Interesting. Very Very Interesting.
Imagine my astonishment to see an article about Russian Women in Forbes Magazine of all places.
I thoroughly enjoyed it but I felt that the author, Melik Kayan, had no choice but to protect his rear by writing it in a semi PC form.
However inspite of his nebulous narrative.
I think his message and intent is QUITE obvious.. especially given that Forbes is primarily picked up by independent minded and successful Men.
So sound off and let me know what you think the real meaning is behind his title… “The Natasha Syndrome”
The Natasha Syndrome
Melik Kayan, 11.24.08, 12:01 AM EST
A meditation on Russian women.
The current Bond film serves up the first authentically Russian Bond Girl for our delectation–the lustrous-limbed Olga Kurylenko. No doubt the producers felt that a Bond who looks and acts like Putin in so many ways–laconic, icy, not-quite-human votary of the martial cults–deserves at his side a genuine Russkie-ette, or should I say “Natasha.” That would be the more proper euphemism, especially as Ms. Kurylenko is Ukranski and not Russkie. (Please limit your outraged responses to three lines or less.)
Some 10 years ago, I was sent by a prominent American magazine to Moscow to explore the “Natasha Syndrome,” as it was then widely called. In the years after the Iron Curtain’s collapse, a nubile tide of female adventurers swept out of the former Soviet geosphere to seek their fortune in hard currency around the world by deploying their charms. Not Africa so much, but every other continent was inundated with them from Japan and China to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Europe.
In Turkey, the natives called it the New Russian Revolution because it caused a social upheaval along Turkey’s Black Sea coast–a stony seat of unreconstructed male chauvinism and a mere boat-ride away from the Crimea. Suddenly, the men found it was raining blondes. A popular song on the subject blared from every taxi cassette player. “Oy Natasha, oy Natasha, oy oy oy” went the chorus. Local wives and daughters took to the streets in anger carrying placards saying “Natasha Go Home” and “Keep Your Legs Shut.”
It caused a palpable transformation in the steely, unyielding, temperament of the mustachioed menfolk of the area: They developed a new love of life, grew almost Californian in their mellowness. Rampant Russkiephilia had unmanned them en masse.
The Natasha Syndrome–that’s what the world dubbed it, and it was everywhere. Everywhere, but not, apparently, in New York. No mention could be found in the media during those pre-Internet years of the mid-1990s. No Natashas? Brooklyn was full of them. But political correctness had dimmed the joy and truth of American public speech and nobody would acknowledge the phenomenon in print. So I proposed a story to New York magazine, got the assignment and had a splendid time researching.
The article never appeared in New York magazine because the editrix in charge of my work was a hardened lefty-feminist. The very premise of the assignment offended her, not least because her boss, a male of the species, had insensitively assigned it to another male of the species. In her view, only women could write about women. So I took the idea elsewhere and was sent by Details to research it at its source, in Moscow.
My first and most abiding impression? The astonishing concentration of pulchritude visible to the impartial observer, a natural phenomenon, an empirical anomaly. Why had no one in the West mentioned this? We had all been persuaded that women beyond the Iron Curtain consistently resembled Olympic discus-throwers sporting grimy teeth, hairy armpits and hairier underwear.
We had lived under a subtle cloud of Cold War cultural indoctrination, which one might summarize, unsubtly, as: “Our women look more fab, our blondes have more fun, our system is better.” We ordinary citizens had nothing to compare with–the Soviets didn’t advertise their beauties. In fact, in the post-Soviet 1990s, the average Natasha-esque type of the time evoked not so much our proto-notions of Russkilinear features but rather the Italian variety of lush-lipped, almond-eyed beauty from Sophia Loren to Ornella Muti. They shared that quality of hard-earned mysterious sadness molded by disillusion.
Natashas had plenty to be sad about. Overnight, they’d had to adjust their teenage-dream models of romance and male heroism from artists and doctors who loved Led Zeppelin to bull-headed, snub-nosed brutes ringed by bodyguards. An unforgiving dilemma: Brutes equaled funds equaled survival, while intellectuals equaled lofty-minded incompetence.
Often mafia brutes kept Natashas, and the Natashas in turn kept their own beloved astrophysicists. The average Natasha didn’t know what to feel, what to regret or what to admit. When I asked them if they felt ashamed, they would first wax defiant, as in “Why? Your women have been chasing rich men for centuries–you call it capitalism. So this is capitalism. We are new to it, that’s all.” But the most perceptive admitted that they felt ashamed … about everything–and ultimately, about nothing.
During that time, foreign men were highly prized. They had currency in dollars, decent manners and a clarity of tradition. As a Russkie-ette, you never told the truth about yourself to foreign men. Perhaps they might even propose marriage. On the other hand, you didn’t bother even to tell lies to local men. They didn’t care either way. Then some five years later, Bush-era foreign policy actions flooded petrodollars into the Russkiesphere, and at least in Moscow, foreign men lost their appeal. Oligarchs slimmed down, turned philanthropic and patriotic, while intellectuals became businessmen. Natashas learned to love their brutes.
I should say that I never took advantage of my status as an amateur anthropologist. I’d grown up in an era when the KGB were the oligarchs of the time, and all Russian women came with strings attached … so one had heard. I believed that still to be true to some extent, mistakenly no doubt. Now that the oligarchs are all KGB, it may be true once more. Foreign men have suddenly become suspect again, a liability and relatively poorer anyway.
Indeed, it appears that a branch of the Communist Party of Moscow has publicly condemned Bond Girl Olga Kurylenko for sleeping with the enemy in the form of James Bond. But perhaps it’s a publicity hoax. Still, as the petrodollars dry up, the wheel may spin another quarter. Who will they turn to for solace next? Georgians?
(read the original article here)