Outfits

Feminism… According to Russians

If you follow me on InstaStories, you know that last Wednesday I attended an International Women’s Day celebration hosted by one of my favorite fashion retailers, Farfetch. The star of the night, an Instagram famous poet and women’s rights advocate Cleo Wade who presented her new poem while some of the most inspiring bloggers supported the cause by wearing all red outfits. The #FarfetchWomensDay was extremely well organized and delivered the women’s rights message in the most elegant way. It also made me think of why this new for Americans holiday is especially important for me, a Russian girl living in New York.

Let me preamble the story by saying that I grew up in Russia where gender stereotypes are presented in its purest form until this day. “The man is the head, but the woman is the neck,” the popular Russian saying goes meaning that in a traditional Eastern European household a woman is expected to take care of all domestic duties, while a man is often seen as a bread winner who is not doing anything related to the house (except bringing home the paycheck).

You might be surprised, but this role distribution is not from the Soviet times, but rather modern day thinking. In a recent opinion poll by the Russian Insider, 78% of both men and women believe that a “woman’s place is in the home.” The results of the Levada Center research demonstrate that 31% of female and male responders want a woman to be become the next Russian president (the funny fact is that Russian women don’t want to see a woman becoming president!). While recent American elections proved that women are at least considered for the highest political position, Russian mentality doesn’t even allow a thought of a matriarchate in politics (only 11% of respondent are for a female president).

Statistics aside, I can attest from my own experience that such stereotypical opinion about women and their place in society is something that is deeply rooted in Russia. Here is an example: the majority of my classmates from high school are married with kids (most of them are having more than one child) and are stay-at-home moms. Except for a few girls that moved to other countries, most of my college friends are also highly domesticated. While I have nothing against women who chose to dedicate lives to their families (in fact, my own mother is a stay-at-home mom and I love and respect her immensely!), what I can’t understand is how Russian society does not even give women a chance to do something else with their lives except cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the children.

What’s even more difficult to comprehend is that the women who decide to pick a domesticated lifestyle are actually highly educated. According to the USA Today, Russia is the most educated country in the world where 53.5% of population are college graduates (compared to 43.1% in the U.S.). There seem to be no correlation between education level and Russian women’s desire to enter the workplace as women in that country make only 46.9% of the employed population. And even if she picks working, we are predominantly talking about low-income jobs such as healthcare and education (you’ll be surprised but doctors in Russia are the most underpaid professions!).

Where I’m heading with all those stats and data is to the conclusion that until this day Russia is not a very gender inclusive country. In my experience, the notion of feminism in Russia is a constant object of jokes instead of a legitimate social movement. While patriarchal thoughts are so deeply rooted in Russian people’s mentality that many Russian girls don’t even try changing the gender stereotypes.

Such notions are especially relevant to the way Russians are celebrating International Women’s Day (in my opinion, this day should be renamed into International Chauvinism Day in Russia—just saying!) March 8th is one of the most important holidays for Russians (compared only to the New Year’s Eve). On that day, all women receive gifts and flowers from men, not only at home but also at work. Every company I ever worked for in Russia organized a huge celebration for women with champagne and chocolate and non-stop compliments from male coworkers. Some women are going even further and give each other presents to celebrate this gender-centered day.

What seems extremely hypocritical in this Russian approach to the International Women’s Day is that on this day boyfriends and husbands are expected to take care of some house responsibilities. Take out the garbage, wash dishes, maybe cook pasta for dinner—on that day Russian men are getting praised for getting involved in the duties that women are handling… for the other 364 days. You’ve heard me right: the majority of Russian men never-ever involve in household duties and probably would not be able to feed themselves if there was no women around.

What I don’t understand though is why there is such tradition that they must do something on March 8th? Isn’t it just to rationalize why they are not good in household duties so women can take care of them as they are “better suited for” cooking and cleaning?

