10 spectacularly stupid things that people have said to me since EuroMaidan started

EuroMaidan is the general name given to mass protests that erupted in Ukraine when the government backtracked on signing an EU association agreement. According to some folks, the government did this purely to appease Russia. According to other folks, association terms were not favorable enough. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle – as it usually is. I could be wrong, though.

Anyway, protests tend to bring out the stupid in people who are observing said protests from far away. Here is some of that stupid, for your reading (dis)pleasure. A lot of these comments are translated, some are paraphrases, but I’m not changing the meaning of anything here:

1. “Yeah, the Ukrainians are out there on the streets because being out on the streets is fun.” 

Here comes the clue train, last stop you: Ukrainians are ANGRY. Ukraine has basically been stuck in the 1990s for two decades now. There is lack of basic governance, social institutions barely exist, health care is a grim joke, corruption is so bad that it is unnoticeable, it’s as much a part of daily life as the weather. Now, Ukrainians act out their anger in different ways. Some Ukrainians are quietly angry, others are loudly angry. Some are resigned. Some are active. But to say that they are out there out of the desire to have “fun” is contemptible. Obviously, any kind of street protest inspires a feeling of community – which in itself is a warning sign. Ukraine so thoroughly lacks community today, that people must go out into the streets en masse to find it.

Let’s also not forget that protest was violently dispersed just last week. There is danger that the situation could get worse. This is about bigger things than “fun.”

go fuck yourself

2. “Oh, so you’re questioning the merits of the EU association agreement? Who’s paying you?”

Oh yeah, THE KREMLIN is showering me with cocaine and hundred-dollar bills right now, so that I specifically point out a very simple fact: the eurozone is in trouble – and Ukraine’s economy is in WORSE trouble – and while there are long-term prospects for this relationship, there are little short-term solutions for what Ukraine is going through. And all of the platitudes in the world about human rights and democracy won’t help right now.

3. “Russia wants to offer Ukraine brotherhood – and ungrateful Ukrainians are rejecting that!!!”

So when Gazprom sits down at the negotiations table with Ukraine, what is on Gazprom’s mind? Brotherhood? Or business? Don’t get me wrong, Ukraine and Russia are close, they have always been close, even the disdain for Russia in Western Ukraine is a kind of symptom of that closeness (we tend to actively despise that which, on some fundamental level, greatly affects us) – but politically speaking, Russia quite obviously looks out for itself. Of course, there are moments of grace in that relationship. Under Yeltsin, in the early days of chaos, there WERE discussions about attacking Ukraine. It was brotherhood that prevailed then – perhaps brotherhood will, in the future, spare these two countries more trouble (I hope).

4. “Please don’t try to smear the Ukrainian protest movement. It is a progressive movement. The Ukrainian right is tolerant of gays, for example. It’s not like the Russian right.”

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Look, pointing out that the protest movement is DIVERSE and full of DIFFERENT people with DIFFERENT interests is not the same as smearing it. Instead, it’s called “being in touch with reality.”

I’m sorry, but there are some really unpleasant people in the protest movement. There are unpleasant people in EVERY protest movement. That’s just the way the world works.

5. [I quote some sad fact from Ukrainian history] [Some idiot who’s never even been to Ukraine does not believe said historic fact – and FREAKS RIGHT OUT, accusing me of using Ukraine’s messy past to somehow paint Ukraine as a “bad” country]

Look, I enjoy talking about Ukrainian history, because it is also, in part, my history. I prefer to do it with people who are also from Ukraine/have some cursory knowledge of Ukraine/are not brain-dead. This should be simple enough. It never is, for some reason.

6. “Stop trying to spread disinformation. We KNOW you can’t speak Russian in Kiev. Not even on the streets.”

I love this. This is great. This is beautiful. This is random people trying to tell me, a Russian-speaker who’s originally from Kiev, whose relatives still live there, how things REALLY are.

