Category Archives: sexism

EDITORIAL: Here Come the Russian Rapists

EDITORIAL

Here Come the Russian Rapists

Russia and its Real Men

Russians are fond of working themselves up in to a state of high outrage whenever they hear stories about Russians being abused in foreign lands (like the recent incident in which a Russian adoptee was made to drink hot sauce by his new mother, or the incident where a mother returned her adopted child to Russia).

But good luck getting Russians to manage as much as a yawn when they learn about shocking acts of abuse by Russians against foreigners — that is, if state-sponsored Russian media even report such incidents at all, which they usually do not.

Take for instance the brutal gang-rape of a young Malaysian student at Bellerbys College in London, where tuition is £30,000 ($50,000) a year.   The wolf pack of four Russian students who drugged and then attacked her over the course of more than two hours, filming the savage assault with a cell phone and “celebrating like footballers” as they mauled the helpless fellow student, showed “callous disregard for (the victim) as a human being and a callous disregard for her as anything other than an object” according to the judge who sentenced them to prison in Woolwich Crown Court.

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The Misery that is Russian Womanhood

Julia Ioffe, writing on Slate:

One evening in Moscow, Tanya (not her real name) found herself at a dinner table with a group of friends, most of them married couples. One of the men started to tell a story about the coda to a recent guys’ night out. He’d stumbled home the next morning to his wife and two children—a 2-year-old and an infant—to find that he’d forgotten his underwear. Everyone at the dinner table, including the man’s wife, laughed at the story: the hijinks!

Wandering spouses have become a common trope for the women of Moscow. “Men’s environment here pushes them towards cheating,” Tanya told me, adding that, these days, a boys’ night out in Russia often involves prostitutes. Tanya and her friends are young, educated, upper-middle-class Muscovites, but talk to any woman in Moscow, and, regardless of age, education, or income level, she’ll have a story of anything from petty infidelity to a parallel family that has existed for decades. Infidelity in Moscow has become “a way of life,” as another friend of mine put it—accepted and even expected.

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Brutal Sexism Continues in Putin’s Russia

Radio Free Europe reports:

It’s one of the most visible changes on Moscow’s streets. Twenty years ago, you could go weeks without seeing a single woman driver. Now it seems there’s a woman behind the wheel of every second car.

One of them is Lera Labzina, who’s been driving for two years and says that makes her “very, very happy.”

“Driving represents another step toward women’s independence,” she says.

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Frailty, thy name is Russian Woman!

There’s sick, and then there’s Russian sick.  Julia Ioffe, reporting on Slate:

A strange thing happened in late June, when the big Russian Internal Ministry bosses disclosed their earnings and those of their family members, thanks to President Dmitry Medvedev’s new anti-corruption measures. The surprise didn’t come from the men: The head-honcho cops were the fat cats everyone assumed them to be, declaring incomes that strangely exceeded that of the president. And the ranks of the obscure upper-middle management fittingly declared modest incomes, usually topping at out around $50,000. A Russian-made car here, a modest apartment there.

But the wifely half of the family disclosures was far more revelatory. There was, for example, the amazing financial statement of the spouse of Viktor Smirnov, the deputy director of the Russian Internal Ministry’s Center to Ensure Operation Performance to Combat Extremism. In 2009, a year in which the Russian economy struggled to get back on its feet after the financial crisis turned it virtually inside-out, Mrs. Smirnov made $500,000. She also owns two plots of land, each about 40 acres. She has shares in two apartments as well as in a housing complex, plus a Subaru Outback, an industrial truck, and a BMW 3-Series, which can retail for over $60,000. What does Mr. Smirnov own? One-quarter of one apartment.

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EDITORIAL: Russia, Nation of Pigs

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EDITORIAL

Russia, Nation of Pigs

Russian women who drive subway trains don’t dare dream of the day when they might be allowed to sue their employer for sexual harassment or gender discrimination in terms of their working conditions or pay.  That’s because in order to sue about such things you have to first be employed, and a Russian court ruled last week that women aren’t allowed to drive subway trains.  They are, the court said, genetically inferior to men and therefore to be excluded from such professions as might expose themselves or others to physical injury.

