Tragedy uncovered by the Kyiv Post: men have a hard time finding toys… er, women they like in Ukraine! Yuliya Popova investigates this shocking trend

God bless the Kyiv Post. Here we are, waiting for the election exit polls to start rolling in, the weather is sunny, but cold, the dogs that Pan Chernovetskiy has allowed to run unchecked all over this great city are having a ball outside, and most normal people are in bed with a hangover. So what to do with myself on this fine Sunday afternoon? Be amazed.

Now, what’s amazing here is not the fact that such dehumanizing attitudes toward women, any women, exist. What’s amazing is that they are propagated so strongly by women themselves. I bet Yuliya Popova just wants to be one of the guys. Implicit in her statements is the old “dudebros, I feel your pain.” Also implicit in her words is the insistence that she, of course, isn’t anything like the women she derides via the platform generously given to her by the Kyiv Post. “Isn’t it sad about all those cynical whores/unfeminine bitches too focused on their careers? I would cry for the poor men. But it might make my mascara run.”

Come on, Natalia, you are saying to yourself. You’re old enough to know that sexism would never be as widespread if it wasn’t both covertly and overtly supported by women. Why do you always expect better from women such as Popova? Isn’t that its own form of sexism?

Perhaps. Maybe I just can’t get over the fact that Kyiv’s “leading English-language newspaper” keeps “leading” us into deeper and deeper bullshit. Hey, I get their agenda. It gets them attention, it gets a bunch of douchebags to sagely bloviate in the comment section, drives up hits, and drives up hits some more when it gets passed around by people like me. This doesn’t mean that such content sucks any less though.

The eternal question of “but why can’t a nice expat man find an equally nice woman who sucks dick more than once a day and ruminates on Voltaire once she’s wiped the come from her mouth and makes lasagna and profiteroles and never asks for shopping money yet somehow manages to dress like Carla Bruni and is wise beyond her years but always knows her place (whether it be on her back or on top or bent over the washing machine she thoughtfully runs every day so that his shirts are always clean) and has a great education but never makes a man feel as if he is *gasp* not as smart as she is and wants babies but will never expect their father to change a single diaper in his lifetime, nor will inconvenience him by losing her waistline” is a pressing one, to be sure.

I toss and turn at night, trying to find a solution. I have lost weight, concerned as I am by this dilemma. People ask, “Natalia, why do you look like such crap today? And I go, “I’m trying, guys, to solve a problem that’s just a little more serious than national debt and corruption in the public education sector. Give me a break, you insensitive assholes.”

A woman’s greatest achievement is offering herself up to a man, of course. I don’t mean sexually (I’m not about to start knocking sex on this blog), but, to borrow Popova’s own phrase, as a “universal package.” A woman must give her body and her soul, and never forget that she is the lucky one, as opposed to the man, or, really, the demigod in question. If she doesn’t like it, too bad. Ten others will be more than willing to take her place on the trophy shelf tomorrow.

This is all beside the fact that men must choose women. Never the other way around. If you’re not picked out of the line-up, on account of your trashy short skirt or constantly ringing Blackberry or whatever, sorry, sister; resign yourself to bitterness, financial destitution, and banging gross guys you meet at bars in Hydropark until you’re too old even for them, at which point you will die, in some flat in Borschagovka, your feeble cries for help drowned out by the neighbours’ bad rap music.

and she will. alooooooooone!

In this light, Popova’s column is really more akin to a public service announcement: Girls, do something with yourselves before the expat men all move on to raping child prostitutes in Thailand and the local men develop gout and ED just to spite you!

Men can choose to be single, after all. A single man of advancing years is a freedom-loving bachelor. We’d never feel sorry for, say, Jean-Luc Picard, for staying single. A single woman of advancing years, on the other hand, is a dismal hag, who ought to be performing harakiri on Independence Square, as opposed to knitting or babysitting her neighbours’ kids or working or doing whatever it is that single women do when they are no longer out there looking for a man to please. And if young Ukrainian women inspire lust as well as disgust, older Ukrainian women inspire outright disdain, particularly in the expats. Why are they crowding the buses and streets with their no-longer-fuckable bodies? Don’t they know that they are taking up valuable room?

