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Russian woman planned to kill boys at a kindergarten but was stopped by teachers before firing a shot

Polina Dvorkina in custody

On March 28, according to Russian press reports,19-year-old Polina Dvorkina shot and killed her father at their home in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, then headed to a nearby kindergarten intending to kill as many boys as she could.

Thankfully, three teachers at the school, all of them women, wrestled her to the floor and confiscated her gun before she got a single shot off. She was arrested shortly afterwards, allegedly confessing to the murder of her father and outlining her plans to massacre boys at the kindergarten. She is still being held.

Right now the story is only being reported in the Russian press, and I’m doing my best to assemble an accurate account of Dvorkina’s attempted mass killing based on Google-translated news articles from possibly unreliable sources — and discussion of the events on Reddit, where antifeminists have seized on the story as evidence that feminists want to kill men.

In all that follows, please attach an “allegedly” to pretty much every detail I give because it’s not always clear from the press accounts where the information is coming from; it seems to mostly come from anonymous police sources and the three teachers who stopped the attack before it started.

Here’s some of what I’ve found in the press coverage:

  • Several days before the attempted massacre, Dvorkina applied for a job at the kindergarten but was rejected, which she blamed on discrimination against her as a woman. Apparently she was not really interested in a job but used the visit to scope out the layout of the school in preparation for her planned attack.
  • “Dvorkina” was not the teenager’s birth name. Evidently estranged from her parents, she changed her name from Sofia Kechina to Dvorkina, a sort of homage to radical feminist Andrea Dworkin (though Dworkin, of course, never advocated violence against men or boys). Dvorkina reportedly sees herself as a feminist who believes that men, unjustly, “have all the power.”
  • Dvorkina was armed with a shotgun and several dozen rounds of ammo. It’s not completely clear how she managed to get her hands on the gun as she is too young to legally own one. She reportedly had been planning the attack for two months.

There has been little discussion of this story on the English-speaking internet. But you don’t need a translator to understand the message of this thumbnail for a Russian-language video on YouTube.

Over on the Antifeminist subreddit, one of the few English-language forums discussing the case, the regulars fantasize about the authorities roughing up Dvorkina.

“In Russia they treat feminists harshly,” Optimal_Wendigo_4333 writes. “I hope they facilitate her the same way.”

“Torture her,” added tylcolisse.

Radiant_Original6968, meanwhile, reports that comments elsewhere on Reddit

are full of people making excuses for her and claiming she’s not a feminist but feminism is where these ideas to kill men sprouted in her head. They always claim people like this aren’t feminist despite the movement producing so many people that act this way.

But that’s the point: there aren’t “so many” feminists behaving like this. This is the first one I’ve seen since Valerie Solanas shot Andy Warhol more than half a century ago; by contrast, mass shootings by incels and other antifeminists are so common its hard to keep up with all of them. And of course the incel killers areall lionized not only by other incels but also by more than a few antifeminist ideologues.

Though Dvorkina does seem to consider herself a feminist of some sort — changing her name to the Russian version of “Dworkin” is a pretty clear sign of this — it’s not clear who or what radicalized her to the extent that she was ready to kill very young boys. We can fairly safely assume that Dworkin’s writings increased or at least reflected her anger towards men — but of course Dworkin, however angry her writings often were, never argued for violence against men.

Indeed, I would argue that Dvorkina, and any other self-proclaimed feminists who support or engage in this sort of violence is not actually a feminist at all. As Wikipedia notes, feminism “is a range of socio-political movements and ideologies that aim to define and establish the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes.” Obviously no vision of true equality includes the desire to kill men; the hashtag #KillAllMen is a not-so-great joke, not a statement of intent. And Dvorkina is a monster, not a feminist.

Note: If any of you know Russian, please take a look at the various Russian sources for this post to see if I’m accurately reporting what they say. If you don’t speak Russian, you can do a search for “Полина Дворкина” and use Google translate to get rough English versions of the articles you find.

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epitome of incomprehensibility

Oh, that’s horrible. I’m glad none of the children were hurt.

About being skeptical of Russian media, I certainly don’t trust their government’s reports of what’s happening in Ukraine (they won’t even call it a war, ffs, and they keep accusing Ukraine of killing its own civilians). But not everything reported from there should necessarily be treated with the same suspicion.

