By Jennifer Utrata
Girls with out males illuminates Russia's "quiet revolution" in family members existence during the lens of unmarried motherhood. Drawing on huge ethnographic and interview information, Jennifer Utrata specializes in the puzzle of ways unmarried motherhood—frequently visible as a social challenge in different contexts—became taken without any consideration within the New Russia. whereas such a lot Russians, together with unmarried moms, think that two-parent households are most popular, many additionally contend that unmarried motherhood is an inevitable derivative of 2 intractable difficulties: “weak males” (reflected, they argue, within the country’s frequent, persistent male alcoholism) and a “weak kingdom” (considered so as a result of Russia’s unequal economic system and bad social services). one of the day-by-day struggles to get by way of and get forward, unmarried motherhood, Utrata reveals, is seldom thought of a tragedy.
Utrata starts by way of tracing the background of the cultural class of “single mother,” from the country rules that created this type after international struggle II, throughout the demographic traits that contributed to emerging charges of unmarried motherhood, to the modern rigidity among the cultural excellent of the two-parent kinfolk and the de facto predominance of the matrifocal family members. supplying a bright narrative of the studies not just of unmarried moms themselves but in addition of the grandmothers, different family, and nonresident fathers who play roles of their lives, ladies with out males maps the Russian relatives opposed to the country’s profound postwar social disruptions and dislocations.
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Additional info for Women without Men: Single Mothers and Family Change in the New Russia
Late Soviet single mothers are the immediate predecessors of today’s single mothers. Even though today’s high rates of nonmarital births mirror postwar rates, there are many aspects of the late Soviet single motherhood experience that provide invaluable context for understanding Russia’s quiet revolution occurring in family life. The sexual revolution, for instance, began toward the latter part of the late Soviet period but reverberates throughout the post-Soviet era. Divorce and abortion became widespread, too, and rates of both remain high today.
Young people could either live poorly on their own incomes or accept help from families. Soviet women, too, emphasize their generation’s lack of mercenary motives for marriage by contrasting it with current practice. Irina, a divorced teacher, argued: “Today people are more practical. . They plan. They consider whether or not they have money. Or when they need a baby, and when they don’t. Back then there was a different psychology. . ” Pregnancy was regarded as a ﬁrst step in family formation, and marriage symbolized adult status and independence from the parental family.
But when they took a four-hour train ride to Moscow every couple of weeks to locate proper-ﬁtting shoes for their kids or sausage for the family dinner table, they did so alongside many other ordinary Russians riding that same train. Russians joke sarcastically about this “equality in poverty” they once experienced: “We were all equal back then . . ” FROM STATE PROT ECT IONS TO POST-SOCIA L I ST “ F R E E D O MS ” 21 Kalugans of all kinds relished telling me an anecdote based on a common Soviet ritual in the town: “What’s long and green and smells like sausage?