If there is any wisdom that is to be derived from this morass, I think it is the following: everything in life has its price. When I say that, I don’t mean monetary value. I mean the shocking idea that life, in general, is not quite perfect, for anyone. When we are single, we complain about missing intimacy. When we are with someone, we complain about making sacrifices on their behalf.

We say that your typical chauvinist expat man moves to a poorer country to experience a “sexual fantasy,” but the fantasy, I believe, is bigger than that. The fantasy is the idea, the hope, even, that somewhere out there, life doesn’t run according to the rules: that it will be kinder, better, more accommodating. That in this new, exciting world, they will finally be owed. That they will get what they deserve, and nothing less. It is the same fantasy that men of any background, fairly insulated by their superior social position, can afford to entertain about women in general.

“Who are we to break their dream?” Popova seems to be asking. Well, fellow human beings, maybe?

No way, right? No way.

34 thoughts on “Tragedy uncovered by the Kyiv Post: men have a hard time finding toys… er, women they like in Ukraine! Yuliya Popova investigates this shocking trend

  1. Dear Natalia,

    Your attacks on Ms. Popova are (somewhat) ad hominem, which is a rather weak way of defeating her arguments. Unfortunately, media has become a circus. Ms. Popova’s job is to sell news, not to educate the public.

    If your goal was to defeat Ms. Popova’s article, it would have been wiser if you had focused on attacking her points, instead of digressing and attacking points that you think she made, but that were never made explicit. In short, you start by aiming at Popova’s article, and just when one thought you would crush her using her own words against her, you go on a rampage against what Popova’s article symbolizes. The problem is that what Popova’s article does in fact symbolize is rather subjective. Most of us are not acquainted with the Ukrainian reality. The impression one gets is that you lost your temper, your focus, and… consequently, the argument. It’s good to be passionate, but losing your cool makes you look weak.

    Lastly, given your writing talent, it’s heart-breaking to see you using vulgarity. In my view, vulgarity is the tool of the untalented, the only way someone who can’t write can make his point. Given that you can write, and that you can write well, vulgarity only blemishes some of the truly delightful texts you have written in the past. You have more sophisticated tools at your disposal; you can use satire instead of vulgarity, for instance. Few can pull it off in a convincing manner, but I think you can, and it saddens me to see you choosing the easy way, rather than the right one.

  2. Responding to Ms. Popova’s arguments seriously would imply that I am prepared to engage them it in good faith. I’m not. I do not believe they deserve a serious response.

    At this point, I’m more prepared to have a serious discussion of a picture of Carrot Top standing shirtless in a mall parking lot.

  3. I have no idea what / who Carrot Top is, but I get the point. I guess that taking the time to respond in a serious manner would elevate Ms. Popova’s article above its mediocrity, and I don’t think anyone wants that…

  4. Hey man. I did not see vulgarity here, I saw honesty. Sometimes, the truth is ugly.

    The real vulgarity is the sugarcoated sexism of people like Popova. Its rotten underneath, and this post exposes it exactly for what it is.

  5. Yes, Natalia, maybe if you weren’t so vulgar, maybe if you didn’t lose your cool, maybe if you weren’t so….shrill?


  6. Hi Natalia: you are a really good writter, in despite, I haven’t english enough for sharing an intelligent discussion with you. I read your article in couchsurfing. Ok, I can agree, but I don’t see analysis, I don’t read why, I don’t know if you try to understand opposite arguments and so you can enrich your text. I was in your country, and I didn’t looking for sex or brides, I was for learning and for the mere pleasure of spend my time with other colours, habits, languages, religion. I think we can choose better mountains for climbing.

  7. When did being a good writer and using vulgarity become mutually exclusive? Or is this just a rule for the girls?

  8. Oh yeah, I saw that discussion on couchsurfing in my trackbacks. A fascinating read in its own right:

    Oh noes! I use foul language! I do not seriously engage the subject matter!

    Once again, the subject matter does not deserve serious engagement. It is as odious to me as the general statement that “oh, durr hurr, you’re American? You must eat at Burger King every day! And wear sneakers! Yes, I bet you wear sneakers constantly. All Americans do.”


    Yuliya Popova’s piece does not deserve my analysis. It deserves my scorn.

  9. Natalia,

    Once a post is published on the internet, it is forever. It no longer is under your control. I have no idea what you are planning to do in 20 or 30 years, but it would not be unconceivable that what you wrote might one day be used against you. The more you expose yourself in your writings, the more you become a target. If you were writing under a pseudonym, things would be different.