Unfortunately, family violence is fairly common. But what the MRA commenters are missing/deliberately ignoring is that feminists overall are working to reduce it, not increase it, and it’s not just when men are perpetrators.

Tangentially related: learning more about feminism when I was away from home for the first time – about ten years ago now – made me realize that the way I’d been treating my family was wrong. And yes, even though I’m a “feeeemale” myself.

I wasn’t the one with the most power, being the (older) child, but I would hit my parents and brother when I got angry, or made jokes that upset them, or deliberately try to make them feel bad in other ways. And learning about partner or inter-family violence from a feminist perspective was kind of an “are we the baddies?” moment.

Full Metal Ox
1 month ago

@Alan Robertshaw,

One thing that surprised me though, and I hope you don’t mind me bringing it up, is what you say about the stereotyping. Particularly the erotomania/violence things.


They’re just not stereotypes I’ve ever encountered in relation to people with disabilities.

Ah, but that depends on the nature of the disability. At least in the U.S., crime dramas and horror movies have had a venerable history of treating the DSM as a Monster Manual.

Alan Robertshaw
1 month ago

@ yutolia

He just turned a ton of people with disabilities out on the street with no recourse and nowhere to go.

We did that here. It was euphemistically called “Care in the community”.

Still, we did get an unfunny cartoon out of it…

https://www.theguardian.com/society/series/clareinthecommunity

Alan Robertshaw
1 month ago

@ full metal ox

a venerable history of treating the DSM as a Monster Manual.

Yeah. I suspect mental health professionals, and people with mental health conditions, watch TV and Movies pulling their hair out. But I suspect anyone seeing something they know about portrayed in fiction has the same experience.

Victorious Parasol
Victorious Parasol
1 month ago

@Alan

Speaking as someone who works in healthcare, I can’t bear to watch medical dramas. There are so many little things that annoy me.

But I love watching Dr. Glaucomflecken’s YouTube videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5b4x3arLQmY

(And yes, surgeons tend to do very short consult notes.)

My nurse friends assure me this is indeed as accurate as I thought it was:

Alan Robertshaw
1 month ago

@ Vicky P

Hah, yeah, those were brilliant. An old flame is a very experienced cardiac nurse. We used to drink in a pub opposite the hospital. Doctors and Nurses were always popping over. And judging from that experience, and all the gossip, that last sketch rings very true.

So it can be done! My mum was a social worker, and she found this pretty spot on.

Yutolia the Laissez-Fairy Pronoun Boner
Yutolia the Laissez-Fairy Pronoun Boner
1 month ago

@full metal ox, @Alan, @VP

Ah, but that depends on the nature of the disabilityAt least in the U.S., crime dramas and horror movies have had a venerable history of treating the DSM as a Monster Manual.

I think this is probably the biggest contributor to those stereotypes. I forgot about that! Actually I think I purposely put that stuff out of my mind. I don’t usually watch movies or shows about people with disabilities because most of them are poorly written and very misrepresenting and that makes me want to rip my hair out.

After I was (mis)diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder in my teens, I was surrounded by movies misrepresenting people with OCD as violent stalkers. Writers saw “obsessive” in the disorder name and treated it like it’s the same thing as stalkers who get obsessed with their victims and kill them, which it definitely isn’t. That’s just one example.

Yutolia the Laissez-Fairy Pronoun Boner
Yutolia the Laissez-Fairy Pronoun Boner
1 month ago

Another example is PTSD. In this country (I don’t know about Europe) people tend to think that only soldiers are allowed to have PTSD, and that they all snap someday and kill their families. People don’t realize that a lot of people with PTSD don’t get it from combat situations and are not inherently violent just because of the syndrome, but we are thought of that way.

Alan Robertshaw
1 month ago

@ yutolia

a lot of people with PTSD don’t get it from combat situations 

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I quite often point out that one of the highest incidences of PTSD is in animal-ag workers.

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/15248380211030243

But I’ve seen it a lot with victims of crime too.

Yutolia the Laissez-Fairy Pronoun Boner
Yutolia the Laissez-Fairy Pronoun Boner
1 month ago

@Alan: yeah, I have it partially from growing up as a kid with disabilities in this society that thinks at best we are a burden.

