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US-Style Feminism Remains A Mystique In Russia

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ALMOST a year after the first Russian-language Cosmopolitan magazine appeared in an effort to revolutionize how women here think about family, fashion, and fingernails, Betty Friedan's ''The Feminine Mystique'' is to be published in Russian.

Illustrating how feminism is viewed in post-Communist Russia, only 5,000 Russian copies of Ms. Friedan's book will be printed. The book helped unleash the women's liberation movement in the United States when it appeared in 1963.

In contrast, the glossy, how-to-get-your-man Cosmopolitan will have a circulation of 400,000 with its first anniversary in May.

''I have no idea how Russian women will react to the book,'' says Elena Myasnikova, Cosmopolitan's editor in chief. ''I'd have to read it first.''

Feminism is almost a dirty word in the new nonideological Russia, and ''The Feminine Mystique'' is practically unknown here, where for decades feminist literature was virtually nonexistent.

Unique for its unorthodox views at the time, ''The Feminine Mystique'' became a bestseller in the United States.

Some Russian feminist works such as Alexandra Kollontai's ''Love of Worker Bees'' appeared during the Bolshevik state's infancy. But as the Communist system took root, official propaganda maintained that sexism was nonexistent in the Soviet Union and feminism irrelevant.

Zoya Khotkina, director of the Moscow-based Women's Archive, says she has often discussed feminism with Russian women at seminars and finds the results dismaying.

''A very strong antifeminist propaganda is prevalent here now,'' she said last week at an elegant Moscow reception to announce the Russian publication of Friedan's book. ''Women often think that to be a feminist means to be a man-hater and a lesbian.''


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