Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Russian files: sex, class, gender in the blogosphere

The Ivannikova case would have made headlines everywhere I think.

A year and a half ago Ivannikova stopped a car in the street — a common practice in Russia, where taxi services are less developed — to travel home.

The driver, ethnic Armenian Sergei Bagdasaryan, drove her to a dark side street instead, where he locked the car doors and demanded that Ivannikova perform sexual intercourse with him, threatening that she “will never be found” if she refused, Ekho Moskvy reported.

Bagdasaryan pulled down his trousers and underwear and reached for the woman, but Ivannikova, who had already been raped once before, was carrying a small kitchen knife in her purse. She stabbed the driver in the hip and struck his femoral artery.

She then managed to escape from the car and call the police.

The Russian segment of the LiveJournal got fuming. Some backed up the woman's right to use force against the rapist while others pointed out that said Bagdasarian is unable to defend himself ans all what we know regarding what transpired in the car is literally Her Story.
However, much of the publicity was generated due to the fact that Bagdasarian happened to be of Armenian descent while Ivanninikova is Russian. (Russkikh ludey obizhayut or "Russian people under attack" was their slogan; if you read Russian see check out user Krylov’s postings)

Some Russian 'real' media, such as Komsomolskaya Pravda, have also covered the story however, it was Masha Gessen's article in the glamour Russian magazine Bolshoy Gorod that has sparked a new cycle of controversy.
Masha Gessen, a Soviet-born Jewish-American lesbian-feminist journalist, interviewed Ivannikova and came up with no so flattering portrayal of the woman.
To cut through all the subtleties, Gessen depicted her as a 'white trash' oblivious to her own intellectual and spiritual poverty. In her defense, Gessen wrote that since the BG magazine’s target audience is upper middle class people (by Russian standards of course) who earn no less 1500$ a month, she wanted to provide them with an insight into the lives of those who live on lesser means.


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