Russia is a nation of male chauvanist pigs and, as far as can be seen, it’s proud of it.

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Russian Society: As Sick as it Can Get?

As if the world needed any more reasons to stay as far away from Russia as humanly possible, the Teleraph reports that sexual harassment is now perfectly legal in Russia. In fact, the judges are encouraging it!

The unnamed executive, a 22-year-old from St Petersburg, had been hoping to become only the third woman in Russia’s history to bring a successful sexual harassment action against a male employer.

She alleged she had been locked out of her office after she refused to have intimate relations with her 47-year-old boss.

“He always demanded that female workers signalled to him with their eyes that they desperately wanted to be laid on the boardroom table as soon as he gave the word,” she earlier told the court. “I didn’t realise at first that he wasn’t speaking metaphorically.”

The judge said he threw out the case not through lack of evidence but because the employer had acted gallantly rather than criminally.

“If we had no sexual harassment we would have no children,” the judge ruled.

Since Soviet times, sexual harassment in Russia has become an accepted part of life in the office, work place and university lecture room.

According to a recent survey, 100 per cent of female professionals said they had been subjected to sexual harassment by their bosses, 32 per cent said they had had intercourse with them at least once and another seven per cent claimed to have been raped.

Eighty per cent of those who participated in the survey said they did not believe it possible to win promotion without engaging in sexual relations with their male superiors.

Women also report that it is common to be browbeaten into sex during job interviews, while female students regularly complain that university professors trade high marks for sexual favours.

Only two women have won sexual harassment cases since the collapse of the Soviet Union, one in 1993 and the other in 1997.

Human rights activists say that Russian women remain second-class citizens and are subjected to some of the highest levels of domestic abuse in the world.

Annals of Russian "Feminism"

Reuters reports:

Igor Volodin believes vodka is no more harmful than chocolate. He is proud to be the first Russian to produce the spirit in a special women’s version, designed to be sipped with salad after a workout in the gym.

Touted as a glamour product for upwardly mobile women in booming Russia, Damskaya or “Ladies” vodka worries doctors, who fear a fresh wave of female alcoholics in a country already suffering one of the world’s worst drink problems.

The Moscow Serbsky Institute for Social and Forensic Psychiatry says Russia has 2.5 million registered alcoholics, but adds the real figure is seven times higher — more than 10 percent of Russia’s population of 142 million. Yuri Sorokin, a psychologist running a Moscow rehabilitation centre for drug addicts and alcoholics, said 60 percent of those he treats for alcoholism are women, including the wives of Russian millionaires. “I believe that female alcoholism is a huge problem in Russia. I believe it is as huge and hidden as the underwater part of an iceberg,” he said.

Adverts for the new “Ladies” vodka show the elegant, violet-tinted bottle wearing a pleated white skirt which is blown upwards to reveal the label. The images confront commuters on Moscow’s metro, grab the eye on the street and leap from the pages of women’s magazines. “Between us, girls …” runs the slogan on the adverts, which tout the product as an ideal tipple for hearty hen parties. “Women need a drink of their own,” said Volodin, sitting next to an array of his “Ladies” vodkas, which comes in lime, vanilla and almond flavors, or just straight for cocktails. “In Moscow, there are pink taxis for ladies, there are light cigarettes,” he said. “But there was no vodka, and we asked ourselves: ‘Why?’ … More people suffer from diabetes in Russia than from alcoholism, but no one bans chocolate advertisements.”

Sales on Russia’s vodka market are estimated to be worth around $15 billion a year, with a total annual volume of some 2.2 billion liters, Volodin said. Annual market growth in value is seen at 15 percent, he said, thanks to rising incomes and higher sales of premium vodkas like “Ladies”.

Volodin heads the Deyros company, which has been selling strong spirits on the Russian market for more than 10 years. “Ladies”, launched in December, is produced at a distillery in Russia’s second city of St Petersburg and retails at around 300 roubles ($12.5) in upmarket shops in big cities. Volodin is targeting successful, well-educated, married women with money. “Of course, $12 per bottle is too expensive for a village woman,” Volodin said, forecasting March sales of “Ladies” at 115,000 bottles and putting the 2008 full-year figure at over 2 million. “But we can’t make bad vodka for women.” Volodin says his vodka is pure and free of by-products, like fusel oils, which can cause a heavy hangover. He says because of its mellow taste, it can be taken with salads and other light meals, even by those regularly working out in gyms.

