For western guys dating Russian women it would be fascinating to find out what views Eastern European females have on division of responsibilities in a family. What spousal duties they see appropriate for husbands and wives? (Spoiler alert: Marital sex is one of them.)
But first, let’s start with a disclaimer. Whenever I start talking about Russian women and their views, inevitably I get accusations in chauvinism, anti-feminism, sexism, and what not. I’d like to ask the critics to understand that I don’t live in Russia since 1998. It’s totally not my fault that Russian girls think this way. I find many of Russia’s cultural notions and beliefs objectionable.
However, these notions, beliefs, and values form the cultural identity of Russian women. Without consideration of their background, it’s hard to comprehend why people do certain things.
Since I am familiar with both modern western mentality and the Russian social archetype, I am able to explain the differences and point out certain facts that outsiders don’t understand. That’s all it is, just facts.
1. Russian women appreciate traditional family roles
Today’s Russian women are set on requesting a division of responsibilities in a family according to the traditional, patriarchal family model. It’s worth pointing out that females demand this order rather than are being pressured to accept it.
Russian females believe it’s their birth right to be cared for and admired by a male. In exchange, they are ready to provide their affection, love, loyalty, and support.
2. Wife’s responsibilities in a family
- The wife in the current Russian family model is first of all a homemaker. She is responsible for keeping the house “cozy” (Russian equivalent for “pretty and clean”), grocery shopping, cooking, washing, ironing, and taking care of kids.
- She is also responsible for “supporting her husband in all his endeavours”, which means, she is supposed to work to pay his university bills and get him educated, and otherwise provide for the couple if the man cannot fully do it on his own.
- The woman must absolutely put her family (husband and children) first, before her career, education, hobbies, or friends. If she doesn’t do it, she is not a “real woman”. She is also expected to unwaveringly stand by her man, no matter what.
- Another woman’s responsibility is to keep her husband from straying (cheating) by “staying interesting to him”, which implies perfect grooming (skin, nails, hair, makeup, clothing), always looking pretty and sexy, and generally being lovely.
- Providing for the husband’s intimate needs is considered one of the top priorities in a marriage, otherwise he could leave and the societal support would be on his side: The designated epithet for “sex” in Russian is “spousal duties”. It’s widely accepted in Russia that males have a much higher sex drive than females.
3. Husband’s responsibilities in a family
The husband’s job is to be a provider and a defender. Yes, in Russia girls still believe they need to be protected by a male and without such a guard she is too vulnerable. Police rarely interrupts in people’s private affairs, assaults are commonplace, date rapes are rarely investigated.
If a girl gets some unwanted attention from men, her partner is supposed to “stand up for her”, which means physically assault the disrespectful prowler. Not doing that is considered “cowardly”, and the woman may lose respect for her boyfriend or husband. She may stop him from attacking another male, but if the guy doesn’t appear to be eager to “stand up for her”, he loses his rating of a “real man”. Such “offence” could be just a look or a verbal comment from another guy.
The “real man” provides for his wife and family fully, without the need for her to work, so she can concentrate on maintaining her beauty, as well as taking care of the house and the kids.
In exchange for providing for the family and protecting his lady, the man is being cared for by the woman.
4. Modern Russian families
Modern young families rarely comply with these ideals of male and female roles in a marriage fully.
Both males and females work, get education, strive to build careers. However, it’s true that women still do the majority of unpaid housework and child rearing (see the official research). The husbands “help”, which means guys may do something around the house or play with kids occasionally. It’s considered “unmanly” for a husband to do housework and look after children. It dampens his status of a “brutal guy”, this phrase being the ideal of a “real man”.
It’s not a joke: The word “brutal” (“brutalnyi”) is what every modern Russian girl wants her partner to be. This word popped up in the vocabulary sometime during the last decade; it wasn’t in use when I left Russia in 1998. For the last 18 years the views of Russian females regressed to much more patriarchal than immediately post-USSR in 1990s.
Even if the wife works and earns good money, the lady must still indicate to her friends and family members that she is “not career orientated”. Otherwise she would be considered a “feminist”, which is nearly a swear word in the modern Russian language. It means the type of woman no man would ever want to be with: unattractive, ungroomed, possibly overweight, promiscuous, and obnoxious.
5. Gender equality in Russia
Russian women insist on gender equality but at the same time girls want men to pay for dates, open doors, protect them from offenders, provide, bring flowers and gifts, and in general behave like old-school gentlemen. Not only admirers have to be gentlemanly but they also need to be strong and masculine at the same time (“brutal”). That’s a hard gig to get right. The cultural ideal is full of internal contradictions.
The common by-line of contemporary Russian girls, “There are no real men left”.
This means girls don’t see around men who fit the ideal described in p.3. This is what ladies dream to find when placing ads on international dating sites.
- What Russian Women Mean When They Say, I Want To Create a Family?
- My First Trip To Russia: Russian Girls vs. Western Girls, Family Values, Relationships, and Love (by Luca Lampariello)
- What Russians Think of Marriage, Family, and Housekeeping (Research)
- What Russian Women Think about Marriage, Family, and Kids