Echidne’s Blog just disappointed me in a way I couldn’t have imagined was even possible. I understand that the on-going assault on women’s rights in this country is traumatic. But insulting the feminist advances of other cultures is not the way. Echidne, who is normally a brilliant and insightful progressive blogger, has published a post titled “Mother Russia Finally Waking Up?” The point of the post is that Russia is a horrible patriarchal country and the stupid money-hungry Pussy Riot group is somehow Russia’s only feminist hope:
They are brave women, given what the Russian state can do to them. And yes, Russia is a stiflingly macho and conservative society. Of course the list of such societies on this earth is a very long one. Much feminist work remains to be done.
I so wish that people just stayed away from making proclamations concerning cultures they know nothing whatsoever about. Echidne will certainly be shocked to know that starting from 1917, all women in Russia (and Ukraine, of course) had the right to vote. They all worked and had brilliant careers. While the generation of Echidne’s mother and grandmother excelled in housewifery and wrapped itself in Saran wrap to look good for the lord and master, their Russian-speaking sisters got educated, worked, made their own decisions, and had their own lives.
Yes, I realize that most women did not Saran-wrap themselves in the US. Still, you’ve got to recognize that there is a huge difference between growing up in a society where the Saran-wrap philosophy arises as opposed to being raised in a place where nobody could ever suggest anything of the kind anywhere in any format.
I grew up on books and movies that, with absolutely no exceptions, depicted strong, resourceful, powerful women who were never visited by the idea that they needed to make themselves easy to consume by men or by children. And here comes Echidne (raised on movies and TV shows depicting brainless, eyelash-batting, stupidly pouting, apron-clad housewives) and pities me for being such a victim of the patriarchal society.
Russian-speaking countries are not, in any way, a feminist paradise. However, I can guarantee that, in terms of having a voice, defending ourselves and our opinions, standing up to any kind of authority, not allowing men to speak over us, etc., Russian-speaking women have a lot they can teach to those of their sisters who are still struggling with the inane “how can a woman have it all” (“all” meaning nothing more than work and family) dilemma.
People who condescend to other cultures because they baselessly imagine themselves as superior annoy me. It would be extremely easy for Echidne to educate herself about the long and heroic history of the Russian-speaking feminist movement. Who needs to educate oneself, though, when one can just hear some stupid soundbite about some stupid self-promoting music group somewhere and invent a whole new history for a huge country on the basis of that?