Believe it or not, when I first planned to write this blog it wasn’t supposed to be mostly political. I did want to get into topics like common stereotypes and myths about Russia, such as those we see in Hollywood films or on TV. Sometimes the Russians promote negative stereotypes about themselves without even realizing it. There are many stereotypes or myths about Russia which are presented as positive, but are in fact patronizing or dehumanizing, akin to the so-called “noble savage” stereotype. One topic I decidedly try to steer clear of is the question of women in Russia, because this particular topic is so laden not only with rampant negative stereotypes but also raw misogyny and general creepiness. This silence ends today, for one day.
Today is the day I reveal to you, the readers, my theory of the Loser Carousel. It is a hypothesis which formed between my seven and eight year mark of living in this country. It is also in a way a tribute to the original purpose of this blog, that is to shatter the barrier that exists between the reality of life in Russia and the way it is reported to people on the outside. What is the Loser Carousel? In physical form it would be similar to a map of triangular trade, though I label it a carousel so as to give it a rounder mental image. In truth it is elliptical, and you shall soon see why. Like the Matrix, you cannot simply be told what the Loser Carousel is. To truly appreciate it, you must see it in action. As briefly as I can put it, the Loser Carousel is a sort of cycle, whereby losers attract other losers to Russia, and then those losers return to their countries and attract more losers to join the carousel. Who are these losers you ask? Read on.
For those few who are not aware, there is a certain breed of expat in Russia. In truth people like him exist in many expat communities throughout the world, but in Russia he unfairly occupies a prominent, representative position. You cannot but help run into him in bars, social functions, or in the workplace. He is typically in his late 20’s or older, and yet when he talks about his favorite subject his maturity level drops to the age of eighteen no matter how grey his hair may be. What’s that favorite subject? Girls, of course. He came to Russia for the women, first and foremost.
When he sees you’re his countryman, or at least another foreigner, he assumes you are on his level. He thinks you share something in common. You must be in Russia to get laid too, just like he is. He will turn every conversation back to his favorite subject. If he is new, he will complain about women, first Western, and then the first girls he’s been dating here in Russia, thanks to foreign dating sites. As it turns out, all these women he finds seem to have been “Westernized,” meaning they aren’t willing to exchange sex for his generous offer of food and drink. In spite of this, however, he is sure that Russian women are superior to those spoiled, uppity Western women who so casually rejected him for nearly all his life. If he has been in Russia for quite some time, he regales you with his tales of sexual conquest, pointing out girls from the staff he’s supposedly “shagged.” When you go to bars or clubs, he’s constantly talking about which women in the establishment he’d like to take home. Strangely, this sexual dynamo never approaches any of them.
The latter sort, the veteran, has become a stereotype of expats in Russia. One of the biggest misnomers about the so-called “sexpat,” however, is they are actually having loads of sex, or at least loads of sex with beautiful, nubile young women or that they are not paying loads of money for the privilege. My experience, even before I achieved my eighth year here, is that the more you hear a “sexpat” bragging about his sexual conquests, the more full of shit he is. You will discover this via one of two ways. The first is that you discover he’s already got an ex-wife or perhaps a rather estranged girlfriend. This woman is typically the first one he ever slept with in Russia, and chances are he knocked her up. This is the basis of their relationship. Now I hate to be shallow, but when you see that woman, you will immediately understand why he’s full of shit when he tells you about the “model-quality” early twenty-somethings he’s supposedly bedded. The other method, which can sometimes be combined with the first if this individual is someone you work with or otherwise regularly see, is to watch this individual “in the field.” That way is even worse, I can tell you from personal experience.
