Within the context of the show, Molokova (our female version of Molokov) is the biggest Russian figure on stage, though (technically) she is Anatoly’s second. Having such a powerful female figure in Russia is not unrealistic, given that there are 3 senior Russian officials serving in the government today (Olga Golodets, Deputy Prime Minister; Veronika Skvortsova, Minister of Healthcare; Olga Vasilyeva, Minister of Education and Science).
In fact, Russia’s view of gender is not entirely the same as in America. During her time studying abroad in Russia, Alexandra Buck recalls a classroom discussion about how women are not considered the “weaker sex” but the “prettier sex.” While some stereotypical gender expectations exist in Russia – like gentlemanly behavior and chivalry – this behavior is not done out of a belief that women are weak but out of the belief that women are prettier and thus deserve such treatment and respect.
Similarly, while there certainly exists discrimination and inequality, the professional sphere of Russian society is much more equal than that of America. Valentina Ushakova reports that “Russian women are the most educated in the world and are well represented on the labour market,” though the tension between family and career still exists for Russian women (qtd. in Smolentceva et al.), with many having to choose between having a baby and staying employed.
Although the genders may be more equal in the workplace, women’s rights are not necessarily a priority in Russia. Sexual violence and particular domestic violence is high – much like in other parts of the world. Reports have also noted that, while women are employed almost as equally as men, there is a pay gap, with women making only 60-70% of what men make (see video below). These realities, however, are not foreign to American society either.
Buck, Alexandra. “The Prettier Sex: Understanding Gender Roles in Russia.” Berkley Center’s JYAN Blog, 25 Oct. 2012, https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/posts/the-prettier-sex-understanding-gender-roles-in-russia.
“Senior Russian Government Officials.” Russian Government, http://government.ru/en/gov/persons/#federal-ministers.
Smolentceva, Natalia, et al. “You’re a Woman, I’m a Man: Gender Equality in Russia.” https://nataliasmolentceva.atavist.com/gender-equality-in-russia.