    I advocate building bridges rather than burning them. I advocate subtle attacks over direct attacks. Plausible deniability and ambiguity can be wonderful things.

    Using foul language is a matter of taste and style. You write what you want, it’s none of my business. My point is: hitting someone from above delivers much, much more impact than hitting from below. It’s as simple as that.

  10. Muslim Prude Lady checking in here. I am not fond of needless swearing, yet I did not notice any vulgarity. I’ve just had to reread the post to check, and like Hank, I have to state that what was written was true and it could be put any other way because….

    ..Viewing women only as subservient toys for men is disgusting. Insisting/cajoling/shaming us into scooping out our brains and stapling smiles across our (sealed) mouths is hideous and vile.

  11. Rod C, think for a minute about what you’re saying. You are implying that Natalia–a professional editor and journalist who makes her living writing–does not think about her writing style, does not think about her word choice and does not think about her long-term career prospects. You are implying that it has never occurred to her that by publishing under her real name, she creates a reputation for herself. Natalia is a writer, and writers consciously and intentionally write and publish and they consciously and intentionally choose whether to use a pseudonym or not.

    Think about how condescending and patronizing you’ve been. And think about the fact that you’re patronizing a woman who just wrote a forceful critique of sexism.

  12. Dear Joy,

    Please do note that I have (absolutely) no idea of what this blog’s author does for a living. I read the blog once in a while, but I skip all the personal stuff because it’s none of my business. I am interested in good writing and important issues, not on personal diaries.

    Pardon my pessimism, but I would say that being a writer is more of a luxury than a career option. It’s like being an artist. I have no doubts that the author has considered the long-term implications of her posts. But 30 years is a long time, and people change. Society changes, too. Once upon a time, society had the ability to forget. In the age of Google and Facebook, when all is cached and logged, that ability to forget has been lost. We’re witnessing a profound change in privacy. We make our decisions based on today’s paradigms, and those can change.

    My intent is not to be condescending nor patronizing. I have once been threatened with a lawsuit for something I wrote on a blog. A friend had to pay a $30,000 fine for something he wrote on an email. Pardon me if I have become somewhat paranoid, but better safe than sorry, right?

    Lastly, this has nothing to do with sexism. You accusing me of being sexist is itself sexist. So, essentially, men can no longer take the liberty of offering a suggestion to anyone of the opposite gender because that is sexist? The way I see things is: I may be an expert in my field, but I am ignorant in pretty much everything else. I happily accept suggestions and advice from people who know more than I do or who have more life experience than I have. It has nothing to do with gender, it has all to do with the fact that repeating other people’s mistakes is an unnecessary and painful experience.

  13. Natalia,

    I shall no longer bother you with “condescending” and “patronizing” comments. I have just removed your blog’s feed from my RSS reader. It is not that you’re a bad writer, it is just that you’re too good.

    Your writings are too human, too personal, too revelatory. Reading your blog reminds me of why I can’t stand reading biographies: it’s almost a form of “literary voyeurism”. It’s disturbing, gut-wrenching. As a mathematician, my psyche has long lost the ability to deal with such deeply human issues and, thus, I will quit my “addiction” to your blog. If a writer’s talent is measured by her ability to provoke strong reactions in her readers, then I would claim you’re, indeed, too good. Please take this a compliment.

    Best regards,


  14. If you want to offer reams of treacly career advice, it IS your business to first find out what the recipient of your advice actually does for a living. And since, as you correctly point out, the internet is a repository of all sorts of information–including the fact that Natalia edits an online magazine–you could have even done that research and learned that Natalia probably didn’t need you to warn her of the dire, dire consequences of “vulgarity.” But you didn’t, and that is why your advice was patronizing.

  15. Uh. Yeah. The author of this blog can correct me if she needs to, but what I understand is this: her writing career was launched at the moment she decided she was going to provoke and challenge her readers, and, yes, use strong language (Im not going to say /foul/, because /foul/ implies gratuitousness or a lack of awareness).

