27 July 2007

Youth and Sex Panics, Past and Present

Two anniversaries were observed this week in Moscow.

First, a small group gathered outside Lubyanka to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the onset of the Purges in 1937. This event would perhaps not seem so note-worthy, were it not for the Putin administration’s attempt to soften criticism of Stalin-era crimes.

Second, the Moscow Times also reported that this week marks the fiftieth anniversary of the 1957 Moscow Youth Festival. For two weeks, over 30,000 foreign youth stayed in Moscow and rubbed shoulders with each other and thousands of Soviet young folks. This festival is usually remembered in a positive light as the point when Soviet youth embraced foreign youth culture, namely, jeans, jazz and rock music. (Among the American delegation to the festival was folk-singer Peggy Seeger, Pete’s half-sister, though she presumably isn’t a fan of that being her primary identification.)

At the time, the festival also sparked some trepidation about such “cross-fertilization” among some Russians who feared that young women were falling for foreign charms, especially from African visitors to the capital. And to this day, the myth of a baby boom of black Russian “festivalnye” continues, as Trud reported this week. All this to say that the naïve idea of Russian racism being a response to the influx of foreigners after the collapse of the Soviet Union, noted in a previous post, simplifies a rather more complex story. Tune into my dissertation for more!

In sharp contrast to the spirit of the 1957 festival, certain Russian youth today aren’t so interested in contact with foreigners, friendship and peace. Instead, they are in attending what Moscow Komsomolets described as a military-like summer camp. Worries over young women and reproduction continue, as MK reported:

Two days ago ten thousand camp guests witnessed an event staged by a group of partisans. Special teams toured the camp asking young women to hand over string-type underwear. The most ideological Nashistas turn out to have information that, as well as being clear evidence of depravity, that type of women's underwear can also cause sterility. Young women were asked to hand over their strings voluntarily and to choose a more all-embracing replacement from a proffered assortment. The "agent of childlessness" was then destroyed in frenzied fashion before the owner's eyes.
(Translation--slightly altered--from Johnson’s Russia List)

In other slightly-related news, last week’s Bigotry Monitor noted that the xenophobic youth in DPNI are organizing “self-defense brigades.”

But in better news, the same issue notes that dislike of ethnic minorities is falling in Russia—35% now think migrants do more harm than good, down from 39% polled last year. Unfortunately, “level of hostility to outsiders is highest in Moscow (42%).”

Listening in Moscow

This week I’ve been enjoying Bjork’s Volta over and over. Unfortunately, this pleasure was interrupted when a friend prompted me to listen to Dag Nasty’s Wig Out at Denko’s again. This was followed by an unhealthy dive into some old “treasures,” including Jawbreaker, Infest and Hell No. Not recommended.

Three Unrelated

1. Eco-activists Attacked by Skinheads in Angarsk
2. News of Tillman Cover-Up Continued
3. A Pearl Buck Comeback?


BusterPh.D.Candidate said...

By the way, one product of Russian rock and roll:


(Thanks to the blog maaskva: nashimi glazami for bringing this to my attention.)