I. Ignatenko, PhD in History, Associate Professor

Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Kyiv, Ukraine

W. Grahn, PhD in Gender Studies, Associate Professor

Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17721/1728-2640.2021.150.2


In this article our point of research will be the traditional rural beliefs of women and women’s bodies, in order to examine how above all femininity has been constructed in a traditional Ukrainian way. We focussed on the period from the mid 19th to the early 20th centuries. During this time, Western Ukraine was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Eastern and Central Ukraine were part of the Russian Empire. We have used ethnographic interviews, and archived interview materials, but also included the study of contemporary sources. We use deconstruction and reconstruction as our main methodological approach. We found that strong the control of women’s sexuality has been in the past. We see the compulsory heterosexuality that is being constantly presented by society as a strong reason for this. The heterosexual option is the only officially articulated way of living that is vocalized. It is an unchallenged way of living that is part of the Ukrainian cultural imaginary. The overall impression is that Traditional Ukraine was a society where a heterosexual matrix was so strong that it seems to overshadow all other possibilities of Women's life. The stronger these two power axes (the heterosexual matrix and the patriarchal domination) are, the more restrictions there seem to be on women’s lives in such societies.

Keywords: woman’s body, gender, sexuality, traditions, patriarchy, Ukraine, compulsory heterosexuality, intersectionality.

Submitted: 21.07.2021

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