To be honest, every time I hear about Russian Americans celebrating International Women’s Day the same way it is in Russia, I cringe. I don’t understand how living in such a liberating country as America where the gender role distribution if not dead then is about to, people are still celebrating this important for women holiday in such dated and openly chauvinist way?

In my book, International Women’s Day is about commemorating the women’s rights movement. The right to vote, to chose our own destiny, to compete with men at the workplace, to chose whether to have kids or not, to own property… Saying so, I was really delighted to become a part of the Farfetch celebration which puts women on pedestal not only because they happened to be born female, but rather because who women are and what they stand for. As mothers, sisters, and daughters… but also as world leaders, successful entrepreneurs, peace advocates, creative souls, and thinkers.

There was a mirror at the Farfetch event where guests were allowed to write on and share their thoughts with the world. I wrote, “Women will save the world!” and I stand by each and every word in that sentence. We’ll do it not because we manage to have the ability to bring life, but because we are the most hard-working, intelligent, empathetic, and talented creatures out there. We ARE the world. And it’s time to finally make changes that will make our surroundings a more comfortable place for women to live in.

OUTFIT DETAILS: For Love & Lemons Ruffle Dress (also love this one)
Sophie Helme Stripe Bag (c/o; also comes as a tote or same shape but in yellow)
Over-the-Knee Boots // Le Specs Sunglasses // Lace Choker

SOPHIE HULME striped crossbody bagKatya Bychkova StyleSprinter at Farfetch Event 2017

  • It is always fascinating to learn about different cultures and I have to say I was surprised when I read the other day that International Women’s day was a holiday in Russia, but you have explained attitudes over there so well.

    • Thank you for reading, Amber! Yes, Russian approach to many things is so different compared to what Americans think about certain issues! Being a Russian-American, I especially understand such differences…

  • Wow! I had no idea, I just thought Russian women lived more or less like us here in Europe. Let’s hope it changes and they have the chance to be what they want, not only what men prefer. Regards from Spain,
    Marta

    • Yes, in my experience there are so many Russian women who don’t even consider feminism as an option…. I remember reading a book about French women’ approach towards women’s rights and it’s completely different to the one that exists in Russia. Slowly and steady things are changing, but it’s not fast enough because Russian women have not been adjusted to this new reality yet… I feel that this country is not ready for feminism just yet…

      I’ve been to Spain a few years ago and it feels like women are very independent there. Do you agree? What do you personally think about feminism in Spain, Marta?

  • I appreciate your insights into Russian women and what it means to be a modern woman there. It is quite similar to what it is in India. However, in India it has ALWAYS been like that and it is not from this generation. P.S. I would love to visit Russia someday. I like traveling and am fascinated by Russian history, architecture and culture.

    ❥ tanvii.com

    • During the Soviet times Russia was sort of into feminism, but after the collapse of the USSR I feel all women want is to stop working and take care of their families. While I do understand such notion and respect women’s right to chose their destiny, I feel that this country needs additional options for women to choose from…

      P.S.–Russia (especially Moscow and St. Petersburg) is a beautiful country to visit! I hope you have a chance to travel there one day as it’s totally worth it!

  • Jessica Jacobowitz Weinberg

    I have spent some time in Russia and Ukraine and I was surprised by what they thought of women there. It is so very different here. Always good to learn more about different cultures and regions.
    xo Jessica
    http://www.whatsfordinneresq.com

    • Agreed! The role women play in Eastern European societies is so different compared to how women are treated in the United States! When I lived in Russia, I felt that it’s so unfair that women are not having equal rights — and it actually made me pretty angry about how Russian society works in general!

  • What an amazing post! I really appreciated all of you have to say.

    Also love the outfit!!

    xx Rebecca // http://thecrystalpress.com

  • I was really intrigued by this post, thank you for sharing more of your perspective with your readers.

  • Beauty Follower

    Great look!!!

