Sunday, April 15, 2018

Addressing Gender Relations In Russia

After a member of Russian parliament harassed two young female journalists, they decided to call attention to this and related problems.

There are a number of things involved here. One is that, yes, in Russia things like sexual harassment and domestic violence are through the roof. However neither do we want to see the kind of madness that happened in America in 1990s, when a man would lose his job for looking at a woman the wrong way. The wrongs need to be addressed correctly without causing wrongs in the process.

There needs to be change in laws; but more importantly there needs to be change in culture. A change in laws that is not accompanied by a change in culture is not a lasting change. There were many people living under Communism who had other ideas. They instilled these ideas into their children. So that going to the government was seen as the worst kind of betrayal, even on matters on which the government was right. In such situations, when a family member breaks a law, often the family is under intense pressure to hide it. And that is especially true of children and wives.

A cautionary story toward that effect is what happened in the American South. There appears to be a lot of incest in that area; and the government has noticed. One of the things that it has been doing is taking children away. The locals responded correctly by citing government overreach and not correctly by encouraging conspiracy theories and the government-as-the-Great-Satan theory. This has lead to movements that remain powerful to this day. There was a change in laws; it was not accompanied by a change in culture. The result was the culture reacting with vengeance and taking their dissatisfaction all the way to DC.

The Russians therefore need to change the culture of brutality against women. And this must be done not by appealing to liberal values, which these people do not have, but to their own values.

They value character, or so they claim. Character means controlling what you are doing with your fists and your mouth. Domestic violence should be seen as a failure of character and shamed as such.

Another value that they have is national greatness. The culture of brutality against women is a vast national embarrassment before the world. It makes Russian men look like pigs. Russia is a country that derives a large portion of its national pride from its cultural heritage. For a country that trades on its culture to have the culture of brutality against women is totally self-defeating.

So the argument needs to be made that this kind of behavior is contradictory to their values and their aspirations. The argument needs to be made that this behavior is wrong according to the values that they actually claim to have. The more this is done, the more there is the change in the culture. And that will result in lasting improvement for Russian women, one that is not identified with an ideology and that can become a part of Russian culture for many generations to come.


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