Cover Osteuropa 6/2006

In Osteuropa 6/2006

A Nation’s Close-Out Sale
Prostitution and Chauvinism in Russia

Eliot Borenstein

Deutsche Fassung


The prostitute is a central figure in Russian culture. It is a metaphor for the traditional understanding of Russia as a woman and serves media and literature daily in creating a Russian identity. The interaction of art and ideology, which has produced the metaphoric post-Soviet prostitute, acts exactly the same way: It is aimed primarily at men. Using the symbol of prostitution, criticism is directed at Russia’s sell-out to the West, whose capitalism has turned everything and everyone in Russia into a commodity. However, the post-Soviet prostitute above all expresses a fear of Russian men, for although she is a powerful temptress, she lacks a phallus.

(Osteuropa 6/2006, pp. 99–122)