Bathhouses, Hustlers, and a Sex Club: The Reception of Mikhail Kuzmin's Wings
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CitationMalmstad, John E. 2000. Bathhouses, Hustlers, and a Sex Club: The Reception of Mikhail Kuzmin's Wings. Journal of the History of Sexuality 9(1/2): 85-104.
AbstractThe bathhouse, resembling but not identical with the Finnish sauna, was one of the oldest features of Russian life, as common in the cities as in the countryside. In the cities, bathhouses varied from luxurious establishments to the most humble variety, where people of all classes-segregated by sex-mixed and mingled. By the very fact of writing about same-sex love with candor and in a nonjudgmental fashion, author Mikhail Kuzmin had challenged that climate of secrecy. By arguing, furthermore, that it was not immoral or ungodly, but morally distinctive, ethically sanctioned, and even at times spiritually superior, a matter not of decadent immoralism but the personal creation of values, Kuzmin had put the limits of society's boundaries and its seeming tolerance to the test, although the author can find no signs that he was aware of doing so. Nothing was dearer to the sexual politics of both Right and Left than the cliché of the innate purity and innocence of the peasantry, something that Kuzmin, who, unlike most intellectuals, had actually spent long periods among them, found astonishing.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:2799134
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