Vladimir Illyich Lenin, the father of the Communist Revolution in Russia, argued that in order for humanity to rise from its lethargy and vile class-based exploitation, our aesthetic and sexual pleasures that made us lack the ruthlessness needed to destroy the bourgeois order would need to be sacrificed. Revolutionary vigilance required that we reshape our nature to become something better. The mantra of Leninists of Russia confirmed their belief that insatiable sexual drive was in the nature of humans. To Lenin, sexuality was a detriment that was hindering the progress of society. Only through straightjacketing our sexual urges could a more selfless person be conceived that was no longer a slave to both capitalism and sexual passions. The idea of disciplining sexual urges as a means to become a ìbetterî person was not new in civilization. The Samurai warriors lived by the code of self-restraint from sexuality with the intent that control of necessary urges symbolized extra human will and dignity. However, repressive Leninist approach to taming sexuality was different than the voluntary admission into sexual abstinence to cultivate your honor. As hindsight has demonstrated, communist theory was never rooted in pragmatism. Communist society institutionalized a repressive silence on sex. It was in government policy that sexual urges could be marginalized through manual labor and elevating a spirit of the community over the self. Suffice to say, many psychosexual dysfunctions and disorders suffered by contemporary Russians are traced back to such repressive and ignorant policies.
In his 1995 book The Sexual Revolution in Russia, Igor Kon categorized the communist policy in Russia into four parts: First, from the wake of the Russian Revolution in 1917 to the early Stalinist years, the main characteristic of communist policy towards sexuality concerned the disintegration of the family and the establishment of full legal and social gender equality for women. However, this policy became more difficult for the state to control than initially imagined. While traditional sexual morality and institutions such as marriage were challenged as ìcapitalist chicaneryî, the resulting sexual anarchy of unwanted pregnancies, skyrocketing abortions, and prostitution became counterproductive to the goals of the Socialist revolution.
So, from 1930 to the end of Stalinís reign in 1953, marriage and family became strengthened again, but in the form of the most repressive sexual system that ever existed. This totalitarianism over Russian sexuality taught that the only function of sexuality was procreation resulting in wide-spread sexual ignorance. Neither families nor state discussed sexuality with children. Sexual practices, such as masturbation, were viewed as individualistic and anti-communist behavior that was punishable by law. Following Stalinís death, sex remained regulated but was less repressive and was afforded more personal space to enhance the importance of the family. The final stage listed by Kon describes Russian sexual values and attitudes shifting towards Westernization and liberalization with the collapse of communism, although the changes were not uniform between ages, genders, education, and region.
However, even following the end of communism, knowledge about sexuality was tremendously distorted in Russia. Contraceptives such as birth control pills had been ingrained into many Russians to be a ìcapitalist inventionî, and thus the most common contraceptive method was to abort. In rural areas in the late 1980ís, there were 770 abortions for 100 births. The value of sexuality, procreation, and, in some respects, life itself had become so degraded that such statistics were considered the norm for Soviet officials. That is not to say that no sexological research was being conducted. In the 1970s, Professor Abram Svyadoshch set up the first Sexological Center in Leningrad. Sexicological research was even understood that most patients suffered sexual problems from a psychological source. But compared to the research on psychosexual dysfunction being conducted by American psychology communities, Soviet sexological services lacked accessibility to average Russians and were primitive. Exacerbating this closed environment towards sexuality was the lack of free speech for Russians.
The most common coping mechanism for psychosexual dysfunctions was discussion with family. But, this isolation in treating psychosexual dysfunctions, such as impotence or lack of arousal caused by the stresses, anxieties, or trauma from their lives, was often ineffective. Many of the reported dysfunctions in Russia are caused by high levels of alcoholism, drug abuse, and great strain that was prevalent under the Russian life. Yet, the ignorance towards sexuality and the learned helplessness caused by lack of help provided offer clues to why sexual violence continues to be so high in Russia.
[ad#downcont]With the fall of the Soviet Union, there was a growing recognition of sexual satisfaction and openness to sexuality. But, there remains a generational and social gap in sexual values and attitudes. In the major Russian cities that have modernized from Soviet traditions, including concerning sexuality, then there have been changes to the attitudes towards psychosexual health. Comprehensive therapy of patients with sexual disorders through psychotherapy, physiotherapy, and specialized procedures are becoming increasingly vogue in a society that previously rejected them on the grounds of being unscientific and anti-communist. This openness marks a new chapter in Russiaís book of sexuality that has long remained shut.
Yet, only a minority of Russians can afford and access such treatments. In the pursuit of building itself from communism, many Russians have been left behind. Not only in socioeconomic terms, but also regarding the burdens concerning attitudes towards sexuality. It is a world where psychosexual dysfunctions are a falsehood and where psychosexual disorders are not the business of others. It is a proletariat tragedy.