Version classiqueVersion mobile

Penser l’histoire religieuse au xxie siècle

Yves Krumenacker
Raymond A. Mentzer

Feminist online groups versus Orthodox traditional values : a netnographic study of contradictory views on gender practices in contemporary Russia

Groupes féministes en ligne versus valeurs traditionnelles orthodoxes : une étude netnographique des points de vue contradictoires sur les pratiques de genre dans la Russie contemporaine.

Maria Petrova


L'article se concentre sur les discussions en ligne et les déclarations des adeptes contemporains du christianisme orthodoxe autoproclamé et des membres du mouvement féministe en développement, à la lumière des études récentes sur le genre et la religion en Russie effectuées par des chercheurs russes et occidentaux. En particulier, il donne un aperçu du processus de formation de l'identité des femmes russes contemporaines, qui a été façonné par les « valeurs ancestrales liées à la protection de la famille et du foyer » et à la vision du monde du christianisme orthodoxe, promouvant les rôles de genre plus traditionnels. Ma méthode de recherche est l’analyse des discussions de femmes russes (principalement) sur les publics d'Internet sélectionnés, des forums, des journaux en ligne ainsi que des pages individuelles sur Facebook et vkontakte.

Texte intégral

1This essay focuses on the attitudes of the developing feminist movement (which has been on the rise in Russia since the early 2000s) towards the contemporary official representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church and self-proclaimed adherents of Russian Orthodox Christianity. In particular, it aims at providing an insight into the process of the identity formation of contemporary Russian women, which has been shaped by the so-called « time-honored values » and the worldview of Orthodox Christianity, promoting more traditional gender roles, largely encouraged by the state with regard to the population decline concerns, on the one hand, and the liberalization practices, which mostly came from the West, on the other hand. The research method is the analysis of discussions and individual posts (when the comments are switched off and the discussion is impossible) in selected internet communities, propagandizing feminist views and Orthodox sources (,,, and so forth). To what extent do they refer to, discuss or express Orthodox views on such burning issues as the position of women in contemporary Russia, and their role in the family and society (with the focus on reproduction, allegedly being the most important mission of women). The study uses a « netnographic » analysis of the internet discussions and posts.

  • 1 Lynne Attwood, Olga Isupova, « Choosing whether to have children : a Netnographic study of women’s (...)

2Robert Kozinets developed the method of netnography (an established approach to qualitative research, which draws together the terms « internet » and « ethnography ») in 2002. It is based on the study of online communication of the members of various virtual communities with the objective of understanding their perceptions, imagery, attitudes and emotions. As Langer and Beckman stress, netnography is a particularly convenient method when there is a need to study communities, which would be difficult to access by more traditional means because of the sensitive nature of the topics being researched1.

  • 2 Robert V. Kozinets, « Netnography 2.0 », in Russell W. Belk (éd), Handbook of Qualitative Research (...)
  • 3 David Jacobson, « Doing Research in Cyberspace », Field Methods, Vol. 11, No 2, November 1999, p 1 (...)

3There are different types of « netnographic » research, but I chose the one which Robert V. Kozinets, who initiated the method, terms « observational netnography ». Using this approach, « the researcher does not reveal him or herself to the online community and its members, […] does not enter or alter the community, and also has fewer opportunities to learn about the community through the complexity of actual interactions with the community »2. The choice of this approach was determined largely by ethical concerns. In the current project, I felt that my participation might have been intrusive, as the topics and cases raised by the participants are of very sensitive nature. Since anyone can access discussions on Internet forums, it can be argued that it constitutes a public space ; accordingly, to quote David Jacobson, there can be « no reasonable expectation of privacy »3.

  • 4 Lynne Attwood, Olga Isupova, op. cit., p.133-158.
  • 5 Kozinets, « Netnography 2.0 », p 135.

4However, since Russia is an authoritarian society in which the state has a particularly strong concern about demography, admissions by the participants can be used for their stigmatization, I felt that many of the discussions or posts published by the communities might be considered sensitive. Accordingly, I made sure that the people posting on these sites could not be identified. I have referred to contributors by the first letters of the names that they used on the site. If people posted anonymously, they are referred to as « Anon » (if necessary with added numerals)4. Kozinets has pointed out that « using contemporary search engines, many netnographic quotes and verbata are easily traceable to other identifiers of a contributor to the research »5. However, since the posts were in Russian and all quotations were translated into English, I am confident that this will not be the case with my research. To further protect the contributors, only the year in which discussions or posts took place rather than the exact dates has been given.

