Anatoly Antonov: “Two-thirds of divorces in Russia are initiated by women”

Sociologist Anatoly Antonov about the causes of divorces and feminism

Anatoly Antonov: “Two-thirds of divorces in Russia are initiated by women” Photo: rgsu.net

Why is Russia the leader in the number of divorces in the world? Why do women often become the initiators of divorces and why they do not want to get married again? Sociologist Anatoly Antonov answered these and other questions in the second part of the interview with Realnoe Vremya (1).

“Competition between men and women at work is transferred into the family”

Why is Russia leading in the number of divorces in the world?

In Soviet times, the total employment of women (to earn a living) in public extrafamilial production led to competition with men in the world of professions (feminization of schools and kindergartens, medical institutions, a number of industries, and so on). The skills of existence in the world of employment were transferred into interpersonal and family relationships. In addition to this increase in the number of divorces, there was a lack of housing and the possibility of improving living conditions through a divorce.

By the way, the continuous employment of women (except the disabled) in social production and the elimination of housewives as a class (starting with the dekulakization, that is, with the destruction of the peasant family) was one of the reasons for the disruption of social ties in the Soviet society and the collapse of the USSR.

Besides, the overemployment of women in the Soviet Union, and thus their alleged “equality” — the reason for the popularity of feminism (as part of the Marxist doctrine about the earthly paradise) in the capitalist countries, fighting with the Communist camp. Modern capitalism, which exploits the family through the shameless appropriation of the results of family production (new labour), needs to divert attention from this robbery of the institution of the family, and therefore supports feminism, switching the discontent with the capitalist order to the discontent of the individual with the family, allegedly suppressing the self-will.

Photo: Oleg Tikhonov
“The low prestige of family life is manifested in the choice of women's singleness after divorce as a preferred existence in comparison with living together”

Currently, the fierce competition between men and women, employees in the labour market is transferred into intra-family relations and is associated with a new contradictory interpretation of intra-family roles of wife/husband, mother/father. With low values of family and parenthood, the leading importance is taken by marital-sexual relationship, not parental one. That is, those that are fundamentally interchangeable in the context of new fertility norms.

Two-thirds of all divorces in Russia are initiated by wives (with a very low prospect of remarriage), which leads to the breakdowns of half of the marriages through a divorce in 10 years. The low prestige of family life is manifested in the choice of women's singleness after divorce as a preferable existence in comparison with living together. The results of microsociological measurements of role relations in married couples show that the formula of divorce is such a relationship when in all family situations the partners overestimate the value of their Self and underestimate Self of the other, without confirming the self-esteem of each other.

How does this affect children?

Divorce today is a misfortune to all members of the family. But for children, it is the greatest trouble: parents are always indispensable for children. Coming to the fore in modern families sex-cohabitation relations (and not child-parent one) in the prevailing one-child system makes for spouses both children and cohabitants replaceable. Hence there are psychological origins of a great number of divorces when the contacts with biological parents become difficult and the contacts with the stepfathers/stepmothers and their children from previous marriages actualize. The influence of family and home socialization of children is reduced, their readiness for a stable family in the future, for full-fledged roles of husband/wife, father/mother, brother/sister becomes complicated.

“The current matriarchal state supports not the family, but single mothers, pushing fathers out of the family”

You said that with the help of feminism women are set against men. How does this happen?

Feminism shows “inequality” in wages, ignoring the fact of motherhood after childbirth, skipping work due to illnesses of children, which reduces wages. The repressive nature of family education is being intensified, it is condemned that boys should be brought up by men and fathers, and girls — by wives and mothers. It is said that this violates the freedom of choice of gender identity by children themselves. Violence against women in the family and at work is exaggerated. For example, in the family in the ‘80s, I conducted research with the Finns under the Finnish programme, where there was the question for women “how many times a year, a month, a week you were raped by your husband” (meaning coitus without the consent of the wife on the desire of her husband).

Photo: Maksim Platonov
“In the degrading family consisting of the sum of three I, the leadership of the wife turned out to be most convenient, especially as the present matriarchal state supporting not the family, but single mothers, pushes fathers out of the family field”

There is the redefinition of concepts: instead of childlessness, which sounds negative, a new term has been introduced, which focuses on the positive, on freedom and free choice — child-free. There has appeared the new interpretation of reproductive health as the freedom of choice of contraception, that is, the restriction of births, and not the choice of giving birth.

There are two facts that are unpleasant for Russian feminism. The first is that women exploited by male chauvinists live 12 years longer than men. The second is the leading role of women in most Russian families, which is manifested not only in the initiative of divorces but also in the production of other family events. Familists treat this calmly, this is a feature of the modern family, and no one cries about the seizure of power in the family by women. Just in the degrading family consisting of the sum of three I, the leadership of the wife turned out to be most convenient, especially as the present matriarchal state supporting not the family, but single mothers, pushes fathers out of the family field.

“About 30-40% of Russian families spend 70% of their budget on food. This is evidence of poverty”

How does the state interfere with family privacy?

The interception of non-specific functions of the family by the state leads to a low birth rate and entails the emergence of a mass of workers who benefits from the decline of the family — employees in preschool institutions, schools, boarding schools of all kinds, in amateur and sports sections (this is called the nationalization of the family). There have also appeared supervisors for the activities of parents in the upbringing of children (juvenile service). Some cases of abuse of power by parents over children are raised in the rule that all parents are such and they need strict supervision. At the same time, state agencies are turning a blind eye to that about 30-40% of families spend 60-70% of the family budget on food, which is evidence of not even poverty, but misery.

There are many examples of how officials force family members to constantly apply to state agencies for various kinds of bureaucratic papers that praise “the care of the state about the family”. If the institution of the family were sovereign and autonomous everywhere in the world, then the flow of family-guarding actions would change dramatically, and officials themselves would go to the threshold of the family and ask to speak about the needs and requirements of the family. But this is not happening, as there is no normal family business in Russia based on joint activities of parents and children. The familists require the privatization of the family, its release from total state control over all family items. After all, the family is the only mediator between the individual and the state, mitigating their antagonism. And it is the family that can make them more responsive to each other.

Photo: Maksim Platonov
“The family today is not an autonomous, but state-enslaved institution. Everyone is shouting about human rights but few people insist on the rights of the family”

How do your colleagues from the scientific community treat your conservative position?

I belong to a small minority of the scientific community — both global and Russian. I do alternative sociology and demography, known as retrograde and reactionary. According to the leader of one of the best schools, I am a “revanchist of family and demographic fundamentalism”, that is, a pronatalist and familist. I'm not embarrassed about this. In demography, I do not recognize the theory of demographic transition: the whole story of the transition from a terrible past to a beautiful present and a luxurious future. Today, in sociology, the centre of social analysis is the individual, not the family. Individualism is vulgar materialism and unbridled socialism: everyone is free to do anything, but society as a whole pays for the consequences. The family today is not an autonomous institution, but the institution enslaved by the state. Everyone is shouting about human rights but few people insist on the rights of the family. Everyone is outraged by the despotism of the family and happily exploited by the state machine: it is more prestigious to be loyal to the totalitarian system. The family is the bastion of freedom and dissidence, the diversity of the human Self is formed by the family, but one-dimensional squalor, which willingly joins the submissive crowd, is the product of extra-family pluralism.

By Natalia Fedorova