Irina Malenko

Russian woman’s pride.

     “…Die, but do not give a kiss
     Without love!”
    (N. Chernyshevsky “What has to be done?”)

…While going through newspapers and Internet virtually every day, I constantly come across advertisements from Russian (and other Eastern European) women seemingly desperately looking for a Western husband. It has become a sort of epidemic back in my home country. Some Western media even say cynically that Russian women have become one of the main export products of my country, next to oil and other natural resources.

For some strange reason, our women seem to think that a foreign husband, using Bob Marley’s words, “will come from the sky, take away everything and make everybody feel high”. And it is their own behaviour – their own lack of self-esteem and even of self-respect that sometimes feels deeply through every single line of their ads – that makes those foreign men believe that they can do almost anything with these women, what women from their own country will not tolerate anymore – and get away with it.

…. I can start this article saying like a truly old person: “In my time it was different.” But it really was – not so long ago a marriage to a foreigner was considered to be almost a State betrayal in my country and was most certainly discouraged. If you decided to marry a foreigner – or were even just dating one – you were sometimes literally spat on, but most of the times – just look on with suspicion. You would also have to go through the most frustrating mills of the bureaucracy for ages and ages. “Aren’t our own men good enough for you?” – it was not always directly asked, but it was always in the air around you.

 It was not that they were not good enough:  it was just that you were attracted by one particular type and not attracted by the others. And this one you were attracted by, was, by a coincidence, non-existent among Russians… It had nothing to do whatsoever with betrayal of your country or with “escaping from a poor life”. My country was – and still is, even after all these years of destructions called “reforms”! -  One of the richest countries in the world, and I am and always will be proud of it and of my origin. It was just the case that the man you fell in love with, was a foreign citizen.

If you would believe most of the contemporary Western web sites looking for the best way to get most money from their Western male clients, our Russian men are some kind of monsters whose sole hobbies are drinking and beating their wives. It is true that our current economic and political  “reforms” put men under such a pressure that they, as the weakest emotionally part of the population, often collapse or give in to drink far earlier than our women would. But that doesn’t make them monsters and doesn’t give any foreign snob the right to generalize like that. For comparison: in USSR (not in the Russia of today!) I have never experienced what is a sexual discrimination or sexism during my 23 years there. Our men were treating women – depending, of course, on these women’s own behaviour! – With respect, like equals, like comrades, yet with such old-fashioned extras as giving you your coat, opening the door for you and paying for your dinner if you went out together. It was perfectly normal for us to discuss our working matters on an equal base – nobody could even imagine anything different.

I couldn’t really understand hostility towards men of the militant feminism of some Western women- simply because in my own country at that time there was no need in that. When I came to the Netherlands – a country whose men today, according the same web sites, are “very popular among Russian women because they are kind, honest, nice, monogamous, do not drink and do not beat their women” (end quote) -, I was for the very first time confronted with the general society’s male domination and sexism at its worst. You could be twice as educated as your Dutch male colleagues and know 1o times as much as they do about the topic of the conversation – they would still bluntly ignore you in the course of it and look down at you, giving you a constant feeling that the only place they think is suitable for any woman, is a kitchen or a secretarial position with a mighty macho boss to whom you would be allowed to make his tea and to show your legs from under your compulsory mini-skirt.

I always wonder, what makes our women advertise among their best qualities for which Western men should marry them, “high level of education”. Yes, our women are very educated; in percentages there are more women-teachers, doctors and engineers in Russia than in any other country of the world, except for Bulgaria. Even an average sales assistant lady in Russia, I dare to say after meeting some Lithuanian ladies here in Cavan, has a higher general development level than an average Western university student.

But that’s not what most Western men are looking for in their potentially “bought” Russian brides. Offering your high educational level to the men most of whom are just looking for a Russian wife because they were not required by the women in their own countries, a sort of frustrated misfortunate creatures who think that at least now they found somebody who will obey them -it’s the same like throwing pearls for the swines. If you think that I am mistaken, just look at what those web sites are telling their clients about the potential pluses of a Russian wife comparing to a Western one.

The majority of them do not put education among the priory good woman’s qualities: the more educated a woman is, the more she will be aware of her eventual rights in the new country and the less she will be compatible with the generally expected by this particular kind of men from her “Eastern obedient type”.

