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Gender and Choice Among Russia’s Upper Class

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Abstract

This chapter explores how choice plays out for the rich in terms of gender. It asks to what extent the wealthy and the large majority of Russians experience the gender norms prevalent in Russia differently and examines life situations when even the rich have their life choices restricted. In the first part of the chapter, Russian men are the topic of analysis. This is followed by a brief discussion of two themes: intimate relationships and gendered upbringing. A third part deals with elite femininities, while the final part looks at some of the paradoxes observed among privileged homosexual men.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-73661-7_5
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Notes

  1. 1.

    Ori Schwarz, ‘Cultures of choice: towards a sociology of choice as a cultural phenomenon,’ British Journal of Sociology, 2017.

  2. 2.

    This group totalled 170,000 millionaires in 2013 and 92,000 in 2015 after the rouble devaluation against the dollar. Markus Stierli, Anthony Shorrocks, James Davies, Rodrigo Lluberas and Antonio Koutsoukis, Global Wealth Report 2015, Credit Suisse Research Institute, Zurich: Credit Suisse AG, 2015.

  3. 3.

    See, for example, Ol’ga Kryshtanovskaia, Anatomiia Rossiiskoi Elity, Moskva: A.V., 2004.

  4. 4.

    In my approach I was inspired by the French sociologist Daniel Bertaux who collected life histories to study social mobility in post-Soviet Russia. Daniel Bertaux and Paul Thompson (eds), Pathways to social class: A qualitative approach to social mobility, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997, and Daniel Bertaux, Paul Thompson and Anna Rotkirch (eds), Living Through Soviet Russia, London: Routledge, 2004.

  5. 5.

    Valery Sperling , Sex, Politics, and Putin. Political Legitimacy in Russia, New York: Oxford University Press, 2015, p. 4. See also Elena Rozhdestvenskaia, ‘Zarabotat’ Svoi Lichnyi Milliard,’ Lenta.ru, 20 October 2015, http://lenta.ru/articles/2015/10/20/million/ [accessed 15 November 2015].

  6. 6.

    Alexei Yurchak, ‘Russian Neoliberal. The Entrepreneurial Ethic and the Spirit of “True Careerism”,’ Russian Review, vol 62, no 1, 2003, pp. 72–90.

  7. 7.

    Kay, Rebecca, Men in Contemporary Russia. The Fallen Heroes of Post-Soviet Change? London: Ashgate, 2006, pp. 2–6, pp. 73–85.

  8. 8.

    Peter Ulf Moller, 2001 ‘“Belles-lettres with a Touch of Filth”: On the Contemporary Reception of Leonid Andreev’s Stories, “The Abyss” and “In the Fog”,’ in Linda Edmondson (ed.) Gender in Russian History and Culture, Basingstoke: Palgrave, p. 94.

  9. 9.

    Elena Zdravomyslova and Anna Temkina, ‘Gendered Citizenship in Soviet and Post – Soviet Societies,’ in Vera Tolz and Stephanie Booth (eds) Nation and Gender in Contemporary Europe, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005, p. 110.

  10. 10.

    On the topic of marriage and class cohesion, see G. William Domhoff, Who Rules America? Power and Politics in the Year 2000, 3rd ed. London: Mayfield Publishing, 2000, pp. 96–9.

  11. 11.

    Arnold Gehlen, Studien zur Anthropologie und Soziologie. Neuwied-Berlin: Luchterhand, 1963.

  12. 12.

    Schwarz, ‘Cultures of choice,’ 2017.

  13. 13.

    Böhnisch, Tomke, Gattinnen. Die Frauen der Elite. Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot, 1999.

  14. 14.

    Yurchak, ‘Russian Neoliberal.’

  15. 15.

    Valery Sperling lists very similar adjectives in ‘Putin’s Macho Personality Cult,’ Communist and Post-Communist Studies, vol 49, no 1, 2016, p. 15.

  16. 16.

    Sperling , Sex, Politics, and Putin, p. 9.

  17. 17.

    Michele Rivkin-Fish, ‘Pronatalism, Gender Politics, and the Renewal of Family Support in Russia: Toward a Feminist Anthropology of “Maternity Capital”,’ Slavic Review, vol 69, no 3, 2010, pp. 701–724.

  18. 18.

    Rumours which went round after a 2007 photo shoot of Putin with Prince Albert of Monaco that even Putin might be gay were apparently countered with a media campaign popularising his apparent girlfriend, the former Olympic champion Alina Kabaeva, he continues. See Matthias Shepp, ‘Author Claims Putin’s Pets His Best Friends,’ Der Spiegel, 2 December 2013, http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/new-book-on-vladimir-putin-claims-russian-president-flees-from-people-a-936801.html [accessed on 5 January 2017].

  19. 19.

    Decca Aitkenhead, ‘Evgeny Lebedev: “Russia is not a homophobic country”,’ The Guardian, 14 March 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/mar/14/evgeny-lebedev-russia-not-homophobic-country [accessed on 14 January 2017].

  20. 20.

    Elisabeth Schimpfossl and Ilya Yablokov, ‘Coercion or Conformism? Censorship and Self-censorship among Russian media personalities and Reporters in the 2010s,’ Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratisation, vol 22, no 2, 2014, pp. 295–312.

  21. 21.

    Ksenia Sokolova, ‘Anton Krasovskii: Ia gei, ii a takoi zhe chelovek, kak president Putin,’ Snob, 6 February 2013, https://snob.ru/selected/entry/57187 [accessed on 14 January 2017].

  22. 22.

    Sperling , Sex, Politics, and Putin, pp. 16–7.

  23. 23.

    Dan Healey, ‘The Disappearance of the Russian Queen, or How the Soviet Closet Was Born’ in Barbara E. Clements, Rebecca Friedman and Dan Healey (eds), Russian Masculinities in History and Culture, Basingstoke: Palgrave 2000, pp. 152–171.

  24. 24.

    Renata Salecl, Choice, London: Profile Books, 2010, p. 13.

  25. 25.

    Kay, Men in Contemporary Russia, p. 156.

  26. 26.

    This is a historically tried and tested mode of survival for lesbians in Russia. See Francesca Stella, Lesbian lives in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia: post/socialism and gendered sexualities, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

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Schimpfössl, E. (2018). Gender and Choice Among Russia’s Upper Class. In: Attwood, L., Schimpfössl, E., Yusupova, M. (eds) Gender and Choice after Socialism. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-73661-7_5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-73661-7_5

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