A while ago I asked the question ‘does it matter what women wear‘? and Clare from The Potty Diaries, who I am now going to think of as my roving Russian reporter, said that yes, in Moscow it definitely DID matter. In fact, it matters very much.
I was intrigued, as I’ve heard from friends that Russian women are quite something, so Clare has very kindly written us a fascinating post from actual Moscow. How cool is that? Please leave Clare lots of lovely comments so she’ll come back again another day.
‘Yes, sure. Write me something about women in Moscow’ said Slummy Single Mummy on Twitter when I offered her a guest post.
Oh god. Do I have to?
Well actually, yes I do, because I offered and so – bolstered by copious supplies of camomile tea and a half empty tin of condensed milk (can you tell that I am somewhat out of my comfort zone?) – here goes.
Russian women – or rather, Muscovite women – are just like the rest of us.
Cue long, expectant, pause.
Oh, alright, just kidding.
Russian women are nothing like the rest of us. They have much better shoes, for starters. And much shorter skirts. Perhaps a little less (for which read ‘no’) body hair. And fewer boundaries about what it is acceptable to do to get what they want and to where they want to go. And I would go as far as to say that ‘sisterhood’ is even less considered an important attribute here, than it is elsewhere.
Mind you, why would they be like the rest of us? They’ve grown up in a society where femininity (aka ‘Sex’ obviously, but I’m going to stick with ‘femininity’ to spare your blushes) is a currency to be utilised to it’s full extent in a world where nothing is certain. Remember, the other currency – the Rouble – has proved less reliable than femininity, crashing twice during the 1990’s, devaluing people’s savings and pensions and leaving previously comfortably-off people with next-to-nothing. That’s not some 1930’s anecdote from school history lessons; it’s within living memory for the majority of the population here. So nowadays, most people’s main aim in life is to make as much money as they can, as fast as they can, in almost any way they can, and then get the hell out of Russia to raise and educate their children somewhere else. A country with a strong currency, preferably.
And whilst I don’t want to launch into a full-on sociological thesis here, it seems to me that this – along with the small matter of how 70 years of Communist repression affected the individual and his/her hopes and dreams – impacts strongly on how women here are, and how they present themselves.
When I first visited Moscow in the mid-90’s, I was astounded by how good-looking many of the women and girls were. They were, quite frankly, intimidatingly gorgeous – and they knew it. After a while I began to work out that yes, there were some seriously good gene pools going on here, no doubt about it, but there was more to it than that. Russian women identify early on what their main physical attribute is, be it beautiful hair, a fantastic figure, great legs, and maximise that. So, if they have beautiful hair, they grow it. A fantastic figure? Show it off. Great legs? Let’s invest in short skirts and sky-high heels then.
Some things have changed in the 17 years since my first visit (the impact that the advent of fast-food culture and the hugely increased numbers of cars have had is depressingly obvious – although still less so than in many more ‘Western’ societies) but what hasn’t is the Muscovite women’s determination to make the best of themselves.
And neither has their complete and utter incomprehension of why the rest of us wouldn’t bother…