Friday, July 30, 2010

Russia ranks third in Generation Sexed

by Lidia Okorokova at 19/07/2010 20:03

Russia may not have been a contender in the football in South Africa this summer. But in the World Cup of sex the country comes third only to the Brazilians and Greeks – as Russians get their leg over at least once a week, according to a survey by condom makers Durex.

So if Russians nowadays are having sex more than Europeans or Americans, why do debates still rage about the place of sex, marriage and education in a country that may be enjoying more intimate relations, but is having a hard time talking about it seriously?

“We aren’t puritan any more,” says Olga Yashina, editor-in-chief of online sex magazine “Russians are quite open-minded about sex – there’s just not the sex talk culture there is in the West.”

There may be a lot of sex, but there is still little awareness, Yashina and her colleagues say – a relic from the Soviet past when couples made love behind curtains in rooms occupied by whole families.

“It’s important to raise awareness, to help people start talking about sex with a partner,” said Galina Korotun, general director of

Anything but coy

With sex shops on every corner and an abundance of skin on billboards, in magazines and on television, the media is anything but coy following a sexual revolution that hit Russia a generation too late.

In the course of just 20 years, Russian media caught up with and even surpassed Western networks in air time devoted to sexual images. Kinky commercials became a staple of what advertisers believed was good taste, with a recent airline video causing a stir by depicting scantily-clad flight attendants soaping their airplane - and themselves - in full view of a drooling male fire brigade.

And for the TNT talk show “Sex with Anfisa Chekhova”, breaking taboos became the whole point. “If you know something new about sex, don’t hesitate to tell it to the nation,” the show’s web site says.

“Russians have become more open-minded when it comes to sex and it is clear that they have changed their attitude toward it too,” Alexander Zachenilo, a sex therapist at the Uro-Pro medical clinic in Moscow. 

(Recently) . . . "a middle-aged woman comes to therapy and says that if she knew which sex techniques she could use 20 years ago, she would have saved her marriage,” Zachenilo said.

A sexual generation gap

But decades of suppressing the issue and moves by the authorities to tone down overt sexual images have taken their toll. Today, Russia still has one of the highest abortion rates in the world, and sex education in school remains a controversial issue.

Thanks to the Bolsheviks, Russia - with one of most patriarchal societies in the world - became one of the first countries to give women the vote, and they legalised abortion in 1920.

As far as government policy was concerned, free love reigned until Stalin outlawed abortion in 1936 and institutionalised conservative family values.

But by the 1960s, sex in the Soviet Union occupied a paradoxical niche: abortion was once again legal and easily accessible, but sex education, contraceptives and virtually any candid discussion of the matter went deep underground.

Yevgeny Kulgavchuk, vice-president of the Russian Association of Sexologists, said that for the older generation, the changes in sexual behaviour are still not as dramatic as for those born after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Unfortunately, the trend reflects a negative effect, he says.

“We are seeing the destruction of the institution of marriage, early sexual activity, especially among girls, the increase in the number of abortions and sexually-transmitted infections,” Kulgavchuk says.

This generation gap lowers the age of sex shop clients, according to Alexander Nasonov, the owner of an online sex-toy store. Most of his customers are between 25 and 35, he says.

A survey conducted by Bayer Schering Pharma said that 65 per cent of Russians agree that sex is very important in their lives, but only a little over 50 per cent said they were satisfied in bed.

“I think Russia has its own way,” says Kulgavchuk, the sexologist. “And since we are at the crossroads of Eastern and Western cultures, we should more often look not to the West, but the East. And we must learn not to have sex, but learn to make love.”

Countries where people have sex at least once a week:

Greece - 87%
Brazil - 82%
Russia - 80%

Behind them are:

France - 70%
Spain 72%
USA, Nigeria - 53%

Confidence in talking about sex:

Mexicans - 80%
Greeks - 76%
Brits - 49% (least confident in Europe)

Sources: Durex sexual wellbeing survey

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