  • Alice Gerard

    You look great. Your outfit is beautiful and I love the colorful purse. What an interesting view of attitudes toward women in Russia. It is so hard to change people’s attitudes! That kind of change seems to occur glacially. Still, some day, I would like to visit Russia. The closest that I’ve been to Russia is Poland.

    • Thanks for your comment, Alice! While some Russian women might disagree with my opinion on Russian feminism (or lack of it) I do see a big difference between how Russian and American women are thinking and acting. And the meaning (and traditions) of International Women’s Day are really saying something about such differences!

  • Jhentea Guzman

    that outfit was so stunning!! i love red and you look so fab on that dress!! i like it

  • That is very well said. I love how empowering this post is about why feminism matters. It’s been quite a journey for us women and we still have a long way to go.

  • Thanks for sharing your side!

    http://www.myclusterofthoughts.com/

  • This was such an interesting read! Thanks for sharing XOXO

    Kenzie
    http://simplyjandk.com/

  • Vyjay Rao

    I loved that red dress, it is extremely gorgeous and the bag matches with it so well. But I can totally relate to the gender stereotypes since this has been the case in India since ages.

  • christine

    That was a great post to read and educate myself on Russian culture and thoughts. It was surprising to hear the data but I think as we continue, women will get more and more rights and be just as respected as men (hopefully). I love this red, one shoulder dress on you. Red suits you and this bag with many colors is so perfect for spring. Beautiful look! xoxo, Christine
    http://dailykongfidence.com/

  • Loving these red ruffles on you! So gorgeous!

  • Beth Shankle Anderson

    I was intrigued to read the story about your Russian heritage. I love your red dress and OTK boots! Fabulous outfit with a great bag!

    Beth || http://www.TheStyleBouquet.com

  • Travel Blogger

    Wow – very fascinating. I don’t know a lot about Russia so I didn’t realize they had such stereotypical gender roles. We have so much to offer as women, and now is such an important time to step up!

  • This was so interesting to read, so different! I love Farfetch, you looked stunning!
    xx Jenelle
    http://www.inspiringwit.com/

  • It’s incredible to me that in 2017 women’s place in society doesn’t seem as advanced as we would hope. What is even more challenging to read is that in Russia and even here in the states women often don’t support the idea of a women president or realize we are just as capable as men.

  • Lisa Mao

    That is definitely some very alarming statistics… I had no idea that even today in what we call the modern times that there are still so much difference in how we view gender roles. But to be honest It is a very common thing in Asia as well so I can understand why it is still so prominent.
    I had no idea that even with so many women being highly educated, they only work at home.
    Of course, i am not judging, but definitely something that I didn’t know and find very interesting

    Wanderlustts
    http://www.wanderlustts.com

  • Becca Wilson

    This is so interesting! I have never really thought about other cultures as much when it comes to feminism as we have hard enough time here in the US.

  • I love this look, sweetie! It is so bright and feminine for sure. And omg this bag is everything, I need something like this for sure!

    Cheers, Eliza | http://www.fashion-confession.com

  • You look so gorgeous in red babe and what a great read this post is!
    I feel the same way you know? I’m from Venezuela and that’s exactly how the culture is like that as well and I think it’s so sad, because we are definitely the world.
    Thanks for sharing, seriously beautiful, thoughtful post!
    XO
    Aimara
    http://www.waysofstyle.com

  • So well written lady and I agree that there shouldn’t just be one day where men help out around the house and that it should be every day. You look incredible in that bold red and loved your quote xx

    Helen xx
    https://helenchik.com/upgrade-wardrobe-fall-essentials

  • Vanessa H. Wood

    Your post was amazingly well-written! Thank you for sharing your opinion and for giving us a peek at how feminism is viewed in Russia. Also your red dress is so pretty and you styled it beautifully!
    -Vanessa

  • Jennifer Quattrucci

    Wow. I am completely amazed at the mindset and thinking related to feminism. It is hard to imagine living in a society where women are only expected to take care of household duties and also that doctors are so underpaid. On another note , I am completely obsessed with your dress, boots and bag !

