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Jennifer Utrata Discusses Women’s Invisible Labor and Masculine Heavy Drinking in Russia

Posted: 9/4/2019 (CSDE Research)

The heavy drinking of alcohol remains primarily a masculine ritual worldwide. Yet, scholarship has undertheorized women’s practices in shaping the boundaries of masculine rituals, including drinking. CSDE Visiting Affiliate and Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Puget Sound Jennifer Utrata addresses these questions in her paper, “Invisible Labor and Women’s Double Binds: Collusive Femininity and Masculine Drinking in Russia,” published recently in Gender & Society.

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with mothers, fathers, and grandmothers, she demonstrates that Russian women perform extensive invisible labor to produce responsible men. Constrained by a gender division of domestic labor, wives and mothers engage in “patriarchal bargains” as they shape men’s drinking practices, co-producing hegemonic masculinity.

Whereas in the Soviet period women also managed men’s drinking, today more women are held accountable to a collusive femininity involving both accommodation and resistance, upholding men’s drinking privileges only if breadwinning occurs. Some women embrace an alternative femininity by becoming single mothers and refusing to manage men’s drinking. Theorizing collusive and alternative femininities advances our knowledge of how multiple femininities shape, and may in time change, hegemonic masculinity.

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