Thursday, October 13, 2005

Russian Rudeness



Usually statements (usually made by Americans), like “Russians are rude” actually mean “Russians don’t smile.” In other cases it could be translated as “I behave in Russia as I’m used to behave back at home. I view my behavior as universally accepted all over the world. Then there people in Russia who find some aspects of my behavior insulting and when I refuse to adjust it they become rude.” In Russia one should be very careful about adjusting the everyday behavior to dozens of sensitive norms and regulations. This is true for every culture that is different from American or European. Only in Japan or in India cultural differences are visible and felt immediately. Unfortunately, Russia “looks” like a European country and Russians look like ordinary “white” people.
Rudeness could not be a prevailing trace of national character in principle. Every culture is a stable self-organized system. When most of its elements are “rude” it would disintegrate. In every culture people become rude when they want to give a strong and definite signal to the offender that his/her behavior would not be tolerated. I would say 99% of Russians live their daily life without being rude to each other. It only takes some openness, readiness to throw away some intercultural clich?s and a strong will to understand.
I try to illustrate this idea with one typical example – how to deal with rude shop assistances or waiters in Russia. First, let us dig deeper into Russian history. Only 80 years ago Russia was a predominantly rural country. Only 150 years ago most of Russians were serfs. Serfs are not slaves. Russian peasants never thought of themselves as slaves. They truly believed that they belonged to the land, that they were an integral part of the land. But the land belonged to the landowner thus making them also belong to the landowner. When in 1861 the tsar granted personal freedom this news was met with hundreds of peasants’ revolts. There’s no paradox here. Peasants simply couldn’t grasp it – they are free but their land stays with the landowner. It meant no freedom.
Landowners were “tolerated” by peasants just because by the evil fate they happened to possess peasants were bonded with by the God’s will. Doing obligatory part-time work for a landowner personally (barschina) was a God’s ordeal – a hard cross to bear. One couldn’t escape it so it was morally justified to revenge the landowner by doing barschina poorly, sabotaging the work, breaking instruments or stealing. Anyway, God wouldn’t treat it as a sin – stealing from a person whose ancestors grabbed our land ages ago. The most despised people among peasant were house-sefs – serfs who were taken from their land to serve at a landowner’s house: cooks, butlers, coachmen, etc. Those people were degenerated to the lowest rank – doing personal services for someone. Below were only prostitutes, thieves, and homeless – people whose bond with the land was broken forever.
Is it so surprising that nowadays people who work as waiters or shop assistants feel that they are doing a very humiliating job – serving other? I remember one American movie with Demi Moore playing a role of a strip dancer. She hated that job, hated customers, hated her boss but was still working because she was poor, she was a lonely mother and she needed money. In that movie Demi Moore looked at the strip bar patrons exactly like many Russian waiters look at their customers. “You see how humiliated I am. I degraded to being a restaurant-serf. Don’t you dare to humiliate me more by your stupid demands! I’m still a free man and can rebut your insults”.
Have patience with Russian service people. These people found themselves in this position not of their own accord. Evil fate forced them to do this degrading work.

85 comments:

ana said...

very interesting post.

~JS said...

I can identify with not smiling part, I live in Poland. But is it really just a matter of cultural relativism? There is a so-called 'culture of complaining' here in Poland and sociologists claim that it does have negative effects...although complaining serves as a social integrating factor in Poland, it also undermines that trust and dynamism needed to establish crucial, vibrant social institutions. So who ever says that it's simply a matter of cultural differences, needs to read the research on how those difference do and can make a difference....

Anonymous said...

In my experience, higher the serfs climb the social ladder, greater the level of boorishness encountered.
Sure, that said, you'll always get the sour-faced service in the local 'produkty', but that's only because you're disturbing them from much more important matters, such as gossiping and preening.

Anonymous said...

A culture is self-organizing. Ok, perhaps, but why call it a “system.” Maybe: a self-organizing tacit, say, body of knowledge? It isn’t something we learn necessarily in a school or a church, although that may be part of it. Huh?

But, then, all cultures change over time, don’t they? Even the natives cultures in … whatever country … Austrailia to the Americas change. This is such a given that the same people in the same geographic location may take on a entirely different culture over time, whether it’s the “serfs” (whatever that may be in that particular location) or the elite, “upper” or “noble” classes. Take, for example, Paris during the 1700s and Paris today. Thus, the importance of the relationship of history to anthropology.

When you used the word “rude,” you’re speaking, of course, from the strictly Russian point of view. Otherwise, you’re leaning toward an ethnocentric pole, which I don’t think you want to do. I don’t think there’s a universal standard of what is “rude” as there aren’t hardly any cultural standards for anything else.

I personally haven’t seen any shop attendant “ruder” than what I have seen in New York City (at least before 9-11), when they would greet a customer with a gruff, “well, what do you want?” as if the customer was an intrusion in what they were doing. But, then, the open-minded customer may understand that as “just New York City.”

Could you please, give an example, of what is it, exactly, that is “rude” to a modern Russian without ethnocentric expectations of what is polite. It seems to me you have taken a rather difficult topic. I think the closer you get to an everyday conversation of the people of Russia, the better your depiction of what exactly is Russian rudeness and politeness.

Thank you for the post.

Sean Guillory said...

After 10 months in Russia, I became accustomed to the lack of smiles. In fact I began to appreciate it along with the lack of the "service with a smile" attitude I got in shops and resturants. I feel that the "business" of shopping and dining are much more comfortable without having someone forcing a fake smile to get you to buy more. Its just less condescending . . . Plus as a veteran of a variety of the service industry, I have a certain class solidarity with my fellow retail workers.

What actually surprised me was coming back the States. As I waited in Kennedy for my connection, I noticed how Americans just don't know how to behave in public. They are loud, both verbally and in appearance, always looking to draw attention to themselves. The narrissism was just too much. I immediately desired to return to the subsuded faces of the Moskvichi.

What I've found in terms of Russian "rudeness" (I don't like to call it rudeness, but indifference. Though most Americans view the lack of smiley faces as rude)was that once you break that initial barrier of indifference and coldness, Russians are some of the warmest people I've ever met.

One question though, I was told by a Russian that they tend to view people who are always smiling as retarded. Is this true?

Anonymous said...

Sean, I enjoyed your comments. I don't know about Russians, but there's an expression in some Latin Americans countries that claim an idiot always smiles. Maybe this is getting close a "universal standard," except, of course, in America . . . but then there's the Americans ... (?)

Necromantic Angel said...

I learn something new from this blog every post. This is by far the best blog for someone who wants to go and study in Russia for the summer.

And this post really explained a lot about the whole "Russians don't smile" cliche among Americans, rephrase, especially among Americans.

Richard P. said...

This is complete bunk. My Russian born and raised friend Marina who now lives in the United States recently went home to Russia. She was struck by one thing- rudeness. My friend Misha P. from Saint Petersburg even says Russians are rude. It has little to do with personal relations and everything to do with non-personal interactions you have on the street. How is it that I lived in Russia for 5 months and visited the same cafe everyday and no one asked me who I was or why I was there? They clearly could tell by my speech that I was not Russian. Or being ignored by people at the store?

One piece of advice would be to say that- whatever the cause for this perceived Russian rudeness- Russians would do well to be more open and curious about others. I love Russia and its culture for many reasons. The Russians I have made friends with are some of the closest most personal friends I have. I have lived in three Russian homes and never felt any coldness but only loving warmth. But every culture has a defect and they shouldn't be dismissed as cultural diversity.

Konstantin said...

2 Richard P.
Russian percieved "rudeness" and "perceived" (no Russophobia here, I'm Russian myself) go hand in hand. Like horse and carriage. Next time try a simple sociological experiment - get to know better smiling "friendly" Russians. You will soon notice that they are unhospitable, cold, individualistic and above all guard their personal life. And vice versa.

Anonymous said...

Konstantin, to say that Russians are rude you obviously have something to compare them with - warm, hospitable, non-indivualistic non-Russians? To what ideal culture are you referring?

Richard P., "cultural diversity" is not derogatory phrase. It only means cultures are different. You must also have an ideal culture in mind, when you refer to a culture as having a "defect." Where is that ideal culture?

Isn't the discussion here confusing the relationship between friends and politeness? Doesn't politeness, however ethnocentric way you want to define it, refer to how people deal with strangers? I personally feel a stranger being "curious" or interested about me a bit rude. And, I should certainly hope that the environment of a home or among familiars is warm and friendly. How terrible it be would be otherwise.

Lyndon said...

