What to wear for whiteness? “Whore” stigma and the East/West politics of race, sexuality and gender

Daria Krivonos, Anastasia Diatlova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Drawing on two ethnographic projects, one among Russian-speaking women engaged in commercial sex, the other among young Russian-speaking migrants in Finland, we interrogate how the construct of Eastern European female body is positioned in relation to the norm of (Western) Europeanness and white femininity. We show how Russian-speaking migrant women in Finland learn of their ‘Russianness’ and ‘Easternness’ through the circulation of the ‘whore’ stigma. We analyse these processes of racialisation and sexualisation in the context of the Finnish national project based on gender equality and women’s liberation norms. While normative Western Europeanness has recently been constructed through emancipated sexuality and the exclusion of non-Western Others as sexually repressed, the bodies of Russian-speaking women are perceived as sexually excessive and in need of toning down. Focusing on the (self-)policing of Russian-speaking migrant women’s bodies and the ways they navigate acceptable and unacceptable forms of gendered self-presentation, we demonstrate how these women are construed as not emancipated enough and hence not quite white. The article thereby contributes to understanding hierarchies of whiteness within the East/West dynamics of race as they pertain to gender and sexuality.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIntersections: East European Journal of Society and Politics
Volume6
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)116-132
Number of pages17
ISSN2416-089X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 5141 Sociology
  • 5171 Political Science

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