Alina Rudya and the Kyiv Post – a great disappointment

This op-ed in the Kyiv Post is a bizarre mixture of truth and utter BS. For what it’s worth, I’m willing to believe that the author means everything she says. Unfortunately, half the time she says stuff that makes me feel like stuffing glass shards beneath my eyelids.

For example, this:

I won’t tell you anything new if I say that Slavic women are less emancipated and more feminine than Europeans or Americans. And by less emancipated, I don’t mean uneducated or illiterate. I just mean they depend on men much more than women in the West. Men take advantage of this dependence as much as they can.

Is 100% spot-on, I think

Unfortunately, she then follows up with this:

And when a woman says that appearance is not important, I bet that she is not attractive. I mean, please, have you ever seen a good-looking feminist? I haven’t. Oh, actually I did. But he was a man. And gay.

This gross little feminist is not amused.
This gross ugly feminist is not amused.

Now, I’m no Angelina Jolie (Rudya makes the point that more men fantasize about Jolie than, say, Angela Merkel), but I, at the very least, am able to take a decent picture.

I resent Rudya’s assertion that all feminists are unattractive, just as much as I resent the implication that lack of conventional attractiveness somehow makes a woman irrelevant. This viewpoint is particularly popular in Ukraine, in part due to poverty and misogynist traditions, and to see Rudya defend it on the basis of “realism” makes me think that she is missing the point.

Yes, we will never get anywhere unless we admit the problem of sexism. But Rudya, it seems, wants to stop there. I’d love it if she were to correct me on this point. But I am not holding my breath.

In reading Rudya’s piece, I have to question why a blanket statement on “all Ukrainian women” is even needed. Say what you want about culture, stereotypes don’t do us any favours. Rudya herself has experienced stereotypes – she relates a particularly disgusting episode in Germany – so why perpetuate them?

Why is an obviously intelligent woman engaing in this? Why is the Kyiv Post enabling her?

Friends who have commented unfavourably on the article have reported that their responses were deleted. The only strongly negative response that has been published quickly comes under fire – apparently the author if said response is just an uppity Western woman, who’s probably overweight or whatever, so clearly, we can write her off.

I’d like to start a dialogue with both Rudya and the editors at the Kyiv Post as to what is actually going on here, and why some of us find the article extremely problematic. Will keep you posted as to whether or not I am successful in my efforts.

21 thoughts on “Alina Rudya and the Kyiv Post – a great disappointment

  1. Read the article, and your post…she’s what i would unfavorably catagorize as a “small nosed sorority chick”

    but then I’m prone to generalizations.

  2. @Natalia – “… I’m willing to believe that the author means everything she says.”

    I respectfully disagree.

    I assume that all of Alina Rudya’s KP op-eds that promote negative and/or patriarchal views of Russian/Ukrainian men and women are actually meant to be read as subtle parodies of Western stereotypes about Eastern Europeans.

    I think the op-eds are meant to SEEM deadly serious, in order to provoke readers’ righteous indignation and thus stimulate a continuous stream of disapproving comments, thus increasing the number of blog hits and satisfying KP’s advertisers.

    I suspect that A. Rudya signals that her op-ed on Ukrainian women is a parody, by the very remark that you quoted, i.e., “… have you ever seen a good-looking feminist? I haven’t.” In other words, I think that readers are meant to interpret that remark with A. Rudya’s own top-of-page photo in mind and also remembering the fact that she’s a young Ukrainian woman who is sufficiently self-assertive and strong-willed to succeed in becoming a photographer and writer for KP in what is understood to be a patriarchal professional culture, and has also traveled on her own in Europe. In other words, Alina Rudya herself is a good-looking feminist, and readers are meant to remember that fact and interpret her above-quoted remark accordingly as a parody of Western stereotypes about Slavic women.