Netnographic approach

  • 6 Raymond M. Lee, Doing Research on Sensitive Topics, Paris, Sage, 1993, Lynne Attwood, Olga Isupova(...)

5Netnography usually presupposes the following stages : entry, data collection and analysis, providing trustworthy interpretation, and the last stage member check, when some or all of the findings should be presented to the people who were studied, since their comments are to be considered when the final research conclusions are drawn. Research ethics should be also observed. Although « traditional » nethnography recommends « open research », with the researcher revealing his or her identity to the studied community members, and enabling them subsequently to access the results, Langer and Beckman have a more relaxed approach to ethical considerations on the grounds that netnography is related to text analysis methods, where there is not such a strong requirement for informed consent on the part of the studied population. Raymond Lee also considers that if particularly sensitive topics are being studied covert research is less likely to harm the participants6. As I am convinced that this is my case, I have omitted the last stage.

  • 7 Christine Hine, « Internet Research and Unobtrusive Methods », University of Surrey Social Researc (...)

6The netnographic method has been chosen for a number of reasons. First, the use of internet in Russia has grown greatly in recent years both in the major cities, and in the regional cities, towns and villages. Conducting research only in a few major cities like Moscow or St. Petersburg would provide a partial one-sided picture of the situation, as the difference between them and regional cities and towns in remote areas is enormous. It encompasses all spheres of life, such as wages, employment, level of education, medical care, social infrastructure (access to kindergartens, nurseries, schools, hospitals and the like) and even the level of benefits, granted by the state (which is higher in the major cities). Thus, it is very important to cover a wider range for the reliability of the results. It is noteworthy that the participants in the communities under investigation are usually anonymous and do not mention the names of the cities they live in, but the very fact that a considerable number are from regional cities is easy to trace. Some provide information on themselves, such as « we live in a small place », « the distance from the nearest clinic is 50 kilometers », or « there is no central heating in our house ». Linguistic analysis also helps, as many participants use specific words, which are the typical markers of provincial residents only, such as calling a living room or a parlor a « hall » (zala), or using the verb « kushat » (a synonym of the verb « eat » in Russian). Secondly, according to Christine Hine, « since the cloak of anonymity can lead people to a frankness they rarely show in face-to-face encounters, the Internet offers rich data for almost any social researcher and particularly those working in sensitive areas »7.

7In order to find the most suitable and comprehensive sources for the research a large number of groups and communities, including those in the Russian social net (vkontakte),, and were studied. Eventually, three sources for further research were selected. The first one – the online public community – « the truth about pregnancy, giving birth and motherhood », mostly concentrates on the issues of the reproductive pressure, the deception of women in the form of propaganda surrounding marriage and childbirth, allegedly being their main mission. The community has existed since July 31, 2017, and has 21 186 subscribers and 3 579 posts. On average the community publishes about 4-5 posts a day. The most topical of them might total up to several hundred comments and up to 15-20 thousand of views (browsing). The community positions itself as radically feminist, which can be confirmed by its content and the abundance of feminitives. For example, the female version of the word author (« avtorka », authoress) is used 4 242 times, the appeal to female goddess (like thank goddess, instead of thank god) 407. It hardly comes as a surprise that only females are allowed to publish posts in the community, although the community is open to the public as are the other two sites. Some of the authors remain anonymous ; some write under their real names or use nicknames.

8The second site,​humanize_birth, is the online community against the obstetric violence during childbirth. The community has existed since October 2016, has 14 862 subscribers and 974 posts. It publishes approximately seven posts a week, sometimes more. Some posts have up to 15 thousand views. Most of the authors are anonymous, but if they make a special request, the administrators reveal their real names and residences. There is no option to comment on the stories. The overwhelming majority of the authors are women, but on rare occasions men also participate, especially those who were the birth partners of their wives or lost wives or children during birth. The feminitives in this community are at minimum.

