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In another part of the city, a group called Straight ‘A’ Students—a movement of politically active, mostly divorced mothers—brainstormed what a Russian brand of feminism might look like.
“I spoke to Putin about our female movement,” founder Olga Kryshtanovskaya said.
When she lost, she then joined the opposition rallies in Moscow.
During one protest, Popova says, police broke her arm.
In Russia as a whole, there are 11 million more women than men, due in part to a century of bloody revolutions, gulags, and wars that drained the country’s male population.
Add to that the fact that male life expectancy is particularly grim in Russia—on average, 59 years, as opposed to a woman’s 73 years, the largest gap of any country in the world—and you’ve got a serious demographic imbalance.
While Russian women have long been celebrated for their strength—they “would hold up a galloping horse,” wrote the poet Nikolay Nekrasov in praise—they are still expected to be subservient to men in the workplace, where business is often conducted afterhours in the male-only steam baths.
“As a teen, I always thought I would be married by my early 20s” she says.
“I am sick of men always treating me as if I were somebody’s dumb secretary, unable to make my own decisions!