    At any rate, that’s how I read all of Alina Rudya’s rather cynical op-eds, meaning those regarding her own exploitation of study-abroad grants to tour Europe, regarding Russian tourists, regarding Ukrainian men, and regarding Ukrainian women –I read all of them as very subtle parodies of Western stereotypes about Eastern Europeans that are meant to provoke righteous indignation and thus increase the number of comments and blog hits, as noted above. I suspect Alina Rudya was trying to signal as much in her latest op-ed on Ukrainian women.

  3. Poeschl, I think that you are being too charitable, really, I do. The stigma of the word “feminist” in Ukraine is so strong, stronger than even in the States, that successful, intelligent women shun the label with an almost superstitious fervour. I would hope that this is a parody, but I seriously doubt it.

    Kinzi, let meet up! I’m sorry I’ve been MIA, I wish I could tell you I’ve been busy doing exciting things. But mostly, I’m just in a bad place emotionally as of late, and grumpy, and hanging out on my couch with the cats a lot.

    I’ll e-mail you my number here.

    P.S. I don’t mind being called Natasha. In Russian, it’s a diminutive of Natalia. My parents call me Natasha. 🙂

  4. I really disagree that most slavic women more dependant on males than western. Quite the opposite. Most of them are heads of their families. They are past radical feminism and quite matriarchal even if they never heard word feminism. It is just most of them can rarely afford to have more than one kid, they traditionally exclude fathers from decisions about kids, if it is a boy they never let him grow up – so he is forever mammy’s and granmammy’s boy. Average Russian male, for example, lives till 56 if I remember correctly or maybe it gone up recently, and there is serious shortage of them after 30 or so years old. And Russian women live much longer than them. Yes it makes FSU males much more spoiled, but it doesn’t help them grow up or become more reliable. Even if they merry they often end up been actively managed as a workforce or treated as a child. I am not talking about the richest ones, but about common ones.
    In normal USSR families as I remember them, husband duty was to hand all his earning to his wife, and finances were managed by women and she would decide his allowance if he had any. Childlabour is still extensively used to do all the housework and most of babysitting and it is quite normal to live kids unsupervised. It is just they love to moan how hard they work as mothers:) The fashion for been just urban housewife came from the west and very recently. It is seen as wealthy lifestyle not to have to go to paid work and look pretty. Because they got their rights easier and much earlier than women on the west, a lot of them don’t realise that they are playing with fire.

  5. Marina, I think you have a point. I do believe that what Alina is talking about can be most readily applied to younger women. Once again, she’s trading in generalizations, and I don’t want to buy into that, not at all – but there is a disturbing, and I mean really disturbing, trend toward being the “pretty object” among my generation and women who are younger.

    The urban housewife is certainly a ridiculous trend. You mention the fact that it’s probably influenced by the west. I wonder how much of that has to do with a certain take on consumerism.

    Because they got their rights easier and much earlier than women on the west, a lot of them don’t realise that they are playing with fire.

    Do you mean women’s rights under the Soviet Union? They were certainly an improvement on the West, at least in the beginning… But far from equal, I believe.

  6. Yep I know that they are not equal. It fact it is getting much worst with the abortions reduced to 12 weeks recently, government politics to convince women to have more that traditional 1 child while selling of nurseries in privet hands making them unaffordable and no benefit system even close as UK’s for example, etc.
    I just said that they didn’t have to work as hard to get the right to vote, etc. Revolution did a lot in one sweep with regards to working class for both genders. So they don’t value it as much as women on the west, because they don’t know that it can be much worst, or they know but in theory and cant exactly imagine.

  7. So they don’t value it as much as women on the west, because they don’t know that it can be much worst, or they know but in theory and cant exactly imagine.

    That’s an interesting theory. I’ve honestly never thought about it like that.

    What do you think about the domestic violence statistics, in this context?

