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Breaking Stereotypes


Someone recently sent me this meme and it makes complete sense to me. It highlights one of the main stereotypes of Russians - that they're cold and emotionless. In my first Russian post, I essentially said the same thing after observing average Russians on the street. I've watched many speeches by Putin and it's true that his expression rarely changes. I spent New Year's Eve last year with Russian speakers, watching Russian holiday programs and Putin's New Year's speech to the nation. It was completely bizarre that on a festive occasion he displayed no smile or enthusiasm, standing there like a robot reading off a teleprompter. In contrast, Obama is perhaps one of our most emotional Presidents. He's stern when necessary but also shows signs of emotion, crying or laughing in speeches as the subject dictates. He's often photographed playing with his kids, going on dates with his wife, or drinking a beer. I like it. It makes him human and people easily relate to him. It has nothing to do with the politics of our respective nations and leaders, but rather to personalities and the way we interact with one another.

One of the main purposes of  my blog is to help bridge the gap between Russians and Americans, to help us better understand one another and our cultures. So this weekend let's have an honest and open discussion about stereotypes.

Each year at my apartment pool we have foreign lifeguards who come to America on work/travel programs sponsored by the U.S. government. I was speaking with a Serbian guard yesterday who told me about his "crazy" Russian roommate. "She's crazy." These are the only words he used to describe her. Obviously I don't think you're all crazy, or I wouldn't take the time to write here and communicate with you. But it's a common perception of Russians - that "they're crazy." :) Here are some others, broken down by gender:

Russian Men        

- Raging alcoholics, drinking vodka at all hours of the day
- Chauvinistic
- More aggressive than American men
- Many are part of the Russian mob, driving around in black SUV's

Russian Women

- All are beautiful
- They are always dressed up, wearing heels and make-up
- They are very easy and slutty
- Desperate to marry a Westerner
- Happy to stay at home, pop out babies and make dinner for husbands
- Mail order brides

I don't really know many Russian stereotypes about American men, but I suspect the following are at the top of the list for American women:

- We're ugly
- We take no pride in appearance
- We're "manly", having lost all sense of femininity
- We emasculate men
- We're all raging feminists :))

On the gender front, there's absolutely no doubt that gender roles are more clearly defined in Russia. In the States, male/female roles are often blurred in relationships. I don't necessarily think this is a good thing, but it's a result of the feminist movement. Despite the accusations of many, I'm not a feminist. Men and women each bring unique attributes to relationships, and it becomes complicated when there are power struggles at every level. However, I don't believe a woman's sole place should be in the kitchen or changing diapers. We're much more than that, and can compete with men on an intellectual and professional level. I make more money than almost every man I've dated, really have no desire to have children, and am happy to pump my own gas. Would it be a problem for a Russian man? Maybe? And I'm very independent. I don't expect a man to pay for everything, constantly buy me things, or show other signs of superficial affection. It's not a way to express love in my opinion. This doesn't mean that I don't like a bouquet of flowers or other surprises on occasion, but it's not something I demand out of a partner. I'm not sure how to find a happy medium with gender roles. I suppose when the right person comes along, it will not even be an issue.

With respect to America as a whole, I think the stereotypes are as follows:


- Americans are stupid, and know nothing about other countries or cultures
- We're fake, with smiles constantly plastered on our faces
- We're all fat, eating fast food everyday
- We live in a police state under a zionist government
- All black people in America are sitting around eating fried chicken and watermelon, living off of welfare and/or are thugs
- Americans are all carrying guns, ready to shoot each other at a moment's notice
- There are tons of gay people engaged in public displays of affection at every corner

And for Russia, I will say only that the country is perceived by many outsiders as being totally corrupt, with a government controlled by money/bribes.

What do you think? What are the most common stereotypes about Americans? And for those who have actually traveled to the States, did you have a different perception of us after the visit? Which stereotypes were confirmed and which broken?

I constantly write about my impressions of Russia/Russians, so it's time for your input on Americans and my nation. :) Next week, I'll return to travel posts. I didn't have time this week to organize and process photos.


( 173 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jul. 12th, 2013 03:19 pm (UTC)
Many american girls so pretty! Like you, for example :-)
Jul. 13th, 2013 01:10 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
(no subject) - olgor - Jul. 13th, 2013 01:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - 323mersy - Jul. 13th, 2013 04:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
But most of them are from Ukraine :) - xpo_xpo_xpo - Jul. 13th, 2013 05:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
I have an excuse! - xpo_xpo_xpo - Jul. 13th, 2013 05:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 12th, 2013 03:20 pm (UTC)
Sounds like "Breaking news" :)
Jul. 13th, 2013 01:15 am (UTC)
Have you been to America?
(no subject) - ipona_mat - Jul. 13th, 2013 09:21 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 12th, 2013 03:36 pm (UTC)
"stupid Americans" is pretty much a meme nowadays. The one you did not mention is American Patriotism, US flags in everybody's backyard, stars and stipes underwear, etc. Oh, and that your humor is pretty much all about fart and burp jokes)
Jul. 13th, 2013 01:16 am (UTC)
If that's a stereotype then it's absolutely true. Americans are extremely patriotic and the flag is everywhere - personal homes, gas stations, restaurants, stores. Everywhere!!
(no subject) - klava_17 - Dec. 11th, 2014 12:53 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 12th, 2013 03:36 pm (UTC)
"The Russian mob" is probably one of the most amazing stereotypes. Where did it ever come from? Certainly there are some Russian criminals and gangs in US/Canada, but they aren't as nearly organized, widespread, and powerful as the Italian Mafia.
Jul. 13th, 2013 01:17 am (UTC)
I don't know where it originated? Maybe from films where Russian characters are usually spies or mobsters. :)
(no subject) - siberian_cat - Jul. 13th, 2013 01:58 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 12th, 2013 03:38 pm (UTC)
Всё совсем не то..
Sad Putin:


