Are men hunters no more? Is it up to women nowadays to make the first move?
These questions popped up in my head after the latest issue of the Russian Marie Claire came out and our magazine once again turned into a large 24/7 dating agency. Traditionally, in the month of February, we run the Top Bachelors of the Year project. We publish a selection of eligible single guys' photos, along with their brief interviews, and provide a special email at which the readers could then contact the men they liked via the magazine.
This year, we featured fifty men, ages ranging from 21 to 45, about a third of them coming from the US and Western Europe, and the rest from Russia. As always, there was no shortage of men – despite all the stereotypes, there're plenty of good unattached guys out there. The project was a huge hit: since the day the Marie Claire had hit the newsstands, we've been getting dozens of emails daily, girls writing from all over Russia and even from abroad. Some of them are in their 20s, but most – in their 30s, elaborating in their messages about how well they'd done career-wise so far but how much they'd like to start a family now (the majority had left their cell numbers to apparently speed up the process). Most women had their photos attached, some rather risque. A few had written up to ten identical emails, asking us to forward those to different guys. Others sent actual letters sticking into the envelope a cinema ticket or a hot exhibit invitation for their preferred bachelor. “Here's my work address for a bouquet to be delivered,” one girl wrote to the guy who had mentioned in the interview that he enjoyed giving flowers to women.
With my mailbox getting seriously overloaded with megabytes of flirty blondes, brunettes and redheads, I began to freak out. Russian females have always been regarded as strong inside, but soft and feminine on the outside. Perhaps it's one of the main reasons Western men still fancy them so much. With a project like that, aren't we undermining our femininity flair a bit, letting the girls not only choose, but chase as well? What's the incentive for a guy to pursue a girl if the prey is already out there, nearly desperate to be taken? I've heard a lot of complaints lately from women across the world about men becoming passive and lacking initiative in a relationship. And in Russia, the country where beautiful women are so plentiful, the girls lament about the men being plain spoiled. Isn't it us, females, who're spoiling the opposite sex in the first place?
Back in the 90s, when I started going out, the celebrated The Rules Book, by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, two bored Long Island housewives-turned bestselling authors, became my Dating Bible. The book, which sold millions of copies worldwide and is still considered one of the all-time most popular relationship manuals, called for a return to old-fashioned gender games, where males were supposed to be the hunters, period. Don't speak to a man first, don't ever call a man, never tell a man what to do and let guys do all the chasing, otherwise you go against nature and it never works, the writers insisted.
As ridiculous as they sounded, I tried following those Rules religiously for some time. Sometimes it worked, but more times it left me frustrated, and the guys - suspicious of too much scheming involved. So I kind of gave up any rules, letting the relationship evolve more like a dance, where both sides make the steps at the right place and time.
I called a few of this year's bachelors to see how they felt about women initiating things in relationship. The guys I spoke to didn't seem to mind. “It's not that easy to meet a right person these days, so you do need some facilitation,” one guy said. “And, if you do get together with a girl, in the end it doesn't really matter who made the first move.”
“Times have evolved, and the old dating approach no longer works,” another guy mused. “Modern women just go for what they want, and I see nothing wrong with it.” This guy, a successful good-looking Western 33-year-old businessman who's worked in Moscow for about ten years, surely doesn't lack female attention here. Still, he seemed quite happy to take part in the Marie Claire bachelors issue. “It's easier than easy to find a girl in Moscow, but it's very difficult to find a relationship,” he said.
And he's definitely right. Otherwise we wouldn't have such an easy time finding a load of singles for this project each year. It's also true that while being all too willing to find a mate, we, girls, remain quite selective when it comes to making a choice. Just as another bachelor stressed, “No matter how generous the supply, you still ought to behave like a man with a girl, otherwise you get dumped soon.”
The views expressed in this column are the author’s and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
Russia has always been referred to as feminine and Russian women have been one of the most popular stereotypes of this nation, both positive and negative. But is this an all-male fantasy? Here is a hip, modern, professional and increasingly globalized Russian woman looking at the trends around her, both about her gender and the society at large. She talks and lets other women talk.
Svetlana Kolchik, 33, is deputy editor-in-chief of the Russian edition of Marie Claire magazine. She holds degrees from the Moscow State University Journalism Department and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has worked for Argumenty i Fakty weekly in Moscow and USA Today in Washington, D.C., and contributed to RussiaProfile.org, Russian editions of Vogue, Forbes and other publications.