The following stories are not about sex and sexual frustration. They are about the politics of repression. They are about the generic becoming specific — and personal. So, be warned. They start nasty and end disturbing.
(Listening to Preisner’s bombastic but beautifully visionary Song for the Unification of Europe.)
‘Russian‘ (woman) in the Outpost (and elsewhere) is the synonym of whore, either by profession or by disposition (as they used to distinguish in the phallocratic Compatrido Republic when it was still the Kingdom of Compatridia). A ‘Russian’ can of course come from as far south as Moldova, or even Bulgaria.
eleS is a ‘real’ Russian. I will quickly tell you her story first: she is a student in the Outpost. She used to have a local boyfriend her age, 25 or so. She moved in with him, in his parents’ home, obviously. He was complaining she was not arousing enough, going around in the house in those boring pyjamas instead of some sexy underwear. eleS pointed out the sexy underwear option was pretty unfeasible with his parents under the same roof. He would also complain of, and look like he was suffering from, that particular kind of tedium. A propos, she found his massive cache of porn, but said nothing. He eventually broke up with her.
So far, nothing remarkable (remember we live in our little sexist world, not some Ursula LeGuin utopia). Enter Yu now.
Yu is Russian, born and raised in Belarus, the last dictatorship of Europe (of Beautician and the Beast qualities). Four years ago, she was a tour guide in Minsk, making something like $400 a month (which is great if your monthly expenses are around $300, like in her case). Enter Yu’s husband, an Outposter on a cabaret-cum-strip-joint tour of Minsk for a buddy’s sake (he told me), hotfoot from the US, where he had spent 7 years of his life. On a break from the lap(s) of luxury, he goes on a tour of Minsk. Love at first sight, marriage.
Yu comes to the Outpost. By virtue of her degrees and the five languages she speaks, she gets a high-flying $3000 a month job (which is great if your monthly expenses are around $1600, like in her case), of which her husband appears slightly jealous. She forks out a lump sum towards the deposit and contributes in the payments for the house (every couple in the Outpost must build / own a house, unless paupers, Jod and me are creepy freaks). The husband is unhappy and has to speak very badly to her. Moreover, the quality of her housework is not up to his mum’s standards. She also argues with him (not really). She wants children.
This children thing was the last drop. Children? After four years of marriage? For this reason, last June, Yu’s husband actually expelled her from his house. She knows practically nobody here, so she came to our place for refuge. She stayed here for a week. Our landlady was concerned: “where does she really work?” “she will not bring any, hm, men here, will she?” Yu’s husband’s pals convinced him he was too rough on her. She got reinstated.
Three weeks ago, Yu asked Jod to recommend a sex therapist to her but Jod did not know of any. Days later we find out why: Yu’s husband had been complaining that he can get no satisfaction. You imagine my coarse first reaction to such a statement. Yu’s sex-making was apparently boring and unimaginative (guys, you get the message, don’t you? it is as crass as ‘alternative points of entry’). Still, he would not tell Yu what he wanted, so he gave her some addresses on the Internet to check out for herself. She did not particularly enjoy the porn she found there, so she thought there was something wrong with her and she had to seek expert advise. The therapist told her to look after herself and her own needs. Yu’s husband becomes enraged. Yu is expelled again.
Jod is helping her to find a flat, talking to landlords, as nobody would rent to a ‘Russian’. They are decent people.
Now, I hope you realise what underlies the two stories. (Not just Outpost) Men fantasise about Russian women being white fragrant über-whores, Angels of Heaven that will eagerly lick you up and joyfully go down on you, offering up their fabulous gymnast’s flexibility which somehow combines with adequately stimulating curvature packaged accordingly. They expect them to be all these and they energetically attempt to impose this stereotype on them. They cannot be timid, or anything like this. They are ‘Russians’. The difference in the Outpost is that here these repressive stereotypes can be successfully and painlessly (well, unless you are the woman) imposed with few eyelids batting.
I never knew politics can be so perniciously relevant within private lives before I came here.