Mainly women are engaged in raising children in Russia. Men are entrusted with the role of breadwinner and breadwinner this has always been the case, and although the situation is gradually changing, the sphere of care is still assigned to the woman. More than one generation of men raised by mothers has grown up to some they seem infantile and unable to take responsibility, to others driven into the framework of the traditional gender model, which has become irrelevant for everyone. Zhanna Chernova, Doctor of Sociology, Leading Researcher at the Sociological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, told Lente.ru why men practically do not raise children, and boys have to learn about masculinity from their mothers and the film industry. Many women complain that men in Russia are becoming infantile, not adapted to life, and so on. Is it really so? Are Russians becoming a society of mama’s sons?
At some point, ideas about masculinity and femininity began to change and were actively discussed, and not only in research circles. They were also discussed in the media in the late 50s early 60s. There was then such a demographer Boris Urlanis, who wrote an article in the newspaper Nedelya entitled Take care of men. What is this article about? In it, Urlanis showed a picture familiar to modern Russians the average life expectancy of men is less than that of women, the mortality rate of men of working age is higher, and in this regard, it is men who can be considered the weaker sex that needs to be protected.
Sociologists and psychologists joined this discussion, who said that women had become very strong, and men were weak. All this happened against the background of the adoption of a new family code and the liberalization of divorce. That is, from that period we have had a fairly large number of families where a mother is raising a child without a father. And he copes. But what the moral panic and anxiety about men becoming softer are connected with is the question. In general, changes in ideas about masculinity are taking place in a broader context, and they are connected with the fact that the requirements for men have been quite strict for a long time: a man must be strong, must earn money, must provide for his family, and so on.
Since the 80s of the century, a discussion has begun that to correspond to such a role is a rather heavy burden. And this role itself is toxic for men because the price of this social success is too high. And, in principle, there are not very many men who can correspond to this role. Not everyone may even want to make a lot of money and have a successful career. All this led to a rethinking of the content of the male gender role. Together with this rethinking, such a concept as responsible parenthood came into use. We began to talk about the fact that this is also a very important part of a man’s life.
Although initially the idea of a male breadwinner practically excluded the possibility of his realization as a loving and caring father. And such an idea of fatherhood requires completely different qualities empathy, tenderness, tactile contact instead of harshness, and an imperative style of parenting. And now, over several decades, we see that the idea of a man as a person with non-aggressive emotions is gradually expanding the content of the male gender role. This makes men softer and more emotional.
Because men simply have someone to shift these household responsibilities onto. If women could shift it to men, they would do it too, but in our situation, the transfer goes to them while justifying this by the traditional state of affairs or, say, by fatigue. Nobody likes this routine monotonous activity. And a man living alone with time gets better at home: he knows how to turn on the washing machine, cooks, washes, and cleans. As a last resort, turns to the service industry.
In many ways, this position comes from upbringing – the model of gender symmetric parenting is preserved in Russia. If, at the level of values, both men and women say that both parents should participate in raising a child, then in fact, of course, women are more involved in this. And they do it because of the gender ideology that they themselves have. Someone more traditionally brings up children, from an early age including girls in the domestic sphere, and not including boys. But this does not mean that boys necessarily grow up without a set of competencies necessary for an adult. My son, for example, lives alone and leads his life on his own. After all, now most of everyday life is mechanized, and the question is not who will press the button on the washing machine – a man or a woman, the question is who will mostly think,
The family is, of course, an important educational institution, but the child grows up not only in the family but also at school. And in schools, we still have labor lessons – the so-called technologies – where girls are taught to sew aprons and cut salads, and boys are taught to make stools. Of course, these are very gender-marked classes, and all attempts to replace them are not always successful, as far as I know, since the teachers themselves are accustomed to such a program and, due to their age or other attitudes, cannot broadcast anything else.
But after school, children still get the experience of independent living, since many enter universities in other cities and settle in hostels. And this, in particular, makes modern men more adaptable compared to the generation of the Soviet era, when most of the housework was mostly manual and was done exclusively by women. Men have never been engaged in boiling linen and salting cabbage – these are purely female practices.