    If you skip all the /personal/ stuff here but have no idea what the author does for a living, Rod, then, uh, what exactly do you come here for? The picture in the black boots with the gun? (Awesome picture, but I like the authors face too much to enjoy it properly). What is the point of reading a blog, and claiming to enjoy it, if you have no clue who the author is? Uh, lets see, the very top of her bio page says:

    /Please visit Global Comment – an internationalist online magazine & Arab Comment – an Arab online magazine to take a look at how I earn my bread …/

    And now you are claiming that her writing makes you feel like a voyeur? And that you are taking her blog off your reader? I hope you dont expect her to care, because that would be self-important as hell.

    Personal writing is in a niche of its own, if it doesnt suit your taste, there is an entire internet to explore.

    Oh, and again, the author can correct me if she wants to, but I am fairly sure that she has been threatened for her writing multiple times before, by people who make lawsuits look civilized, if you know what I mean. And here she is, still writing. You might have a thing or two to learn from her example, man.

  16. Rod C, on the off chance that you’re still peeking back at this post. Life is way too short to spend your time thinking “holy shit! What if someone googles this 10 years from now!?!?”

  17. @ Joy: some things are universal, and some advice applies to everyone. I don’t have the time nor inclination to do research on what other people do for a living. I didn’t mean to come off as patronizing, and I apologize if I did.

    @ Hank: I used to read the feed, I didn’t visit the page. And only now did I realize that the header image depicts the author holding a gun. Indeed, I find personal writing too much to bear, and if it weren’t for the author’s captivating and powerful style, I would have left long ago. The crux of the matter is that reading personal writing, even if the author does share it willingly, is (in a sense) an invasion of privacy that nauseates me. Hence, I shall stop, as that is the right thing to do.

    @ Kevin,

    For your own good, I hope you don’t have political ambitions. Seriously. Google has a solid business model, but my theory is that Facebook’s business model is to blackmail everyone in 20 years, when the political and business leaders will be millenials. I am being somewhat facetious, but there’s still some truth in this…

  18. rod c – i am a frequent critic of the author of this blog, but even i find your comments here completely strange. perhaps you can go give your “universal advice” to elizabeth wurtzel, diablo cody, rick marin, next? the last time i checked, they all wrote in a highly personalized manner, dropped f-bombs, and made a career out of it. i am not personally a fan of either three, but i give credit where it is due. not bothering to even find out who you’re giving advice to when you decide to give the advice is not just silly, it’s actually an insult. hank is right, your thinking that anyone here should care about what “nauseates” you is just slightly on the self-important side of things. you don’t like this kind of writing. so what? i don’t even think i’ve seen you pop up in the comments here before, as a long-time reader. if you don’t have “time” or “inclination” to get to know someone before wagging a finger at them, you’re not worth listening to.

  19. @ Rod C

    This is just to weigh in cautiously on issues that Rod C has brought up.

    RE: “Vulgarity,” “hitting someone from below,” and possible repercussions in future decades –As other commenters have noted, Natalia Antonova already knows more about repercussions, in real life and online, than most male bloggers. She knows how to respond to the consequences of her posts. Rod C is not giving Natalia any advice that she hasn’t already known for years.

    Furthermore, Natalia’s posts, as I read them, are parts of a continuing, carefully-calibrated online performance, and all performers, in any medium, necessarily have to be prepared for the short-term and long-term reactions to their performances. That’s simply part of being a performer.

    As for “vulgarity”: To anyone who has followed Natalia’s blog for the past two years or so, Natalia’s so-called “vulgarity” has become utterly predictable and has lost its strident impact. To anyone reading this blog for the first time, and unprepared for Natalia’s posting style, Natalia’s choice of words may seem over the top, but for the rest of us, Natalia’s ‘graphic’ diction is almost like filler at this point (sorry, Natalia). If, 10 or 20 years from now, some tort lawyer tries to recover damages from Natalia’s language, Natalia has long been prepared for that.

    RE: “Voyeurism” — Since Natalia’s blog is simply a series of calculated online performances (at least as I read them), there is no need to feel like a voyeur when reading this blog. Reading Natalia’s blog is no more voyeuristic than listening to Carl Orff’s renditions of Catullus or the Carmina Burana.

    As for Natalia’s ‘revelations’ about her personal life, Natalia is consciously playing the role of storyteller when she talks about herself, and no reader is invading her privacy when reading this blog. Natalia wants us to read her stories even when they are nominally autobiographical. Natalia, like many writers, has found that factual or embellished autobiography holds readers’ attention like nothing else (think of St. Augustine’s “Confessions”). If Rod C as a reader feels he has invaded Natalia’s “privacy,” then Natalia’s strategy has worked.

