Men in Ukraine

I have really been thinking a lot recently about the mentality of people here. When I first arrived in Lviv, I was pleasantly surprised about how people treated each other. Without being too stereotypical because I have met people that don’t seem as I am about to describe but…. The men are men, and the women are women. Men would help you take off your coat and help you put it back on when leaving, open doors for you, pull out your chair, give up their chair on the bus for you, pay for meals and drinks (well most men). Whilst the women are very attractive, beautiful, friendly, they are great cooks and like to take care of their men. But when you look deeper into this, and I actually got into quite a heated discussion with a friend about this the other day, I really don’t think a lot of things here are healthy.

This stems from last weekend and the morning after a houseparty when I arrived back at the house (to attempt to find my mobile phone, which was stolen), there were a group of people still drinking. The guy who owned the apartment just moved here and he is just too nice for his own good because people will walk ALL over him. Also, mind it was 4pm and there was a lot of alcohol that was left the night before but they had finished it all by this point. When I realised that I would not be able to find my phone and I began cleaning, all the guys were surrounding me, offering me more to drink and to sit down. After a few minutes of this, I started to become a little fiesty and began asking them, “Why are you still here? It’s 4pm! Why don’t you want to go home?!” The guys ignore me and continue drinking and talking together in Ukrainian. I begin again speaking to them, with a little anger in my voice I’m sure. “If you are not going to go home, then help clean up! You have finished all of the alcohol, you should help clean up too!” At this point I am taking their drinks from their hands and pouring it down the sink and one guy in particular is saying something (in Ukrainian) but he is lounging in a chair with his arms folded. I look at him and point down at the bags of trash, “Go take this outside if you are not going to help clean!” But he just sits there and begins muttering something to me. Maybe I was a little too firey at this point, but I am mocking him, crossing my arms and yelling, “I am just a baby. I don’t want to clean! I want to sit here and drink!! WAH WAH WAH!” He continued to sit there with his arms folded, looking at the ground and I snapped once more before walking off with the mop to the back of the apartment, “Are you married? Are you actually married? Because you would be a shit husband! You know, I feel so sorry for your future wife!”

When I return from cleaning the other room, they have put on their coats and shoes and have been making trips downstairs to the trash bins. They are smiling at me and give me a hug and say, “No hard feelings! We are cleaning now. We’re sorry.” I give them all hugs and we begin to talk like normal again. It was the conversation with the one and only girl there at that time which really annoyed me. As she is cleaning up the dishes, she turns to me and says, “I understand what you mean, but really, we are women. Women do cleaning. Men don’t clean. And where is all that drink last night? They all at home and we clean?” I was already calm by the time I was starting this conversation but I was so disappointed with her statement to me, I just responded, “No, women are not the only ones to clean. Men must clean too. You are all here and it is 4pm. Why are you still here? If you are still here, you must clean. Yes I understand everyone else is gone but you are still here now, so help or go home.”

On Monday evening, I had a similar heated discussion with a friend of mine. He believes that the man should be bringing in all of the money and the woman is the one who has the baby and does not have such a good job. The woman should be the one doing household chores whilst the man works his ass off at work. (He always has such a temper and his voice is getting louder and louder). I understand that in the old days, men would go out hunting and the women would stay home, cook and take care of the children. I understand that women still like this security they receive from men, and the men like to be taken care of as well – but to an extent!

I just don’t understand why both partners cannot have good jobs and equally do housework and chores. If the woman has maternity leave and stays at home with her child for the first 3 months – 1 year, and afterwards goes back to work, why is it that a woman still must clean the house and cook dinner every night? We are getting to a point in life where it is too expensive for both parents NOT to work.

Now following this rant, I would also like to mention some other conversations with men I have recently had.

1. I am discussing relationships with one of my students, where he then says, “Once you get married, you won’t have to work as much because the man will take care of you.”

2. Also, discussing relationships with my friend’s student: “If you are married it is one thing, but if you are in a relationship with a girl then you can cheat. But the woman must not sleep around, she must be a virgin! I want to kill the man that took my girlfriend’s virginity!”; and later saying “I only speak with my girlfriend once a week” (He is now writing me online asking me out for a drink, and not taking NO for an answer).

Moral of the story, times have changed, but sometimes it’s not so clear that it is changing here. I can see positives and negatives in the way people live all over the world, but these conversations are really making it clear that I do not think I can have a relationship here if this is the case. I know I cannot stereotype all men here. I am sure there are great people here as well that help clean and cook, etc. I made a point of discussing this in my class last night and a few people did say that both parents work equally, so I know that it is possible……. I hope my post is not too controversial. Everyone is entitled to live the life they choose to, with the partners they choose to. If you choose to live a life where the woman stays home, does all of the housework and cooking whilst her husband works (and they are both happy with this) – Good for them! But I would absolutely hate with this way of life. I want a career, to feel like I have achieved something in my life because I don’t need to rely on a man for everything. I have been in a relationship before where my ex has told me I belong in the kitchen and cleaning our house, and I just think that is not the case anymore! It’s 2014 for goodness sakes!

Happy Wednesday!