Dec 03, 2014 | RUSSIAN GLAS•NOT

Education in Russia: Sexcluded

According to the presidential children's rights commissioner, Pavel Astakhov, sex education will never be permitted in Russia's schools as it goes against the country's morals & traditions. He suggests instead that children be informed about sexual matters, and by sexual matters he means abstinence (American initiatives being his paradigm), by reading literature. Especially Russian, tsarist era literature (there is reliably little or no sex going on in those novels).

 

In Anna Karenina for example, young girls will learn that sexual activity outside of marriage will probably get you steamrolled by a speeding locomotive or some other bulky vehicle. In Nabokov's Lolita, they will discover that flirting at a young age will lead to a life of abject poverty, desperation and premature death and, bonus lesson, that America is a land of debauchery wher no good can ever come to anyone.

 

Boys reading Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov will be educated on the perils of sexual desire; how it can insidiously lead both fathers and sons to be lusting over the same woman and thereby induce the destruction of whole families and the commitment of murder (or at least the thought of committing murder). In Turgenev's Fathers & Sons, they will observe how a strong desire for a woman eventually means you end up dying of typhus (accidental or not) and in the abridged, audio-version of Crime & Punishment, where basically it's all Sonya's fault, driving poor Raskolnikov crazy with her furtive sexual taunts, it will become apparent to them that they should abstain even from sexual thoughts lest they end up in jail for a gruesome murder or two.

 

And of course, making any 12 year old boy read War and Peace multiple times, so he can recite by heart all key passages, is a guarantee of nipping his emerging sexual urges to the bud, at least until adulthood.

 

Of course, Pavel Astakhov's logic behind his categorical denunciation of sex education, that somehow talking about sex makes it more probable to have sex (and leaving aside the debate if teenage sex is by nature good or bad), has some repercussions for the teaching of other curriculum subjects. In history class, will students after being lectured on some war or other go out and start one? Will they have an increased propensity to invade their neighbor? To take up arms? Then again, that sort of behavior is part of the country's tradition, at least according to Putin's neo-soviet, neo-tsarist narrative, so it's alright.