9Finally, the third online community – « joy of motherhood » – focuses on the negative sides of motherhood for women who already have one or more children. The community has existed since July 2015, has about 70 000 subscribers, and the number of posts is 38 207 ; the community publishes about 15-17 posts a day on average. There is no option for comments and some entries are viewed up to 15 000-20 000 times. The anonymity is an unbreakable rule within this community, as the participants are extremely concerned about their identities being revealed. It is quite understandable since a woman with a child, who confesses that she is not happy to be a mother and regrets it, is stigmatized in Russia even more than the one who has had a termination or is considering it. The number of feminitives is considerable, but less than in the first community. Thus, the word authoress is used around 900 times, the appeal to female goddess 180 times (it must be taken into consideration that the number of posts altogether is almost 10 times more than in the first public community). What is noteworthy, the word « joy » in the title of the community is deliberately misspelled to highlight the irony and contempt against the so-called « vanilla » stereotypes of motherhood as a very happy period of a woman’s life, full of love, peace and fulfillment. It must be noted that the great number of deliberate misspellings and the corruption of words with a special intention is typical of the first and the last of the above-mentioned internet sources, the ones with a substantial number of feminitives. For example, in a number of posts women substitute one letter in the word « muzh » (husband) and write « mud » (bastard), which is a very rude expletive, usually applied to males, thus providing a very vivid impression of what a woman thinks of them.

10Apparently, these mistakes and corruptions are not used in order to imply some hidden meaning, as the meaning usually lies on the surface, but rather to emphasize the feeling of belonging to a group, a sisterhood, with a signal toward understanding and togetherness. From the survey of these public communities, it can be concluded that all of them are related. The participants and subscribers tend to read them all and to share materials : we have one community, which is radically feminist and which tries to analyze what is happening with the participants (and the option of comments allows them to do so) and to find explanations and two other communities, on which the first one draws largely for materials, as it often refers to the stories in the other two. The public community « humanize birth » has almost no feminitives and on the surface does not look feminist-oriented, as the main intention of the participants is to express the pain of the traumatizing experience of childbirth. It is a kind of psychological therapy that the attempts to deal with post-traumatic syndrome. And finally we see « the joy of motherhood » where more experienced mature women (mothers) try to understand what has happened to them and the number of feminitives here is considerable and the feminist orientation is obvious. Yet this community rather echoes the so-called material feminism of the late 19th century and mostly focuses on the injustice in the sphere of housework, the financial situation, wages, and the like.

11As we can see, all the above-mentioned internet communities focus on the negative aspects of a woman’s life and all provide an insight into reproductive issues. We may say roughly that the first community « the truth about motherhood » covers all the stages of the life of a woman : before and during pregnancy, birth and motherhood. The second community « humanize birth » is concentrated entirely on the negative aspects of the birth process and the last one (« joy of motherhood ») on the life of women after having a child or children. So, it can be stated that they, overlapping each other, cover all the major stages in the reproductive life of a woman.

12Thus, the main major research issue is the principal negative aspects and concerns in the life of Russian women during these stages, who they blame for them and (the crucial question) how they are related to religion in general and Orthodox Christianity (ROC) in particular in the minds of the participants. The first stage of the research is completed. The research issues have been formulated and the appropriate online sites identified. The next stage is data collection, which is not easy, taking into consideration the amount of the material. In working with the materials, the methods of quantitative and qualitative content analysis were combined as well as the hermeneutic of content analysis. First, it was necessary to make a glossary and search for particular words to make sure that religion plays an important role in this discourse and to separate the content relevant to the research from the rest of it. Among the words checked through the search, there were God (several variants), some collocations with God (like God’s will and God’s way), religion, religious, church, Russian Orthodox Church, Orthodoxy, Orthodox, Jesus, Christ, Christianity, Christian, Patriarchal, patriarch, priest/father, sin, prey, prayer, and icon. The largest number of the above mentioned words have been recorded in the first community, very few of the above-mentioned words are recorded in the second one and less numerous than in the first but still considerable in the last one.

13Among the top figures in the first public community were God and its derivatives : 2 300, patriarchal : 547, religion/religious : around 400, sin : 494, church : around 400, Orthodox/Orthodoxy : around 250, pray/prayer : around 250 ; in the second God and derivatives : 250, pray, prayer : around 50, sin : 7, Orthodoxy : 4, church : 3. For the last public community God and derivatives around 1 300, pray/prayer around 200, sin : 176, patriarchal : 25, church : 10, Orthodox : 7. Of course, these are preliminary results, but it is interesting that the communities whose connection to feminism is weaker, have these two words in the top of the list (God and pray/prayer), which means that in a time of distress and especially when giving birth when a woman is most vulnerable the appeal to God and the connection with God through prayer still exists, while in the radically feminist public communities this connection does not exist even with respect to the female Goddess (the words « pray to Goddess » occur only 4 times). The context in which these words were used was also checked. In the first community, they were used rather in a formal or ironic way and in the other two – literally.