Russia, buoyed by windfall revenues for oil, gas and metals exports, has enjoyed its biggest economic boom in a generation. Wages in the cash-laden economy have rocketed. But high salaries and growing consumption of expensive alcohol have not led to moderation in drinking, said psychologist Sorokin. The joblessness and despair of Russia’s wild capitalism of the 1990s have now been replaced by the psychological vacuum of the newly-rich, he said.

Olga, a woman in her 20s, was buying a bottle of “Ladies” in an expensive supermarket in Moscow for a party with her friends. “I saw the ad in the metro and decided to taste it,” she said. “I just loved the design.” Sorokin said he expected an influx of new patients in about six months. “When such strong marketing experts are involved, I will never be jobless,” he sighed.

Vladimir Putin is certainly correct to express outrage that any in the West would dare to think of Russia as being “a little bit savage.” The Times of London has more on the feminism front in enlightened, sophisticated Russia:

Blondes famously have more fun, but a jealous world has long joked about their intellectual limitations. Now blondes in Russia are fighting the bimbo image by forming their own political party. Organisers insist that the Party of Blondes will establish itself as Russia’s newest political force by recruiting 50,000 members within weeks. The blonde ambition, they say, is to challenge Dmitri Medvedev for the presidency of Russia at the next election in 2012. “The Party of Blondes is for blondes, those who love blondes, and those who are blonde inside,” general-secretary Marina Voloshinova told The Times. Confusingly, she is a brunette.

“I dyed my hair blonde once but it was so awful that I decided never to do it again. I just have to stay blonde inside,” she said. “Blonde is not just a hair colour, it’s in your brain and your heart. Blondes accept life in a more lively way, they really have more fun.”

The idea started as an internet community, the Club of Blonde Lovers, that evolved from a forum for jokes into a discussion about the many problems facing Russian women. “We decided to make it more serious and to form a political party. Blondes are very attractive and the Party of Blondes is a way to gain attention for issues facing all women,” said Ms Voloshinova, a 39-year-old economist. “We want to make it easier for women to start small businesses because that is where they can develop themselves, and children’s education is a major question. It is free on paper but everybody knows that you have to pay under the table to get your child into a good school.” She added: “We will try to have beautiful blondes as party representatives. Unfortunately, a lot of our beauties have left Russia and we have to work hard to make life more convenient for women so that they will stay and be beautiful here. Men will vote for a beautiful woman, but we have to convince them that she is not only beautiful but also clever and a good leader.”

The party launched three weeks ago and claims 5,000 members. It needs 50,000 plus branches in half of Russia’s regions to gain official registration. “We will be ready by May 31, which is the Day of Blondes,” Ms Voloshinova said. The party is seeking support from famous blonde Russians, such as Valentina Matviyenko, the governor of St Pertersburg, Maria Sharapova, the tennis star, and Ksenia Sobchak, the “It” girl. “They don’t have to become members, just sympathise with our ideas. To be a real political force we need to develop our own leaders, and there are a lot of talented women in the regions.” Non-blondes, including men, are also welcome. Indeed, the current leader of the nascent women’s party is a man, Sergei Kushnerov. “He founded the Blonder Lovers’ Club so he became our leader, but that may change when we are more organised. Anyway, he has dyed his hair blond,” said Ms Voloshinova. She insists that the Party of Blondes is not a joke and that it is serious about capturing the Kremlin in a country where ultra-nationalists and Communists ran in this month’s presidential election. Mr Medvedev may even have a fifth columnist in his camp – his wife Svetlana is blonde. “No other party in Russia represents women’s rights. We want to teach women to love themselves and to believe that they can be all that they want to be,” she said.

“We will have a blonde president and if we find a great woman leader who is not blonde, we will make her dye her hair. To become the President of Russia, every woman is willing to dye her hair.”