ISSN 2409-2274

How was born the "soviet patriarchy". Grigory Batkis about the sexual revolution in Russia

Olga Zdravomyslova 1

  • 1 The International Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies

2017, no1, pp. 124–143

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The article analyzes the brochure "The Sexual Revolution in Russia" by Grigory Batkis, one of the founders of Russian social hygiene and sanitary statistics.  This brochure, published in 1925 in Germany and never published in Russia, is an authentic document from the period 1917-1923 that is of paramount importance for understanding the Soviet gender project, as well as a new historical source supplementing existing ideas about the origins and circumstances of the emergence of the Soviet statist gender order, or the "Soviet patriarchy".

Batkis’ concept of sexual revolution differs significantly from modern concepts. He defines the sexual revolution as a direct result and continuation of the October Revolution, aimed at destroying the "old Russian family and marital order" as socially unfair and historically doomed.

Batkis unites elements of three social revolutions that modern researchers differentiate: sexual, gender, and family. However, their driving force is not the progress of individualization and the expansion of the space of individual freedom, but the will of power expressed in the “legislation of the Russian communist revolution” (Batkis). In fact, for Batkis the sexual revolution coincides with the adoption of the first Bolshevik laws on family and marriage.

The article examines the similarities and differences in the interpretations of the sexual revolution in Russia by Grigory Batkis and Wilhelm Reich.

The sexual revolution in Russia did not bring about real changes in sexual and gender culture, but it would be wrong to consider it a failed movement; instead, it should be considered a postponed one.

Keywords: sexual revolution; Soviet patriarchy; Soviet gender project