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e-Book on Russian Women (Part 2)

By: Annas Agency?

Russian women in Society

RW have for a long time been competing to gain equal status in Russia. Although I think competing is the wrong word. I think most women have resigned themselves to the fact that they just need to wait for changes to take place – there is nothing they can do.

This sentiment typifies a RWs place in society. She is forced to go where there are opportunities for her…and there are not many. One needs to also keep in mind the structure of Russian society. Many of our clients look for doctors, lawyers and sometimes engineers to marry. They do not know that in Russian these are the least prestigious careers with the least pay. This may not be so important to our clients but at least they will understand the woman’s place in society.

The inferior placement of RW in society has much to do with their role in history. Does anyone remember any famous women from Russian history? With the exception of Catherine the Great, that is impossible to do! Russian women are experiencing two revolutions, one is the reconnection with the West, and the other the possibility of living a life which is not possible in Russia

Up to the middle of the 19th century the woman in Russia had no legal rights. She was the property of her husband and her social status depended on that of her husband. All education a woman could get was private, any public service (i.e., a possibility of taking some post) was out of the question.

The 1860s are the period of marking a change in feminine consciousness and the starting point of feminine struggle for equal rights. The idea of emancipation was conceived by the progressive, educated part of Russian women nobility. They strove for the right to get public education, including higher education. (In the 70s the higher courses of Bestuzhev were founded and existed up to the Revolution of 1917).

The first Russian emancipated women emphasized independence outwardly: they cut their hair short, smoked, abandoned their families (strove to prove they were able to support themselves), despised men, considered the institution of the family a survival of the past.

Since 1917, after the Revolution, the Soviets officially granted equal rights to men and women. But in the socialist state the women could exercise her equal rights in social labor only. Thus even popular women's magazines were called "Rabotnitsa" ("The Industrial Worker") and "Krestyanka" ("The Agricultural Worker"). The significance of the feminine personality, individual peculiarities were artificially understated. This point is easily emphasized by a comment a man once made. He said that during the 80’s he had always had the impression RW were cold, rough women with rough physical appearances. But after seeing me, he was forced to reconsider this.

In modern Russia the situation is different. Still, keeping in mind that Russian women nowadays may, though, volunteer army service, publish their works, play football and hockey there is a certain discrimination. This it is more difficult for a woman than a man to find a well-paid job, to start her own business, to launch a political career. Women account for 53 per cent of the population of Russia but this majority is represented in Parliament by only 10 per cent of its members. Women are usually treated as if they are meant to serve the whims of their male counterparts.

One friend told me about her experience in finding a job. She managed to find a job which paid only 100 rubles a day. She is attractive and young, and has been the object of much attention from men. She is a bright intelligent person who strives to succeed. The owner of the shop kept postponing her weekly payments until the end of the month. He then told her that he would not pay her unless she slept with him.

Stories liken these are common and demonstrates the hardship RW face.

I'd like to draw your attention to the fact, that the social structure has a direct impact on the formation of a woman's image and the social status of women. The communist universal standardization created the I-neigh-I-bellow-I'm-a-woman-I'm-a-fellow type of women (A popular Russian rhyme used to say that a woman has to perform the functions of both men and women), but it didn't raise the woman to the level of state affairs. Perestroika (restructuring) and democracy that accompanied it helped the Russian woman feel a Woman once again, expanded the range of available professions, previously considered masculine, but they didn't radically change the public set of mind: the woman is still identified with the house, kitchen and children, while political games are played mostly by men.

This explains why RW need to be married at such a young age. They believe it is there duty to get married and be good mothers and wives. If not married by the age of at least 25, RW are considered to be old and seen through critical eyes.

Religion in a Russian Womans life

RWs lives in the age of the Czar can easily be described as pitiful at the least. Comfort could only be found in the Church. And that is where women took to shelter. They were, like it or not, tied up with the church: the rites of baptizing, marriage, burial were performed under the holy laws only. Before the Revolution people in Russia austerely observed fasts, each settlement had its own strictly revered saint and celebrated a holiday in his honor.

When the bolsheviks came to power in 1917 the situation was abruptly changed. The state home policy was directed against the church. The church was removed from the state affairs. The slogan of those years was "Religion is opium for people". Many priests and their families were persecuted. Orthodox churches were closed down everywhere, monasteries were dismissed. The destruction of the Temple of Christ the Savior in Moscow that was erected in 1812 on public money to commemorate the victory of the Russian army over Napoleon, may serve a symbol of those years.

