March 01, 2000

Common Strength: Eight Russian Women

Whenever Russian men realize that March 8th is approaching, Women’s Day Fever hits. Some men go on a shopping spree, others clean the house, others cook something unusual (if they can) for their spouses. 

Of course, honoring Russia’s women just once a year is not enough. But no matter what anyone says about March 8’s “Potemkin Village” character, Russians generally love this romantic holiday. Russia may be a strongly patriarchal society, but that does not mean that all Russian men oppress their loved ones. Of course, as some of the stories below show, there is plenty of room for improvement in relations between the sexes. This is a painstaking process, in some respects more arduous and tortuous than the transition to a market economy. But progress is being made. Faster than some would like and slower than others propose, but there is progress nonetheless.

At first glance, the “heroines” in our stories seem different in every way—their professions, ages, appearances, characters, lifestyles, manners. Yet, they are united by a common trait: each of these eight representatives of what we Russians often call the “weak sex” are, in fact, very strong characters. They have all worked very hard for everything they have achieved. All have persevered through many ups and downs. Taken separately and in aggregate, they represent many of the facets of Russian life as we live it today. 

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