This discussion seems to be a bit out of control and overanalytical. Obviously there are rude people everywhere and polite people everywhere, why make more out of it than that? Sure, Russians in service professions often don't have the customer's-always-right attitude required in the US. All that means is that they don't think they get paid enough to fake it, whereas Americans know if they don't fake it, they will be fired. An important thing which I didn't see mentioned is that it's a lot harder to fire an employee for subjective things like not smiling in Russia than in the US, where generally employees can be fired at will.

Anyway, if anyone's still interested in this topic, MosNews has a lengthy article about smiling in Russia here.

Anonymous said...

when I invite friends to brunch and put out a huge spread and the Russian guest "orders" something not on the spread, it's rude.

When I'm at a dinner table with a Russian and they bark the command to pass the potatoes without a simple "please", it's rude.

When a Russian friend demands one of my cigarettes, without any concern for etiquette or politness, it's rude.

While it may very well be that this is just how the Russian culture has evolved, it does not mean that they are not rude.
I often wonder if the word "please" exists in the Russian language.

Anonymous said...

I dont know where you?re from, people, but I do speak 8 languages and Im, I supposed, at least I hope, open-minded.
Politeness, rudeness and smiling dont have great deal to do with cultures. If you like what you do, if youre comfortable between your ears, at ease with yourself, you will be kind to other humans anyway. Frustration is a big part of it. And smiling is not just for idiot, its part of the appreciation to live and to the will to communcate it.
Tolerance is a word one should remind, because snobbing people is a part of being an attarded being.
Grazie, Danke, Spassiba, thank you, merci beaucoup,
Polyglot peaceful man.

Anonymous said...

I am sick of reading the justifications of Russian rudeness. Russian people are rude, vengeful, disrespectul people. The only polite Russian people I've ever come across are "Americanized" Russians who assimilated into the American culture.

I live in a neighborhood of Russian-Jews and they are so rude. I've seen these people NOT make way for elderly people on the sidewalk. They will also jump in the line at a grocery store not respecting the rest of the people waiting.

I am so glad there is an awareness of Russian-rudeness in this country. I also hope there will be an awareness soon of the fact that Israel and the Russian mafia run the United States.

Anonymous said...

After about a year in poland and some time in russia,I think I can make a comment here.At the first look people's behaviours can seem not much different from other europeans.But you can notice the general impoliteness of people in east europe.You can invite some people you think they are friends they can come and stay at your clean,expensive flat as if its their own,come without a present(not material thing),dirt everywhere,have shower 4 times a day,leaving it so and go away (like a hotel?)and not notice it before you express your thoughts.Actually Im talking about people who have master degrees.I dont even mention about shop assistants!But for sure not everyone is so,the culture comes from people's parents,the way they are grown up,thats the strongest argument in a humans character.But I can say theres a noticable impoliteness and rudeness in the culture of this region.

Anonymous said...

I hear a lot of comments from friends and collegues that when they meet Russian tourists in countries like Egypt, Turkey and Thailand, that these people are (for the most part) incredibly rude. They will ignore a line of people waiting to be served for food, and head for the front of the row. Doesn't help to say something about it, they just seem to shrug and go on.
Off course this isn't true for all Russians, it can't be. But I've heared it from a lot of people experiencing this.

I know the Russians are a proud people, but do they feel themselves superior to others? And so not bound to (unwritten) rules that apply to others? Or is there allways chaos in Russia, and no waiting lines?

Anonymous said...

That is a very weak rationalization. Every Russian I have ever met (admittedly never in Russian) is as inconsiderate as possible. Just last week, a Russion physically pushed his way to the front of a souvenir stand at the Beijing Olympics to but a pin. Why can't Russian tourists stand in line (queue), Mr. Sociologist?

Anonymous said...

1. you people ignore very important issue entirely; you are NOT ethnic related peoples;
you dont accept a foundation of genetic determined behavior. the west isle peoples have almost nothing in common genetic or historic with slav people. this utopia of 'everyone is white' is the deepest lie told. like to say every one asian, or everyone black or everyone native. wrong. wrong. wrong. mother nature made many versions of people from primate cousins to modern monkies; not simply one. only idiot believe that all mankind derive of one. these men are devoid of gods reason entirely.

2. if you dont accept this, dont go to russia, dont judge foriegn peoples because there different. they have NO choice. yes you can learn any behavior; doesnt mean its natively intuitive. open your limited cognitive descendent monkey brains to ethnic difference, distinct culture. and quit asking for a unity that never will mean anything in this world.

3/ focus on god and faith and a unity through that means in the true existence opposite this. thats the idea conveyed by jesus.

4. leave other people ALONE if you cant recognise they are different of nature and DONT try to conform them with this english nonsense; be like me mentality. enough of england and their 'im white' nonsense. your english. accept it. not russian.

5. here i have spoken only of russian people; 1 of some 160-200 racial groups in russian federation. the beauty of russia is that you cant find INTACT racial groups with own language. look anywhere in canada or usa for that. NO. english have a historic problem with other peoples. yes?

sad. as to all other people; well i have said accurately upon subject. it justify different behavior. i have noted you english, call yourself what you want; american, canadian, australia are all same; smile smile smile for stupid things and SO INSINCERE! its the method of your economy, for 1500 years. the true english were better people :(
but that was 1500 years ago.

that real english were subjected in 1066 by william the unfair. they lost their kingdom and culture to a barbarity; todays english are rather a sotted lot.
english, jew, and some other.

kaytishina69@yahoo.ca

Anonymous said...

now i must reply that other man; his idea of rude rude rude; first conception to russian people is:

we are our persons, with self command; we care not to endlessly
sacrifice our own command for anothers pleasure. we are not prostitute; though indeed many may accept it because they are forced of desperation.

if we dont like food, we dont like, simply because you offer us means nothing to us; we are our own person. we have high autonomic destiny. you may offer we reserve to decline. we dont have to accept nothing. dont like? then why approach? because english want something else from russian people; they know what it is. sex.
they are very angry they cant 'easy' cooperation as is usual with their nonsense. in truth real russian people; with own money and capacity require no sex with english poor men; whom have only money yet no looks and very despressing spirits beyond the smiles and nonsense sayings. a nation of 'johns' truly. i reside in canada and see it. sad. thats why you beg girls around world for sex for money. without money what can you ever do save make an army and take?

even in your countries i must use stupid name and say stupid things to make money! there is NO culture for long in your countries. people are truly 'b***hs' to eachother. no wonder your swear nasty so much!




kaytishina69@yahoo.ca

Anonymous said...

Russian tourists in other countries? Oh, as a matter of fact most of them are no representatives of the whole nation. Because usually (note, I didn't say always) Russian people who have that much money are Novye Russkie (New Russians), which do feel superior to others and consider everyone else either as a "bratok" (fenya - prison slang - for brother), or as a potential silent i-do-whatever-you-want servant. Often they believe everyone's duty is to make them pleased. The good thing is that kind of people may disappear.

Anonymous said...

im a european born american. i've never set foot in russia (unfortunately) but i have come to know *a*lot* of russians, most expats, through my life. a few of them even became close friends. the interesting thing is that *every*single*one* of them are to a varying degree rude cynics who instinctively assumes the worst about just about their bosses, politicians, even their neighbors.

while not IMO a pleasant characteristic, being a rude cynic doesnt make you a bad person anymore than being loud and obnoxious (yes, that stereotype does fit quite a few americans) but it certainly is a national characteristic that fits many if not most russians.

Maxime said...

This peasant-humiliation theory is indeed quite intriguing. I do not think it justifies aggressive behaviour towards a customer, however.

I have spent about two years of my life in Russia, in Moscow and Piter. I would say the main rudeness one encounters is (1) the directness of speech about even personal matters and xamstvo, though that is not a universal cultural trait (just too common), and (2) the total disregard for personal space. Yes, I was there long enough to see the limits to (2) as well.

I think a big problem Westerners have with Russians is that the Russians, or Russophones, who come to their countries are the worst kind. These are New Russian bandits and their spoilt, evil-minded children, some aggressive Jews, and other ex-Soviet asset strippers. They are rude, cut queues, etc., because that is how they got ahead.

Obviously I know that such behaviour in a working class area of Russia might get your head pummeled in. Though, honestly, considering all the crap that goes on there, it is an incredibly unviolent place (as in I hardly saw any fights).

regina barnett said...

It's nice sometimes...not have to smile, when you don't feel like it..So I would fit in well in Russia..In America there so much that put you in lots of stress..being yourself in alot better, than trying to fake it with a smile... So yea for the Russians

bananna said...

I am Russian born, and I will admit that Russians can be seem as rude people. For Russians it is normal and not rude to express their emotions. I had a young teacher who was in a unhealthy relationship. Her day has been reflected by her mood and her actions and affected how the class was taught. We all knew by 1st second we saw her, if this class is going to be fun or painful. Russian do take their emotions on others and have a very short temper.

And yes, it is perceived sometimes if you smile all the time you are "crazy"

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Anton DC said...

To 4th post down and some others,
Sir, are you suggesting we should describe rudeness objectively? How the hell do you describe "rudeness" without "leaning toward an ethnocentric pole"? This is a comparative analysis of Western vs Russian culture, not a field study in the Amazon. I am Russian myself and how do you expect me to take that as a viable justification? "Hey man, you're Russian it's historically justifiable that you tend to be this way. Just let it roll." Excuse me, but there is no reason why i should wait two hours to get my coffee at KOFE HAUS except that some princess thinks she is "better than that." It's like these ladies have the Katerina the Great complex. As if, they're all just "out of place" and as if you really considered their lineage they would all be dignities, nobility in the modern elite. The problem is NOT in that they think they're surfs, it's in that they consider themselves monarchs. Arrogance is prevalent in Russia because it allows people to establish their own identities; and, unfortunately everyone, count out the new hippy/emo/alternative western movements, possess this rude and primitive trait. Regarding the Brooklyn diasporas of Russian Jews, i can say that the culture is recreated and though somewhat mellower it still feral.

Anonymous said...

I understand that all cultures have non-verbal cues that can be misconstrued by people from host cultures like the US. I know many Russians, and I have long ago stopped being taken aback by these cues, which are foreign to me, but I do not judge. I am not a very smiley person either. I used to live in Minnesota where everyone has a smile on their face in order to hide what they really think about you. I hated Minnesota and their phoniness niceness, dubbed by non-Minnesotas as "Minnesota Ice."
However, in all fairness, there is a difference between the non-verbal peculiarities and mannerisms of other cultures and outright rudeness, and Russians are painfully rude. They seem to expect everyone to adapt to them, but they refuse to adapt to their host-culture--and I am sorry, but when in Rome you should show a little gratitude and do as the Romans do for diplomacy's sake.
I am sick of going to my gym, which is frequented by lots of clueless, whiney, demanding Russian women who have really let American affluence go to their heads. They rude to staff, and they boss other members around like they own the place. They exhibit all the most obnoxious hallmarks of new money: ostentation, affectation, arrogance. All of a sudden they are "accustomed" to having it better than they ever had it, and they are all of a sudden Tsarinas in their universe.
My favorite incident was in a parking garage. This Russian woman drove a parked car that pulled out after she was two cars further on. I turned on my directionals to take the spot. This woman gets out of her car and starts waving her arms and directing the cars behind her to back up because she wanted the space. This would have required about 10 cars to back up so the Tsarina could claim the space.
I pulled into the space and she comes up to my car, bangs on the window and informs me that this just would not do, that it was her spot, that I had some nerve. She was having the kind of temper tantrum a child has with an over indulgent parent. I told her that customarily, when you drive past a spot that is taken, and a car pulls out after you have past, and you do not indicate your intention to take the spot by stopping and turning on your directionals that you forfeit the spot. I also told her she was completely out of line, was holding up traffic, had the manners of a Russian peasant, and that she should stop being a spoiled brat, and stop putting everyone out. Wow, she must have had it really great in Russia to have such entitlement issues. I could give a damn about what these women think they are entitled to.

Anonymous said...

first off, i am not racist. second of all i come from a very diverse background but consider myself to be an american. third, russians are the rudest, dirtiest, cheapest, smelliest, meanest, most horrid people i have ever met? they'll skip you at the supermarket because theyre in rush, they'll pickpocket your grandmother, theyll let their dog shit and not clean it up, theyll shoplift and pretend they dont speak english, they scam the govt for foodstamps and public assistance while having a shitload of $ in the bank. before you respond like a total uptight ass, i have plenty of russian friends and they too will admit this:russians are vile, greedy, disgusting people.i dont know about all over the world but i can damn sure say this holds true for the ones who live in brighton beach, brooklyn.nuff said

Rebeca said...

Interesting post! I live in New York City and I these are my two cents. I believe there are all kinds of people in the world and "niceness" is certainly not limited to our own side of the globe. However, I do have to admit that most of the Russians I have contact with are not exactly sweet. So, one day I approached a Russian friend of mine about this particular issue and this is what he answered: He told me that instead of "mean", if he doesn't smile at a complete stranger he is simply being "honest". He would not smile unless there is a good reason, because otherwise it would just be fake. It was a very simple answer, but it made me think...and honestly it makes a lot of sense. I realized that sometimes we go so far in our effort to be nice and polite that we make ourselves targets to people who are looking to take advantage
of us. Trying to understand other cultures may not be always this easy but I believe it's always worth the effort.

Kwad said...

In fairness without living in a community you cannot know anything about them. If anyone believes Russians are per say rude they would be absolutely correct! I live in Moscow, the propaganda, nationalism and xenophobia is incredible. The state controlled media everyday tells one country or another is against the motherland, but Putin will save them. So take that mentality then add low wages or tips and WOW you get bad service. Who'd have thought?

Anonymous said...

So glad I found this forum! I married into a Russian-Jewish family and thought I was crazy. Luckily, I divorced the same Russian family. I caught my exhusband cheating when I was six months pregnant. His father justified his actions because he felt American women were stupid to believe a man should have to be faithful. My ex father in law would berate me bacause I was Catholic. After my marriage to his son collapsed, he decided he didn't want his grandson. He said you raise him. You wanted to get pregnant. This isn't my family's problem. It's your family's problem. I was stunned. As I've talked to Russians over the years, apparently, any flaw in someone else is perceived as fatal and they will disown their own grandson like it's no problem. Don't get me wrong, I get on my knees and thank God everyday these weirdos are not in my life. That family was sooo bizarre. It sucked at the time, but I'm so grateful. When my mother in law passed away (she was the only good one in the gang), they didn't even mourn. These freaks aren't human. It's sad that they won't immigrate back to Russia, though. I hate that they live in my country and the two children serve in the Air Force. Very scary! Glad that's off my chest. Spassiba, folks! LOL. RIP, Marina.

Anonymous said...

why should I smile at a stranger? why should I be interested, why he is here and who he is? It's not any business of mine. it's all your everlasting desire to seem nice and sweet. you are liers - your fake smiles, who need them? it's my right to be sad when something is wrong in my life. you're accustomed to no private life - you put your private videos to the Internet, and all these stupid shows when people get the opportunity to spy upon others, you adore them, they come from you country. I have right for my personal life, I'm not obliged to let any stranger into it. that's the way we take it.
when we Russians make friends, we're the most understanding and loving people. when we care for you - we really care. we just hate pretense and you like it. you think your way of behavior is the rightest - it's a mistake. we are really honest. it makes one's life easier. I smile only at those whom I like or who is my friend. I'm not going to spend my whole life on pretending.

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Anonymous said...

I was born and grew up in Russia, in the very heart of it: Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg). And it was often very obvious to me that most people around me were very rude. Not all, but in their mass, Russians tend to have bad manners - and it is not because of our "different culture", as the author seems to suggest here, but because 'proletarian' manners, intolerance to others' opinions or desires, lack of consideration for others was cultivated for a long time during the communist regime, while isolation and difficult life exacerbated the problem. Hopefully the nation will overcome it as it becomes more open and quality of life goes up.

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Serafima said...

ok . people ... I have had a lot of fun reading all that .. I am Russian Now US Citizen ..OMG .. I still not accepted in states and never will be .. becuase how I was told
I am to much to face ...
males afraid that I will hurt them physically h ha ha ..
That i am cold heart ed ... cynical and not kind ...
so horrible misjudgment... of us Russians... read more not just Russian classics but generally world wide classical literature become normal human not local red neck who did study American Indians History in 5 grade and btw in wrong interpretation - then try to judge other cultures and would not hurt to travel a bit out of your county ... what is ugly for me in immigrants is the fact that most of Russians refused econ keep own Slavic names and woman with Slavic Name Svetlana - Sveta some how becomes LANA in states .. yak.. they even pretend that they do not speak Russian ...
loyal to own system would not become a loyal citizen in new homeland - just no habit to be loyal to any one and so how ridiculous it sounds - people who truly were good citizens under communism in Russia they will be an d in states the best citizens adn all trash who was looking for better life never will appreciate and new homeland .. as to me being rude - I do not care to send a message to moron that he is a moron and why I need smile if I do not feel so ?? as matter of fact I asked my kids to stop give me fake smiles and be normal and sincere not as my american freinds who has as an idiot smile on face when i talk to her but in fact she just dreams about Mc Donlads and soda at the moment and not in to conversation ... but smiling .. why she can not tell me "
- you know what ?? I am bored .. I do not like the topic .. let better go to Mc Donalds ??
I would respect her more .. as to waiters ..OMG I was not able to eat how many times they asked if allok - I want just first to cry then run away then scream to them - stop bother me !!! I am having fun with my BF !! waitress here will flirt and talk as they are part of my evening event ... sometime just can not go away .. and i need smile ?? and give a tip ?? ha ha OMG all what they need just look and monitor on when they are called and needed not stand by your table and look in to your mouth ..

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Lexy said...

russians are disgusting pigs that would rob their own mother.

Anonymous said...

I've always loved Russians. I've been to and lived in Russia several times, and have many Russian friends. Overall, I've found that Russians IN Russia are pretty cool, but Russians in America are the spawn of Satan. Maybe because for the most part, they're all refugee Jews? I don't know.

Nick said...

The arrogance just drips off the post of Serefima.
I will answer all of you why Russians are the way they are. I will compare America to Russia because one is Christian the other is not.
Russians are rude and judgmental because there blood is the by-product of thousands of years of Atheism and Alcohol. They have no smile because they have nothing to smile about; they have no politeness because they never valued gentleness. They are rude because they grew up that way among bestial barbaric people. If you’re a Russian in America let me give you some advice as a friend, open your eyes and look how God has blessed a people of many nations simply because they have obtained the American spirit of politeness and gentleness to all people no matter their color, race, or creed. Become interested in people and be more selfless then your neighbor. In America it is all about the other person, not you. This idea is dying in America so I try to keep it alive.
No other nation understands that in order to pursue life, freedom and happiness one must pursue God. That is why America has attained to a polite and healthy life, they have understood that wheat’s and tares are grown together and so they built a country that gives these freedoms to the evil and the good.
It is simply because one choses evil and arrogant way while the other choses the American Christian way. Their choice may seem as their own, one of free will, but the bible says one person is made for destruction while the other is made for servitude, which means they were designed… to choose this way.
As I was growing up in America my barbaric dad was as such “look at that gorilla” and “I grew up among wolves”. And so… I understand that Russians do not understand the American way because God is not shining on them. If I were to design a model for the fresh Russian in America, the model would be this… learn English and insert yourself into an American Christian life and learn their way, take some of your good qualities and get rid of your bad qualities and you will become stronger and stronger. If you want to hang on to mother Russia, you should have stayed there.
… a little message to serafima, check yourself if you can. You’re as backwards as all your ancestors.

Thomas said...

c'td...
"No other nation understands that in order to pursue life, freedom and happiness one must pursue God."

--America typically permits a lot more abortions than the countries it bombs the hell out of . It is not a godly country.

"That is why America has attained to a polite and healthy life,"

--Its social fabric is being torn to shreds (as in parts of Europe) and the people are anything but healthy.

"It is simply because one choses evil and arrogant way while the other choses the American Christian way."

--The USA is a giant shopping mall owned by offshore corporations (themselves run by atheists, WASPy agnostic Episcopalians, and Jews) which pay no tax and speculate away the nation's wealth. When they have hard economic times, they buy off Congress to give them free money and pass the debt onto the middle class and poor. The US has 17% unemployment but the govt is trying to enact austerity, cancel unemployment insurance, privatise social security, and give amnesty to illegal workers. That is REAL America. Just like REAL Russia is run by a sort of political mafia. However, that Russia also looks out for its own geopolitical interests and has paid OFF its foreign debt.

"Their choice may seem as their own, one of free will, but the bible says one person is made for destruction while the other is made for servitude, which means they were designed… to choose this way."

--Perhaps you are a member of the heretical Calvinist cult?

"As I was growing up in America my barbaric dad was as such “look at that gorilla” and “I grew up among wolves”. And so… I understand that Russians do not understand the American way because God is not shining on them."

--No true Christian claims he has God's special favour and others are damned. You spoke of 'arrogant' Russians and now this?! You speak of your 'barbaric dad'...are you part Russian yourself but a convert to the heretical Calvinist "I'm more saved than you" cult?

"If I were to design a model for the fresh Russian in America, the model would be this… learn English and insert yourself into an American Christian life"

--My family has been in the US since the 1660s. I would say to Americans - love what is great about your history but reject what was wrong. Don't hate your ancestors for their mistakes but don't repeat them either. Reject Deism and Protestantism and return to catholic/orthodox forms of the faith. But, please, remember your ancestors' humility and desire to be free of foreign monarchs, bankers, and zealous theocrats in league with the former.

"… a little message to serafima, check yourself if you can. You’re as backwards as all your ancestors."

--I would say you are an "ugly" American of whom I am quite ashamed, but I think, in fact, you are a second- or third-generation immigrant with major complexes! God does not choose you randomly from birth for favours...you have to choose God, and you don't do it by chasing wealth, or talking about how your adopted homeland is the bestestestestest and you love God soooooooooooo much more than the "arrogant" Russians. You show your beliefs in your way of life.

Why don't you start doing that?

Anonymous said...

hm...I've been to Russia recently at few cities there, for few weeks. Frankly speaking, they are rude. Sorry.


The taxi drivers do not smile, people on the streets just like to stare at you without a reason.


As a tourist, I just managed to learn few words of Russian. In small or big cities, almost no people speak the international language. They refused to TRY to understand if we tried to speak English slowly. The same goes when I tried to speak Ruski (bcause I believe one should give some exception if they saw a foreigner like me??? because the British/American/Indonesian did). They refused to understand if I tried to explain using hand signal. They are not just being refusing, they might be shouting at you. They do not want to reply unless you speak good Ruski. only Ruski. They just do not understand simple English words, or do they hate it?


At the airport... I was walking quite a long way to the toilet but a young lady (with a seriously serious face) in a uniform stopped me and said 'Maintainance. You can't go in' in ruski. I wished I could speak good Ruski at that time. So I was hoping she would show me the way to other female toilet nearby since she just standing there doing nothing. But she repeated the sentence with angry face. I was thinking, can't she think that I need help since she knew I really needed it?


In the train...They just walked in the train corridor and bumped at my shoulder which then pushed my shoulder to the iron pole nearby, walked away without apologizing. That is the most bastardly-mannered person.

I was going up at the double decker bed and some guys just cannot wait to pass along the corridor that I had to pause the struggling 'hike' in the middle of people. I would just take few seconds, what's the rush?


For 17 hours in the train, no one smile at me except other foreigners. Not a smile, not a single word. We foreigners had some chit chat while Russians just stared. I wonder what went to their minds.


I was in this hostel, they are guests of young Russian girls as well. I walked straight to the bathroom (which everyone shared) and one of them quickly grab the door handle before me, speaking ruski to me. As I said, she was 'speaking', not 'saying'. What I mean 'saying' here is, saying sorry or something. Then she went in. I was like, hmmm???????


Every conversation was translated by my own brother while we were there. Even though my brother have been living there for 6 years as a student, he himself said that rudeness is their culture.


Russia is a beautiful country but I do not think I would be going there again.


This is based on my experience. I am just telling what I feel. no offense okay.

Thomas said...

I may feel myself that some sort of abstract rudeness is more common in Russian culture than most others, but the last commenter was ridiculous and parochial in mentality:

"The taxi drivers do not smile" --Taxi drivers most everywhere do not smile!!!

"people on the streets just like to stare at you without a reason"
--That is far less true of Russia than other countries! I can say that either you stuck out like a sore thumb (which is probably your fault), were being loud and annoying (definitely your fault), or you had bad vibes and are overly sensitive.

"almost no people speak the international language"
--Not because they are rude! They just don't know English! Why would they have to? The ex-USSR is its own realm. Russian is the international language over a large chunk of the world.
Btw, you haven't quite mastered the 'international language' yourself, as I can't understand parts of what you mean to say.

"They just walked in the train corridor and bumped at my shoulder"
--I agree, that is rude. But you will get the same treatment in China, from Japanese tourists anywhere, and even here in rich, Western Scandinavia. The importance of personal space differs greatly between cultures.

"For 17 hours in the train, no one smile at me except other foreigners"
--You're on...a train...with strangers...who don't speak your language (and you don't speak theirs in THEIR country)...so what do you expect?
If you've read some other comments, maybe you've noticed the remark that smiling at strangers is alien to traditional Russian culture (especially for ladies). This has somewhat worn off but you have to accept it. Most people in the world don't smile at everyone all the time, not even everyone in the US, and that does not make them 'rude'.

"I am just telling what I feel"
--Relaying your emotions in a public forum without investigating or considering their underlying causes is typically a bad idea.

It sounds to me like maybe you shouldn't travel so far from home. It seems you went to Russia without even being aware of basic cultural sensitivities and were offended when people did not treat you the same way as at home.

Yes, many Russians are rude, and much rude behaviour is more common there than most places, but you described a lot of normal occurrences as offensive!

Anonymous said...

While I understand the main points of the article, I have to say that I disagree with the defensiveness. Please behave more like the French and be proud of your Russian rudeness.

In any country people can be rude. However, I get this sense of general dis-satisfaction and misery from most Russian people I meet _online_.

Anonymous said...

And now your homework:

There are nations and cultures assumed to be extremely rude... by Russians. Please name those cultures and explain their rudeness.

Anonymous said...

I live in Finland and would have to agree that the majority of Russians I have come across are extremely shallow, self interested people, bar maybe one of them. Sorry, but this is just how they behave. For one I have never met a single Russian that did not smoke. They all follow a desperate stereotype of what is assumed to be trendy (Perhaps a mad rush to catch up with what is wrongly perceived as new age) and it just comes of as simple mindedness. I once dated a Russian girl who was shocked to hear I played video games. Only the nerdiest of losers at school in Russia play games! She was also baffled to hear that I had not taken up any form of martial arts training. It appears that in Russia all men are supposed to train to fight/box (because they are men and that is manly)and a women's priority for the most part in life is to look pretty...such a culture that is so hyper aware of status and power is so vain..It just seems that even when you scratch the surface of a Russian, a nice one at that, there is still very little there. Perhaps this is the 'lost generation' that we refer to which is the result of being born in between the changing of political ideologies. Just my honest two Euro cents about the issue, thought I was the only one who noticed this behaviour.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, rudeness can come from anyone; even the nicest of all people. This does not comprise all Russians to be rude. They may show less care, but then again, it depends on how they were nurtured. All the Russians I know are very nice; in fact, much nicer than many of my school mates. As far as I am concerned, it depends on how we react to them that triggers the "rudeness" or "politeness". My boyfriend is Russian and he's not completely rude; he just likes to be honest. He also dislikes the many stereotypical Russians that people see; the utterly ignorant and irresponsible ones. I don't mean to offend the author's thoughts, but I just can't find any rude Russians around my environment.

Anonymous said...

I've just heard some complains from my English friends about Russian people being very rude on holiday in Egipt. They weren't pleasant not just by not smiling or not using or never replying to an obvious 'hi'. They literally phisically almost grabbed and moved or pushed people that are on their way in the corridor or shop. This is considered as aggresive valiation of private space in most countries. I'm Polish and I tried to defend Russians and explain all those cultural differences. The complexes, hard life, lack of international experience. Some Polish are simillar but Rusians have their pride on top of it - strange mixture of feeling very important and feeling portraid as bad and poor in american movies. I ve seen Russians in action on a coach in Rome pushing and banging on a front seat because she did not have space to cross her legs. That was just sad.
___
Anyway I think Russian media should raise the problem because it is not very good for Russian image abroad. Polish media is very critical and highlight any shame Polish cause abroad because it's bad in many ways for people and country. British media also condemn drunken behaviour of some English young holiday makers.
Common sense should suggest that if I am not in my own country I should not apply my habits but rather watch carefully if I am behaving right.

Annie said...

I'm an American who's lived in both Moscow and the province. In Moscow, I assumed the rudeness was simply the product of being in a crowded, urban environment. Same reason why New Yorkers are often repulsive to other Americans. But after visiting many other small towns and experiencing the same rudeness, I realized it is indeed a Russian thing. Not smiling is one thing. But when shop owners scream at me because I'm taking a few minutes to decide what I want to buy, people pushing me out of the way on the street (when there is clearly enough room for them to pass by), taxi drivers snapping at me with all kinds of attitude, and just a general smart alec-ness in conversation with Russians (when I ask you to repeat something it's because I didn't hear you or understand you, you don't need to huff & puff at me and say "Well I just told you.."), that's what I call rudeness. I attribute most of it to the difficult life in Russia. I'm sorry if that sounds offensive, but it's true. Life out here is much more stressful and lower quality than elsewhere. In the Midwest USA, the rudest people I come across almost always happen to be blue collar, menial labor workers. They have unpleasant jobs each day and they are usually crabby all the time. Here, it's people in all socioeconomic positions and backgrounds. Because even people will comfortable salaries have to incorporate low quality-ness in their day to day lives. The bad road systems, the stores, and the general depressing grey Soviet infrastructure that makes up the environment. I'm not lecturing anyone here, I'm simply pointing out my theory as to why Russians are angry and rude. Since living here, I've turned pretty rude and depressed myself.

Anonymous said...

Good Blog!

I've been teaching and living in Russia for over a year now. I'm also married to a very caring, talented, and selfless Russian woman. Most of my Russian students at the university are very friendly, selfless, and eager-to-please. There have been only a couple of instances where I've had a "falling out" with Russians who were a little better than mere acquaintances.

However, the "average," day-to-day Russian who I meet on the streets I feel are very rude, and, more importantly, my Russian students, wife, and Russian acquaintances here all state, without hesitation, that Russians are rude (speaking in "general" terms).

What is meant by "rude" is that when you try to cross the streets the cars come within inches of your person and seem to not care about your safety (I've been told that Italy is worse though); also, as has been indicated, people will purposely nudge, elbow, and shove people on the streets even when there is plenty of room (I've seen this while walking more than a few times); the standing-in-line problem has been addressed thoroughly above, but I strongly agree that it's a problem here with people --they just walk in front of you without care; another point of "rudeness" is just a general "attitude" of un-compassionate and disrespectful interactions on a day-to-day level (at the stores while buying groceries or even while buying tickets for an excursion).

I've tried to overcome this air of rudeness (to look past it and really be a part of the culture here), but it's not just a weekly issue; these rude "encounters" happen daily, and it's very hard to feel a sense of belonging, care, or appreciation for the "general" population of people here.

It's good to know that many others have had similar experiences, and maybe "venting" is the first step towards getting past this and really integrating/appreciating who Russians really are apart from being a predominantly "rude" people towards each other and towards foreigners.

Thanks,
Matthew

Anonymous said...

Well Russians can be rude, so as Dutch. so as italians. btw Russian-jews in the states or wherever the are, consider themselves jewish in the first place. so shouldn't this post be about jewish rudeness?

Anonymous said...

Russian people are downright rude. i can't describe the dis respectfulness of their behaviour. i had to live with about 10 of them during my work and travel and it was not a pleasant experience. they would huddle up around the table and talk about my bulgarian friend and i. and i know because the bulgarian girl understood some of what they said and could translate. they drove me and the bulgarian girl crazy during the 3 months. at one point i literally wanted to fight one of them but people encouraged me to keep my cool. even one night the bulgarian girl wanted to past one of them and the russian girl stood side ways, wouldnt move and pretended like she didnt see her. the girl had to squeeze past her to get through. they are rude and inconsiderate. it's the first time i met russians and i have nothing good to say about them.

Anonymous said...

I GUESS THERE'S LOTS OF RUSSIANS IN NEW YORK?? NEW YORK IS THE MOST RUDE CITY IN THE U.S.

BEING RUDE IS NOT A CULTURE!!
MAYBE IT'S JUST ALL THAT VODKA!!

HANGOVER 247

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Anonymous said...

Russians are assholes. I live in NY in a Russian neighborhood and these people are a nightmare. I also work in a hospital and they are always fighting with us for something. They have a 1:00pm appointment, come in at 9am and demand to be seen. We explain to them what appointment times are for and they just wave us away like we're the ones being ridiculous. They also always try to fight for free transportation and say "Please, help me....I come from Brooooooklyn." As if they traveled 18 hours to get to the hospital. Pathetic.

Thomas said...

Last Anom,

You know I have never lived in Brooklyn, but I am pretty sure the great majority of 'Russians' there are Soviet Jews. They are concentrated at Brighton Beach. Obviously, there are ethnic Russians in NY too, but people need to distinguish between Russians and Jews.

Anonymous said...

You've got it!!

Anonymous said...

And you've got it!!

Anonymous said...

You've got it. Bingo!

Anonymous said...

The nastiest people whom I've ever known are Jews and Russian-Jews. Russia Jews are barely Jewish at all. They just kept all of the annoying behavior of being Jewish.

Anonymous said...

You know, that's the irony of it all. Russian culture being affected by American and western "culture"(not even sure it can be called a genuine culture, more like a product of money and individualism), being corrupted, forcing everyone to form an own identity, not wanting to be associated with the "naiveness" of the old Russia and USSR.
It does have some positive sides by it, but unfortunately many more negative.
This actually creates a very divided Russia, with huge contrasts, remember this important point (contrasts).
I'm Russian in early twenties, immigrated to Norway at age 10, so I really have a larger picture and a different angle than most Russians, but I think even they won't argue with what I've pointed out in this comment.

Anonymous said...

I want to add that, yes, Russians can be perceived as "sad", "depressed", "rude". But it's a way of dealing with negative and depressing thoughts. This self-awareness and honesty of emotions are what making Russian people Russian. It's reflected in literature, songs, tv, just everywhere.
Being "sad" is considered a part of life, as natural and normal as being happy.
That's the biggest difference between Russia and the west, that Russians don't try to hide who they are, and it's really what makes Russia so unique and dear to Russians, no matter how sad you get, you know that you live in a fundamentally, spiritually harmonious society, and there is no place better to be on earth.

It's a reason Russians leaving to live in western countries have an urge to come back at some point, or seek other Russians in that new place. And some of them unfortunately lose their Russian identity to money and generally the appealing culture around them.

Another thing, Russians don't see themselves as "superior", it's just how they express themselves, in a shameless, honest way.

Both Russia and west have something to learn from eachother, but west has to learn much more, lets just put it this way ;)

Anonymous said...

I didn't bother even to read about Russians but I will tell you gays Russians rude and not friendly people. They all need something from you if they smile and talk to you nice. I have been in theirs country and my look shock them! They are all so unhappy people. I am sorry for them. Pure those people who have colorful skin, Russians just thing they are not humans. Russians give to them name "black bottom". I see that Russian people extremely racist.

Anonymous said...

I went to Russia to attend university when I was 17. I learned the language so well that I can now pass as Russian. In all honesty, I have never met a Russian person I could actually get on with, not counting ethnic Russians born elsewhere.
In general, they are rude, highly misogynistic and have the feeling their opinions are asked for (even when they're not) which makes them openly criticize you about things that are of no importance and have no bearing whatsoever on life itself.
As an example, I was told numerous times that something I was wearing didn't suit me or that I shouldn't smoke or that I had bad posture, bla bla bla, the list could go on endlessly. I don't see the need for this type of behavior. Yes, it's rude, and no, it's not 'honest', because it's just your own highly subjective opinion which is best kept to yourself.
I also hated the fact that everything was about looks, people insulting each other to their faces and behind their backs...Russians are very mean-spirited people and will bully anyone if given the chance.

THS said...

@Last Anonymous

"I went to Russia to attend university when I was 17."
---Azeri? Kazakh? Armenian? Not many non-Russians would go do undergrad in Russia.

"In all honesty, I have never met a Russian person I could actually get on with, not counting ethnic Russians born elsewhere."
---I'd say the Western-oriented Russians, the ones most likely to emigrate to Britain, the US, or Germany, are the worst.

" highly misogynistic"
---Really? In a culture that still retains some chivalry. In a place where men take the coats of their wives or girlfriends and fix their chairs? In a place where I hardly ever saw any sexual harassment despite the obviously provocative dress of many young women? More misogynistic than the surrounding countries that send young men and women to Russian universities? Maybe you confused Russia with Georgia or the Muslim -stans?

Look, I won't argue that there is a lot of rudeness in Russia and that some people (BUT NOT MOST!) criticise you needlessly. But there are really pluses and minuses compared to surrounding countries. Also, there are big differences between Moscow and smaller cities, where people are far less bothered by "looks" (a similar split between rich large cities and the provinces will be found in most countries).

I don't like people rounding on Russians for everything without revealing where they are from and confronting differences in custom.

Anonymous said...

I am from Switzerland. I had such an interest in Russia because I did 12 years of ballet, knew all the names of the great Russian ballerinas and my parents even went to Russia back in the 80s because my mom was so into ballet and rhythmic gymnastics. So you were completely wrong in your assumptions.

I was in St.Petersburg. I can't say anything about any of the surrounding countries or the provinces because I've never been there.

Yes it is highly misogynistic, what you see as chivalry is ridiculous. Sorry if that offends you. Women are constantly belittled, laughed at and expected to cook and clean. Of course there is sexual harassment, only women are expected to enjoy it and even be 'grateful' for it.

I find it extremely rude to ask people questions about their appearance ('why is your hair straight/curly/red/yellow/striped')which is something I only ever experienced in Russia. It's a well-known fact that most Russians are obsessed with clothing labels and the women were high heels that are meant for the evening at the crack of dawn.

I find it very strange how you get all huffy puffy when someone criticizes your country, but at the same time you assume nobody from a first world country could ever find it interesting, thereby implying that there is something seriously wrong with it. You immediately assume only people from ex-Soviet states can move there and then go off on a tangent, comparing Russia to them which never even was the question here.
This defensiveness smacks of insecurity.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, another thing, the Russians who emigrate are not 'the worst', as you so nicely put it, many of them have had enough and are happy to be able to live in a more open society.

There are also Russians born abroad, e.g. in the Baltics and also in other Western nations (American gymnast Nastya Lukin) and of course their mentality is completely different.

Anonymous said...

*wear high heels...I was going to word it differently and it didn't work out lol.

THS said...

"I am from Switzerland. I had such an interest in Russia because I did 12 years of ballet"

---Well, ballet is not a university subject. You would attend a special uchilishche or akademija, not, say MGU or RGGU or SPbGU.

"I was in St.Petersburg. I can't say anything about any of the surrounding countries or the provinces because I've never been there."

---Then don't issue such sweeping stereotypes of the entire NAROD.

"Yes it is highly misogynistic, what you see as chivalry is ridiculous"

---If you prefer to live in a place where everyone is equally treated like crap, that's your business. I currently live in Scandinavia, the locals think it is strange that I help my wife with things - only foreigners (mainly East European/African/Middle Eastern) understand. People ignore the disabled and don't tend to open doors for them. The idea is that you "respect" someone by pretending they have the same abilities you do and leaving them alone to suffer. In fact, that is cruel and barbaric.

"Women are constantly belittled, laughed at and expected to cook and clean"

---Gee, if you were studying ballet where did you come across such? I studied in Moscow at the Philological faculty - 90% of the students were female, of course, but they weren't made fun of by the professors or, say, the law students (who were 3/4 male). Did you see this in the media? Did you hang around the wrong people?

Or maybe you are interpreting any jokes about a woman being misogynistic, while Western television can show images of men as helpless dolts all day long and attack two-parent households.

"Of course there is sexual harassment, only women are expected to enjoy it"

---Of course, it exists! But it is not worse than in West Europe. Sorry, but it is not. One thing might be worse - you have to be more careful about your friends. I could see how if you accepted an invitation from the wrong person and an assault occurred that the police would not be too helpful. But in fact England has a 1% conviction rate for rape - they might file your paperwork, but don't expect more help there. In terms of harassing women (e.g. on the street), no, it is relatively safe in the city at least. I'd say Paris, London, and Rome are worse.

"I find it extremely rude to ask people questions about their appearance ('why is your hair straight/curly/red/yellow/striped')"

---I might tend to agree, but ... certain people (esp. Germans) who dye their hair fire-engine red are doing so to get attention and deliberately be strange. Dying your hair in stripes is also freakish - how can you basically be an exhibitionist and be so touchy that someone notices? I know in Germanic culture people dress and colour themselves in all sorts of bizarre ways as if to mark themselves as anarchists but then obey every minor pedestrian regulation - something many of us ourselves find contradictory and bizarre.

So, I'd say there is a difference between asking people why they are they way they are vs. why they made themselves deliberately different and strange!

THS said...

"It's a well-known fact that most Russians are obsessed with clothing labels and the women were high heels that are meant for the evening at the crack of dawn"

---So they want to look fashionable and attractive. Italy and a few other places are similar. Yes, girls judge each other based on how they look and dress. It can be unpleasant. Sorry.

"I find it very strange how you get all huffy puffy when someone criticizes your country, but at the same time you assume nobody from a first world country could ever find it interesting"

---I am an American but live in Scandinavia and lived in Moscow 2 years and St Pete 2 summers. I am not Russian. I did not actually enjoy living in Moscow that much, but in retrospect I enjoyed it generally once I was done with classwork (which was *extremely* busy). I found Russia overall a rude place compared to my own cultural background and expectations but I partly adapted and eventually was able to see how many Russians were NOT rude, how NOT everyone pushed you out of the way when you tried to hold the door for an old lady, for example, how politeness is carried in Modern Russian via intonation and not 'please' phrases.

I have no problem with people pointing out their experiences with Russians are bad, but I don't like people whose stereotypes are so complete and extreme that you wonder why they bothered going in the first place.

With you, for example, you went to study ballet, your parents had been. You admit Russia is the best place to study ballet. Why do you think that is? The culture there has a reverence for classical arts. The West no longer does, especially the most "open" societies (e.g., the US, Scandinavia). I had a khozjaika in Moscow who taught at the Chaikovsky school for school-age musicians. Their student concerts were better than anything professional where I live now. All the same, you are basically complaining about how conservative Russia is. Guess what? There is a connection between societies that deny any idea of traditional sexual roles and ones that lose the concept of æsthetic beauty that brings an audience to ballet in the first place!

"the Russians who emigrate are not 'the worst', as you so nicely put it, many of them have had enough and are happy to be able to live in a more open society"

---Sure, a more "open society" like the Brighton Beach ethnic ghetto in Brooklyn? Or the oligarchs who looted ex-State assets and fled to London, Paris, and Israel? The most polite Russians are the older generation, which is more Stalinist than pro-Western. The younger ones only know corruption, crime, mafiosi business and politics. It is perhaps not their fault, but they are corrupted by the consequences of the collapse of the USSR. In general, the ones who flee West, aside from converts to Protestant churches and cults, are the worst, most aggressive elements of their society.

Russians born abroad are a different issue and I won't say anything against them.

On a last note, when I last visited Zürich a couple years ago, by about 8pm the streets were full of prostitutes. It was not a bad neighbourhood, it was a hotel down the hill from the University (I didn't choose it). The prostitutes were Hungarian and very aggressive. In all my time in Moscow, I never saw street prostitution. I looked up the issue on the internet in my hotel room at the time and it turned out one of the main local politicians (a liberal/FDP) both approved of this section of town filling with brothels and profited somehow from it.

But I guess that is your "open" society with respect for women? We all know prostitution is an issue in Russia, but at least there is the concept of decency which has the mafia largely take it off the streets of the city centre.

Anonymous said...

You obviously misunderstood my post.

I never said I went to Russia to do ballet, I said that my interest in the country stemmed from the fact I'd taken ballet classes for 12 years PRIOR to going to Russia to STUDY at UNIVERSITY. I studied Russian. As I already said, I speak it so well I can fool native speakers into thinking I am Russian.
I explained my reason for being interested in the place because you immediately assumed I must be from an ex-Soviet state. I hope it's clear now I did not go to Russia to study ballet.

If you're in a relationship/married or even just friends with someone it's normal to help each other. I don't for one second believe that people incredulously look on as you help your wife with something and all the darling immigrants nod in agreement. That's just preposterous.

I went to SPBGU and some of the tutors would call students stupid to their faces. Very cultured indeed! The 'philological faculty' was commonly known as the 'faculty of brides'. If that's not misogynist, I don't know what is.

The adjectives I used to describe hair in the random example used to highlight the kind of questions common in Russia were chosen on purpose in ascending order of absurdity. It's strange that you, as an American, would not recognize this common trope. But whatever...Even if you were to color your hair an unusual shade, why should that be of any concern to other people, especially young ones? The questions I was talking about were not about anything bizarre though, but about something you can't change. You are not responsible for your height, the shape of your nose or the color of your eyes (again random examples). Imagine someone asking, 'why are your eyes green?'. What kind of answer does an idiot like that expect? I mean, do these people expect you to run out and get plastic surgery or change your hair or eye color just to suit their taste? "Oh yeah, my friend Masha didn't like the shape of my nose, so I got a nosejob!" Facepalm.

"I know in Germanic culture people dress and colour themselves in all sorts of bizarre ways as if to mark themselves as anarchists but then obey every minor pedestrian regulation - something many of us ourselves find contradictory and bizarre."

Sorry but this doesn't sound like an American speaking, it sounds just like Vasya from Russia. Afaik you can get fined for jaywalking in some states, just sayin'...

Dressing like a hooker has nothing to do with being fashionable. Zilch. I feel sorry for Russian women because they think they are so beautiful that everyone on the face of the earth owes them in one way or another. They usually wake up pretty quickly from their pink fluffy dreams once they come to the West and realize the only guys who look at them are of the unsavoury kind.

Where on earth does someone shove you out of the way when opening a door for an elderly person? That's a ridiculous statement. I've been to many countries and have never come across anything like that. I guess this would be more likely to happen in Russia or Eastern Europe than in a Western European country.

Anonymous said...

One more thing regarding chivalry, misogyny and all that jazz. I clearly recall an incident while living in St.Pete. I was on my way home, passing a small convenience store. A man asked me for money because, in his own words, he was short of a rouble or something. Mind you, the sidewalk on that particular road was wide so I didn't even pass close to the store. He was effectively shouting at me to give him money. I decided to ignore the dude and continued walking. Because of this I was subjected to a barrage of abuse and told I was stupid and asked whether I was deaf. The guy was not homeless or anything like that, just an ordinary middle-aged Russian man. So it's okay for middle-aged men to ask 18-year-old girls for money (how very chivalrous, wow!) and then insult them? Really? Is that chivalry? There were so many instances when I dropped something or even slipped on the icy streets-do you think someone helped me? Do you think a MAN helped me? Not once! If someone did help, it was always a woman. I got asked to give up my seat on a crowded train once by some old guy and although there were plenty of able-bodied guys sitting down, not one of them offered to stand up.
This chivalry nonsense exists only in the heads of Russian people and the only time when it's being used is when a guy wants to get into your pants because he really thinks that giving you a box of chocolates is going to make a difference. If you like a guy, you like him, chocolate or no chocolate. How utterly pathetic!

I've had men hold doors for me in England, Germany, the States, South Africa...pretty much anywhere. It's not a big deal, for crying out loud! Again your statements come across like those of brainwashed Russians who are convinced that Western men are these horrible monsters, although they've never left the confines of their homeland and have had no opportunity to witness this with their own eyes.

I can't agree or disagree with you in regards to Zurich, I haven't been there for many many years since I hardly ever even lived in Switzerland although I was born there. Way too boring for me! I do believe you though because of what I read in the newspapers and based on my knowledge about the place. There is a red light district in Zurich, that's common knowledge. It's a bit like Amsterdam in a way.
Come on, everyone knows about Tverskaya street in Moscow, it's gone down in the Russian language as THE place for prostitutes.
But this discussion was never about prostitution anyway and it's desultory to discuss a marginal problem like that.

There is no more or less 'reverence' for the arts in the West than there is in Russia. There are orchestras in the US just like there are orchestras in Russia. Russian ballet is great, but so is New York City Ballet. Of course certain peoples do some things better, and that's great. Canadians are good snowboarders, Russians are good classical musicians. So what? Australians are great surfers, Italians make great pizza.
I assume that 'traditional sexual roles'- more commonly known as 'traditional gender roles' in non-Russified English- involve women being submissive and meek. Yeah, go tell yourself how amazing that is and that all the wonderful sexist Vasyas out there just love the ballet for its esthetic (American spelling) qualities.

Anonymous said...

'color themselves'

Hahahaha, what an outstanding example of the use of a reflexive pronoun after a transitive verb when the direct object and the subject of the verb are the same.

Would that not be a direct translation of the Russian 'они красятся'? An English native speaker would never in a million years say something like that, ever.
You, sir, are a fake pretending to be American so you can spout nonsense in defense of your country's rude inhabitants in an effort to disguise your true intentions.

THS said...

"I don't for one second believe that people incredulously look on as you help your wife with something and all the darling immigrants nod in agreement. That's just preposterous."

--Obviously, the split is not absolute, but the culture in Scandinavia is one that expects self-sufficiency, and if you are not self-sufficient, you are viewed as someone who does not belong. Most people don't begrudge paying taxes to support invalids, but they want them out of sight and out of mind. Frankly, you can get the same reaction from the Dutch and North Germans, but never from Mediterranean peoples.

People are not the same wherever you go, as you seem to be pointing out in your tirades against Russians. But you cannot then assume West Europeans are all caring, civilised people, because they're not! In Scandinavia, people rarely ever insult you (since they don't talk), but they accord you zero respect all the same (they don't expect any either).

"I went to SPBGU and some of the tutors would call students stupid to their faces"
---This doesn't happen in the West? It's fairly normal for a strict tutor at Oxbridge to treat at least male students this way. In fact, it used to be normal in the US, but has died out not due to some increase in "cultured" behaviour, but due to the evaluation-driven university system where staff suck up to students more than the other way around.

"The 'philological faculty' was commonly known as the 'faculty of brides'. If that's not misogynist, I don't know what is."

---No, it is not misogynist. Philological education rarely leads to high incomes and so there are few of us expected future breadwinners who pursue it. It is a very old practice that young ladies from prosperous families who do not expect to have competitive careers themselves receive education in the liberal or fine arts so that they will be cultured and respectable. Saying 'faculty of brides' does not imply that everyone there is planning to be a bride (I wasn't!).

This is not misogynistic and, if anything, speaks poorly of Russian society and their economy that liberal arts professionals cannot expect a stable enough lifestyle so that considerable potential talent is scared away. But, frankly, in the US and UK at least this is also a problem. 80-90% of English majors in the US are women, only they are more likely to be taught by fanatics of bizarre neo-Marxist schools of literary criticism than to learn the history of their own, and other, language(s).

Perhaps you find it misogynistic because you think women should be career-focused and not thinking about marriage at that age? Should they finish their education when they are 29-30 then have a live-in boyfriend for a few years and have a baby and eventually think about getting married once they have a career established and own a house or apartment? This seems to be the neo-West European way, a by-product of a sick economy, and is extremely unnatural, given birth rates much of West Europe even lower than Russia's. Politicians who claim this is not a problem and that "pro-natalist" policies are misogynistic then invite millions of non-European immigrants to fill the void. And you take it, even often support it, because you guys are schmucks. Russia has the same negative tendencies but at least they aren't irrationally denying them.

"It's strange that you, as an American, would not recognize this common trope"
---I am not sure it counts as a 'common trope'. I don't share your experiences in this case. Some Russians can be absurd, but at least as many Americans are.

"Even if you were to color your hair an unusual shade, why should that be of any concern to other people, especially young ones?"
---Even in the US, this provokes negative attention.

THS said...

"You are not responsible for your height, the shape of your nose or the color of your eyes (again random examples)"

---Ok, ok, I got these sorts of comments, too. One xamka insisted I was Polish because I am short and don't look like Hollywood stars, which was how she insisted Americans look. Byvajut i takie.

More polite but strangely curious people told me I was Baltic for having a reddish tinge in my hair and speaking good but slightly accented Russian. Whatever.

"colour themselves"

---No, I don't mean krasjatsja, I mean dying their hair weird colours and getting tattoos. Yes, you can use reflexive pronouns in English - yes, it is less common if you have average intelligence and have learned no foreign languages. No, that does not mean my name is Vasja (in fact, it is more typical of Romance language influence than Slavic), I have not set foot in Russia for almost 8 years.

"Afaik you can get fined for jaywalking in some states"
---If you have a predatory local police dept then yes, it is possible. But in general, people are not as anal about it as the even alternatively-dressed Germans I've seen publicly humiliate others for crossing on a red. They have their priorities upside down.

"Dressing like a hooker has nothing to do with being fashionable"

---Whoa, whoa, whoaaaa, who said anything about dressing like a hooker? Yes, some urban Russian women do, but many, especially in a place like the Philological Faculty, look classy. If you just described girls dressing slutty that would be one thing, but you seem to be talking about women who basically put make-up on and care about their appearance at all - in a good or bad way.

Again, in the Mediterranean and sectors of American society, women do the same.

THS said...

"Where on earth does someone shove you out of the way when opening a door for an elderly person?"

---It's happened in Moscow. But I've also been run into often opening doors for my wife in Scandinavia (and a couple times in China). I've had people run into my wife on the street when there is plenty of sidewalk room. This is not typically an issue of being evil but of being totally unaware and apathetic of one's surroundings. People bumbling around not watching where they are going is normal here.

But the point I was making there really was that when you arrive in (at least urban) Russia as a foreigner you immediately see all the crude street behaviour and are taken aback. You have to spend some time there before you adapt and determine who is actually rude and who is not.

"So it's okay for middle-aged men to ask 18-year-old girls for money (how very chivalrous, wow!) and then insult them? Really? Is that chivalry?"

---No, you idiot, it is just khamstvo, and he might not look like a homeless person but is probably an alcoholic. It has nothing to do with you being a woman. Chivalry is taking your coat or pulling your chair out for you, which some Western women artificially take offence at.

"There were so many instances when I dropped something or even slipped on the icy streets-do you think someone helped me?"
---No, I don't.

"Do you think a MAN helped me?"
---Would you have welcomed that?

"I got asked to give up my seat on a crowded train once by some old guy and although there were plenty of able-bodied guys sitting down, not one of them offered to stand up."

---I got asked to give up my seat to old women, I guess it is because they are androgynistic? No, a$$hats pretend to sleep on public transport and magically wake up right at their stops so some uppity old people harass those of us who would gladly give up our seats anyway (assuming you would).

"and the only time when it's being used is when a guy wants to get into your pants"
---Depends on the person, doesn't it? Of course, there is a difference between chivalrous conventions and being a gentleman with good intentions like there is a difference between going to church and being faithful in your private life. That's always the way - but it is not a good reason to throw out such conventions. I've met a few Russian gentlemen, though it is not common.

"I've had men hold doors for me in England, Germany, the States, South Africa...pretty much anywhere. It's not a big deal, for crying out loud!"
---It is a big deal to hold on to conventions of civility. A VERY BIG DEAL!

THS said...

"Again your statements come across like those of brainwashed Russians who are convinced that Western men are these horrible monsters"
---Oh no, I am only reacting to you. American men are the most polite in issues like holding the door for ladies, the elderly, the disabled, etc. Russians are middle-to-low on that list, but Northwest Europeans are the least caring and aware in their behaviour. I was even told once I was 'eccentric' for regularly adjusting the seat of my wife because it is the sort of thing "we don't do anymore" - despite the fact she is disabled and needs such assistance anyway!

Christian values only lightly penetrated some Germanic societies.

"Come on, everyone knows about Tverskaya street in Moscow"
---I lived near Tverskaja though I was only there once after midnight. I never saw anything. I think this was cleaned up under Putin.

"There is no more or less 'reverence' for the arts in the West than there is in Russia"
---Ridiculous!

"There are orchestras in the US just like there are orchestras in Russia"
---More concentrated in a couple cities without many reasonable student ticket offers. Classical music performances have no place at all on television in the US (the Brits still have the Proms at least) and many NPR stations do not carry performances.

"Russian ballet is great, but so is New York City Ballet"

---And where are the ballerinas from? Who educated them? There are Russian musicians and ballerinas all over the world, how many foreigners make it big in Russia?

"Canadians are good snowboarders, Russians are good classical musicians. So what?"

---Some people are good at picking their noses, so what? Some people are really professional eaters. Every talent is the same...

"I assume that 'traditional sexual roles'- more commonly known as 'traditional gender roles'"

---'gender' vs. 'sex' is a complicated terminology issue I won't go into. I have never had or tried to have a Russian girlfriend. I rather doubt Russian women are generally submissive and meek (men who crave that usually gravitate to Asian women). Traditional roles would mean men who are happy to work to provide for a family and women who are happy to bear and care for children. The outsourcing of jobs and the negative structure of taxation has made this a particularly difficult choice in the last few decades, putting women in a situation where they are forced to assume traditional male roles without shedding traditional female roles. That is a tragedy driven by economic forces, but what I was discussing was the connection between willful attacks on traditional sexual roles and the loss of a sense of beauty, the loss of æsthetic values in a society.

Take "art" in the iconoclastic, secularised and feminist-ised (ex-)Protestant countries and compare it to work, even contemporary work, in Orthodox and Catholic Europe. The former is alientating, even frightening. The latter at least can be inspiring.

Anonymous said...

Blah blah, whatever. Why don't you just move to Russia then if it's so amazing. Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

cmon, stop judge Russians by moscow/st.pete. pff, its like judging americans by NY citizens. ull get the worst expirienced you can get in whole Russia if you visit moscow/st.pete at first time.

Anonymous said...

I think New Yorkers are awesome and definitely preferable to rednecks, just as true St.Petersburgers and Muscovites are much easier to get along with than peasants from the Russian hinterlands. The butthurt is insane, why are people no longer allowed to express their opinions?

Anonymous said...

Russia, a stable culture?

Please, STOP - you kill me!

If they weren't so rude, they may have not killed so many of their own and people of other nations - they are the only culture which is more aggressive against other world peoples than the US.

Thomas said...

"I think New Yorkers are awesome and definitely preferable to rednecks"

---Gee, if you pick the best of one state and the worst of another, then of course! But people outside NY are not automatically "rednecks", and, while there are very cultured New Yorkers, the average behaviour of a New Yorker is much ruder and more aggressive than a Southerner, Midwesterner, or West Coaster.

"just as true St.Petersburgers and Muscovites are much easier to get along with than peasants from the Russian hinterlands"

---They are more cosmopolitan so easier to understand but not necessarily easier to get along with. Plus, again, everyone not from Moscow/STP is a "peasant"?

Stop the hate, dude.

"If they weren't so rude, they may have not killed so many of their own and people of other nations"

---What is this guy on? Russians have killed "so many ... people of other nations"? When? Where?

"they are the only culture which is more aggressive against other world peoples than the US"

---Uhhhh, no. Anglo-Saxon culture is by far and away the most imperialist with the highest death toll against outsiders. Who wrote this - a Polish nationalist? Russia, as well as China, is generally accused of being the most cruel to its own people, not others. The English, Americans, and French take their frustrations out abroad. America has had what - something like 60 invasions, major bombings, and covert coup operations since WWII!