  20. The crux of the matter, Rod C, is that these men expect the so-called services Natalia describes, very openly, but nobody likes to talk about the cold, hard truth in context. Natalia is one of the people who does. Most of the people who read her blog on a regular basis like that about her. For those that would rather read something else, once AGAIN, man, the internet is not a small place.

    But you are really hoping that the author is going to chase after you and plead to be reinstated into your reader, right? Why else would you make a huge deal about it?

    You are really kinda weird, Rod C. To each their own, I guess.

  21. You know, as tickled as I am to read about how people respond to my writing, I have to say, it does annoy me when anyone assumes that I don’t consider the implications of what I write here, or what I write elsewhere. And it’s not just a question of consideration, it’s a question of dealing with the consequences one encounters in this type of work. Hank is right, I have been threatened before, both explicitly and vaguely; I’ve also upset family members, I’ve gotten into arguments with representatives of certain organizations, I’ve had people tell me “I can’t work with you,” I had someone tell me they’d get me fired over things I’ve said, not to mention the people who have stalked me, and, of course, the person who had an entire blog dedicated to calling me and some of my friends “whores.”

    So no, I don’t particularly appreciate the implication that I don’t know what it is that I am doing, or, for that matter, that what I am doing is inappropriate or offensive.

    If anyone finds my writing disturbing for any reason, they can say so, but the gun in my banner isn’t pointed at their heads and I am certainly not forcing anyone to read my blog, or any of my work in general.

    And yeah, I do find it a little strange when a commenter I’ve never heard from before decides to make a big show out of his departure. This isn’t some huge blog with a ton of hits, and I always value people stopping by, but seriously? BREAKING NEWS YOU’RE OFF MY READER I HAVE NO IDEA WHO YOU ARE YOU’RE TOO GOOD AM NAUSEATED?

    In the immortal words of Cronk: “Yeah. Weird.”

  22. Dear all,

    What is now obvious is that I am not a member of this blog’s target audience (that is why I mentioned that I unsubscribed the feed, no 2nd intentions, no whining). I have no idea who Wurtzel, Cody, Marin are. I do not understand what kind of “performance” this is supposed to be. I do not understand what the author expects to achieve with this blog, though I am sure she has considered the pros and cons carefully. In other words: I live in a parallel universe. In your universe, I am weird. In my universe, you are the weird ones. It’s all relative.

    In my view, writing is art. If I remember correctly, Mayakovsky once wrote that “art is not a mirror to reflect the world, but a hammer with which to shape it”. I don’t know if Natalia’s goal is to raise awareness to various problems, to deliver social change (however small), or to sell books. What I do know is that in my universe (Science & Tech) there’s hope that problems will eventually be solved, even if it takes decades of work in the lab. The social problems that Natalia has written about (e.g., sex trade, exploitation, sexism, violence against women, general stupidity, etc) are deeply ingrained in society. I can’t solve problems that are created by Man, I can only try to solve those created by Nature. The fact that I can’t solve such social problems is something that does sadden me. I am not in a position where I can change things for the better, and it’s become too painful to read about all the misery that humans inflict on each other. Hence, I don’t want to hear about social problems anymore. It’s not my field. There are people way more qualified than me attacking such problems. Maybe I can help solve problems such as lack of potable water in the 3rd world, but I cannot change mentalities nor eliminate idiocy.

    I did not mean to offend / insult anyone. I apologize if I have. I now realize that the social norms in my universe are (clearly) quite, quite different from those in your universe.


  23. Natalia,

    I don’t think you get it. And neither did the other commenters. The problem is that your article is brilliant on the “writing as art” front and, yet, a failure on the “writing as a weapon” front. You’re a much better writer than Popova, but having superior weapons is no advantage if one does not aim and shoot. You started a battle with Popova and failed to inflict damage, because you embraced the “l’art pour l’art”, using vulgarity to enhance the style of your writing, and abstaining from analysis. As a result, your article is vulnerable to all sorts of ad hominem attacks.

    Talent is of little use unless it’s directed. One must be careful not to forget one’s goals: by advancing one’s art, one may be hurting one’s cause.

