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Double Life, a Short History of Sex in the USSR

Double Life, a Short History of Sex in the USSR

The October Revolution ushered in an era of sexual freedom and liberation from bourgeois conventions. Satisfying sexual needs had to be "as simple as drinking a glass of water," according to feminist Alexandra Kollontai who was at the forefront of the fight for the liberation of morals. 

Rapidly, the situation spiraled out of control: Syphilis spread throughout the country, and, in 1922, an estimated number of nine million abandoned children—the "bezprizornye"—roamed the streets of Russia in criminal gangs. The number of abandoned women, with no resources, became alarming. In the ensuing social chaos, the regime operated a total U-turn. While official propaganda exalted the virtues of the "new" man whose healthy body had no other purpose than to work and toil for the glory of communism, sexual activity had been relegated to its strict reproductive function at the service of an under-performing Soviet birth rate. Community life and general surveillance would confine sexuality to a quasi clandestine status for the next thirty years.

DOUBLE LIFE, A SHORT HISTORY OF SEX IN THE USSR revisits 70 years of communist power through the prism of sexuality.

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