Discussion: How We (Never) Spoke and (Do Not) Speak About Gender

Discussion: How We (Never) Spoke and (Do Not) Speak About GenderDiscussion: How We (Never) Spoke and (Do Not) Speak About Gender


The discussion will explore the question of gender in the Soviet and Russian media.

Considering journalism as one of the most important tools for remembering the past, the participants will discuss how the gender policy of the media changed in the Soviet years, how it was influenced by glasnost and perestroika, what transformations it underwent in the 1990s, and how socio-political and historical contexts affect gender attitudes in the Russian media environment today.

Socio-cultural disciplines define gender as a set of so-called sex-role attitudes adopted in a particular society. Gender attitudes and stereotypes are reflected in our words, actions, images, and rituals. Using Judith Butler's language, we all perform the gender assigned to us by the community or ourselves. In other words, we endlessly ascribe to ourselves and reproduce feminine or masculine characteristics. Through this binary system (femininity/masculinity) we perceive and cognize everything that happens around us, normalizing some types of representations and tabooing others.

Media are one of the main sources of gender patterns and stereotypes. They create and dictate “ideal” performatives. The participants will discuss how gender attitudes were conceived and reproduced in the Soviet and Russian media and how they turned into “invisible” words and actions. What stands behind the omnipresent ads for gadgets or food? How are sexism, machismo, and objectification encoded into these ads? How has the historical context influenced existing gender schemes, and what can the study of the Soviet media reveal in this context? Can we talk about a sexual revolution and the formation of a new grid of gender attitudes in the USSR in the late 1980s? And is there a difference between the gender agenda in the Russian media in the 2000s and today?


Nastya Krasilnikova is a journalist, feminist activist, author of the Telegram channels Vashu Mat and Doch Razboinika, host of the Doch Razboinika podcast, and author of Enough! (2020), a documentary film about the culture of violence against women in Russia.

Daria Serenko is a feminist activist, artist, and writer. Co-founder of Femdacha, a shelter for female and male activists experiencing burnout, and co-curator of the educational project Phone Meeting Course: Feminism, Activism, Gender. Serenko curated the support campaigns for Yulia Tsvetkova and the Khachaturyan sisters. She is a columnist and journalist at Takie Dela, Afisha, and other publications and is the author of the book Girls and Institutions (no kidding press, 2021).

Karen Shainyan is a journalist, producer, author of the YouTube channel Straight Talk with Gay People, and author of the documentary project Queerography, which describes the life of queer people in Russian cities.

Sasha Talaver is a gender researcher, PhD student at the Department of Gender Studies at CEU (Vienna), visiting fellow at the Center for Contemporary History Potsdam, and visiting lecturer at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. Her academic interests include the history of Soviet gender politics, with a dedicated focus on women's political involvement. She runs the Telegram channel Bessmertny Pol (The Immortal Sex).

Oksana Vasyakina is a writer and poet.


Katerina Suverina is curator of Garage Art Book Fair, editor at The Garage Journal, and co-founder of the Public History Laboratory.


The discussion will take place via Zoom and will be broadcast on the Garage YouTube channel.