July 1, 2022




4 min read

KIANA KARIMI WRITES — A flickering gentle, screams of famished, sleep-deprived younger ladies inside tightly-packed crates, armed males ripping victims from one another’s arms, their innocence slowly stripped away in a twisted, torturous cycle of violence… A chilling rendition of Nirvana’s hit 90’s tune “Teenage Spirit” creeps via the display screen to the viewers for Marvel’s “Black Widow,” with lyrics about saying “hey, hey” to despair, hopelessness, and a brand new period of management by surveillance.

Marvel’s “Black Widow,” a full-length function launched July 9, stars Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, our beloved first-female Russian Avenger and a product of her nation’s failures and corruption.

That is no stereotypical ladies’s empowerment film. Romanoff is the sufferer of a tortured, traumatized and twisted previous. And, though a film, it sheds gentle on the truth of the nation inside which it takes place. See this film and you’ll achieve some perception into the hardships of girls and kids who have been and nonetheless are offered and traded by Russia. Conventional superheroes of privilege like Marvel Girl don’t symbolize the tough truths of society. Romanoff does simply that, with a lead character who goes on to defy all odds by escaping the terrors of her previous.

Right here’s the plot: Romanoff returns to and plans to destroy The Crimson Room, based mostly on real-life accounts of Soviet packages consisting of an all-female military educated to be spies and assassins in the course of the Chilly Conflict.

The disquieting opening montage of “Black Widow,” and the film on the whole, sheds gentle on an awesome real-life paradox: Whereas Russian feminist efforts and feminine troopers could have been heralded in the course of the Soviet Union, their contributions are overshadowed by the trafficking trade.


Within the early 1900s, the Soviet Union was the closest international superpower to implementing progressive insurance policies for girls’s rights, together with suffrage. Girls have been inspired to pursue and attain all totally different ranges of equality, equivalent to pursuing male-dominant fields and better ranges of training. Defying gender norms throughout WWII, the Soviet authorities made the choice to permit ladies to serve within the Crimson Military. Practically 1,000,000 Soviet ladies served and broke obstacles (actually and figuratively). Trailblazers equivalent to Marina Raskova and Lyudmila Pavilchenko opened doorways by working exterior of medical items in the course of the warfare. As a result of Pavilchenko’s extraordinary report as essentially the most embellished feminine sniper globally, and others educated like her, the Soviet Military discovered that ladies fulfill particular roles higher than males, together with as snipers. Raskova, a Russian navigator, pilot, and trainer, based three all-female regiments and was the primary girl pilot within the Russian Air Drive.

Paradoxically, their contributions did little to cease the additional oppression of girls. The autumn of the Soviet Union crushed the Russian financial system, main ladies into prostitution and trafficking.

Right this moment, Russian ladies and kids are offered within the trade as a part of a shadow financial system amounting to  44.7% of the GDP in 2018. Beneath Vladimir Putin, the Russian authorities has established only one legislation that criminalizes trafficking, and the federal government has carried out little to prosecute. In 2020, The State Division recognized the Russian authorities as one in all ten international locations supporting human trafficking. Russia is now categorized as a Tier 3 nation, which is outlined as the next: “International locations whose governments don’t absolutely meet the TVPA’s minimal requirements and don’t make vital efforts to take action.”


How may a rustic championing ladies’s rights have only one legislation concerning human and intercourse trafficking? Who’s accountable? Not too long ago, investigators and organizations discovered that Russian officers allegedly “facilitate trafficking in Russia by facilitating victims’ entry into Russia, offering safety to traffickers, and returning victims to their exploiters.”

Are ladies’s rights being chipped away? It will appear so. The Russian authorities decriminalized home violence as not too long ago as 2017 with a legislation that categorized home violence as “Abuse that doesn’t end in damaged bones, and doesn’t happen greater than annually, [and so] is now not punishable by an extended jail sentence.” The very best wonderful is the equal of $500 and 10-15 days in jail. Russia, arguably one of many large three international hegemons, has no home violence legislation, and the members of the federal government boast their anti-feminism as prioritizing “conventional household values.”

Feminists are combating again. In flip, the Russian authorities is prosecuting feminist teams and NGOs. Nasiliu.web, a number one non-profit addressing and educating the Russian public about home violence, was added to Russia’s “overseas agent listing” in 2021. This new standing forces the feminist group to be subjected to “greater ranges of bureaucratic scrutiny.” And so, Nasiliu.web can’t work to its full potential to guard ladies.

As well as, with feminism infamously labeled a “mortal sin” in the course of the 2012 Pussy Riot trial,  there’s a grave hazard of activist burnout. With authorities dissenters prosecuted and jailed, what hope is left?

Alternatively, although, many Russian ladies and organizations are staying resilient throughout these making an attempt occasions. Regardless of the existential risk of retaliation, ladies repeatedly mobilize to protest the political system that persecutes “rebellious” ladies.


The standing of girls in Russia is a far cry from the progressive beliefs carried out within the 1900s. The nation that had many “firsts” for girls has taken a flip for the worst. The scary rise of anti-feminist instances should be confronted head-on, not simply by a blockbuster American franchise equivalent to Marvel’s “Black Widow.” Let’s hope historical past, and Russian life, involves imitate cinematic artwork.

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