14The next stage of the research included making notes on the posts, where the above-mentioned words were present (sometimes more than one). At this stage some of the statements, where the above-mentioned words have no meaningful content, like proverbs or regular collocations, such as « God knows » or « thanks to God » can be dropped.

  • 8 Bruce L. Berg, Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences, London, Pearson, 2004, p. 114 (...)
  • 9 Alan Bryman, Social Research Methods, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 392.

15This stage is followed by the analysis of the texts by means of qualitative content analysis8. According to Alan Bryman, this type of analysis « comprises a searching-out of underlying themes in the materials being analyzed »9. The hermeneutic text analysis was also used.


16Among the most critical topics related to religion/church/Christianity/orthodox Christianity, the following can be distinguished.

  • Reproductive pressure, which includes :
    • Pressure to have a child or children.
    • Propaganda to continue with the pregnancy even with an unwanted child and at an inappropriate time, without a husband and material support, to keep the pregnancy even if it poses a threat to the life of a mother, if a child has defects or the pregnancy happened after rape.
      Thus, the Orthodox site persuades women not to have a termination even if the pregnancy is life-threatening as « the eternal life of a child » is more important than the « temporary life of a mother10 ». The so-called Orthodox obstetrician Roman Getmanov in his interview approves of the women, for example with a severe form of diabetes, who « prefer to sacrifice their lives, but give birth to a child11 ». An Orthodox abortion opponent and broadcaster on the Orthodox channel Spas (the Savior) Natalia Moskvitina in her interview on the site Orthodoxy FM declares that women should « give birth after rape, as the child doesn’t care who his father is and has to live », adding that « dissolute girls are more likely to be raped than the decent ones »12.
    • Attempts to infringe upon the reproductive rights of women and, in particular, to ban some types of contraception, to ban abortions or limit their availability.

The participants associate this initiative with the Patriarch Cyril, who encouraged the believers to sign the petition against abortions in 2016.

    • The 2015 suggestion to withdraw abortions from the system of free medical insurance.
  • 13 « Mizulinoi pomeshali vyvesti aborty iz sistemy OMS », 26 October 2017, accessed 11 December 2019, (...)

This is the initiative of Elena Mizulina, a deputy in the State Duma, who according to the participants « asks the advice of the Orthodox priests how to increase the population and make families have 3-4 children »)13.

    • Introduction of days and weeks without abortions (imposed at the local level by the authorities of particular regions with the approval of the clerics), compulsory viewing of gruesome video materials, obligatory consultations with the priests and asking their permission to have an abortion.
  • 14 Olesia Gerasimenko, « Za podpis’iu v tesrkov’ : kak v Belgorodskoi oblasti ne puskaiut delat’ abor (...)

The innovation was initiated by the governor of the Belogorskii region Evgenii Savchenko, a former communist and a present Orthodox believer, approximately five years ago and gave rise to a huge scandal, as the practice was denounced as illegal and unconstitutional. When the patients and their relatives complained to the prosecutor’s office, the authorities hurriedly withdrew the initiative, claiming that the conversation with a priest was meant to be of a voluntary nature. The priests, who conducted the counseling, were disappointed that their « unique practice was not appreciated and when featured in the press and media that they were criticized for interference in secular life »14.

    • Assertions that marriage and motherhood are the main missions of a woman, which she is ostensibly obliged to fulfill, and are more important than education, career, and leisure pursuits.
  • 15 « Chtoby rozhali !... Protoierei Il’iasheko vystupil za rannie braki », 10 January 2018, accessed 2 (...)

Thus, the site Novye Izvestiia published an interview with archpriest Alexander Iliashenko, a prior of the All-Merciful Christ Cathedral in Moscow and a father of 12 children, who expressed concern about the « demographical catastrophe in Russia » and came up with the idea that early marriages and births should become a norm in Russia. His words circulated widely :
the girls at seventeen can become great mums. At that age, they are still innocent without diseases and infections. Moreover, early marriages will relieve the country from the unnecessary overfilled cohort of women with higher education. Who needs higher education ? Women would displace men in the sphere of management. If they stay at home, raising children, society would benefit15.

    • Encouragement by the ROC to have many children and endure poverty.
  • 16 « RPTS prizyvaet zhenshchin rozhat’ neskolko detei I smiritsia s bednost’iu », 17 August, 2016, ac (...)