  • Ah I didn’t know that Russians has such a deep-rooted patriarchal mindset. I’ve always thought it’s an Asian thing. Personally, I feel that some women prefer dedicating their lives to their family and sacrifice their welfare for the betterment of their family if we look at it in this perspective. Of course there will be some who are more career-minded and want to try out carving a niche for themselves. There is no right & wrong to this but ultimately, women in general ought to be respected.
    And I never knew that doctors are underpaid there because doctors in the Asian context are highly paid for the time and dedication they took to be qualified as a medical practitioner. You look amazing in RED btw! Red, is definitely your color 😉

  • Gina Diaz

    This is such a great post and I learned a lot about how women are view in your country. I will like to compliment on your dress because is pure gorgeousness and you look so beautiful in it!! just love it!

    Happy weekend, sweetie!

    xx, Gina

  • Beautiful outfit! Love it head to toe. This dress is so pretty and feminine, that color looks amazing on you. It looks totally chic and sophisticated.

    Enjoy your weekend!

    Vanessa

    http://thefashionstatement.net

  • My grandma used to tell me this all the time “The man is the head, but the woman is the neck” . I can relate to your experience as I also am Easter European from Albania and I was raised to believe that women are meant to get married, have babies and support their husbands. I left Albania when I was 18 to escape that mentality but also want to say that I still love some some of our tradition compare to the western world. I love being independent and do what I love to do but also I do enjoy being a mommy and taking care of my family. I am torn between some old tradition and modern society:)
    Gorgeous outfit by the way, you look stunning.
    PS I wish I could afford to shop at Farfetch ! Is my favourite website too!
    Happy weekend !
    Aurela xoxox
    http://www.aurelafashionista.com

  • LAKO EVA

    Omg girl I’m so sorry to heard this , but I saw many rebellious woman’s at Russia to work for their rights.
    We are in the 3rd millennium and Woman’s should be equally and more respect.
    Your dress looking awesome love all lace dresses and the red is the color of the passion and force 🙂
    Great !!
    Xx
    Éva
    http://www.themermaidfashion.com

  • Louis Dupond

    Lovely dress and the bag adds nice colors 😉

    https://4highheelsfans.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/the-sky-is-the-limit/

  • Marcy Yu

    Such a great post babe!! Love when bloggers talk something else besides fashion to real subject happening in the world like you just did. Definitely women’s rights should be more valuable worldwide and erase the idea that women should be in the house. We are capable of doing any kind of job. You look stunning in all the pics.

    xoxo
    Marcy

  • Candace

    I am glad my boyfriend isn’t one to avoid household duties 364 days out of the year; I’d honestly rather be single! It’s interesting to learn more about Russian culture and how they see women’s rights; I would have had no idea otherwise. I have never been an advocate of old-fashioned ways of living, thinking women are homemakers and that’s all we’re good for. It’s so sad so many people think this way. On another note, your one shouldered, red dress is breathtaking. I love the ruffled detailing!

    http://www.thebeautybeau.com

  • EverestSays

    I love this post about Russians’ mindset of the role women take on! It must actually be tough for women to only be able to see one path after they leave college and that is to just get married, have kids and stay home. I didn’t expect such Asian values and cultures to be seen in Russia too. In Singapore, I think we have much less of this situation probably due to the high cost of living that families have to have both parents working in order to pay for the finances of raising a kid.
    You look fabulous and yes women can save the world!
    Kisses,
    Everest
    http://www.everestsays.com

