Russian Stereotypes Beyond The Beautiful Women, Vodka And Endless Winter
Written by 56th Parallel
There are many well know Russian Stereotypes – Most people believe Russia is populated by only beautiful women, Russians take their vodka for breakfast and winters are endless.
A favourite tale among Russians and well known to many foreigners is the Russian stereotypes of granny or babushka. She has many personalities and is known for her willingness to help relatives and feed hungry grandchildren but also for her wit and cunningness.
The babushka of childhood fairytales is Baba-Yaga, who although living in a log hut and occasionally eating naughty children, is not a witch. Baba-Yaga is not purely evil as she may help or hinder those that encounter or seek her out and may play a maternal role. In fairy tales, she often helps the character to resolve their conflict.
Stemming from a poem by Nekrasov: “A Russian woman will stop a galloping horse and go into a burning hut,” Russians jokes and caricatures often feature an overbearing woman and her sluggish husband. The men are portrayed as helpless to actionable women who support the family and have domestic control.
In Russia, the best and easiest way to avoid conflict of any form is to not communicate at all. A foreigner in Russia will notice the absence of acknowledgement in the form a smile or small talk when in public. Russians in general, do not try to engage total strangers in debate or conversation.
Russians are often thought of as not very commutative, the cold and dark of winter exasperates this misconception. It doesn’t mean Russians are introverts when you are rushing from place to place in the freezing winter, small talk won’t get you home any faster.
As in many countries, rush hour public transport is always overcrowded in Russia. The disabled, elderly or women with children are the least likely to get a seat despite public signs reserving them seating because they are usually occupied by sleeping men or lounging teenagers.
One of the most common subjects of Russians jokes is the police, particularly their crafty ways for finding drivers. It would not be surprising to find an officer hiding in a bush along the road or disguised as an elderly woman to catch unsuspecting motorists.
Russia has many colourful characters, intelligent ladies of advancing years; an employee with a battered briefcase; a miserable grandfather and an ageing blockhead with a can of beer. Generally speaking, Russians are quite self-critical and are not afraid to mock themselves. Others are not given such luxury. However, the hard feelings will only last momentarily, then you will be forgiven, kissed to death, and treated to something nice.
Thanks to Olga Gromova for her beautiful illustrations.