“Why do Russian women enjoy such a great popularity among foreign men?
On the first place, I would put maternal qualities. Russian woman is rather a mother, than a lover (of course, there are exceptions). Initially, she took on herself a role of a mother towards her husband and had not a right to manifest any weakness.
 The heroines of Russian folk tales feel a really special love to their men - they always feel sorry for them, bring up and took care of them, save from a mortal danger, not sparing themselves, and sacrifice their own lives to the happiness and wealth of the promised husband. Such ideas are imbibed from the early childhood, with mother's milk. In this manner, women, someone more and someone less, follow unknowingly these principles and that is to say makes Russian women particular and popular all over the world.”

Or “ The foreigner sees his future Russian wife as healthy, hard working and docile. …The Russian woman, waiting for generosity, is ready to give everything she has to her beloved man….”Some Dutch web sites even go that far that they are calming down the worrying potential grooms who are afraid “to be used by a woman from a poor country” (like if somebody stops them from looking for one in their own, rich country!):” Do not worry, if you will prove to be incompatible, you can always send her back home within a first year of your living-together contract as this first year will not give the woman the right to stay in the Netherlands!”…

Speaking of using and abusing – who is going to abuse whom in this case?  To use a woman for a while for your needs – and then, when you have enough of her, to send her back where she comes from – what a fine example of a nice treatment by a foreign partner these women hope for!

There were cases in the Netherlands when the Dutch husbands were forcing their Russian wives to work in prostitution.  Is that a much happier destiny than to be, perhaps, beaten at some stage (maybe yes, maybe not) by a Russian husband?….

My mother always says to me: “Normal men do not write letters.”.  And right she is – it’s just not in a character of a normal, healthy, stable man to spend much time on writing (unless he is a writer by profession).  Most of those men who do write such a beautiful letters to “exotic” foreign women, are, in fact, not what they really are like in their letters, - but what they would like to be! A big difference. A difference that can only be discovered once it is perhaps too late… When you are stuck in this strange country, with nobody to help and nowhere to go to. That is one of the things our women should think about – before recklessly offering themselves to the highest bidder, the way so many of them do.

Even more responsibility lies on those who already have children from a previous marriage (it is highly unacceptable still in a Russian society to make children out of wedlock, the way it is so common in Ireland nowadays). My personal opinion is that it is pure selfishness that drives many of these women into a new relationship (even though most of them will furiously deny it!), without thinking of how this will affect their children emotionally – and only looking at the material side of things.

Fortunately, many of our women are taking a responsible approach – and I’ve been many times in the position of giving “private consultations” about your rights as a foreign wife in a country where you have nobody else to help you, to the Russian women who were thinking of marrying a foreigner. Because a marriage – with a foreigner or a Russian man, it does not matter – any marriage is like a lottery. It’s just that back at home you will have support of your family and friends in case of eventual problems. And in a foreign country you can easily end in a situation where, for example, your jealous husband will take your child away from you, and the police won’t move a finger to help you – “because you are married to him”.

Never say, “This will never happen to me “ – because you just never know!  I am very fortunate to be in the position of a financially independent woman who created her own new life in a new country for herself and her child, without having to be dependant on any man for that. But fortune doesn’t come by itself. You have to be strong, to believe in yourself and to work hard for it. I’ve had my portion of ups and downs in life – and I do not want to judge anybody too easily.  But a foreign husband by himself is not a solution to all your problems or a key to a life without worries. Most of all, you as a woman should always remember your human dignity and should never please any man, foreign or Russian, and humiliate yourself by fulfilling his every wish – simply because he is “from a wealthy background”. And I believe that by placing those desperately sounding ads our women just do exactly that.

They created in just a couple of years time an international image of Russian women I do not identify myself with and am deeply ashamed of; an image of women who are prepared to marry any unwanted by women in another country scumbag in order to escape poverty, an image of women who are prepared to throw their diplomas away and to become servants in the kitchen and in bed – just for being fed. That is not what real Russian women are like – and those Western men who believe otherwise, will come in from a cold funfair, as they say in Holland, very soon.

There are many, many happy marriages between Russian women (and lately, men as well!) and their foreign partners. Yet, the very situation they are put on (one partner “from a poor country”, having in the beginning virtually no legal rights and no help of family and friends in a new country – and another partner, “from a rich country”, being at home and more or less in the position of power, created by the circumstances and the system), is creating inequality of positions, inequality of rights in such a family that has potential dangers of abuse of this power in it.

A real Russian woman is not just beautiful, feminine, strong, genuine, intelligent and educated, - as our poet Nikolay Nekrasov said: “She’ll stop a running horse and will come into a burning house”, if needed.  Real Russian woman also has her dignity and pride. She can’t be bought. And will not let any poverty or any modern Western magazines for empty-headed women to destroy it.  Let’s not forget it, sisters!