Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Scandalous Truth About Russian Men

02c 8 March International Women's Day

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Earlier this month, Russian-American journalist Diana Bruk shocked the delicate sensibilities of the American reading public by writing a no-holds-barred account of why she loves (and hates!) dating Russian men. In her essay, published by Salon.com, Bruk talked about how her feminist sensibilities came up against her carnal desires when she dated Russians. She talked about how fun, scary, unpredictable, and exciting it is to date a Russian man if you happen to also be a modern girl who graduated from Sarah Lawrence. She talked about the possessive and aggressive nature of many of the men she dated, and how it combined itself with the sort of passion and tenderness her American lovers frequently lacked. She talked about how the Russian ideal of masculinity is both thrilling and damaging… a kind of conundrum that, to me, immediately brought back the words from that old U2 song, “With or without you / With or without you / I can’t live / With or without you”.

Many Russians were outraged, saying that Bruk stereotyped them. Many other Russians were delighted, saying that Bruk’s incredible honesty about her personal experiences proved once and for all that Russian dudes simply do it better… and not just when it comes to sex. Some Americans were also obviously offended. Other Americans used Bruk’s essay as “proof” that the feminist movement is a bunch of bullshit. What was most interesting to me was seeing the number of commenters who essentially told Bruk that they hope that she eventually marries a Russian… and that he’d go on to knock her teeth out. That, they reasoned, was appropriate punishment for an uppity girl who dared to be open about the fact that she wants “a man who’s a gentleman at dinner and an animal in bed” and that every once in a while, she just wants to scream to an awkward and conscientious Western lover that sex “isn’t a dinner party. You’re not writing an essay. Just let go”.

Like Bruk, I’ve also encountered the notion that domestic violence should be a kind of punitive experience for a woman who’s chosen to associate with the “wrong” kind of man. A reader who disagrees with me on something will dig around on the Internet, find out that I married a Russian, and start sending me hate mail with such charming sentiments as, “I hope he hits you regularly… since that’s the only thing these guys are good for”. At the heart of this issue is the archaic notion of “our women” vs “their women”. A woman can’t belong to several cultures, you see. She must be “claimed” by someone… and to suffer accordingly. This possessiveness isn’t exclusive to Russians by a long shot, and seeing the number of people wishing Bruk ill made me realise that they all protest too much. “Yeah, we think domestic violence in Russia is wrong… and that’s why we hope it happens to you!” Right.

According to the latest findings of Russia’s State Statistics Service, one in five Russian women is abused physically by her partner, whilst a total of 40 percent suffer from verbal abuse. These aren’t numbers to be taken lightly… and the idea that a “real man” must dominate his woman in every way, which is common in Russia, does feed into the problem of abuse, whether we like to admit this or not. Yet, I also think it’s very silly to assume that a woman who wants a man to take charge every once in a while… particularly in bed… is simply asking for abuse. Furthermore, dismissing Bruk’s internal struggle on the subject of equality and desire as a form of adolescent posturing is a cop-out. It amounts to whitewashing the complexities of relationships in general. The strength of Bruk’s piece lies in the discomfort it generates for everyone. Bruk admitted something that she wasn’t supposed to admit… the idea that desire doesn’t deal in absolutes. It’s no wonder people want to see her get her teeth knocked out.

27 August 2013

Natalia Antonova

RIA-Novosti

http://en.ria.ru/columnists/20130827/182993648/Trendwatcher-The-Scandalous-Truth-About-Russian-Men.html

Editor’s Note:

The good news is that a majority of Russian women DON’T suffer abuse from their partners… the bad news is that the minority who do is too large a number. We have a job of work to do…

BMD

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Expat Women in Moscow: When Dating is No Disaster

01 Couple with young cat

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At the Moscow News, our theme of the week is single expat women in Moscow… and what’s hampering them in their pursuit of relationships. Whilst the story itself was certainly interesting to do, the initial responses to it online were no less fascinating. One lovely chap from Czechia wrote to me, “Western women are total bitches! That’s why Russian men don’t go near them!” When someone else pointed up that the woman he was tweeting at (i.e. me) is married to a Russian, he couldn’t believe it at first. Then, he wrote, “Clearly, [my] husband must have a problem of some sort”. Another upstanding individual who follows Guardian (soon-to-be BuzzFeed) journalist Miriam Elder on Twitter decided to stand up for Russian men. He tweeted, “Russians aren’t the only ones [who reject American women]! American women are c***s!” I could go on, but I’m sure that you get the point.

Every woman, be she Russian or American or whatever, goes through a phase of desperately not wanting to be That Girl. That Girl is the one who calls people out on sexist stereotypes. That Girl is the one who tells it like it is. She’s mouthy. She isn’t particularly good at being manipulative. She is, quite often, a bitch… and people on Twitter will let her know about it. However, then, sometimes, life chooses for you. You become That Girl because you suddenly find yourself angry… or tired of lying… or in a bad relationship… or worse. Even though I married a Russian, I’m That Girl. It’s why I’m interested in articles about thorny relationship issues. From everything I’ve seen, Western women don’t need to pretend to be someone else to find love in Moscow… however impermanent or strange love may ultimately turn out to be.

