Alina Rudya is a writer and photographer living in Berlin, Germany. She was born in Prypyat, Ukraine, and briefly worked at the Kyiv Post after graduating from Kyiv Mohyla Academy in 2008. She is the author of "Prypyat Mon Amour," a photo-essay book on how the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear power plant disaster changed the lives of the 50,000 people in her hometown.
Alina Rudya dissects Ukrainian women.
Editor’s Note: Alina Rudya wrote about Ukrainian men in the March 5 edition. Now she gives equal time to Ukrainian women.
And so, to continue my story.
I think the majority of Kyiv Post’s readers are foreigners and men. Many of them might say they know everything about Ukrainian women. But I say they are wrong. Truth doesn’t always lie on the surface and I will explain why.
There are lots of foreigners on the streets of Kyiv. And I would bet that half of them, if not more, are here not for business or sightseeing. They are here for women. And that’s where everybody says: “Aha! We knew that already. Ukrainian women are beautiful, easy for sex and they all want to marry a man from abroad.” So are they really? Or do they just look like it?
First of all, I don't want to go deep and talk about how great Ukrainian women are. Responsibility for the whole nation lies on the shoulders of the tender sex..
Ukrainian women are kind and smart. They are great cooks and traditionally they respect family values. This is cultural and I won't tell you anything new if I say that Slavic women are less emancipated and more feminine than Europeans or Americans. And by less emancipated, I don't mean uneducated or illiterate. I just mean they depend on men much more than women in the West. Men take advantage of this dependence as much as they can.
Many might say that most Ukrainian women want to marry rich foreigners and they prefer money to love. I doubt this, especially when it comes to small towns and villages, where women saw foreigners only in soap operas on TV. But if we talk about women who actually want to get married abroad, we should make it clear why this happens.
To be honest, it's in the nature of every woman around the world. It's biology -- women always look for a better male, who can support them and be a good father for their children.
It’s the same in the animal world. The best (read: strongest) always gets the female. Since ancient times, men have fought for women, and only the best ones would get the hand of the princess. It’s Ukrainian women’s misfortune that there are more “best” males out there than in here. Blame the economy, politics, culture, bad genes, “Slavic men syndrome,” – but not Ukrainian women. Many might say that not all Ukrainian women are princesses. And I would answer: Maybe not, but Ukraine has many more than anywhere else, if you judge them in terms of physical appearance.
Look at beautiful women from abroad. So many American, German, French, Italian models and actresses marry rich businessmen. Why? Because they can. Why? Because they are beautiful. And in this world (unfortunately), beauty and youth sells the best.
Many Ukrainian women tend to look for rich husbands. And why? It is well-known that the average Ukrainian woman has the luck of being prettier than the average German, for example. When you look like Ugly Betty, you have fewer options with men in general. (I don’t mean that all German women look ugly, but on the other hand: Why do they have so many male philosophers?)
And rich men, in particular, usually prefer models. Why? Because they don’t have much time for love, since they are busy making money and, secondly, and as I have already mentioned, they can choose. This world is unfair. But why not look for a better option if you’ve got the luck? So what every average woman wants, a Slavic one gets. (And when I say average, I don’t mean Susan Sontag or Mother Theresa). And since there is no middle class in Ukraine and even less upper class, women turn their heads West. Or East – somewhere in the direction of Qatar.
If you get to know the soul of any woman in the world, you will probably see that everybody’s looking for a Prince Charming. And more Prince than Charming when it comes to the financial side. And when a woman says that appearance is not important, I bet that she is not attractive. I mean, please, have you ever seen a good-looking feminist? I haven’t. Oh, actually I did. But he was a man. And gay.
I'm not being superficial, just realistic. People might say whatever they want or whatever they find to be politically correct. But when it comes to real life – well, you probably know why guys dream of Angelina Jolie and not Angela Merkel at night, even though I’m sure that they both are worthy women.
Aside from looking for a wealthy man, Ukrainian women also look for a caring one. As I wrote in the Part 1 article [March 5, Kyiv Post], many men in Ukraine do not have the best attitude towards women. Especially after marriage. “He was so nice and caring when we first met but after we got married everything changed.” How many stories like this have I’ve heard from Ukrainian women already?
