liberation and the Conservative Turn: How are they Compatible? Keynote speech at Love and Sex after Communism. Workshop at Uppsala University, 10–12 October 2013.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.Culture and SocietyMalmö UniversityMalmöSweden

Personalised recommendations