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Soviet SignorasPersonal and Collective Transformations in Eastern European Migration$
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Martina Cvajner

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226662251

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226662428.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Strong Mothers, Great Lovers: Sexuality in Emigration

Strong Mothers, Great Lovers: Sexuality in Emigration

(p.95) Three Strong Mothers, Great Lovers: Sexuality in Emigration
Soviet Signoras

Martina Cvajner

University of Chicago Press

The opening of this chapter on sexuality in emigration involves the reader in a personal and reflexive experience of the author that illustrates an important paradox. On one hand, the women expressed a model of Slavic femininity that seemed quite conservative, anxious to present themselves as decent women and committed mothers, willing to endure the suffering and degradation that emigration entailed in order to guarantee their children a better future. On the other hand, the very same women were outspoken about sex, boasting about their achievements in seducing men and praising each other for their skills in satisfying men’s wildest desires. This promiscuous hypersexuality involved hyperfeminine performances of beauty that required much effort, and the treatment of men as “public goods,” an antidote to the degradation and “dewomanizing” they suffered as a result of their care work. But not all men were equal in this respect. A strict hierarchy based on ethnic and racial characteristics prevailed when it came to choosing a partner for serious dating rather than casual sex. Such boundaries of functional differentiation were strictly policed, and to mix them up was a cause of social doom and moral degradation.

Keywords:   sexuality, hyperfemininity, motherhood, femininity, men, morality

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