7. “Oh, so you’re sympathetic to the protesters? You must be a fan of the Ukrainian neo-Nazis!” vs. “Oh, so you have serious reservations about the protest? You must be a fan of Russian imperialism!”

superman is done

I realize that times of trouble force some people to abandon nuance, while many others don’t even know what the word “nuance” means. But some really have no excuse.

8. “These Ukrainians who are protesting HATE the Russians.”

No, most of them are simply fed up with the Kremlin’s policies (particularly the gas issue) – and even more fed up with chaos and corruption at home. It’s not ALL ABOUT RUSSIA ALL THE TIME, you know. And it must be said that the Ukrainian protest class has even welcomed Russian opposition activists who have come down to Kiev to see what’s happening for themselves. Once again, as I already mentioned, there ARE some scary people in this protest. And as history has repeatedly taught us, even a small group of scary people can unleash hell. And some of those scary people are also provocateurs, which further complicates things. But of course, accepting the notion that the Ukrainian protest is actually kinda complicated is too much for people who have the intellectual capacity of a catatonic hamster. 

What stands out at EuroMaidan right now are not messages of hate – it’s messages of love and hope. It’s the kind of love and hope that makes you wonder if the phrase “candle in the wind” was wasted on famous blond women.

9. “Ukrainians are UNITED.”

Ukrainians are divided. No point in trying to ignore this. In fact, ignoring this is downright dangerous. Also, Ukrainians themselves know about the division in their country. People are aware of it. They talk about it and try to bridge it. Whether they’ll succeed remains to be seen.

10. “Lenin’s statue being destroyed is a great thing for democracy.”

I don’t like Lenin and I’m glad his statue is gone. HOWEVER, even I can admit that statues being smashed to bits is not a sign of a healthy society. In a healthy society, there would have been a referendum on the thing. We’re far from referendums and debates, however. We are in a different territory altogether. A lot of people were sick of that statue – but destruction and removal are fundamentally different things. Think about it.

In a functioning democracy, people aim for consensus. Taking up hammers is a last resort.

I can say “fuck Lenin and his statue” and mean it – but can still wish for a better way.

Et tu, Duke Magazine?

They messaged me asking for my picture, I suggested they take one off my Facebook page. They used a picture of Russian actress Natalya Antonova instead. I mean, I get it, I’m the tired mother-of-a-toddler here, but still! I’m allowed to do cardio again! I’m taking iron supplements! *sob*

Also, apparently I’m the deputy editor and the acting editor-in-chief of The Moscow News. At the same time. Makes so much sense.

But, as Humbert Humbert put it, society columns and the like should contain mistakes. And if Humbert Humbert said it, you know it must be true.

P.S. OK, granted, Natalya Antonova is a brunette in that picture, and I also recently became a brunette. It all makes sense. Somehow. A director also recently mistook me for her online and bitched me out for something random, and then apologized. So Duke Magazine is in good company here.

Maybe Elizabeth Wurtzel is not OK after all

Or maybe she’s just being consistent with her role as a “everyone’s favorite beautiful mess.”

Really now.

She thinks she’s bashing “slovenly” people (which is kind of silly in and of itself, unless said “people” are actually your brother, who just showed up to your black-tie wedding with beer-breath and flip-flops), but she’s just bashing the underprivileged, a.k.a. women who can’t afford weekly Gyrotronic sessions and lip balm that costs over 20 bucks a pop (Because I’m a real journalist, I’ve checked). Women who are working three jobs and, when they have time to eat, must eat burritos on the smelly bus that ferries them between said three jobs. Women whose evening yoga sessions are interrupted by a screaming kid who would love nothing more than to bash them with his toy airplane while they’re trying to do the goddamn dolphin pose (ahem).

Long-time readers of this blog know that I am not in favor of bashing The Pretty. I like The Pretty. I think it gets a bad rap in certain feminist circles. I’m also someone who enjoys performative femininity, sparkly charm bracelets and all (a predilection that often results in my husband, a scary-looking, bearded Russian guy with tattooed fingers, standing in some shop, picking between a Hello Kitty charm and a charm featuring a cartoon whale).

