Bachelor of Arts
Soviet, Prostitution, Brothel, Press, Mass media, Soviet Union, Social issues, Komsomolskaya, Perestroika
In 1986, the Soviet newspaper Komsomolskaya pravda printed an article titled “Nina of Minsk” detailing the scandalous adventures of a prostitute-turned-brothel owner. The first of its kind, this article horrified and fascinated the Soviet reading public in equal measure, serving as an initial exposure to the topic of prostitution in the mass media.
The conversation surrounding prostitution became more heated in light of the Soviet Union’s failing economy, as well as the policy of glasnost’, which freed the press from rigid censorship. Prostitution rapidly became a popular topic of debate due to its illicit nature and impact on labor and public health issues. In response to these concerns, individuals from all walks of life began writing letters to newspapers explaining their views on prostitution. This public conversation about prostitution thus reflected a broader set of social and economic anxieties, and offers historians specific insight into how the Soviet public was reacting to the economic turmoil that rocked the Soviet Union in the 1980s. This thesis will explore this conversation and how the mass media’s focus on prostitution reveals concerns about broader social issues, including shifting gender norms, standards of morality, and public health, more specifically associated with fears about the spread of AIDS.
Downing, Emma C., "Agents of Soviet Decline: Mass Media Representations of Prostitution During Perestroika" (2019). Honors Papers. 120.