This loser wants to go “clubbing” every weekend, and he wants you to come along. He always chooses popular expat hangouts. Get ready for a thrilling night of sitting next to him at the bar, making awkward conversation as he ogles various women and tells you how badly he wants them. Not badly enough to talk to them or even approach them, but dammit if he wants them. They dance and walk across his field of vision like ducks in a shooting gallery. You ask him if he wants your help in approaching them; maybe his Russian is bad. He shrugs it off. Red pill man doesn’t need your help. But it would be nice if you could maybe bring some English-speaking girls over to your table. You go off to dance, you come back, and he’s still there, nursing a drink and staring, ever staring.
Now you’d think that the next time you see him, he’d be down and full of regret. You think he’d ask you for some advice in relationships, seeing as how there are times when he lets his frustration at his failures vent out. No, that doesn’t happen. Instead he tells you about some random sexual encounter with some woman you wouldn’t know. It happened after you left the club. Maybe he ran into some acquaintance on the way home. Guarantee you that unless the guy is extremely good looking and charismatic, i.e. the sort of guy who would get laid all the time in any country, and unless he is extremely rich and dropping loads of money, the more a sexpat talks about sex the less he actually has. I don’t think I’ve ever been wrong on this count and plenty of other guys I know can furnish their own examples of Mr. Sexpat.
What brought the sexpat here, and what does he do once he leaves to continue the cycle which I dubbed the Loser Carousel? First we must go back to the beginning. In the 90’s, Russia was in dire straits. Everything was for sale, including many women who had few means of survival. Were we living in a more moral world, we would have taken pity on the Russians and Former Soviet peoples and done all we could to alleviate their suffering. Had we done that, or even attempted to do that, Putin’s Russia as we know it today might not exist, as it is in fact a structure built on a foundation of bitterness, hate, and envy. That’s material for a completely different article however. What concerns us here, is that this higher moral decision was not taken. Instead, the former Soviet Union was flooded with religious and political con-men, and of course all manner of businessmen looking to make a buck off of other people’s misery. That they found an environment where they were able to easily take home women for the price of a few drinks, as American GIs took German women home for bars of soap or packs of cigarettes, was icing on the cake for these predators.
Naturally these men wrote or otherwise passed on their stories. I’ve never understood those men who brag about their sexual conquests, if you can call them conquests, from that era. Whatever they say, to my ears it all sounds like:
“In order to have consensual sex on a regular basis, I require a type of implied material exchange with a desperate woman from a country suffering such economic devastation as to be labeled the largest increase in human poverty to occur outside of a war by Nobel laureate and ex-World Bank head economist Joseph E. Stiglitz.”(1)
In spite of my reaction to these stories, these anecdotes along with the rising “mail order bride” industry created the myth of the perfect Russian woman, so attractive to losers in the US, Canada, the UK, and so on. This was the initial incident, the catalyst, the beginning of the Loser Carousel. The losers take on many shapes, but they have the same core features, the strongest among them being entitlement. They don’t like “Western women” because they are supposedly “demanding,” yet they feel entitled to demand from women. The original losers and the mail order bride industry gave them their ideal woman who fulfills all their contradictory desires. She is modest and chaste, but if you wish to have sex with her before marrying her she’ll lovingly fulfill all your desires. She is educated and intelligent, but she will always be submissive to you and never embarrass you at parties by showing that intelligence. She is so clever yet she has no ambition other than to be your love slave, regardless of your personal qualities or lack thereof. She will cherish only your love regardless of your material wealth, but of course she will be ever loyal and devoted to you because you offer her a chance at a better life. A combination of mutually exclusive qualities, the Russian or Ukrainian woman is perfect- for an insecure loser unsure of his masculinity, the sort of “nice guy” who has nothing to offer a woman save for common courtesy that is the baseline for normal people.
So the first few generations of losers hopped on their fiberglass horses and rode the Loser Carousel to Russia. Some were lucky, in the sense that they got what they came for. Russia was still in such a condition that they could still get what they came for, desperate women who felt their only choices were poverty or loveless, passionless sex with inferior, beta males. Of course this condition did not last forever. Rising oil prices and a saner incarnation of Vladimir Putin rapidly increased Russia’s living standards in the middle of the 2000’s. Like the last comers in a pyramid scheme, the next arrivals on the Loser Carousel suddenly found they had been swindled.
