Sep/Oct 2018 Current Moscow Time: 01:44:04
26 September 2018

  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.

Birds and Bees

Author: Michelle A. Berdy
Illustrations/Images by Victor Bogorad

July/Aug 2016
Survival Russian
Page 26   ( 1 pages)

Summary: Coming to grips with Russian's language of love and sex.


Way back in the late 1980s, talk show hosts Vladimir Pozner and Phil Donahue did a series of television space bridges that allowed live audiences in the US and the USSR to talk to each other. In a “woman’s show” filmed in Leningrad and Boston, a Soviet woman uttered the phrase: “V SSSR seksa nyet” (“There’s no sex in the USSR!”)

This has gone down in history as an emblem of the officially prudish attitude towards sexual matters in the late Soviet Union. Actually she was answering a question from a Bostonian about the use of sexual images in advertisements, and the end of the poor woman’s sentence was cut off: “…seksa nyet v reklamakh» (there’s no sex in ads).

But this episode highlighted a problem: talking about sex in Russian in those years was not easy. And you know what? It’s still not easy.

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