The Soviet Union doesn’t want you to put on that red light. The Soviet Union doesn’t want you to put that dress on tonight.The real version
In the mid 1980’s, there was a spike in prostitution and freedom with body expression. The women of the USSR did so in the name of ‘glasnost’ and put forth a sentiment of ‘openness and transparency’. This is not necessarily what Gorbachev had in mind when he was created ‘glasnost’, which was the policy or practice of more open consultative government and wider dissemination of information, but women saw an opportunity and took it.
There was a strong backlash to the ladies of the night and their forthcoming with their career choices. In fact, they pushed back by criminalizing anything that could remotely be related to prostitution. “Where do we draw the line between flirtation over an expensive dinner in a restaurant and love for sale, between the innocent encounter and the criminal act?” USSR government wanted to quench the free body movement as fast as they possibly could. But what they slowly started to realize was that they were locking up some of the brightest girls the newest generation had to offer. Last semester I read a book written by someone who collected all of the stories of various criminals, including prostitutes, and these women were quick with quips about clients and their professions. My favorite quote was from one woman who said,
“Many guys come just to talk. We need to raise the fees for chats. Our brains are worth more.”
Many of these women were aware of the consequences of their actions. They just didn’t care because this was a part of their lives that they just used to financially support themselves to the next chapter. The rest used their bodies as an act of rebellion because they knew that they would be tried, but there would be no repercussions for the male involved. Women saw this as a challenge to push the system to its limits.
I found this topic overall very interesting because it’s more taboo so not many people talk about sex workers. In fact, at the time, USSR borrowed the word “sex” from English when discussing prostitution because it was too taboo to discuss in Russian. These women’s stories do not get the limelight because of image issues, so I wanted to provide a judgment free space to discuss such subjects. In actuality, these women are working for a paycheck to bolster themselves for years to come.