Masculine Purity and "Gentlemen's Mischief": Sexual Exchange and Prostitution between Russian Men, 1861-1941

TitleMasculine Purity and "Gentlemen's Mischief": Sexual Exchange and Prostitution between Russian Men, 1861-1941
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsHealey, Dan
JournalSlavic Review
Volume60
Issue2
Pagination233 - 265
Date Published02/2001
Abstract

Sexual exchanges between men in modernizing Russia can be a window on the comparatively unexplored problem of Russian masculinities. Traditional forms of mutual male intimacy occurred within the patriarchal structures of gentry and merchant households, workshops and bathhouses. Arteli of peasant bathhouse attendants engaged in "sodomy" with clients, observing customary work practices (zemliachestvo, krugovaia poruka). By the 1890s an urban sexual marketplace characterized Russia's male homosexual subculture. Sexually knowing youths and men systematically offered sex for cash to "pederasts," or tetki, who were perceived as predominantly attracted to men. After 1917, Bolsheviks evaluated same-sex love not through a single prism but by class and national contexts. Russia's male homosexual subculture was mistrusted in part because it was a clandestine sexual market, creating suspicious dependency relationships and threatening the "purity" of "innocent" young men. [Research Gate]

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