Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 297–320 | Cite as

The Sexual Scripts and Identity of Middle-Class Russian Women

  • Anna Temkina
  • Elena ZdravomyslovaEmail author
Original Paper


The purpose of this article is to provide an analysis of changes in the organization of sexual life among Russian women and to describe a spectrum of sexual scripts that characterize different generations. Based on biographical interviews with urban middle-class women we identify five such scripts of sexual life. On one hand, the analysis shows that representatives of the late Soviet generations are oriented towards the pronatal, romantic and friendship scripts of sexual relationships. Soviet women faced structural barriers in their sexual lives: gender inequality and lack of institutional provision of sexual practices. On the other hand, the analysis shows that the sexual culture of women belonging to the younger, post-Soviet generation differs considerably from that of their (demographic) mothers and grandmothers, the women of the Soviet generations. Among the women belonging to the post-Soviet generation, the hedonistic and instrumental scripts become more articulate. The current rationalization trend in sexual life presumes women’s conscious choice of sexual partners and reproductive strategies. Women are reflexive towards their sexual desire and represent agency, acting intentionally in order to control intimate relationships in which they are involved. However, young women also face numerous barriers caused by the lack of institutional reflexivity on sexuality and gender polarization.


Sexual scripts Women Generations Russia Gender identity 



The article is based on research supported by Central European University (CEU), the Ford Foundation, and the Novartis company. We are thankful to A. Rotkirch and anonymous reviewers for their comments and to B. Schechter for language correction.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.European University at St. PetersburgSt. PetersburgRussia

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