I had a girls’ night in a few days ago. There were seven of us. We all have Russian passports that we use extensively to travel and sometimes to study abroad. Three of us currently attend colleges abroad, the other four are at school in Russia. Together, we have two foreign and three Russian boyfriends; two of us just got out of relationships. Between us, we speak eleven languages and one dialect. All in all, we were just your average group friends catching up with it each other.
And, as always happens, we talked about what we want in life. One of us wanted more Versace in her closet; another just got addicted to thrift stores. One felt like she needed a more caring boyfriend, while another wanted a more romantic one; a third had just decided to be single for a while. One was excited about starting her Master’s, the other one was tired of doing her bachelor’s, another one just discovered she wanted to be in the academia. One wanted to travel more, and two of us wanted to stop traveling obsessively and to spend more time at home instead.
Out of seven friends, all of us aimed for different things. Sometimes our targets overlapped, but most of the time they contradicted each other. So what is it that women really want?
I asked myself that question because someone recently found my blog by searching for “what Russian women want.” To investigate, I typed in that same exact phrase on an internet search engine. And something curious came up.
According to Google, all Russian women strive for one thing: a marriage with a foreigner. The first link that came up stated “All Russian Women Want to Escape from Russia” – with an only intention of finding a foreign partner, of course. All other top nine search results are clearly about what men want: most are dating agencies, including the one that promises to regale foreign men with “Russian Girls of Model Quality.” Once a man finds that model-quality Russian Woman, getting her full attention is easy. Two guides aid one in doing that: a “Russian Brides Cyber Guide” and “Russian Brides or How To Marry a Russian Woman” (correct punctuation is clearly not a way to go). If your Russian woman is stubborn and is not willing to give in to your cyber charming skills, there is an ultimate weapon — Russian cuisine recipes. Because we all know a way to a Russian woman’s heart is through her stomach.
The ‘Russian woman’ as been turned into a brand by the internet. I am surprised no one has registered the Russian Woman trademark yet. (Or has someone?)
Clearly, we have no other desires but to popularize ourselves with handsome foreign strangers who will whip out their cyber guides, make us borsch, and will then whisk us away from our homeland. Do women in other cultures have a better digital reputation?
I googled my other ethnicity — Ukrainians. A quick Google search — and the terrible truth is revealed. Ukrainian women have the same interests as the Russian ones. They are clearly desperate to leave Ukraine by means of being with a foreign man. The second top search result proclaimed “A Million Young Ukrainian Women Want to Leave Their Country.” All the other ones in top ten had to do with dating. But sadly, instead of advertising hot foreigners to the Ukrainian users, they promote hot nubile Eastern Europeans.
The unexpected outcome of my experiment can be to some extent explained by the Beautiful Docile Eastern European Woman Stereotype. But what about other nationalities? I explored two other ethnic backgrounds of mine: the Finnish and the (Outer) Mongolians.
Mongolian women seem to be less obsessed with finding a foreign husband than the Russians and the Ukrainians. Despite three in four top results advertising photos that show off the looks and the beauty of “Mongolian Women, Mongolian Girls, Mongolian Singles,” women in Mongolia clearly have other interests. Apart from dancing, (as YouTube video illustrates) they unfortunately have a variety of issues, including cross-border sex work in China. Fortunately, some ngo’s like the Mongolian Women Fund help those who need help.
It turns out Finnish women have needs and interests drastically different from their ex-Communist counterparts. Top two results claim Finnish women “want from a relationship same things other women want: loyalty, company, love.” At the same time, they also “appreciate sexual affairs which are safe and yet exciting.” The other interests were spread from from women in parliament to home visits of public health nurses to hysterectomy to infertility treatment and to the original Mel Gibson movie with Finnish subtitles.
I subjected American women to the same search that the other aforementioned nationalities underwent. (I assumed Google would treat “American” as a synonym to “US-American.”) The US is supposedly a melting pot of all cultures, so the women there should have have interests representative of all the women worldwide. My logic was rather faulty.
American women appear to be more health- and politics-conscious than anyone else. Four out of ten top links deal with health and wellness. Four links discuss what American women want in politics and society. One link is about women traveling. The top search result comes as a bit of a shock.
“The fact is that control-top granny pants are simply not a substitute for regular exercise, thoughtful grooming and a healthy diet. Certainly not if you’re single and interested in men.” Here is what single American women want — to look good.
Surprisingly for such a politically correct and litigious country, the article, originally published in The Times, compares nothing else but how well-groomed American and British girls are. Those American women who naively believe that men should like women for their personality, not their looks, will have to find consolation in the fact that American girls are said to be better groomed overall.
It’s highly debatable if a google search in English is an accurate reflection of needs and values of societal group, whether in an English-speaking country or worldwide. It is remarkable that men, not women, wrote and designed most of the search results that came up. I am not writing this post under the aegis of feminism. But I would like to know if all those men actually bothered to ask women what they want. I bet if they did, the search results would look drastically different.