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Life by other rules
L. talks about his Russian relatives who were born and lived in Soviet times in northern Tajikistan. Their parents, having got there by distribution, occupied a high position. K. and T. belong to the age cohort of the 1950s and 1960s. “I know that K. had a sexual relationship before marriage. That is, she twice ... M. - this is her second husband. Before that, she married someone there ... T. was not my first man, and he was not my first woman. And our relationship, of course, began long before the wedding ”(50 years).
Such sexual practices coincide with the practices of the urban educated population in Russia of this period. However, information about them, apparently, did not circulate outside the narrow circle (there was no single interethnic sexual generation - cf. thesis of A. Rotkirch). In public interactions, the non-indigenous population generally adhered to generally accepted norms (for example, “defiant” clothes were not welcomed, although allowed), freedom was not shown publicly (they came into conflict not only with national norms, but also with the official norms of the Soviet regime). Intimate sexual practices were not the subject of information exchange either in society as a whole, or between ethnic groups in particular. Private spheres of ethnic groups were separated from each other. An informant talks about her relative, who “... said, despite the fact that I have been working with some Tajik women all my life, I have never ... been at their place, and I will never be invited to them” (50 years). 31 K. Harris believes that these groups came into contact rather rarely, up to the present they live in different communities, interacting only in schools and in the workplace (Harris 2004: 174). However, the media were not completely impenetrable. O. Roy, exploring the national construction in Central Asia, notes the significant segregation of ethnic communities, but from his point of view, this did not mean that "the two societies lived separately from each other." There were many areas where people constantly interacted: at work, in social activities, at official events, living nearby in the same apartment building, etc. “European culture is the Russian culture that has permeated us. And communication (professional) in Russian, and documentation ”(55 years). The Russian language during the Soviet period was the most important resource for career advancement and material well-being. The interactions mainly took place in the “Europeanized” space, which was composed of ethnic Russians, Jews, Germans, etc., who did not strive for “orientation” (that is, for interactions in the national Tajik environment). As a result, the indigenous people organized their lives on the basis of double codes, since there really were two social worlds to which they belonged (Roy 2000: 82). The main agents of interaction in the public sphere are men, and therefore they were the bearers of double norms, supporting modernist norms in the public sphere, and traditionalist ones in the private sphere (Kasymova 2002). However, women (at least urban ones), involved both in the public sphere and in everyday interactions (for example, with neighbors of a different nationality), were in a system of double norms. At the level of the private sphere, inter-ethnic marriages contributed to interactions (although statistically they were quite rare.32) Informants say: “Marriages were more common when a Russian woman married a Tajik ... Because there are not many Russian male people there” (50 years). Many party workers were married to Russians ... then it was prestigious .... there were cases at the faculty and now there are ”(55 years). Marriages with Russians are rated prestigious and / or demographically justified.
In addition, interactions depended on belonging to a particular social layer. A Russian informant says that her family communicated with Europeanized (Russified) educated Tajiks, including those who lived with them in a “nomenclature” house, many of whom were married interethnicly.
So, the gender order in relation to the national context can be thought of as consisting of several circles or layers. Its core was made up of patriarchal values and pronatal female sexuality (aimed at procreation). The woman was subordinated to the vertical hierarchies of the extended family (elders and men) and horizontal networks of the community.
However, she was also an agent of the Soviet contract “working mother”, performed duties (was partially involved in the public sphere, often forcedly) and enjoyed rights (divorced, had abortions, raised children in kindergartens) and benefits (for example, like a mother with many children) citizen.
On the periphery of the gender order, there were significant “deviations” from patriarchal norms that arose as a result of Soviet modernization and the implementation of the gender policy of emancipation. On the one hand, the destruction of tradition in the private sphere was not successful, but many components of Soviet structures and ideology penetrated everyday life. The identity of a Soviet person (including gender-marked) arose, adhering to certain freedoms legitimized by communist ideology and supported by the state. Most often, this identity was formed in the Russified interethnic environment. Sovietization as Russification, the formation of a Russified national environment, interethnic interactions were the second group of factors that influenced the modernization of the gender order.
Before moving on to an analysis of the post-Soviet transformation of the gender order, I would like to briefly dwell on one problem that has been actively discussed in Western and feminist literature in recent decades, especially in connection with the topic of multiculturalism. Many researchers, being “west” (in the geographical and / or cultural sense) of the object of their research, proceed from the progressiveness of modernization and individualization, in particular in the field of gender relations. In all likelihood, I, too, am among those researchers who most often leave aside the question of what advantages a woman receives in the system of patriarchal relations. In this case, analyzing the gender order in Soviet Tajikistan, I see many such advantages. Compared with the Russian woman of the late Soviet period, the Tajik woman was not expected to have permanent responsibility for the material support of the family; she should not have provided for children as a single mother. A Russian woman fulfilled her “duty” to the state - for him she gave birth to children, worked, was engaged in public work, the motive of “duties” and “responsibility” was one of the central in her life. She built numerous strategies in order to ensure life in conditions of total deficit. Tajik women, on the contrary, should not have solved these problems, as well as the dilemma of the balance of roles - combining work (career) with the household (Kasymova also writes about this, showing differences from the Russian version of “working mother.” - Kasymova 2004); she did not encounter (or very rarely) the phenomenon of “absent” fathers, alcoholism, and the “masculinity crisis” (at least in an explicit form). For Russian women, the motive of the “absence of real men” (who are the breadwinner, the “stone wall”, make decisions and bear responsibility, etc.) was and remains central to narratives (now the high level of economic viability of the man is added to this, his attractiveness and sexuality).
A woman in Tajikistan was in a system of physical and economic security, in networks of kinship and community, was largely protected from government interference in family life and the unpredictability of her family life and the lives of children. Gaining power during the life cycle, it influenced the most important events of the family and community. She was provided with respect and support in old age. In other words, the patriarchal system, even modernized by the Soviet state, is a strong defense system. However, collapsing in the post-Soviet period, it can leave weak agents without any resources if they do not receive support from other agents (for example, from the state, social movements) or start building successful life strategies on their own. Moreover, such weak agents can turn out to be both women (lacking sufficient resources - skills, time - to work in the public sphere and for the autonomous maintenance of the household and motherhood), and men (losing their income opportunities due to structural changes in the public sphere).
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