In particular, the Orthodox site Simvol (Symbol of Faith) acknowledged that it was the recommendation of the patriarchal board. The author of the recommendation Archbishop of Orekhovo-Zuevo Panteleimon advises women to have more than two children and at the same time observes that the Orthodox family with many children in Russia is doomed to live in poverty. He announced that Orthodox people should prepare for living in cramped quarters and within their limits and should not splurge on trifles, like new notebooks, cell phones or clothing16.

17What is characteristic for these issues, all related to reproductive pressure ?

  • Close cooperation, almost the merger of the ROC and the state, which help each other to pursue their goals. The latter supposedly relies on the support of the church in the matter of increasing the birth rate, championing « traditional, patriarchal values » and Christian humility. In return, the church gains various privileges, special status and protection against competition from other religions.
  • The interference of the church into the matters, which in a secular state are supposed to be separated from it, such as education.

18Just to illustrate the views of the participants let me share some of the most informative posts.

P. 2017 : Patriarch Cyril calls upon the State Duma to ban abortions. The Patriarch wants his sheep, wants control, and wants power and revenue. The state wants the same, hence the perfect symbiosis of the ROC and the state, and it is the people, who suffer for it.
V. 2016 : I don’t want to give birth for the sake of Russia ; I don’t like horrific prices for everything, meager subsidies for medicine and social needs, science being in a pitiful state, while the ROC displays its wealth everywhere, churches are built instead of hospitals and schools. I don’t like that my children presumably will be brainwashed by lessons in God’s law (religious education) instead of sex education.
V2 2019 : Our state is secular ? You are kidding. ROC has already fortified its position in the Parliament (State Duma), kindergartens, schools, and birth centers. And nobody gives a damn about the laws.
S. 2019 : Why is the ROC exempt from all taxes ?
T. 2017 : ROC makes all the decisions – it should be stopped.
Ya. 2017 : The subject « foundations of the Orthodox culture » was imposed at schools. At the medical colleges the priests deliver lectures, which everybody must attend.
P. 2017 : Why does the ROC interfere in the school program and teach our children ?

  • The second and, presumably, one of the most widely covered topics, is Poor medical care during pregnancy, childbirth and after :
    • Neglect of the interests of a mother in favor of a child, lack of medications and proper treatment during pregnancy and after the birth, the pressure to breastfeed even if the health of a mother does not allow this.

Allegedly, this is based on the idea that a woman, especially a mother, should always sacrifice herself as it is a way for salvation for her (here the reference is to the words of the Apostle Paul that women will be saved through childbirth). As one of the participants observes
G, 2018 : Everywhere the same patriarchal idea, that a woman should always nurture or cherish somebody, take care of others, give away her resources.

    • Abuse of women and disrespect in the childbirth process, rude behavior of doctors and nurses, physical violence, gas lighting, deprecation of suffering, infliction of pain.

Generally speaking, obstetric aggression, abuse and rude behavior are typical not only of Russia, but happen occasionally all over world. Still, in Russia they have reached such a scale that it caused public concern (in particular, the community​humanize_birth appears to have attracted attention to this issue). There were even attempts to explain this phenomenon from a scholarly point of view. Thus, an anthropologist and expert in cultural studies Ekaterina Belousova defended a dissertation in 2001, entitled « Ideas and beliefs related to childbirth. Modern urban culture ». In the thesis, she came up with the hypothesis that abuse and humiliation of women during birth represent a modern version of the rite of passage (initiation), with a woman being deprived of her previous status before obtaining a new one, that of a mother. Later on, this hypothesis was presented in her book « Modern Birth Ritual » (Sovremennyi rodil’nyi obriad)17.

  • 18 « Roditeli viniat moskovskogo vracha v invalidnosti detei : ee arestovali », 10 December 2019, acce (...)

19A very serious problem, typical of many hospitals, especially in the provinces, is the refusal to provide anesthesia. There are painful medical procedures without anesthetic (some of them forbidden in other countries as dangerous and traumatic), and a quite recent and very frightening tendency of ubiquitous persistent propaganda advocating natural birth at all costs and a refusal to perform a cesarean even if there are direct indications for surgery. All this is thought to be the cause of many cases of trauma, disability and even the death of mothers and babies18. According to the participants, the church has largely contributed to this, supporting the state, which, allegedly, simply tries to minimize expenses. Another version is that there are very few doctors, who can do the epidural or similar procedures properly, and the training is expensive and unnecessary, as the Orthodox women allegedly can do perfectly well without.