  8. I am not sure. I was always astonished to see how some women would put up with a guy, who not only doesn’t add anything to household and the family except may be in bed, but also violent sometimes. In fact before it was often males who were less educated and had worst jobs than their wives who were violent, I think. It is like he is desperately trying to gain some influence, the macho mentality haven’t completely gone out of him. I would ask them: why don’t you kick him out and get a dildo, cheaper to keep and probably more reliable. They usually say: if I kick this one out I will spend the rest of my life alone (not counting kids), because there are no other guys (especially in rural areas there really isn’t). And they are right. After they eventually kick that one out they usually stay single and cant meet anyone new. But I personally think it is not enough of an excuse to stay with a violent partner. And they always think at first that he will change, don’t they.
    Also what women often forget to mention when they complain about the partner is how sometimes they are violent as well. I am not talking just about fighting back, but about starting the fights. Some women think nothing of hitting a guy. You probably seen movies like “Lyubov I golubi” and the like where a guy is like mischievous child and the woman bits him up and it is considered funny. Some women are like that 🙂 they are forever trying to supervise their males and it somehow adds more to their lives.

    Of cause there those who really would like to end it and really suffer from the situation. I think if there were laws about domestic violence or stockers, guys would probably live longer. I personally don’t buy that all the poisonings by faulty vodka or accidents are genuine. Although I might be wrong. I mean those every third woman in prison who serve sentences for killing their violent partners, aren’t they in for really bloody murders and no one cares about the less obvious ones. Btw, I am against victim blaming and I think those women are victims. The thing is also older generation all own property they live in and it is usually not big enough to exchange for 2 smaller flats. If they cant afford two separate homes no one wants to give up her or his share of property. Most of them could go to the parents, it would be overcrowded but safer. But no they stick for their home. Younger generation mostly do not have homes and often childfree cause they cant afford to start a family, so they are more mobile. May be since they are not stuck in situation things would improve with domestic violence, I hope.
    One reading this might think that everyone is fighting in Russia 🙂 no there is plenty of calmer families as well 🙂

  9. I might have totally missed the point but you are drop dead fucking gorgeous and have AMAZING eyes.

  10. Yes. They always have a problem with the feminists. They’re too ugly. They’re lesbian. They’re self-hating bastards. They kill babies.

    What I don’t understand is how any self-respecting woman can not be a feminist.

  11. Ahlan, Roba!

    Not all the feminist-sympathizing women I know identify as feminists, but I’ve always thought that you know a feminist once you encounter her.

    The above screed, in the meantime, has a lot of self-aggrandizement in it – “I’m NOT like those ugly feminists or the trashy tarts who wear too much make-up.”

    Ugh.

  12. Hi Natalia, I’ve been following your blog for a while and have enjoyed reading all your posts, although I’ve never commented. My friend sent me a link to an article(?) published a few weeks ago on askmen.com and I thought you’d find it amusing. The good news is, judging from comments, most of the men seem to realize that it’s utter crap. Still, I can’t believe any of that rhetoric came from someone who had enough brain cells to figure out a keyboard. http://www.askmen.com/top_10/dating/top-10-subtle-ways-to-tell-her-shes-getting-fat_10.html

  13. A friend sent me a link to your blog. I was actually flattered by your attention to my writings, but I guess you totally missed the point.

    “I would hope that this is a parody, but I seriously doubt it. ” – I really hope such thing as sense of humor still exists in your world.

    best from Kiev, A.

  14. Alina, thanks for responding. What was the point that I missed? The joke I didn’t pick up on?

    The way I read it – you threw in some genuine facts of life about Ukraine, followed them up with well-trodden evo-psych, and concluded with a “Ukrainian women are kinda trashy, but for every rule there is an exception – and I am that exception.”

    You also seemed to imply that only unattractive women need feminism. Considering our rates of domestic violence, rape, workplace discrimination, etc. – is this really the case…? Does conventional beauty protect a woman from a drunken husband, a thug, a traitor friend who decides to rape her, an abusive boss? Or does a lack thereof mean that we get to dismiss her concerns? Surely you’ve heard men say of women they consider unattractive – “you can’t rape someone like that, she’d be too grateful!” And this is deemed alright.

    It seems that compliments on our looks generally serve to neuter any real political or social action on our part. “Honey, why worry about your rights? You’re pretty!” – that’s what some of us are told. And it’s BS.

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