December 11, 2014
Alcoholism and Masculinity
Each country around the world has its own social issues and stigmas. Prior to choosing the topic of alcoholism and masculinity in Russian culture, I was entirely unaware that this was such a pressing issue. A large majority of people consider Russia as being a cold place with strong, burly men, which in many ways is true. It is also true that these men really enjoy a tall glass of vodka; hold the tonic, hold the lime, just straight vodka (and a lot of it). Men in Russia are held to a high standard of masculinity and these men in particular are experiencing overwhelmingly troubling effects of alcoholism. Due to this growing problem, Russian stands as having the largest gap in life expectancy between men and women, a difference of fourteen years. The population is quickly on the decline as a higher number of citizens (men in particular) are dying than are being born (LeDuc). The issues associated with alcoholism in men within Russia are increasing quite quickly and need to be taken under control.
Gender roles in Russia are quite prominent, with men being considered the dominant sex. But not to get the wrong impression, Russian men do not feel they are superior to women, but that it is their duty as men to protect them and watch out for them. Men in Russia actually hold marriage and a relationship with a women as something of great value and worth, thus they always wish to be perceived by others as strong and masculine for the sake of a woman’s well-being and happiness. And in many ways it is important for Russian men to feel and take pride in their masculinity. One of the most masculine things a man can take part in is drinking, which is why the rate of alcoholism is so high (Buck).
Alcoholism in Russia has been palpable for centuries around times of hardship or social change, such as the Tsarist period, the Russian Revolution and the Soviet Union days (Fedun). But it has become socially commonplace in today’s time and is reaching overwhelming highs among the statistics. Just to put the severity of the issue into consideration, men from the ages of sixteen and up each drink the equivalent of about four gallons of pure alcohol a year. Many drink about three bottle of vodka each week (Associated Press in London). An even more sobering statistic states that the number of young boys between age ten and fourteen who take part in consuming alcohol regularly has exceeded 10 million. A staggering 20% of male deaths in Russia alone are attributed to alcohol. The numbers of death are not solely contributed to the consumption of alcohol but also what men are doing while under the influence. Many may become violent or they may also choose to drive while intoxicated and cause harm to others. There are about two million Russians living with alcoholism, and half a million die each year either from the disease or an alcohol related accident. Poisoning from alcohol alone contributes to nearly 25,000 deaths a year (Hudson). It’s easy to see how the number of people dying each year is quickly outnumbering those being born.
The issues associated with alcohol are becoming so prominent and detrimental to the population that President Vladimir Putin has determined this as a “national security threat” considering the magnitude of men drinking. Eager to nip this growing problem in the bud, Russian leaders are looking to implement programs to cut the numbers in at least half within the next six years. To my surprise, in Russia, legislature just within the last three years has finally considered beer as an alcoholic beverage and was available for purchase virtually anywhere. Keeping this legislature pass in mind, odds are it won’t be easy for Russian government to crack down on the problems associated with men and drinking (Hudson).
Not only is the growth of alcoholism such a detriment to Russian society, but the Russian military is also suffering repercussions of...
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