Men cheat. They beat their wives (and, as you might know, there is no developed social network for protection against abuse in Ukraine, etc) and they take beauty and kindness for granted. Not all of them of course, but the patriarchic, discriminatory mentality is still there. (“Shut up, woman, your day is the 8th of March.” This joke is not always a joke). So, while many foreigners don’t like their emancipated fellow countrywomen for being not feminine enough, they enjoy the kindness and femininity of Ukrainian women who, in turn, like the unusually caring attitude of European men.
Prostitution is another tricky question. Unfortunately (again), women in Ukraine still have fewer career opportunities than men. (Actually, if you know the state of our economy, you know that men don’t have many opportunities either today). There are many strong and smart women in Ukraine, women with university degrees and many talents. But not everybody meets an opportunity in life. And, of course, not everybody’s smart. So if you track my thought, you’ll understand why so many women have to sell their bodies. If you need to feed your child and nobody needs your brain, no matter how hard you try, but everybody looks at your boobs, you would also consider changing your profession from nuclear physicist to stripper.
We are not talking about “professional” prostitutes, but about girls who are usually considered as “sluts.” (I hope I don’t have any under-age audience). I’ve heard a lot about Ukrainian women being easy about sex with foreigners and I tend to disagree (at some point).
I had an experience with such a stereotype only once in my life, but it was still very unfair and insulting. I was working as a pub-crawl guide in Berlin and my boss, Simone, while introducing me to a crowd of foreign ready-to-get-drunk students said: “This is Alina. She is from Ukraine. And she is NOT a prostitute.” I was shocked. I mean, what an uncommon thing for a Ukrainian girl. I wonder what would happen if I said: “This is Simone. She is German. So it’s weird that she doesn’t have a swastika tattooed on her forehead.” After a while a guy from the United States came up to me and said: “After her words, the only thing I think when I look at you is that I cannot pay you for sex.” My answer: “You cannot get it for free either, darling.” I was really insulted.
When you think “Ukrainian women,” you imagine someone who wears a lot of makeup, high heels in any weather, short skirt and bright colors. Actually, that’s what I imagine as well. I think that Ukrainians are wearing too much evening makeup during daytime. They take less care about their skin (and this is why they turn into a “babushka” at the age of 30, as one of my Italian friends said) than an average European (I noticed that, where a European tries to remove imperfections, a Ukrainian tends to hide the under a thick layer of makeup). Wearing pretentious, bright and kitschy clothes is also something that defines Ukrainians.
I don’t like this Eastern European style myself. But do looks always define actions? Can we actually call a woman a prostitute because she looks like one?
When foreign men come to Ukraine and look at girls, they think they are de facto easy. When I was studying in Budapest, there were few Ph.D. students from Ukraine and Russia who were super smart, super modest and didn’t even have time for men. But still, they wore high heels and short skirts and guys were talking dirty about them because of that, even though they never had a chance with any of these girls. And I’d say that’s cultural not behavioral. I knew many foreign women who were wearing H&M clothes, never had high-heeled shoes in their life and barely knew how to apply mascara. Still they changed sexual partners every week. When the same happens with a Ukrainian it is called “being a whore.”
Why do Ukrainians and Russians have such awful style in clothing and makeup? The Soviet era explains a lot in the difference in mentality. Think Soviet – dull colors, boring designs, uniforms and no good makeup. Since the collapse of Soviet era, women who suddenly got exposed to all the miracles of capitalism wanted it all.
Moreover, Ukrainian people are still more traditional than Europeans. So girls still think that after sex comes the marriage. So this why some girls have sex with foreigners who come to our motherland to have fun. They just hope that the men will get serious. And some actually do.
I tried to justify Ukrainian women as much as I could. I’m one of those, even though I don’t wear high heels and heavy makeup and I don’t look for a rich husband. I just think one of the main reasons Ukrainian women are called prostitutes and are denied visas when they want to go abroad is simple jealousy. Women are jealous because they are afraid that Slavic smart beauties will steal their best men. And some men are jealous because they try to get such a smart and beautiful girl but get rejected. Other men (who get lucky) don’t complain. And other women (who are not that attractive) go into politics and business or become feminists.
Alina Rudya is a Kyiv Post columnist and can be reached at email@example.com
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