Pussy Riot: ‘There is No Feminist Theory in Russia’

By Annie Reuter

Pussy Riot have become a household name to many after their arrest last year in Russia where they were convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” for a performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Last night (May 6), at the PEN American Center Literary Gala, former members Masha Alyokhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova spoke about feminism in Russia and the United States.

“In such a patriarchal country as Russia, it sort of determines the whole movement is quite different than the way it is in the United States,” Alyokhina said, according to New York Magazine. “So you don’t have an equally wide and encompassing and powerful movement as in the United States. There is more of a community of feminists and people who dedicate themselves to feminist issues that stage various events.”

Related: Jailed Pussy Riot Member Goes on Hunger Strike Until Russian Prison Starts ‘Treating Us Like Humans’

Tolokonnikova then explained that while many Russian women are feminists they don’t necessarily identify as feminists.

“We had a very strong tradition [of feminism] during our revolution in 1917, and after that we had a really strong feminist movement, but it was crushed by Stalin, and after that there is no feminist theory in Russia,” she said. “But of course, because we are in touch with the Eest [and] women see that they can be good businesswomen and scientists, they do it, but they don’t recognize themselves like feminists because there is no theory.”

After being released from a prison camp in Siberia, Tolokonnikova told reporters she and Alyokhina were going to set up a human rights group to help other prisoners.

“I saw this small totalitarian machine from the inside,” she said. “Russia functions the same way the prison colony does.”

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