  24. Rod C, are you starved for attention, or something, man? Yeah, that is what I thought.

    OK, I will indulge you. Abstaining from analysis, huh:

    A woman must give her body and her soul, and never forget that she is the lucky one, as opposed to the man, or, really, the demigod in question. If she doesn’t like it, too bad. Ten others will be more than willing to take her place on the trophy shelf tomorrow. – Analysis

    This is all beside the fact that men must choose women. Never the other way around. – Analysis

    We’d never feel sorry for, say, Jean-Luc Picard, for staying single. A single woman of advancing years, on the other hand, is a dismal hag, who ought to be performing harakiri on Independence Square. – Analysis

    … everything in life has its price. When I say that, I don’t mean monetary value. I mean the shocking idea that life, in general, is not quite perfect, for anyone… We say that your typical chauvinist expat man moves to a poorer country to experience a “sexual fantasy,” but the fantasy, I believe, is bigger than that. The fantasy is the idea, the hope, even, that somewhere out there, life doesn’t run according to the rules. – Analysis.

    Unless you are a willfully obtuse/are a delicate flower unqualified to begin commenting on the issues raised (something you have already admitted to), there is a lot to think about in this piece. Your continued presence on here proves that. It also proves that you are a self-centered douche who decided to dispense irrelevant advice and got his feathers ruffled when it was not humbly accepted.

    What part of Natalia Does Not Owe Popova Serious Analysis do you not understand anyway? What, because you are /not acquainted with Ukrainian reality/ and you are not capable of understanding half of what is written here, you deserve a special guide? You want writers to hold your hand? Read a book, man. Use Google. Google Carrot Top while you are at it, to expand your horizons.

    (Nat, I’m sorry in advance for the shitty html in my comment. WordPress refuses to load normally for me.)

  25. Hank,

    I understand that unsolicited advice is unwelcome, but I offered honest and constructive comments on the post’s comment. When writing about a social problem, one becomes an ambassador for that cause (willingly or not). Sure, Popova did not use analysis, but she did not use vulgarity either, meaning that Natalia’s post was a Pyrrhic victory at best, a defeat at worst.

    PS: Unlike you, I did not insult anyone, and I would appreciate if one kept things civil.

  26. Natalia,

    Nothing can be gained from this discussion. My comments are not useful nor informative. If you could please delete them, I would be most thankful, indeed. I will retribute by abstaining from commenting ever again. Thanks in advance.

  27. Yes, Rod C, you gave your comments, were told why they do not hold water, and then proceeded to make an issue of being nauseated/living in parallel universes/I don’t know what.

    Obviously, your definition of vulgarity does not include launching ad hominem attacks on an entire population. You get upset when bad words are used. Fine. It is your right, man. You said your piece. Now go and sin no more.

    And you did not insult? Really? You are condescending as hell, Rod C, which is an insult. First it was Natalia is a little girl who does not understand the consequences of her actions. Now it is Natalia is a little girl who does not realize that she is writing about important social issues that are referenced by others (she is probably the most well-known Eastern European feminist blogger writing in English today, a niche, but an important niche – still, she just does not understand, she is a little girl, she needs Rod C to help her out).

    You are a concern troll.

  28. Rod, you are having what sociologists commonly refer to as “diva disasta.” First it’s “my advice, let me give you it, you have no idea what you’re doing, you are but a child,” now it’s “delete my comments.” What? So the entire context of this discussion is lost?

    Once again, Rod, clearly, it is all about you, your reading tastes, your superior life experience, yur universal advice, and your desire to have control over this conversation.

    I suggest some smelling salts. Possibly a fainting couch. Or two.

    And, for the third, and hopefully the last time: I am not battling Yuliya Popova’s writing. I am mocking it. Mocking is what it deserves. Anyone who doesn’t get it, isn’t in the loop, can read up on the subjects. My archives may or may not be a good start.

    Is such rhetoric for everyone? No, it isn’t, and I don’t pretend that it is. But neither will I sugarcoat what I think and what I feel on the matter. Nor will I have you educating me on how to engage the social issues I have been engaging for years.

    Hank is right about something, your priorities are bizarre. Popova’s ugly ethnic and gender stereotypes apparently deserve serious analysis, but shame on young ladies for using coarse language!

    I gave you a decent response what you first popped up. At this point, I don’t really feel like you are engaging in good faith either.