Alan Robertshaw
1 month ago

@ yutolia

There is this idea that PTSD is always the result of exposure to one single horrific incident. But, as you will well know, that’s not how it works.

The crude formula for PTSD is ‘Trauma x Time‘.

So if something is blatantly horrifying, a single short term exposure might be enough to provoke PTSD. Hence the usual advice for military and emergency services, that when dealing with very horrible scenes to keep exposure to a minimum and take lots of breaks. It’s almost like radiation.

But time is also a factor. So exposure to so-called low impact trauma for long enough is all it needs. Something that might be easily brushed off as an unpleasant occurrence if it just happened once, if repeated often enough, can bring on PTSD. Heck, even something like chronic background stress can be enough.

Sage
Sage
1 month ago

@Makroth

Radical feminism (in any form) requires a strict separation between men and women. This separation is justified by the belief that men are so inherently violent and dangerous that it is impossible for women to be safe and fully self-actualised if they have any contact or relationships with men.

I do not believe that bigotry against men is a systemic force in the way that misogyny is, or that anything MRAs etc. say about it is credible. However, radical feminists both historically and today have used it as a central pillar of their ideology. I believe that bigotry against men is important to radical feminism as a norm of their subculture and ideology even if that bigotry is not a mass-cultural systemic force.

For example, in Compulsory Heterosexuality And Lesbian Experience (1980), Adrienne Rich defines a lesbian as a woman who has joined a community of only women and is directing all of her energy towards her relationships with those women, even if she is not sexually or romantically attracted to women (section II, if you don’t want to wade through the whole thing). This position is sometimes called “political lesbianism” and was promoted through publications such as Love Your Enemy? The Debate Between Heterosexual Feminism and Political Lesbianism (1981) which explicitly told heterosexual women that it is impossible for them to have anything in common with their male partners and encouraged them to leave their partners in favour of joining women’s/”political lesbian” separatist groups. For more modern examples, you will note that one of the key beliefs of “trans inclusive” radical feminists in the article that I linked was “Being a man is, therefore, ethically harmful and wrong; particularly if you are giving up womanhood in order to be a man.” (Emphasis in original.)

In its classic form the separation between men and women that radical feminism demands is based on biological concepts: whether a person has a penis or a vagina, whether their endocrine system is testosterone or estrogen dominant, whether their secondary sex characteristics fall within certain parameters. There is an enormous amount of villification of “male biology” by radical feminists who take this approach. Penises are equated directly with rape; testosterone is blamed for cis men’s rapacious attitudes; size ranges of hands and feet, heights, and other secondary sex characteristics are passed around to “help” cis women “clock” trans women to “protect themselves” from “predatory men pretending to be women”.

This is obviously extremely harmful to trans women, especially trans women who have some or all of these body parts. There is a secondary harm to trans men, because these things are often body parts that we wish to have, and we are treated as disgusting and predatory for wanting our bodies to have these characteristics. And of course nonbinary people experience a mixture of these harms based on which ones affect their body, their transition (if they do so), and the specifics of their personal gender identity.

Some forms of radical feminism translate this to a “trans inclusive” gender essentialism, where transgender women are included as women and transgender men are included as men. This still maintains the underlying problems, however. Vilification of “male” body parts is still common, based on the assumption that trans women all dislike their “male” bodies and want to be rid of them. Transgender men are told that taking testosterone will turn us into predators and assaulters. It’s incredibly difficult to talk about desiring phalloplasty or other bottom surgery as a trans man, because penises are so equated with toxic masculinity and rape that we get treated as if wanting one is a sign that we wish to be rapists. The belief that men are inherently predatory also remains, but is moved out of biology and into the domain of “socialisation” in order to argue that all men are socialised exactly the same way and that this socialisation (into being predatory) is impossible to overcome.

This is still harmful to trans people. It’s harmful to trans women who can’t (or don’t want to) get rid of some of their “male” body parts. It’s harmful to trans men because it pushes the line that we’re inherently predatory, and that frequently causes us to stay in the closet. As before, the harms to nonbinary people span the range of both of these depending on the particulars of the person in question.

Thus, from the perspective of radical feminism as a subculture with its own internal norms, radical feminism (trans inclusive or not) ideologically relies on painting men as inherently predatory and dangerous, and normalises vilification of both men’s bodies and their gender.