Anon, 2018 : The contribution of religion to punitive gynecology is enormous. Throughout the centuries, the church has opposed anesthesia in childbirth, referring to the bible « you will suffer terribly while giving birth ». Religious women considered pain to be the gift from god. Modern propaganda of the so-called natural birth, punitive gynecology, and the normalization of pain confirm that today in the 21th century nobody treats women as human beings, neither the church, nor the doctors, nor the state, which extols procreation, nor the husbands, who demand sex and heirs.
I. 2019 : New Russian policy of natural birth at all costs is genocide.
S. 2019 : Nowadays Orthodoxy approves only of natural birth, as women should suffer.
S.1 2019 : This propaganda for natural birth without anesthetics, breastfeeding, many children and Orthodoxy is everywhere.
K, 2018 : The church wants the worst for the women, no painkillers, no cesarean.
O.2015 : There is a cult of suffering in this country. If you don’t suffer, it means you don’t live or your life is sinful.

20It should be mentioned that, in discussing pain or anesthetics, the participants often quote Orthodox clergymen and the so-called Orthodox doctors, who argue that an anesthetic or a cesarean are not needed, if a woman prays, gets the blessing from her priest, confesses and takes the sacrament.

  • 19 « Besedy s batiushkoi. Blagodatnaia beremennost. Chast 2 », 23 December 2015, accessed 12 November (...)
  • 20 Alla Mitrofanova « Beremennost’ : voprosy vrachu », Foma №1, 2002, accessed 23 November 2019, http (...)
  • 21 Father Superior Evmenii, « Zdravstvui, malysh : obezbolivanie tak li ono neobkhodimo ? » 18 Januar (...)

21The presence of a priest and icons in the birth room is also allegedly highly desirable according to the Orthodox gynecologist professor V.N. Prohorov19. Another self-proclaimed Orthodox gynecologist Roman Getmanov also advises not to use an anesthetic during birth and claims that he never used it for his own wife, and he is a father of 10 : « If it is natural for a woman to feel pain during birth, it means this pain is necessary and a woman will forget it soon afterwards. Woman’s body is adapted for it20 ». Father Superior Eumenii on the site asserts that a woman should bear her cross of birth pain in order to be saved and warns that women who use an anesthetic do not have the bond with their children and can abandon them as the female animals that were given an anesthetic do21. It goes without saying that the participants find the example of female animals, which is used very often in such a discourse by the opponents of an anesthetic during childbirth, extremely offensive and insulting.

22Another factor the participants find most irritating is the apparent affiliation of the medical staff with the Orthodox Christianity, which they consider irrelevant and unprofessional.

Anon 2019 : The doctor, while I was giving birth, kept saying, you are a sinner, you have committed sins, that is why this is happening to you.
K, 2019 : They will soon use prayer and holy water instead of treatment.
M, 2017 : It’s a shame, that the students of medical colleges study Orthodoxy.
S. 2019 : There is a tendency – all the doctors are believers and keep icons at work.
L. 2018 : All our doctors work on the verge of quasi-medicine, folk beliefs and religious superstitions – all this is due to female gender socialization and patriarchal culture… The quality of education is poor and the influence of the church enormous.

  • The third topic, raised by the participants is : the plight of the mothers of one or more children in Russia, and the deprivation of their rights

23It includes physical and moral exhaustion, depression, anxiety and regretting having children, lack of affection for one’s children, even hostility towards them, daunting housework, which nobody shares, financial problems (husbands being unable to provide for the family), unbearable living conditions, the lack of help or sympathy on the part of husbands (mostly), families and friends, the lack of support from the state (humiliatingly small child allowances, lack of kindergartens and child centers), boredom and loneliness during the maternity leave, intellectual and professional degradation, and bulling and abuse in the family.

A. 2018 : The people are brainwashed by the ROC and neo-patriarchate. The husband is the master, and women have to do all the hard work.
F. 2018 : Sometimes, it seems to me that all the men in the world want women to be slaves. The patriarchal society will not benefit from equality.
B. 2018 : You live in a patriarchal society where you are treated as an incubator, a maid and a supplement to a man.
K. 2018 : Russia is a patriarchal country with a stupid tradition that a man is a tsar.
Anon 2018 : I don’t want my daughter to meet some eloquent windbag, who will brainwash her about procreation, Christian values, that man is the head of the family… and woman’s lot is humbleness and motherhood.

