chapter  11
8 Pages

Domostroi

Domostroi, or literally translated as ‘domestic order’, was a book compiled during the times of Ivan the Terrible in the sixteenth century to outline every detail of household management and family relations. Although very few people in Russia used the word domostroi to refer specifically to that work, domostroi remained a key phrase to depict the patriarchal relations that prevailed in most families up to the twentieth century and beyond. The system of absolute and complete female subjugation to her husband-socially, religiously, and economically-was often reinforced both by law and husbands’ fists, whose beating most women accepted as a normal and routine part of their lives. The original Domostroi encouraged wife beating, with some limitations:

If a wife or a daughter does not obey orders, [if women] do not fear [men], do not do what their husbands or fathers tell them, then whip them with a lash according to their guilt, though do so privately, not in the public eye. [One cannot hit] in the ear, or face, or under the heart with fists, or hit with feet. [A man can] whip with a lash in a way that is reasonable, and painful, and terrifying, and also so that people do not see it and do not hear it.2