[Edit to nitpick myself: there are some authors, like Sophie Lewis, who refer to their feminism as radical even though they explicitly reject the transphobia and gender essentialism of the 80s-origin radical feminist frameworks. I respect it, but I think that such authors are a small minority of the authors who call themselves radical feminist, and that most of the ones who use the label are gender- or bioessentialist in the ways I’ve covered here.]

***

@Kat

This kind of gender essentialism and attitude towards men is very common in feminist spaces online, even ones that aren’t “radical feminist”. If you haven’t read it before, this piece by an anonymous trans woman (pseudonym Jennifer Coates) is a very strong look at these attitudes (CWs: homophobia, transphobia & transmisogyny, eating disorders, suicide, sexual assault)

I am twenty-one years old.

Misandry humor is peaking and it is dripping with cissexism. Down cascade the gleeful tweets from ciswomen about how women are more beautiful than men — how graceful the female body is, how utilitarian the male. How awesome boobs are. How bad boys’ taste in clothing is. How incompetent they are emotionally. How they’re too weak to handle childbirth and periods. Neckbeards are the scourge of the internet. They wax disgusted about “dad bods.” SCUM rhetoric is revived with inconsistent levels of irony. The meme gospel says penises are just shitty clitorises.

I don’t—know where I stand in this. I don’t know my place in this. Are these my people?

Do I really believe a wig and a pronoun will change how they feel, deep down? About my body? About my chromosomes? About my “socialization”? I don’t. I want to, but I don’t.

They can believe deep down their feelings on who is smart & strong & reasonable and who is dumb & weak & dangerous are within their control, are controlled exaggerations and self-aware and performed, are well-examined. If they saw me nude and wigless and wet, would I not be subject to their funny opinions on penises? On neckbeards? On maleness? On who has a right to talk about femininity?

The effects on trans men like myself are different, but similar in that the cissexism of these jokes and attitudes hurts us. “Neckbeard” jokes get a lot less funny when it’s the only facial hair you can grow, and what should be a gender-affirming experience instead makes you see yourself as embodying the stereotype of the disgusting misogynist. When I’m in a group of people joke-but-not-quite-joke bonding over How Shit Men Are all I can think is that they would think better of me if I’d stayed in the closet. I worry that if I don’t join in, because having to “jokingly” denigrate the gender I’ve fought so hard to be is very upsetting to me, that they’ll stop viewing me as trustworthy or as a feminist. As Coates details, these pressures push trans women to out themselves in order to be taken seriously; they push trans men like me back into the closet, sometimes for years.

I’m aware that this seems like a disproportionate response to common feminist jokes, but you have to consider how these jokes interact with the ways that trans men are abused in the name of feminism, such as those I discussed in my original comment. #KillAllMen is, as David says, just a not-so-great joke, but imagine how it must feel to see a cis woman go out of her way to say “#KillAllMen includes trans men” — your gender affirmation is that you should die. Imagine how it feels to see people arguing that trans men can’t be feminists, because they’re men and men can’t really be feminists, when you’ve spent most of your life in online feminist communities whose beliefs are that transitioning from being a woman to being a man is fundamentally against feminist ethics.

These things may not reflect a person’s true beliefs about men, such as whether or not men are capable of change. However, they’re still used frequently in every online feminist space I’ve ever been in, and even if they don’t reflect the person’s real beliefs they are still based on the ideas that men are disgusting, predatory, unable to change, etc. This is what I meant when I say they’re taken up by non-radfem feminists in an uncritical way: non-radfem feminists use these jokes and lines of argument without considering how they’re based in radical feminist gender and/or biological essentialism, which allows these ideas to spread and gain legitimacy in non-radfem feminist spaces.

So no, I’m not flat-out wrong, it’s that cissexism and gender- & bioessentialism is so normalised in online and liberal feminist culture that you have no idea how much of it there is or how much it harms us. Thanks for your time.

Last edited 1 month ago by Sage
Sage
Sage
1 month ago

@Yutolia

Thanks for sharing your experiences, though I’m sorry you were treated like that. I definitely agree that they have parallels. I think things are getting better slowly, but there was a long time that mainstream feminism sucked at dealing with cross-cutting oppressions like ableism and biphobia as well as transphobia (and racism, to name an important one that I’m not personally affected by). I’m glad you’ve found better people and spaces, I have too 🙂 Though I’ve followed David’s work as a lurker for a long time now lol

Prophet309
Prophet309
1 month ago

Sage said:

“Radical feminism (in any form) requires a strict separation between men and women. This separation is justified by the belief that men are so inherently violent and dangerous that it is impossible for women to be safe and fully self-actualised if they have any contact or relationships with men.”

This statement just seems too absolute to be completely accurate. Every possible form of radical feminism is like that? I’ve read of women who both called themselves radical feminists and didn’t believe the above. Isn’t that single counterexample enough to disprove such an absolute and inflexible statement?

I’d love to hear other commenters’ opinions, though, if they don’t mind sharing.

Kat, ambassador, feminist revolution (in exile)
Kat, ambassador, feminist revolution (in exile)
1 month ago

@ Sage

I’m a trans man, and radical feminists love doing violence to us. They correctively rape us and brag about “fucking the man out of [us]” and “turning [us] back into lesbians”.

Sage, I’m so very sorry that this happened to you and other trans men. But this isn’t feminism. This is hatred.

#KillAllMen is, as David says, just a not-so-great joke, but imagine how it must feel to see a cis woman go out of her way to say “#KillAllMen includes trans men” — your gender affirmation is that you should die. Imagine how it feels to see people arguing that trans men can’t be feminists, because they’re men and men can’t really be feminists, when you’ve spent most of your life in online feminist communities whose beliefs are that transitioning from being a woman to being a man is fundamentally against feminist ethics.These things may not reflect a person’s true beliefs about men, such as whether or not men are capable of change. However, they’re still used frequently in every online feminist space I’ve ever been in, and even if they don’t reflect the person’s real beliefs they are still based on the ideas that men are disgusting, predatory, unable to change, etc.

These ideas that men, including trans men, can’t be feminists and that all men, including trans men, are disgusting, predatory, unable to change, and should die aren’t promoted at all in this very space in which we are communicating, an online feminist space.

@ Cyborgette

I found this definition of Baeddels on Reddit. A poster asked the question, what are Baeddels? This is one response, from someone called [deleted]:

[deleted]

5 yr. ago

A subgroup of trans women* who hate trans men. Often claim we have “afab privilege”, that we’re traitors, a waste of community resources or otherwise inferior. I’ve seen some willing to go as far as suicide baiting, outing others and sending messages “hoping they’re raped”. They often follow the same “logic” as TERFs (everyone else is always what they were assigned, huge emphasis on percieved “privilege”), but claim that it’s ok because “transphobia doesn’t exist, only transmysogny” and that the random guys they harass on the internet have “more privilege so can’t be hurt anyway”. Often seen derailing positivity posts for guys.

*Here’s my question: If this is largely online, how do we know that these posters are trans women? Saying it doesn’t make it true.

@Kat

I don’t think there’s much reason to doubt that they’re really trans women. Marginalization doesn’t make people better human beings, trans intracommunity politics can be nasty, and unfortunately some trans people are just that fucked up… Just like some cis people are.

And I should know; I’ve fairly often been abused by such people within the community.

True social justice requires seeing us as individuals, same as cis people, including our capacity for evil.

Yes, transgender people, just like cis people, are all individuals. Oppression doesn’t make a person a saint. I myself have been abused by abused people.

But my question still stands: How do we know that these posters are trans women? Or that even most of them are trans women? As far as I’m concerned, once an individual online has demonstrated a willingness to be vicious, I’m not convinced that anything they say is necessarily true. Once they’ve stepped off that cliff, leaving any empathy behind them, I don’t think they would balk at lying about their identity.

Dalillama
Dalillama
1 month ago

The short of it is that radical feminism =/= second-wave style gender essentialism, nor can it and meaningfully remain radical. Destroying patriarchy at its roots (radical=at the root) means fundamentally reorganizing society into a different and egalitarian form. Thus, a radical feminist is anti-racist, anti-capitalist, and a proponent of full and equal rights for any and every oppressed group. Anyone who doesn’t hold those positions isn’t a radical of any sort, feminist or otherwise.

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