24The priests also add fuel to the fire. For example, the prior of Spaso-Preobrazenskaia church Sergei Baryshev claims : « No matter how clever, well-mannered or educated a woman is she must know her place even if her husband started drinking or doesn’t try to achieve anything in life… She must know her place and her realm is children and family chores »22.

25To summarize, it can be stated that the participants of feminist communities largely lay the blame for the problems faced by modern Russian women on the Orthodox Church, which enjoys the support of the state and caters to its interests. At the same time, it is noteworthy that the members of the above mentioned internet communities and the Russian people in general are inclined not to distinguish between the official position of the church and the statements of self-proclaimed Orthodox Christians, who pretend to be speaking on behalf of the church. The lack of control on the internet and the absence of a unified center, which could highlight the position of the church on certain burning issues as well as the excessive zeal of individual priests result in the fact that the ROC is characterized as a conservative, outdated institution, which contributes to the injustice and oppression and is misogynic by nature.


1 Lynne Attwood, Olga Isupova, « Choosing whether to have children : a Netnographic study of women’s attitudes towards childbirth and the family in post-Soviet Russia », in Lynne Attwood, Elisabeth Schimpfoessl and Marina Yusupova (éd.), Gender and Choice after Socialism, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, p. 133-158.

2 Robert V. Kozinets, « Netnography 2.0 », in Russell W. Belk (éd), Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods in Marketing, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2006, p. 133-134.

3 David Jacobson, « Doing Research in Cyberspace », Field Methods, Vol. 11, No 2, November 1999, p 134, 135 ;, accessed 12 December 2018 ; Lynne Attwood, Olga Isupova, op. cit., p. 133-158.

4 Lynne Attwood, Olga Isupova, op. cit., p.133-158.

5 Kozinets, « Netnography 2.0 », p 135.

6 Raymond M. Lee, Doing Research on Sensitive Topics, Paris, Sage, 1993, Lynne Attwood, Olga Isupova, op. cit., p. 133-158.

7 Christine Hine, « Internet Research and Unobtrusive Methods », University of Surrey Social Research Update, No 61, Spring 2011, p 2-3.

8 Bruce L. Berg, Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences, London, Pearson, 2004, p. 114.

9 Alan Bryman, Social Research Methods, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 392.

10 Irina Siluianova, « Smert’ v rodakh ili rozhdenie smerti », 20 January, 2002, accessed 15 December 2019,

11 Alla Mitrofanova, « Beremennost’: voprosy vrachu », Foma N° 1, 2002, accessed 23 November 2019,

12 Natalya Moskvitina, « Propagandiruia predokhranenie ot beremennosti, my reklamiruem pokhot’ », 17 February 2016, accessed 13 December 2019,

13 « Mizulinoi pomeshali vyvesti aborty iz sistemy OMS », 26 October 2017, accessed 11 December 2019,

14 Olesia Gerasimenko, « Za podpis’iu v tesrkov’ : kak v Belgorodskoi oblasti ne puskaiut delat’ aborty », 29 May 2018, accessed 21 December 2019,

15 « Chtoby rozhali !... Protoierei Il’iasheko vystupil za rannie braki », 10 January 2018, accessed 2 December 2019,

16 « RPTS prizyvaet zhenshchin rozhat’ neskolko detei I smiritsia s bednost’iu », 17 August, 2016, accessed 11 December 2019,

17 Ekaterina Belousova, Sovremennyi rodil’nyi obriad, accessed 21 December 2019,

18 « Roditeli viniat moskovskogo vracha v invalidnosti detei : ee arestovali », 10 December 2019, accessed 15 December 2019,

19 « Besedy s batiushkoi. Blagodatnaia beremennost. Chast 2 », 23 December 2015, accessed 12 November 2019,

20 Alla Mitrofanova « Beremennost’ : voprosy vrachu », Foma №1, 2002, accessed 23 November 2019,

21 Father Superior Evmenii, « Zdravstvui, malysh : obezbolivanie tak li ono neobkhodimo ? » 18 January 2014, accessed 25 November 2019,

22 « Pravoslavnyi vzgliad na feminism », 2 December 2014, accessed 9 March 2019,


St. Petersburg State University, Russie

Le texte et les autres éléments (illustrations, fichiers annexes importés) sont sous Licence OpenEdition Books, sauf mention contraire.

Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search