Communist ideology replaced Christianity for many years. Believers were persecuted, those who were not members of Komsomol (young communists) found it impossible to enter an institution of higher education.

The collapse of the USSR and failure of communist ideology were accompanied by the revival of Christianity. Orthodox churches were opened everywhere at the end of the 1990s. Missionaries from the USA and West Europe extended their sphere of activity. Alongside with the Orthodox church, various protestant confessions - Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists and others are legalized and start their propaganda.

Nowadays almost every Russian woman goes to the church at least once a year to fire a candle to honor the memory of the dead or to prey for the health of the living. Many couples sanctify their marriage by going through the church rite. But modern Russian women observe only the exterior of the rites without knowing the meaning if them: they go through the rite of christening and get their children christened, they go to the church on Easter and Christmas, some observe church fasts. But this is a tribute to the tradition, religious fanatics are not numerous. The Russian Orthodox church did not manage to restore its former impact on the hearts and souls of its followers. But the link between the woman and the church is inherent in all Russian hearts, for they have always sought help from God in difficult situations.

Like all poor countries, the church is seen as a focal point for women to seek comfort. Irrespective of whether she believes in the Orthodox or Catholic Church, RW do believe that there is some higher power guiding their hand through life. I make it my duty to keep God a central point of our family because I believe God brought us together.

An ordinary Russian woman is not a real believer in Christianity, she is religious because she believes there is something watching and protecting her. Her intuition drives her to follow Christian commandments and observe Christian rites. Not many would tell you the difference between the Orthodox church and the Roman Catholic church, but the Russian woman trusts in only one God to help her cope with her life that is far from being straight and easy.

The Culture of Russian Women

Russian women are remarkable for their gifts. In the fields of sport, science and art, they have distinguished themselves. In the World History of Arts are described the names of Russian ballet dancers - Anna Pavlova, Maya Plisetskaya, opera singers - Elena Obrztsova, Galina Vishnevskaya, Irina Arkhipova, the primadonna of the Russian pop-art Alla Pugachova, poets Marina Tsvetayeva, Anna Akhmatova. This list could be extended.

Introducing a child to the world of arts is an integral part of education in Russia. Even if the girl's aptitudes are not outstanding, it is a Russian tradition to have her take a course in some arts, at least at the basic level: there are music and arts schools, courses, societies in big cities and small towns. It is every mothers dream to see their daughter develop great skill in a musical instrument.

Thus, even a remote provincial town can provide a girl with an opportunity to study classical, folk and ballet dancing, playing different folk instruments, the violin and the piano, vocal singing and singing in a choir.

At the age of four children may start attending schools of general esthetical education and have classes in music, drawing, rhythmics. Naturally, not all girls will become professional artists, singers, ballet dancers or musicians, but the Russian woman keeps her interest for erudition in arts for the rest of her life.

Russian women not only create art but also spread it and even save it for the generations to come. You will see it yourself if you pay a visit to any museum, art gallery, library in any Russian town. What would you think, who works there? You're quite right, of course, women. They've selflessly devoted their lives to serving art, in bitterly cold halls that need repairs badly, for pitiful salaries. You would wonder, who drives them? Firstly, their love for the art. Secondly, their genuine desire to showcase their culture. It is art alone that can provide the spiritual resurrection of the nation.

Aesthetic tastes the modern Russian woman are wide ranging. They depend on several things: a woman's social status, her education, upbringing, family traditions, her location (the capital - a regional center - the county), her personality, temperament, mood. Tastes, i.e. musical. Artistic, theatrical, differ. Some will listen to nothing but folk choir, others - to symphony orchestra, the third - to rock groups, the fourth - to pop groups. Or still better, one day a woman listens to Bach's fugues, another - she is picking up the tune of a pop song of Alla Pugachova.

It is not only in the arts that RW distinguish themselves. One need only look at the field of science to see RW making an impact. Such names as Valentina Tereschkova standout as inspiration to young women.

Thus it can be said that RW excel because they are determined to be the best. Potential husbands for RW should bear this in mind. While all internet dating agencies proclaim all RW to only be interested in a marriage and family, that may change after she adjusts to her new surroundings. With access to new opportunities she may yearn to do things she never had an opportunity to do in Russia

Copyright © 2002 – 2004 Annas Agency?

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