  • Thomas Falkenstedt

    Yup, living in close proximity to Russia I can only say that I unfortunately agree with how backwards Russia is in women’s rights as well as human rights in general. I probably don’t need to mention the immense homophobia that is widely accepted in Russia either. I’ve been to Russia a few times and it’s a beautiful country and (most) people are lovely, but some things are just so medieval it makes me sick 🙁 But I’m happy to see that you’re a strong, independent and proud Russian woman who are making a change in this society! Huge respect to you!
    xoxo
    Thomas

    http://thomasfalkenstedt.com

  • Sarah Atiq

    This is a post which I can relate to in many ways. I think women are still discriminated in several parts of the world, we only see fair recognition for them in Europe or USA. But in majority of the countries, the men still think they are better than us and deserve more opportunities than us. I am from Qatar, in the Middle East, while my parents have always been forward thinking. I remember interviewing for jobs in the financial industry, with some of the best institutions. And some of the first questions I would be asked would be were, am I engaged or will I be married soon. Because they didn’t want to “invest their resources in a woman that would get married, have children and leave”. Even though I had several such encounters, I did find an amazing institution to work for later. So there is a small shift in mentally happening but I really hope our next generation doesn’t have to deal with this nonsense. And on a positive note, you look so gorgeous in this dress. Red is totally your colour.

    xxx
    Sarah
    http://sarahatiq.com/

  • Tandya

    I love this post! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and opinions on gender roles in Russia. I love that you have your own opinion and are standing out from the crowd. I wish there were less discrimination throughout the world. Unfortunately even in the U.S. men get paid more and are more likely to get hired in the corporate world than women. Hopefully in the future those boundaries are broken!

  • Hey Darling:)
    Hows you?
    It was so Good to read your Opinions and Visions about Russia! I am really thankful that I red this now!
    Your Ruffle Red dress is something what I need now and that colorful Bag my Fav:)
    Your Make Up again so Perfect
    Love Open Kloset By Karina
    Happy Tuesday

  • Amanda Smith

    I was just shopping them today! I adore your entire outfit! So stunning! This topic is a bit of a sore subject for me actually and I just had to discuss it in an interview. I think it’s absolutely wonderful that we have the rights that we have as women living in America. I know how blessed and lucky we are to be able to have the rights we do and brave women and men fought to make it so. I completely agree that women should be paid the same, so on and so forth. And I have a few friends that are from Russia and they’ve experienced or discussed with me how being forced to play that role as a mom and wife alone was hard for them. For me, I enjoy being a wife and a mother first before anything. Taking care of my family is what I was called to do. With this movement I feel as though when I say that to any woman that holds a strong stance about women’s rights I’m immediately judged and made to feel like I have a narrow view of femininity. The women that are supposed to be supporting other women the most, I often feel discriminate against my life choices and my belief system. It’s almost Taboo in America to say that you enjoy taking care of your family and not working now. We were all created equal but different. Some women will enjoy caring for their family and some with enjoy a career. Some, like me, will even fall in-between doing both. We were all called to do different things and we should definitely encourage one another and not judge because we all don’t feel the same way. Great discussion.

    Manda | http://EvocativelyChosen.com

  • Oh, my! This dress is so gorgeous. I love the color and the style. The red is so bright and perfect for Spring and it looks great with your skin tone.

    Xx, Maryam
    http://www.glamandposh.com

  • Jessie Li (4evajessie)

    This red dress is so pretty! Such a nice colour to add to your wardrobe! I love your bag too! it’s so pretty! What a stunning outfit girl!

    xx, Jessie
    http://www.4evajessie.com

  • jacqueline

    Aww I love that! I hope you had so much fun. I use to work there. It’s cool now seeing them finally collaborate with bloggers! Who the world?? 🙂

  • Ravayna Coe

    Looks like an amazing celebration of women with far fetch, and you look so stunning. Isn’t girl power an amazing thing?

    Xo Ravayna
    http://Www.loveravayna.com

  • This was so interesting to read Katya. Its crazy that Russia is still so backwards, I can’t imagine being a society were being so domesticated was the norm. As for the men, they need to take out the trash and do chores all year round- not just on women’s day!!

    I am seriously loving your dress- the one shoulder shape is so unique and the ruffles are just so darn cute.

    Rachel xx
    http://www.thedailyluxe.net

  • Hahaha love the title. Great post Katya. My SIL is Russian and it’s funny that she’s the main breadwinner in her family and makes more $ than my lawyer brother. And they have 6 kids.

    It’s so easy to forget we are to be American women – and the rights we have that others may not have.

    Sounds like an amazing event – and I love your look! You were meant to wear red!

    XO
    http://www.lehoarder.com/

  • Such an interesting read Katya! Had no idea you grew up in Rusia, but it’s always lovely to find out more about fellow bloggers. And btw, you looked lovely at the event, red definitely suits you like a glove. Have a lovely day! x

    Andreea
    http://couturezilla.com/

  • I love reading about this post. If Russians value the celebration of March 8 that much, they should make it a non-working holiday for Women, period! Don’t even bother going to work, just sit home and be pampered like a queen while husbands take care of babies, clean the house, cook dinner or go out and enjoy a spa day or a nice time with fellow women friends. It is such a hypocritical holiday just as Valentine’s and St. Patricks. You look absolutely stunning in this red dress for the event.

    ~ xo Sheree
    Posh Classy Mom
    Instagram

  • The event sounded amazing! I love what you wrote! Thank you so much for sharing about Rusia, I had no idea about so many things! Plus your outfit is perfectly on point!
    xo,
    Ellen
    spreadfashionblog.com

  • Jessica

    This truly was such an enlightening read. You are an amazing writer, but also have such a beautiful fashion sense. I love the red dress on you. I can’t wait to read more from your blog. xo, Jessica

  • Lani

    I respect you and your views so much. However, International Women’s Day is not something that is widely celebrated in the U.S. yet, and I think it should be treated as more of an official holiday. I understand your feelings of it being a bit chauvinistic (my dad lived and worked in Russia for over 10 years so I know exactly what you are talking about), but I truly feel we may be able to take a few pointers from the Europeans. I live in NYC, and Unfortunately at my job, they chose to celebrate by organizing a company sponsored dinner and drinks for the female employees. Only problem was, this event was exclusive to only the female attorney’s. No support staff were invited. (I’m a part of an executive assistant team, all of which are female) What is worse, is that the event was organized by women. They way I see it, why even hold a women’s event if you are not going to include all women at the firm? Otherwise you defeat the entire purpose of the holiday. I really believe the only way for us women to move forward in the world is to stick by one another. Stand united as one, uplift one another instead of criticizing and dividing. Thank you for this thought provoking post Katya

    xo Lani | http://www.withlovefromlani.com

  • This was very interesting to read my dear, and you look absolutely gorgeous in this red dress. Love you style and the purse is simply adorable..
    enjoy the weekend pretty..
    xoxo

  • Love your take on feminism in Russia. You have written beautifully and addressed the issue smartly.
    Hope things change for woman all over the world, we have to make sure that we always support each other
    I loved your red dress, such pretty ruffles
    xo
    Anju

  • Vukosavljevic Ana

    I loved this outfit, its so feminine!! You are so beautiful <3

    Here is almost the same, its a big holiday in Belgrade, Serbia and thats the day when the flowers are best sellers 😀

  • The way Russians celebrate International Women’s Day sounds very much like how men in America celebrate Mother’s Day. And yet, from the way you depict it, I think it must go beyond it a little. I love how Mother’s day in America is celebrated in a way that men show their appreciation for their own mothers and wives and, to a certain extent, many men see on that day (and maybe understand? we hope!) how hard their wives work to do what they do. Do Russian men feel that way on IWD? Do they realize what it takes to be a woman in Russia? I have taught Comparative Government for ten years and one of the countries my students and I study is Russia. I loved your depiction of IWD because it’s the first I’ve heard about it being celebrated in Russia. One thing it made me think though, was that this day is like many other things in Russia, a “Potemkin village,” meant to make Russia look like they are farther along in women’s rights than they actually are. What do you think of that assessment?
    (all questions above aside, I very much enjoyed this post!)

    Virginia
    More to Mrs. E