It seems to me that this is a matter of gender stereotypes and traditions that persist in a particular family. The division of labor patterns are not identical for every generation they are adjusted. But overall, we can see that women are still investing more in childcare and household chores. And the model of responsible parenting is still in its infancy. In particular, although at the level of lawmen have the opportunity to take parental leave and this is enshrined in the 1995 Family Code, not many men actually use it.
This is primarily due to the way this family policy instrument is arranged. In this case, I always cite the example of Sweden: this country is the leader in Europe in the number of men who take maternity leave. How does this happen? What is it about these Swedish men? The most working explanation is that the introduction of this leave for fathers in Sweden was primarily a long-term work of the state, and there are social quotas for a certain number of days that only the father can take and which burn out if he does not use them. And they are paid 90 percent of their salary, not 40. There, colleagues will look badly at a man if he does not take this leave.
n Russia, the opposite is true. The way parental leave is arranged in our country does not encourage men to exercise their rights. We have a fairly low rate of compensation – no more than 40 percent of the salary that a parent leaving on maternity leave receives. Also, the vacation itself is quite long. A year and a half are too long for the labor market. And even if young men and young fathers do not want to give up maternity leave, very often its conditions are simply unprofitable for the family. The allowance is not very large, and the gap in wages for men and women is quite high, so a mother should go on vacation – there are fewer losses. If the decision to go on maternity leave is not the result of blindly following traditions, but of discussions between spouses, then the key factor is precisely the economic one, because the young family is already financially vulnerable.
Employers also retain gender stereotypes. Knowing how childcare is arranged in Russian society, they prefer to hire men for certain positions, realizing that they would rather agree to business trips and weekends, will stay late after work, and go out overtime if necessary. And women, if the child is sick, take sick leave, so they are not so attractive to the employer.
The complex set of these factors leads to the fact that domestic work remains a predominantly female sphere of responsibility. Indeed, as real role models, male models are not well represented. It seems to me that this is mainly due to the idea of a normative male gender role as a successful breadwinner. Because this professional success that is required to validate a man’s masculinity implies his absent position at home and in the family. If a person is practically 24/7 involved in a highly competitive environment to earn money and confirm his function as an earner and winner, he simply does not have time to play the role of a father.
This is a picture of the 20th-century American family that both the second wave of feminism and subsequent studies on masculinity has been heavily criticized because the downside of following this gender pattern is higher male mortality and painful retirement. They do not get as involved as women, because throughout their lives they did not pay enough attention to the family. In general, for men, the age transition is more difficult, because for them the profession is the basis of their identity. And as soon as their professional activity ends, they ask themselves the question: who am I and what should I do? Women have a definite advantage in this regard because they always build a balance between family and work. Accordingly, if they retire, this does not mean that they have no meaningful activities left they are implemented as grandmothers, maintain family ties, spend more time with children.
The researchers, seeing this picture, said that the normative role of the male breadwinner is bad for the boy’s socialization because he does not see the real models of men in his environment. At home, their mothers are engaged in their upbringing, and teachers, mostly women at school, so boys choose hypermasculine models as role models – these are, as a rule, action heroes. But these models are not always relevant outside of the cinema. The peak of such discussions fell in the 60s and 70s. Now social media and the Internet can compensate boys for the lack of real communication with men. Now more than one generation of men has grown up who were brought up exclusively by mothers and grandmothers. Divorces have long become a part of our life, but this did not result in a crisis. Is it possible to say that women themselves teach their daughters to get involved in the domestic sphere, and boys in their careers? Maybe, as a historically more vulnerable stratum of society, they expect that in their old age they will be provided by their sons?