You’d meet these types all the time. They arrive in Russia, often as an English teacher. I do not mean to offend the English teachers out there; I know for a fact that one could make ridiculous amounts of money for very little work some time ago. Nonetheless, these guys rarely put so much effort into the job because it was secondary. Their primary goal was to get all that sex they felt they were entitled to. Then things went wrong. Every first date was simultaneously a last one. They’d pay the bill at dinner, invite the woman home, and she seemed shocked, trying to refuse in the most diplomatic way possible. The sexpat soon becomes bitter. Were these not the perfect women who fall at the feet of Westerners? Was he not rescuing them from destitution and hairy drunken men who would beat them? Had he not read dozens of stories of how Russian women appreciate men who open doors, pull out chairs, and pay the tab? Were they not supposed to exchange sex for these things? Surely something must have happened. Feminists must have infiltrated Russia! They’ve been Westernized. Better to go to Ukraine, they
have worse economic conditions aren’t so Westernized! While the loser will vent to other expats from time to time, he never criticizes himself, his actions, or takes on responsibility for his failures. Women must conform to his needs, he’s entitled to it.
The loser then finds himself in a difficult predicament, and this is how the cycle continues, how the amoeba reproduces. He came to Russia under the belief that this is a place where any Western man can easily bed some of the most beautiful women in the world. He looks at his personal record after several months or even years and sees it’s not too impressive. If this is a place where even losers get laid, what sort of a loser must he be if he cannot get the sex he feels he’s entitled to, at least not without money being involved? Could he be that much of a loser? He can’t possibly let other guys know that he’s failing, especially back home. Luckily he has an easy way out of this situation. It’s called lying.
So he goes to clubs and parties and he spreads his phony, unbelievable tales of sexual escapades. Most normal people don’t think to question them because to be fair, having sex is not rightly considered an “extraordinary claim,” though perhaps it ought to be for these guys. Some of these men’s stories get publish via the media, spread throughout the internet, or they spread via word of mouth when they get back to their home countries. Some men enjoy writing about their allegedly wild Moscow nights; I imagine it must be like a kind of creative writing exercise. Whatever the case, these stories attract more losers, men who were just like them before they came to Russia. With no way to check or verify the tales, they begin to seek out relationships with Russian women, either via online dating or even worse- moving to Russia for that sake alone. They come, they fail, the write and talk about their glorious success, and that brings more of the same. The carousel revolves, the music plays on.
These people can be spotted online, usually based on two factors. One is the uniformity of their opinions and writing about women, both Russian and “Western.” The former are feminine perfection, simultaneously virgin and whore. The latter are demanding, uppity, spoiled rotten bitches. Their greatest hostility is reserved towards Russian or Ukrainian women who openly defy their sacred stereotypes. These are the women who are “spoiled” and “Westernized.” No doubt the losers fear that these Eastern European women will infect the rest of the female population with their values, to the point where these men will find themselves just as rejected in Russia or Ukraine as they would be in Germany, Sweden, or their own countries for that matter.
The second factor is of course their lovingly crafted tales of sexpat escapades. I have read such tales on the internet and at times I wonder if the author has ever even visited Russia. As they pour forth their “expertise” on the topic of Russian women, I wonder if they didn’t simply read back issues of The eXile and the copy of various mail-order bride sites. Upon reading one such article from a particularly loathsome yet laughable site, I raised exactly that question. The friend who had shared the story went even further, wondering aloud as to whether the author had ever been with a woman at all.
Whatever form their stories take, however they arrange their collection of stereotypes and myths about Russian women in their stories and articles, the losers attract other losers. Those losers come here and just like those who lured them to this part of the world, they lose. They cannot admit that they lost, so they write and talk as though they are not losers. That in turn brings more losers. Hence the Loser Carousel.