In fact, the hate-filled responses to our article prove something I have long-suspected but never quite articulated… Western women getting together with Russian men is a scary concept for a lot of the sexist men who come to Russia to get laid. Such relationships mess with their neat little worldview wherein all Russian men are boorish and uninteresting, and all Western women are evil hags. In my experience, the Russian men who fall for Western women tend to be different. No specific “type” of Russian man does it… I suppose that anyone who dates a foreigner is somewhat open-minded in one way or another. Some are rich, some are poor, some are in the arts, whilst others are hard-nosed businessmen, and so on. The one interesting thing these men tend to have in common is their confidence.

You don’t need to be a pick-up artist to know that confidence is the only “trick” there is… it’s the same for women. My anecdotal evidence suggests that expat women who date in Moscow don’t exactly lack it either. When I told an American friend… let’s call her Jane… about our upcoming article, and the negative experiences of other Western women we describe, she was philosophical about it, saying, “Love is about luck… and there’s no real formula for success, but it’s also true that when I first came to Moscow, I was very intimidated by the whole dating scene. I kept thinking, ‘Well, I’m obviously not as feminine as the local women, so I’ll probably stay single’. For over a year, it was true”.

Then Jane made a new friend… an older Russian man who told her that she needed to stop worrying and start living. She said, “He reminded me that I’m still young, that I need to get out more. Expat social circles can be stifling, it’s true, so, I began to hang out with groups of new people. Suddenly, I was dating again”. Later, when I messaged Jane, copying and pasting some of the more ridiculous responses to our article, she had a good laugh, posting, “Bitches and c***s, sure, whatever! When people talk like that, they’re ultimately saying more about themselves than anyone else”.

9 July 2013

Natalia Antonova

RIA-Novosti

http://en.ria.ru/columnists/20130709/182138123/Trendwatcher-Expat-Women-in-Moscow-When-Dating-is-No-Disaster-.html

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Putin Said That He and His Wife are Divorcing

00 Vladimir Putin. Russia. wedding. 12.06

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On 6 June, President Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila Putina announced that their marriage is over. Putin said that there was no need for a Church divorce from Lyudmila, since there was no Church wedding. Putin told RT Television, “As far as the religious side of things is concerned, we don’t have to do anything, as we never got married in Church. In fact, both Lyudmila and I want to speak openly and honestly about what’s happening. This is a much better way of behaving than running and hiding”.

Last Thursday, the president and his wife attended the ballet La Esmeralda at the State Kremlin Palace. A little later, in a television interview, they announced that they decided to divorce after nearly 30 years of marriage. Presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov said that Putin and his wife haven’t yet formalised their divorce, stating, “They said that they decided to divorce; I can’t say when it’ll be fully legalised, but that isn’t as important as the announcement of the decision”. He noted that Putin’s schedule, including a full travel agenda, is well known. For some time, the president and his wife haven’t lived together. Replying to a question whether Lyudmila Putina, who comes from Kaliningrad, will live in Moscow or whether she’d return home, Peskov said that he hadn’t the right to interfere in anyone’s personal life or comment upon it. He said that the Putins said what they had to say on their divorce, it’s not yet time to make further details public. He noted, on the topic of a possible presidential elopement, “I’ll give you what Vladimir Vladimirovich and Lyudmila Aleksandrovna said, in their words. As for what’s out there, it’s nothing but gossip, rumours, and speculation. It isn’t difficult to look at Putin’s work schedule. It isn’t rocket science. When you do, you realise that his life is probably, unfortunately, devoid of most personal relationships; it’s all too full of the responsibilities and obligations that he bears as the Head of State”.

Click here for further information on the topic

11 June 2013

RIA-Novosti

http://ria.ru/society/20130611/942843924.html

Editor’s Note:

There is a major difference between the Church and the papists in the matter of marriage and divorce. For one thing, we hold that civil marriages are “marriages indeed”. That being said, most priests would prefer couples to have a religious Church wedding as well as the registry office affair. However, if one only has a civil wedding, one is considered “married” by the Church. You can have a Church ceremony as well (indeed, it’s preferable to have both), but it’s not strictly and formally necessary for a marriage to occur. After all, marriage as a religious rite is a somewhat late development, relatively-speaking… I’m not denigrating religious marriage; I’m merely pointing up that it wasn’t a primitive facet of Church life. Besides this, the Church accepts that marriages sometimes fail, that divorce is, sometimes, the only way out of a nasty situation for both parties. I agree with VVP, “In fact, both Lyudmila and I want to speak openly and honestly about what’s happening. This is a much better way of behaving than running and hiding”. This is going to INCREASE VVP’s cred… he’s being open and honest about his sticky personal life. Shit happens…

BMD

 

Saturday, 7 July 2012

7 July 2012. Sergei Yolkin’s World. About Love at First Sight

About Love at First Sight

Sergei Yolkin

2012

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The vast majority of Russians, some 70 percent, believe in love at first sight, according to a survey of Superjob.ru, a research centre and jobs website, held on the eve of the Day of Family, Love, and Fidelity, held on 8 July in Russia.

6 July 2012

Sergei Yolkin

RIA-Novosti

http://ria.ru/caricature/20120706/693213725.html

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