The issue of caring is labeled as feminine, firstly, because very often it is not considered in the category of work. In the labor market, women have to choose less lucrative jobs precisely for those reasons to fit mothering into their careers. At some point, they begin to think about organizing care for the elderly. And here the specificity of Russia also lies in the fact that if we have a mixed idea of caring for young children – until a certain age it is considered that a child should be with his mother, and then he is already sent to schools and kindergartens then in the case with care for the elderly, institutional intervention is discouraged. In this regard, we have quite traditional ideas. In Russia, it is believed that caring for grandparents should be carried out in the family,
Family and work are two spheres, which in any case are opposed to each other. And this situation itself is bad, and not how mothers raise their children. The main task here is to build some kind of balance between family and career, to determine the proportion that would be fair for everyone. The concept of the gender role of women is, in principle, more variable than that of the role of men. A woman, for example, may want to devote herself entirely to her family and that’s okay. A woman may strive to make a career here’s another model that is perceived as a variant of the norm. Although the most common in our country is the so-called working mother contract when a woman is both working and raising children, while the notion of masculinity is stuck on the notion that a man is a strong breadwinner. Therefore, researchers say that we are in a situation of an unfinished gender revolution. If we look at Western countries, under the influence of the second wave of feminism, ideas about the female gender role have changed dramatically.
The number of working women has practically doubled, the housewife has ceased to be a normative and cultural model, and the male role has remained the same. And in this researchers see the blocking of gender ideology. And since we do not have institutional support from the state to extend maternity leave for fathers, the conservative view of the family as a sphere of women’s self-realization is reproduced both at the level of these preferences and due to the lack of incentives. And these attitudes are broadcast to men practically from the cradle. Although men no longer fit this patriarchal model, do they still want to remain beneficiaries in this system?
Of course, because there is such a thing as patriarchal dividends – these are the bonuses that men receive from the traditional gender system. One of these bonuses is the ability not to boggle your head with unnecessary information, for example, how to turn on the washing machine and how often to load laundry there. And, accordingly, high wages, career opportunities, and other privileges in work, which you just don’t want to give up, because they greatly simplify life.
In this sense, it is difficult to say whether Russian society is patriarchal at all. All the same, this Soviet fem-trace has affected. Many generations of twentieth-century women had an experience of employment and economic autonomy, which cannot be said about Western European countries and America. Therefore, the patriarchy in Russia is rather difficult to organize. On the one hand, this is the desire for the traditional division of roles in the family, and on the other, the gender role of the working woman. Indeed, in Soviet times there was an article about parasitism, and everyone had to work. Modern women, perhaps, would like to be housewives, but they do not strive to be incomplete economic dependent on men. They are trying to protect themselves and their children in case of divorce.
They just adhere to such traditionalist views on the conduct of life. But this is not so much among young people. The situation changes only with the appearance of a child in the family. I did a study on this topic, in the framework of which I interviewed 15 young couples – that’s 30 people. Before the birth of a child, the main way of dividing household responsibilities was a contract. Young people said She also works, and if I see that she is tired, I myself will cook something for dinner. Some couples spoke directly to the schedule of household chores. That is, the male contribution to everyday life was in the ratio, if not 50 to 50, then at least 30 percent.
But after the birth of a child, the division of housework on a parity basis moved out. It was the kind of trigger that triggers the traditional sharing of homework because a woman takes parental leave, stays at home, and takes this area of responsibility completely. And the economic burden on the man is growing, since he, in fact, remains the only breadwinner in the family. Why do some men do not seek to start a family at all and live their whole lives with their mother?
To begin with, the primary function of the family is initially survival. It was hard for one to live – both economically and psychologically. Things are different now. Russian traditionalists think that gay marriage will destroy the institution of the family, but in reality, it will be destroyed rather by singletons single people who have no pragmatic motives for entering into family relationships. They can order food delivery and cleaning – they don’t need to get married to get help.
Family is important for a person rather because this area gives him a close relationship with another person. Someone in this regard is easier to be alone. Sexual needs also became possible to realize without entering into a marriage relationship. In fact, they are no longer needed for reproductive function. And with mothers, men do not stay so massively. Loners are much more essential in this regard.