And then I go and read crap like this:

Obviously not everyone is born beautiful, but absolutely everybody can become so. I miss the un-Holy Trinity, meaning, of course, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and Naomi Campbell. I long for the impossible standard of female beauty as a daily chore for all, not because I want the world to look better — I want it to bebetter. I want everyone to try as hard as I do to please be gorgeous, because it’s not that hard, girls. Looking great is a matter of feminism. No liberated woman would misrepresent the cause by appearing less than hale and happy.

Right.

What’s remains delightful about Wurtzel is how much of her writing is essentially a personal ad dressed up in whatever rhetoric is guaranteed to get her the most attention in a given week. As an editor concerned with circulation numbers and online hits, I bow down to this clever practice. As a woman and a feminist, I sneer at it.

Pretty women often do a fabulous job of “selling” the issue of women’s rights – or human rights in general. For many of the dudes, a pretty woman is a kind of “gateway drug” to srs feminist bsns.

I don’t really know how the hell any of that justifies compulsory femininity. Well, unless you couldn’t really give a crap about social justice to begin with. And hey, why should Elizabeth Wurtzel care about social justice? Unless it involves exciting causes such as Making Elizabeth Feel Good About Herself, that is.

I think she’s entitled to her views – God knows, I get tired of the “we are all beautiful as we are” crap from time to time (because let’s face it, a lot of the people who say it are practicing what is known as emotional populism) – but why tie it to feminism? To liberation? I mean, it doesn’t even fit in with the personal ad routine.

And then there’s also this,

Even with my Harvard degree, when I ran out of money while writing my first book, I was happier to serve cocktails in high heels than to get money from my mom. And now I walk miles in Marni’s five-inch platform T-straps.

Yeah, yeah, clothes are important:

But now, Elizabeth, you’re just showing off. And for someone of your stature and age and publishing experience, that just seems odd. Almost as if you have way too much to prove. At 45. While looking better than 25. And that sucks way more than “giving up” on your looks in your 20’s, I believe. These are not the words and actions of a woman “trying to be happy.” This is just dispiriting.

And now look what you’ve done. I has a sad now. Seriously.

Comment gold: on Russia, “lousy women” and Darwin

I see no point in responding to some comments in the actual comment box. Some comments are so wonderful, they deserve to shine all on their own. This was a comment to a post about honor killings in Jordan, and how “traditionalism” in traditional society is a one-way street – i.e., men get to do whatever the hell they want, while arbitrary moral judgments apply to women.

This fine, wholesome gentleman is operating under the false assumption that I still live in Jordan. Somehow, it doesn’t retract from his eloquence or his erudition:

If you don’t like jordan go back to russia ok.
I studied in petersburg, and I’m 100% honest, the situation in russia is so much worse for women, the typical day of the russian man is: sleep till 2PM, go out with the fiends, drink, sleep with some lousy russian girls, drink, go back home at 1AM, kick the hell out of your wife/GF.
What you are talking about is not a problem in jordan, it is not a even a problem. This how the man and women are and will be forever, men don’t like lousy women(sluts) because they fear cuckoldry, women don’t like poor/weak men because they want protection. Even my friends in the west don’t like feminists or very free girls, and actually many would love to marry a virgin. Men are women are not equal, but no one is better, men want pure women, women want strong men. We should not care to give the same freedoms for men and women because that is against nature, but we must set laws that prevent lousy women and worthless men.
The way you imply that sex is not a sensitive subject in the west is wrong too, sex IS sensitive subject in the west, east south and north, sex is the primary arena of conflict for sexual creatures, sex shapes our minds and even bodies (have you heard of sexual selection), sex is a sensitive and complex subject. If you don’t believe this take biology 101 or read some darwin.

This is so beautiful that I can only respond with an equally gorgeous gif: