Siberia is an interesting place. My first impression — why the hell did I choose to come here? But it grows on you, ever so slowly, until you finally actually start appreciating the place. This week I met with a 24 year old Siberian girl on a platonic basis, for her to tell me about her city and her culture. Here are some of her thoughts on various topics, paraphrased:
I really want husband and children by now. I’m old at 24, and need to find someone. Several years ago, it was normal for girls to be married by 21 and start having kids. Now people are doing it later and I don’t like it. Even still, some of my friends are already with second child.
I am not fan of this ‘career woman’ thing that is happening. What do you call it? Emancipation in America? I think it is horrible. Women should take care of families and the man should work.
I don’t like how America pushes itself and its ideas everywhere. It is spreading here and I don’t like it. For example, the emancipation of women. Now sometimes women here think it’s okay not to be married until later, and guys don’t want to marry either. We don’t even consider Moscow real Russia anymore, as it tries to be so American. I much prefer the USSR times even if that sounds crazy. At least then people got married when they should.
Also we have stereotypes here that Americans are stupid, and sorry but I believe it. Are they really like that?
You should order this, it’s real good Russian food. [I ask her what she wants.] Me? Nothing, it is past 7pm and I don’t eat at night. I have to stay in good fitness.
I don’t think I can live in America. I am — how you say? — homophobe? I don’t like gays or lesbians. You guys like them too much, I don’t understand it.
This is one of the more interesting and real conversations I have had with a girl. I wish I had more to share. About 15 minutes into our meeting I was tempted to break out my phone or pen/paper and start taking notes, but that would have been awkward. Especially given what started as platonic was morphing into sexual interest, as there was some thigh pushback.*
We went into discussing the dating culture here and she expressed her disinterest with Russian men. They were lazy and noncommittal. Upon pressing more, the men act this way because they have so many options. Later that night I went out to a club, and the ratio was blatantly more girls than guys. The girls there were telling me there were never any good looking guys at the club. On my way there, I saw a guy in shorts and flip flops with a model type in heels and a dress.
As Winston Churchill so famously exclaimed, Russia “is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” I agree. It is still to early to make any conclusive statements about the culture as I’ve only been here a week. But I am intrigued and look forward to increasing my understanding as I spend some more time here in the depths of Mother Russia.
* Thigh pushback is my rather reliable way to gauge a girl’s sexual interest in me. While sitting next to each other, I let my thigh or knee fall onto her thigh while continuing my conversation in a non-sexual manner. If she retracts her thigh, she is not interested. If she keeps her thigh there, she is interested. If she pushes back with her thigh, she is very interested.
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