While it appears that men enjoy more freedoms than women, in many ways this is illusory.They may have greater physical and sexual mobility but the pressures to conform to gender norms are no less intense, as this paper will demonstrate.My discussion on the influence of pornography on marital sexual relations in the republic starts with the story of Sitora and Haydar, and proceeds to a history of sex in the Soviet Union and Central Asia, in order to set the scene for a discussion on the effect of pornography on relationships in Tajikistan today.By the time we met in 1994, Sitora was elderly and living alone but seemed to welcome the chance to discuss her sex life.Gradually she got used to sex, although she still did not like it and found it unfortunate that Haydar wanted it so often.
It suggests that the regime’s inattention to this kind of issue was bound up with the importance to the state of projecting appropriate versions of masculinity.
For those who feel they have little choice but to conform – a category into which the vast majority of my acquaintances fall – the options are few.
Failure to perform correctly, whether in bed or out of bed, can result in serious social penalties that may far outweigh personal preferences (Harris 2004).
The end of the post-Soviet period in Tajikistan produced a significant shock, not only because it ended the still high levels of social and economic stability, but also because it ended a form of protection from the outside world.
Once the barriers came down, all kinds of influences flooded into Tajikistan, along with the material infrastructure through which to relate to them, such as video-cassette recorders (VCR) for watching movies, particularly pornography, the subject of this paper.