  29. Oh please. I have to delurk because this threadjack is so ridiculous. Fascinating, but ridiculous.

    First, Rod, yes, you did insult Natalia. As pointed out above, and as I think you acknowledged, you have patronized and condescended to her. Unsolicited advice to someone you know about how to conduct her career, implying that she has never thought about these things, is rude and presumptuous in any universe. It is also rude and insulting to barge onto a stranger’s blog and set yourself up as an authority on the tone and style the blog ought to take.

    Second, you can’t possibly be an authority on anything to do with writing when you admit that you have no understanding whatsoever of writing that is too “personal.” You strongly imply that such writing is frivolous and without purpose. Apparently, you are unfamiliar with the enormous impact confessional writing has had on our culture from Saint Augustine to Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Anne Frank to Vladimir Nabakov (Speak, Memory!) to a number of modern poets like Allen Ginsburg, Robert Lowell, and Anne Sexton, and on and on and on.

    Third, you are wrong about the effectiveness of Natalia Antonova’s take-down of the Kyiv Post article. To take on your tone of unsolicited advice, you need to learn to take context into account. This is not a court of law or a scientific journal, in which case it would certainly be inappropriate to use vulgarity and possibly inappropriate to analyze your opponent’s motivations for making a particular argument.

    This is the court of public opinion, and frankly, ridicule, sarcasm, strong language and on-target psychological analysis is extremely effective, if accompanied by substance. Natalia provided both substance and bite. She totally engaged the premise of the article, the premise that women ought to change their behavior if men don’t like it, and mocking it exposed how ridiculously pandering the Kyiv Post author was.

  30. Just to clarify, I was responding to Rod at 5:57 p.m. Didn’t see the subsequent comments until I posted my own.

  31. @ Rod C

    First: This is to second Maggie’s comment, especially her point about taking context into account.

    Second: The fact that you don’t take context into account suggests that you have very limited reading experience outside of science and technology. The problem is not that you have different “social norms” or live in a “parallel universe.” The problem, apparently, is that you haven’t read many authors whose argumentative style makes use of the invented persona/personality of the writer in order to make points about society.

    That’s why, I suspect, you were disappointed that Natalia’s argumentative style isn’t that of an Op-Ed column in the New York Times. You were expecting something resembling a mainstream editorial and instead were confronted with Natalia’s partisan invective against the sexism which Yuliya Popova is sincerely endorsing in her KP column.

    But, given Natalia’s own life experience as a Ukrainian woman, partisan invective suits her purpose far better than the more detached viewpoint of an editorial. That’s also why Natalia’s so-called “vulgarity” is completely on point in this context. Natalia’s argumentative style, including her “vulgarity,” puts her in the company of Aristophanes and Juvenal, not to mention some early Christian writers, when she condemns attitudes that she finds outrageous and dehumanizing.

    Finally, simply to repeat advice from other commenters: LOOK UP THE FACTUAL CONTEXT of both Natalia’s and Popova’s columns before you object to Natalia’s style. Popova, in her KP column, is deadly serious when she urges Ukrainian women to think of themselves as ‘packages’ for men. Popova is not playing devil’s advocate here. She’s internalized an attitude deeply ingrained in Eastern Europe (and in the West). Natalia had to grow up with this attitude in Ukraine and has to confront it again now while she’s living in Ukraine. There is no reason why Natalia would, or could, adopt a ‘detached’ viewpoint about a culture that values her primarily as merchandise.

    I’ll leave it at that. It will be worth your while to reread the many comments in this thread and also expand your own reading experience beyond science and technology.

  32. Dear all,

    I must admit that it had never occured to me that using mockery instead of analysis was a valid form of counter-argument. I always thought that mockery was worse than not replying, as it would immediately grant the opponent victory. Your comments (in particular Poeschl’s and Maggie’s) were forceful enough to convince me that I was completely wrong.

    My argument was based on the assumption that the only acceptable reply would, by necessity, be based on analysis. Invalidating that assumption, my entire argument collapses like a house of cards. Consequently, one can conclude that there’s nothing left to argue. You won. I lost. I am out of the discussion as of now.

    I concede that I am pedantic, condescending, patronizing (and all those ugly adjectives you mentioned), but I never engaged in this discussion in ill faith. I truly believed that lack of analysis would be equivalent to a monumental defeat, granting an epic victory to Popova’s risible article. My mistake.

    Over and out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: