Friday, March 16, 2012

Mother Russia Finally Waking Up?

In terms of patriarchy. This article on the band Pussy Riot offers some faint hope:
One day in October, three women in fluorescent masks and minidresses mounted a scaffold in a Moscow metro station, grabbed guitars and amplifiers, and began to play their first hit, “Loosen the paving stones!”
“Egyptian air is good for the lungs! Let’s make Tahrir in the middle of Red Square,” they sang, punching the air in unison, as alternately bemused and shocked commuters watched and filmed them with their mobile phones.
Five months later, these lyrics seem clairvoyant, after Moscow was convulsed by street demonstrations following flawed parliamentary elections in December. The all-female punk group, known as Pussy Riot, has become a household name in Russia, embodying a brazen push for female emancipation in the country’s stiflingly macho, conservative society. To their critics, they are simply publicity-seeking blasphemers.
The group declined to be interviewed in person, fearing for their safety but agreed to chat with the Financial Times over Skype. A band member who gave her name only as Shayba described them as adherents of “third wave feminism” and the Riot Grrrl movement of underground feminist punk rockers in the US. Their lyrics target in equal measure Vladimir Putin, authoritarian government, sexism and rape.


Shayba said Russia’s president-elect had become a symbol of all that was wrong with the country. “[Putin] has repeatedly made sexist statements that the main task of women is child bearing and being in a passive position relative to men,” she said.

They are brave women, given what the Russian state can do to them. And yes, Russia is a stiflingly macho and conservative society. Of course the list of such societies on this earth is a very long one. Much feminist work remains to be done.