From Russia, With Love­—and Hate

Russian sexuality and the country’s general mores have become a topic of conversation in the United States, mostly in relation to President Trump’s alleged connections with the Kremlin and his behavior during his trip to Russia some time ago, which is the subject of the infamous “Steele Dossier.”  The British press has not ignored the subject.  Recently, the Express published an article that features the odd headline “Kremlin sex threat to England players,” in which Prof. Anthony Glees, director of the University of Buckingham’s Centre for Security and Intelligence, outlined the dangers Russian women would pose to the U.K. team during the World Cup.  As the article’s authors write, Glees “said ‘gorgeous’ Russian women could seduce England players in the build-up to a big game before blackmailing them—or worse.”  Indeed, from the perspective of Washington and London, Russia’s sexual mores appear to symbolize civilizational conflict between Russia and the West.

Reacting to the increased conflict between East and West, Vladislav Surkov, one of Putin’s major ideologues, has proclaimed that Russia should be prepared to be alienated from the West for centuries.  But this is an oversimplification; it is also misleading.  A close look at the sexual mores of many Russians reveals their strong desire to be Western,...

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