Slavic women – A short story by Joseph Roth, Austrian writer who leads a chronicle of events during a trip to Russia. Bright and deep, the author explores the changes that occur in the young Russian society after the revolution, and in particular the changes in the Russian women. The story is interesting for both women and men, sheds light on the recent past, and helps to better understand the reasons for this. Russian woman “today”, back in 1926. In the old world culture treatment of women was inextricably linked with the cult of women. In post-revolutionary Russia have neither the time nor the desire to understand the erotic culture.
The woman is no longer the center of the universe. It ceased to be the center of the house, the society and the male heart. The revolution that gave her the right, deprived her of all its advantages.
Woman becomes necessary and useful member of society, so it should give up any whatsoever luxury. She is no longer the object of chivalry, but the object of equality before the law. It can no longer be afraid of the moral prejudice, but also evidence of chivalry she did not see. Actually, the “lady” is no more. If it occurs, it is only as a relic of the old days and the old psychology. Lack of materials, which affects the whole country, this theory helps to establish itself. Most women probably can still get dressed, but can not decorate itself . In the old world any dress women adorn it. The dress had to emphasize the beauty of its owner, highlight it, enhance, or at least create the illusion. In Russia today, there is no such dresses. Because the taste for such outfits is lost. There are no fashion magazines, norms of behavior in society and norms of fashion. Few rich women in Russia today travel abroad. They focus on the Parisian fashion. They bring clothes from France. If they can not go themselves, they get clothes send.
Women without tools look very provincial. Against such things as Western fashion short hair and short dress in Russia there is a much stronger bias than in the conservative European circles. Women, by contrast, tend to every phenomenon of Western fashion tasteless and useless to exaggerate. You see women with painted lips and painted nails. It seems that your fingers just touched raw cape, and the mouth resembles a fruit from a jar with canned oranges. By the way, exaggerating here – a sign not only of bad taste, but also change the style of life that is most noticeable in hotels for foreigners – in full accord with the wishes of respectable fathers of families arriving in Russia for concessions. Most Russian women work too much and have too little resources to devote special attention to their appearance. Once a woman is no longer the object of courtship, her natural vanity has nothing to eat. She lives in an atmosphere of political efficiency, social activities, universal necessity, social ethics, collective debt. It is not erotic, it is social – as all people in Russia.
Representative types of modern women is a female politician, serving as offices, public figure, a factory worker, an employee of intellectual labor, that is, the writer and artists. National traits disappear the more. What is more pronounced social and professional features. National traits yet stored in the form of peasant women. Elegant option is presented only an actress. But even her fees are no longer enough for a truly elegant. “Working woman” – a slogan, propaganda, moral precepts and material necessity. Luxury is not only suspicious, but unattainable.
A woman can manifest itself in all spheres of political and public life, but she completely lost her erotic charm. Only a small proportion of women with a passion enjoy its beauty. This woman bourgeois circles and representatives of the old aristocracy. However, they are not doing anything. They dream of going abroad. They talk about the new spirits and new modes. They want to learn to dance the Charleston. Every foreigner comes into view, they see a model dance teacher. They invite him and treat gramophone records. Who wants to “try their luck take off” succeed has only just because he is a foreigner. Who wears a white collar and a restaurant can not explain to the waiter, at that – good chances at each table. Respectable merchant easily converted into a Casanova. But what is there to do Casanova? Appearance of a new generation of women educated in the Pioneer organizations, sexually enlightened, no secrets, no mysteries, without sentimentality, sober assessment of relations between the sexes, but do not understand the essence of love with her demanding personality.
New women come into the world as a natural science laboratory – for the experiments. The reasons are well known. The consequences are predictable. Nothing unexpected, surprising not occur. Russia has not yet submitted a slender boy-type women, common in Europe and America. Elegance – on those rare occasions when it occurs – bears a specific Russian tinge. There is an apparent contradiction between the narrow fashionable dress and a powerful figure in Russian women. This contradiction skillfully masked, or at least softened, special shapes, ethnographic caused a compromise so that the lack of dignity in turns, turns imperfect charm. Logically, it is difficult to explain, forty, thirty, twenty years ago Russian woman wearing a short cut out of protest against the bourgeois, and this haircut gave her charm revolutionary, and now it turns a woman in fashionable lady. Today, it again looks like a protest – a protest against the commandments of the victorious revolution, which assigns demonstrative virtue prohibiting public dancing and strive to transform Slavic life in complete contrast to the bourgeois decadent West.
Influence of the village is still great. Rustic element more pronounced in the face of every resident of Russian cities. Every move she recalled that this civilization still young. What romance, snobs and fans of kitsch believe in the Russian woman “demonic” – it’s just the soil, to break through the hastily learned manners. In fact, the Russian woman is not demonic, unlike Russian men. She just has a natural, elemental, and therefore difficult to explain temperament. Her passion is material to his nature, matter and also restrained its activity loves detours. She tends to genuine frankness, she wins more pressure than a sham. In the blood of her quickness rider onslaught. Her tearful sentimentality, and even do not seem kitsch, because they expressed no momentary suffering and great Slavic melancholy.
But Slavic woman changes along with the entire country. And she, too, is getting “industrializing” civilizing, Americanized. And she, along with the entire country must catch up with the rest of the world. She learns independence, equality, Foxtrot and Charleston. I just want to wish her that, having received the great honor of being “social factor”, she has not lost the happiness of being a woman.