I like to think I’m not easily flustered, BUT

Jill’s re-naming of Russia’s “National Conception Day” as “National Russians Fuck Like Cold, Pale Rabbits In Furry Hats Day” was pretty damn silly. Maybe I’m still smarting over the “when you all die out” comment – but I thought that “Blades of Glory” did a much better job with an former-Soviet-bloc ethnic joke, wherein the stalker character talked about confronting people who carry guns and smell like soup (well, they were making fun of Ukraine there, but we’re interchangeable to most people, really).

I laughed out loud at “Blades of Glory,” and when I read Jill’s thing, the only thing I could think of was “if she made a similar comment about another nationality, I bet there’d be an outcry.” Maybe this is because Jill was trying to be funny while talking about a serious, even painful issue (for me – and anyway I’m a hypocrite, I make fun of serious, painful issues all the time). Dunno. I can gaze at my navel and try to figure out what’s really rubbing me the wrong way here, and if I’m just being a humourless weirdo, but the navel isn’t speaking back to me anyway.

Meanwhile Russia, as the biggest country in the world, is facing a demographics crisis of truly unsettling proportions – and yes, it is something to worry about for such an enormous nation. More importantly – most of my Russian friends are desperate to have kids (I know very few child-free people from Russia, whether by luck of the draw, or whatever), but are unable to do so due to a lack of funds and government support – and yes, a fridge is a very, very practical present for a young family. The political motivation behind National Conception Day this may be twisted – but that sure as hell will not matter to people who cannot afford their own damn appliances.

Jill says:

I can’t get behind policy that promotes childbearing in order to score a new fridge.

Try living without one. Try living in Russia, actually.

While Americans pontificate, Russians have to go on with their lives.

Finally, not all Russians are pale (I don’t really think that Jill thinks so, but, you know, just in case; am always looking out for you, Jill). As I’ve already mentioned – Russia is the biggest country in the world. A huge number of different ethnicities are citizens of Russia, not just Slavs. Hell, my Russian mother looks Greek. One of her sisters looks Mongolian. Their grandfather looked Chechen.

The furry hats are great, especially when it hits -40.

I know, I know, you must be thinking – who possibly needs a fridge then? 😉

9 thoughts on “I like to think I’m not easily flustered, BUT

  1. The name isn’t silly, really, but crass. While I, in some ways, can see where she’s coming from, she didn’t express it properly and went off into side rants about the oppression of the vagina and the inherent racism of white people wanting more babies. Seriously? If you’re going to make a joke about another country based solely on the stereotypes, at the very least make it funny, and if you can, make it clever too. Or at least don’t take yourself so seriously. Blech.

    Blogging makes it easy for people to express opinions about things of which they know very little.

    On a side note, I’d have a kid for a new fridge, if only to hide my guns in the freezer next to the vodka I made in my sink.

  2. once upon a time, when I was about eleven (which would make it somewhere around 1978 – the Brezhnev years if I’m not completely mistaken), my dad once asked me if I’d rather live with him or my mom.

    “I’d rather move to Moscow,” I replied. I wasn’t really trying to yank his chain (that was just sort of an added bonus). it sounded all around great to me – I had just read a story in a magazine about Soviet children (notably, I remember a part about valuing cooperative effort over competitive achievement in school, which may or may not have been true, but regardless – wide open spaces, St. Basil’s domes, collective childrearing, passionate music, handsome boys with red kerchiefs – yeah, a whole new universe without my parents…I was down.

    so, like, are they taking applications?

    We’ll be good! We’ll take Berlitz! We won’t cause any trouble! and by the time our paperwork’s done we’ll already have a baby – they won’t even need to give us a fridge.

    (I’m not so much kidding, you know.)

  3. I fail to see where the Russian policy is so very different from other nations that give cash for the care and raising of children. The US gives substantial tax breaks for having children, both in terms of medical costs and tax deductions. I know when I lived in Germany, they had “Kindergeld” – money given to families for raising their children.

    So – I’m presuming Jill is against these policies also?


    Then we are rather inconsistent, aren’t we?

    Or is it the idea of making the financial reward for having children more fun or interesting that she is against? It begins to seem this is just a form of ridicule of a countries citizens that have less material wealth than us. Which is just snobbery.

    I also agree with your statement that there are very few countries you could make such a coarse joke about and have it fly. Russia and some former Soviet Union countries are on the list. Maybe a few other third world countries that we don’t know much about. You know, places we typically consider backwards.

    Anyway, that is my rant on that. Personally, I think Russia could come up with more proactive measures to increase births and healthy children, but if this one gets the attention of Russians, so be it.

  4. i come from a country (pakistan) that has the exact opposite problem… a fast-growing population. we could use campaigns that rewarded parents with a/c’s and fridges and cars for NOT producing babies.

    officially pakistan’s pop growth rate is about 1.9% per annum — lower than, say, 15 years ago (when it was over 2.5%, but still high for a country with a population of 160m.

    of course, india, with a population of 1.1b and a growth rate of 1.5% has a whole other order of population problems.

  5. These problems become salient when you start talking about national sovereignty in particular, methinks. Obviously, overall, the world population is rather large… And no, not one nation or government is to blame for that (and I hate it how people pile on India and China in this instance, so you were good to bring that up, kink). But then, you have individual nations who are going through some serious shit in regards to a shrinking population – Russia is most visibly affected, but Ukraine may be headed toward disaster as well. These nations need to preserve themselves somehow. Get out of a rut. People think that the solution is simple, open up the borders and let immigrants flood in… But with a crumbling infrastructure and corruption so on – what would that achieve? Chaos. Change has to come to Russia from within. Society needs a chance to reform itself. God, haven’t we been through this with Muslim countries struggling for change???

    Russia does have the right to attempt to reverse the sagging birth rate – as I already said, it breaks my heart to meet up with old friends who want to have a kid, or another kid, and are unable to do so. Who’s to say whether or not these people have a “moral right” to have children? Seems that Jill is applying the same twisted stance on this as people who don’t want “the brown people breeding.” It’s not OK to have “‘Russians breeding” (fucking like rabbits, whatever), for some reason. Maybe because furry hats went out of fashion when Candance Bushnell wore one to same awards show – I don’t know.

    Antiprincess, I was very uncomfortable in saying anything that might be construed as “oh look, Natalia’s pissed off.” Maybe I shouldn’t have been. I’m way too neurotic when it comes to these questions (I also like and respect Jill). Anna is right, the word here is not silly, it’s crass.

  6. You’re right, Natalia, and I apologize. It was a dumb joke, and it would have been unacceptable to make it about a lot of other ethnic groups. I appreciate you pointing it out. It’s definitely something I’ll watch more closely in the future.

  7. On a lighter note, Bill Maher did a little segment about the same story – he put together a Russian “let’s have sex” basket…some of the items included:

    potatoes as breast implants
    borscht-scented candles
    sexy pictures of Putin fishing – with nipple twirlers
    alexei’s moustache wax (also available for men)
    101 sexual positions – illustrated by Kasparov
    KGB jelly

    This is how you do it right 😉

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