Skip to main content

The Sexual Revolution in the USSR: Dynamics Beneath the Ice

  • Chapter
Sexual Revolutions

Part of the book series: Genders and Sexualities in History ((GSX))

Abstract

The old-fashioned propriety and drabness of life in the Soviet Union suggested to visitors and observers in the post-war era that sexuality was deeply hidden, and that there was little question of a Western style ‘sexual revolution’ taking hold. The ‘socialist’ USSR lacked the capitalist West’s commercial culture that used sex to promote consumption. Soviet media were tightly controlled by a very prudish censorship. The regime forbade private, non-governmental organisation, so feminists and sex radicals, extremely rare in underground intellectual life in any case, could not agitate publicly for change. Yet social and economic change transformed sexual behaviour, and citizens challenged the regime’s sexual authoritarianism by direct and indirect means. There was a sexual revolution in the Soviet Union during the 1960s and 1970s, and it was marked by significant differences to the simultaneous revolutions in the West.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

eBook
USD 16.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. For reasons of space I do not discuss lesbian and gay sexuality here, but see Healey D (forthcoming) From Stalinist Pariahs to Subjects of ‘Managed Democracy’: Queers in Moscow 1945 to the Present. In: Evans J & Cook M (eds) Queer Cities, Queer Cultures. London: Continuum.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Kon I (1997) Seksual’naia kul’tura v Rossii. Moscow: OGI, 171–3; Rotkirch A (2004) ‘What Kind of Sex Can You Talk About?’ Acquiring Sexual Knowledge in Three Soviet Generations. In: Bertaux D et al. (eds) Living through the Soviet System. New Brunswick: Transaction.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Weinberg E (1974) The Development of Sociology in the Soviet Union. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Kharchev A (1964, 1979) Brak i sem’ia v SSSR: Opyt sotsiologicheskogo issledovaniia. Moscow: Mysl’.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Darskii L (1972) Formirovanie sem’i: demografno-statisticheskoe issledovanie. Moscow: Statistika; Kharchev A & Matsovskii M (1978) Sovremennaia sem’ia i ee problem: sotsial’nodemograficheskoe issledovanie. Moscow: Statistika; Rywkin M (1982) Moscow’s Muslim Challenge: Soviet Central Asia. London: Hurst.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Kharchev, Brak i sem’ia v SSSR , 171–3, 229–32; Darskii L, Formirovanie sem’i: demografno-statisticheskoe issledovanie , 41–85; Kon, Seksual’naia kul’tura v Rossii., 175–7; Juviler P (1988) Cell Mutation in Soviet Society: The Family. In: Thompson T & Sheldon R (eds) Soviet Society and Culture: Essays in Honor of Vera S. Dunham. Boulder & London: Westview, 43–5.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Kharchev & Matsovskii, Sovremennaia sem’ia i ee problem: sotsial’nodemograficheskoe issledovanie, 147, citing B.Ts. Urlanis.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Ibid., 148–50, citing L.E. Darskii, A.G. Vishnevskii, A.G. Volkov, V.A. Boldyrev.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Darskii L (1979) Sotsial’no-demograficheskie issledovaniia problem rozhdaemosti. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniia 3, 12–13; cited by Rywkin, Moscow’s Muslim Challenge, 76.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Juviler, Soviet Society and Culture, 45; see also Kharchev, Opyt sotsiologicheskogo issledovaniia, 171–3.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Kon, Seksual’naia kul’tura v. Rossii, 173–5; Golod S (1996) XX vek i tendentsii seksual’nykh otnoshenii v Rossii. St Petersburg: Aleteiia, 38–71, 93.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Kon I (1966) Polovaia moral’ v svete sotsiologii. Sovetskaia pedagogika 12, 64–77.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Inkeles A (1968) Social Change in Soviet Russia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 219; Stern M & Stern A (1981) Sex in the USSR. London: W. H. Allen, 109–110.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Ibid., 180–1. On socialist attempts to define love, see De George R (1969) Soviet Ethics and Morality. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 97.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Kon I (2005) Seksual’naia kul’tura v Rossii (2nd edition). Moscow: Airis, 246; Stern & Stern, Sex in the USSR, 111.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Stern & Stern, Sex in the USSR, 109–110; Kon, Seksual’naia kul’tura v Rossii, 245; Healey D (2008) ‘Untraditional Sex’ and the ‘Simple Russian’: Nostalgia for Soviet Innocence in the Polemics of Dilia Enikeeva. In: Lahusen T & Solomon Jr. P (eds) What Is Soviet Now? Identities, Legacies, Memories. Berlin: Lit Verlag.

    Google Scholar 

  17. See, for example, Firsov B (2008) Raznomyslie v SSSR. 1940–1960-e gody. Istoriia, teoriia i praktika. St Petersburg: Evropeiskii Dom.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Kon, Seksual’naia kul’tura v Rossii, 239, 244, 247. See also Kon I (2008) 80 let odinochestva. Moscow: Vremia.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Vail P & Genis A (2001) 60-e: Mir sovetskogo cheloveka. Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 126–38, quote at 134.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Yurchak A (2006) Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Ibid., 36–76.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Sviadoshch A (1974) Zhenskaia seksopatologiia. Moscow: Meditsina.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Plutser-Sarno A (2001) Bol’shoi slovar’ mata. Tom pervyi. St Petersburg: Limbus.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Yurchak, 60-e: Mir sovetskogo cheloveka, 141–51; quote at 141; Rotkirch, Living through the Soviet System, 101; Chuikina S (2002) ‘Byt neotdelim ot politiki’: Ofitsial’nye i neofitsial’nye normy ‘polovye’ morali v sovetskom obshchestve 1930–1980-kh godov. In Zdravomyslova E & Temkina A (eds) V poiskakh seksual’nosti. St Petersburg: Dmitrii Bulanin, 123.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Temkina A (2008) Seksual’naia zhizn’ zhenshchiny: Mezhdu pochineniem i svobody. St Petersburg: Evropeiskii universitet v Sankt-Peterburge.

    Google Scholar 

  26. See, for example, Northrop D (2004) Veiled Empire: Gender and Power in Stalinist Central Asia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  27. During the 1990s and early 2000s, Russia’s population declined by 750,000 per year. For debates on some of these issues see, for example, Rivkin-Fish M (2006) From ‘Demographic Crisis’ to ‘Dying Nation’: The politics of language and reproduction in Russia. In: Goscilo H & Lanoux A (eds) Gender and National Identity in Twentieth-Century Russian Culture. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press; Healey, What Is Soviet Now?

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Copyright information

© 2014 Dan Healey

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Healey, D. (2014). The Sexual Revolution in the USSR: Dynamics Beneath the Ice. In: Hekma, G., Giami, A. (eds) Sexual Revolutions. Genders and Sexualities in History. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137321466_14

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137321466_14

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-45804-2

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-137-32146-6

  • eBook Packages: Palgrave History CollectionHistory (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics