A young woman, caught between her Russian heritage and her American feminist sensibilities, describes the highs and lows of the dating world in Russia, leaving no detail spared in her experience. A report in Salon tracks the point of view of Diana Bruk, who paints a world of where the typical Russian male is patriarchal, dominating and relentless in their pursuit of a woman.
Earlier in the month, we pointed to a video made in Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay that focused mainly on quirks of local Russians’ love lives, which weren’t really all that quirky. There were some hilarious observations in that video, but Bruk’s piece really kicks it up a notch with her depiction of that mentality in the motherland. Bruk, who immigrated from St. Petersburg to the United States as a 5-year-old, describes her experience of returning to Russia to teach English there after college. Fully steeped in westernized feminist values, Bruk describes her base attraction to Russian men:
The second thing you’ll notice is that Russian men are patriarchal alpha males, and, whatever your feminist textbook might have told you, this is initially a huge turn-on. Evolutionary theorists and Freudians alike would argue that women are subconsciously attracted to men who give off signs that they will provide for them. And when I say “provide,” I don’t even necessarily mean in a monetary sense as much as in a paternal one. This sense that they are obligated to look out for you, not because you’re weaker or feeble-minded, but because you — as the fountain from which life springs forth — are precious and valuable.
In differentiating between American and Russian men, Bruk notes that Russians are practically fanatical about pursuing a woman they have their targets on, no matter how many times they are rejected:
While all men like a challenge, the average American man tends to stop pursuit once you indicate that you are repulsed by his presence. Russians, on the other hand, aren’t going to let a little thing like your disinterest keep them from being your boyfriend. I’ve had male suitors who kept calling for years after I stopped picking up the phone. I’ve heard of guys crawling through windows and appearing naked in bedrooms. I had female friends who had no idea they were apparently someone’s girlfriend. The American teachers at my language school had a phrase to describe dating Russian men. It was “No Means Yes, and Yes Means Anal.”
Hey now! Bruk then pontificated on some of the less funny realities going on in the world of single Russian men like the attitudes towards rape, but Bruk offers a surprisingly controversial defense:
Not surprisingly, the attitude toward rape in Russia is still depressingly medieval. “It happens. That’s life,” my mother would say with a shrug as she heard about a recent rape victim on the news. However — and here’s where we have to be honest with ourselves and admit that the popularity of bodice-ripper romances and all the statistics about rape fantasies are not for nothing — with the right guy, a sensually brutish approach can be astoundingly hot.
When I met one of my Russian boyfriends, he had (as is customary) come by the house several times to take me on long walks and brought cake for me and my parents, never once making anything remotely resembling an advance. One night, I was lying in my room fantasizing about him (he was sleeping downstairs), when I heard my bedroom door creak. Moving through the darkness, he sat on the edge of my bed and stared at me for a few moments. Then he gently fingered the strap of my silk nightgown and said, “This is a beautiful slip.” And then, with a sad sigh, “It’s going to be a shame to tear.” He said it the way you would look at your watch and say, “I’m not going to make it to my appointment,” like he knew what was going to happen, and there was nothing either one of us could do to stop it.
The rest of Bruk’s piece is eyebrow raising, detailed and if the comments underneath the Salon article is any indication, is likely to spur debate among a wide variety of angry people. The whole thing is worth reading and you can do so by clicking here.
Oh, and for what it’s worth, I don’t give a flying frikadelki what Bruk says. Gentlemen, if you read this and get it in your head that, hey, maybe that cute girl will be really turned on by you raping her, please go tie a cinder block to your leg and jump in the bay.