Where and when does it end? Well I suppose we’ve got a long time before sexism is somehow wholly eliminated in the West or anywhere else. This does not mean we cannot do something about the Carousel, however. The Carousel is fueled by myths and stereotypes. We can start by fighting those. We can also make an impact by calling out and humiliating the wannabe “alpha” males who deliberately spread these myths. Society must make it clear that men who use others’ economic sufferings as leverage in getting access to women’s bodies are not too far removed from a date rapist. Relax, I did not imply that they are the same, but by the same token I’m not terribly concerned about the feelings of sex tourists and quasi-sex tourists.
Another step we can take is to try to reason with unassuming young men who need advice from older men. I’ve written much about the way my generation got screwed in the advice department. Pop culture saddled us with this sense of entitlement. Of course once a guy has been hooked by the myth of the Russian woman, it is not easy to shake him of this idea even if he has absolutely no experience dating them. He wants that ideal woman to be real just as the victim of a scam wants to believe that the money they’re supposed to receive will somehow arrive. When I encounter that sort of individual, I try not to go on the attack but rather ask questions to raise doubt. Often I ask- Why do you think this woman will make such an ideal wife for you in spite of the vast cultural gap between you and her? Would you approach a woman who looked like this in your own country? If not, why not? The answer I want to direct them toward is the awful truth: “I have come to believe that this woman will be more willingly to accept me and be an ideal mate because her country has suffered serious economic downfalls, systematic corruption, etc., etc.” In other words, these men have to be reminded that they secretly hope these women will conform to their ideal because they are compelled to do so, not because these men have any qualities which would actually attract such young, beautiful women.
Obviously we must first fight the stereotype of the Russian or Eastern European women, and that requires the conscious efforts of many of those women first and foremost. In the end, nobody can give them dignity or respect, they must be able to take it. Luckily, there are many Eastern European women who have stood up in one way or another. The easiest way any Russian woman can stand up for themselves and shatter the stereotypes is to shut these creeps down wherever and whenever they encounter them, and in spite of Russia’s deteriorating situation many do. Over the years, many of these sexpats have found it just as hard to find decent women in Russia as it is in their home countries. Of course Western men and women can help these Eastern European women by explaining to them the cultural cues that define a creep or an otherwise defective “man,” so as to make it even easier to reject them immediately. Eventually all they’ll be left with are prostitutes and those makeup-plastered, perpetually-duckfaced women who constantly wear massive sunglasses and openly admit to being gold diggers.
Obviously there is much struggle ahead to fully shatter the myth of the Eastern European woman. The “Natasha” stereotype is also rooted in sexual slavery and women trafficking, which of course is in turn rooted in corruption, the political system, and ultimately capitalism, that system which reduces humans to productive units and denies people their basic human needs as a matter of necessity. I do not think, however, that this should discourage us from taking a shot at the stereotype. We can deal it quite a lot of damage, especially by attacking the men who continue to perpetuate it. Immature and insecure, their screeds and rants always reveal far more vulnerability than they wish to show, and no amount of hyper-masculine posturing can conceal this, especially to the adult male who is secure in his own masculinity. While it will not be the final victory over misogyny, the Loser Carousel can be stopped. We can discourage young men from getting on, and we can so make conditions in Russia and Eastern Europe that those men on the carousel will one day declare that all Eastern Europe, Russia included, has become “Westernized,” and “spoiled.” Soon they will have to start looking for other economically-devastated countries, where only the alternative of starvation or homelessness can compel a young woman to willingly sleep with them. I do not know how to shut down the Loser Carousel on a global scale, but it can at least be shut down in Russia.
So there it is, the only article I intend to write about women in Russia. I hope you readers got something out of it.
(1) Stiglitz, Joseph E. Globalization and its Discontents, 2002, W.W. Norton & Company