The skoptsy believed that before the fall of Adam and Eve, men and women did not have sexual organs; that its—they did not conceive of the original man and woman as being differentiated by their genitalia. The skoptsy were also millenarians, and as such they imagined the world would be transformed following an apocalyptic reckoning. In exploring how the temporal register of the skoptsy was depicted in the novels of Dostoevsky, the author proposes that the apocalyptic religious and political movements that were developing across imperial Russia can deepen contemporary discussions about queer temporality, in that they offer a counterpoint to arguments that the future is the realm of the normative reproducing subject.
They began as a splinter faction of a group of flagellants, those religious guys that flog themselves on the back. Later in history Rasputin was a flagellant. This Skoptsy sect goes all the way back to 1757, but their existence wasn’t found out about until 1771. It was too late. For some awful reason by that time it had spread too fast and too much and was to continue, somehow, for over a hundred years.
A few powerful leaders in the Russian hierarchy got together in 1820 and were able to use their combined power to take Selivanov away. They brought him to the monastery of Suzdal where he stayed until he died in 1832 at a claimed age of 100. But not before saying that he will live forever and return to being the ruler of all Russia.
Even after his death Skoptism continued to draw new converts. No matter how many were caught, they would keep spreading, new groups springing up all over the place. The government would exile many of the ones they caught to Siberia and Yakutsk. To escape prosecution, some moved to Romania where they took up jobs as horse cab drivers and moneylenders. The rules were modified too, so that converts could have up to two children before undergoing the Greater Seal.
It is estimated that Skoptsy numbered as high as 100,000 at the height of the movement in the early to mid 1800s, with around 1000-2000 believers still around in Soviet Russia in 1930. There are rumors that the Soviet Party leader from 1953-1955, Georgy Malenkov, had been castrated by his parents when he was a child. The last Soviet Skoptsy were thought to have finally come to an end in 1962. Some people seem to think that there could still be a few remaining in the deep pockets of Romania.