Some Russian stereotypes about American men:

- so fat
- love mans (because of the law on sexual harassment)
- stupid war-lovers (all are rednecks)
- hate russians
- drink coca-cola all time
- have fake emotions a lot

Some stereotypes about black men г can read here in comments: http://fritzmorgen.livejournal.com/606913.html

"We live in a police state under a zionist government" - this is not about USA, this is about any government!
see russian punk-songs: "all states - concentration camps", "I love my country And I hate the government"

Sorry for my English, from Russia with love )
Jul. 12th, 2013 10:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Всё совсем не то..
On the contrary, it seems that the vast majority of the Russians hate the States with a passion...
Re: Всё совсем не то.. - peacetraveler22 - Jul. 13th, 2013 01:20 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Всё совсем не то.. - weary_cynic - Jul. 23rd, 2013 08:23 am (UTC) - Expand
Is it somewhat accurate? - klava_17 - Dec. 11th, 2014 12:59 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Is it somewhat accurate? - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 11th, 2014 03:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Is it somewhat accurate? - klava_17 - Dec. 11th, 2014 03:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Is it somewhat accurate? - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 11th, 2014 03:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Is it somewhat accurate? - klava_17 - Dec. 11th, 2014 04:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Is it somewhat accurate? - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 11th, 2014 04:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Is it somewhat accurate? - klava_17 - Dec. 11th, 2014 04:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Is it somewhat accurate? - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 11th, 2014 04:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Is it somewhat accurate? - klava_17 - Dec. 11th, 2014 04:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 12th, 2013 03:45 pm (UTC)
whan i was a kid I imagined american people like in Dynasty or a something...))
Jul. 13th, 2013 01:23 am (UTC)
Dynasty, this show is well-known in Russia? I also watched it as a kid. Joan Collins, the evil black-haired bitch in the show, was a great actress. :))
(no subject) - grand_damme - Jul. 13th, 2013 08:34 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 12th, 2013 03:53 pm (UTC)
Americans are sure that their culture is the most important among others. Once I got a confirmation of this stereotypes when an American gay said that English culture didn`t play any role in the American history =)
Jul. 12th, 2013 04:57 pm (UTC)
That's a common thing for everyone, Russians and Chinese believe in their greatest culture not less than Americans or anybody else
(no subject) - yma_sergeevna - Jul. 12th, 2013 07:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jul. 13th, 2013 01:26 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 12th, 2013 04:23 pm (UTC)
Jul. 12th, 2013 04:49 pm (UTC)
Он тут кашляет, вообще-то:)
(no subject) - asharky - Jul. 12th, 2013 05:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jul. 13th, 2013 01:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asharky - Jul. 13th, 2013 07:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Rapax_aquila - Jul. 13th, 2013 09:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - atlantis555 - Jul. 12th, 2013 04:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 13th, 2013 01:42 am (UTC)
Most people learn foreign languages out of necessity, and it's not necessary for Americans. English is the international language for business and tourism. The only motivation for an American to learn another language is for intellectual pursuit or relocating to another country. I wrote about it here - http://peacetraveler22.livejournal.com/23512.html.

The women in Russia looked very normal to me, not wearing a lot of make-up or overly fancy clothes. Maybe because it was winter and they were completely covered up. I didn't go to fancy restaurants, clubs or discos where women usually get dolled up. If you visit these places in the States, you'll see plenty of women in short skirts, make-up and heels. But it's not the way most women dress for everyday work life or chores. And gay people are not running around the streets of America fucking each other. Are there gay exhibitionists? Absolutely, in the same way some straight couples find it necessary to grope each other in public. I don't wish to watch either.

(Deleted comment)
Jul. 13th, 2013 01:44 am (UTC)
Botox! He does seem very vain, always running around with his shirt off. :))
(no subject) - klava_17 - Dec. 11th, 2014 01:12 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 12th, 2013 04:47 pm (UTC)
You're naive in general. And sometimes, dealing with Americans, I guess that is not a stereotype:) It's quite naive to think that policy makers emotionality can reflect national character's features. Particularly if you've decided to compare the public politician, who had come through a great number of regional primeries and elections, with the former intelligence agent, that has got 70% at once as a result of his 1st election.
Jul. 13th, 2013 01:55 am (UTC)
I'm not naive and I never said that politicians reflect the average person in a nation. The post is about stereotypes and the image of Putin and Obama embodies the most common stereotypes about Russians and Americans. In my first post I wrote that Russians have a cold demeanor to outsiders, they are not typically welcoming or friendly to strangers. I stand by this statement. It's not an open culture, and in this way it differs very much from America. I'm not saying one is better than the other. It's just an observation.

And what's up with your avatar? Stop pointing at me. :))
(no subject) - alexey_kan - Jul. 13th, 2013 03:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jul. 13th, 2013 03:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - klava_17 - Dec. 11th, 2014 01:16 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 12th, 2013 04:49 pm (UTC)
I think you pretty much nailed it :-) The only thing that a Russian won't even understand is "fried chicken and watermelon" - those aren't even known as stereotypes about black people. The rest of your stereotypes are right on the money!
Jul. 13th, 2013 02:00 am (UTC)
Hmm, I thought this was a common caricature of black people all over the world. :)
Jul. 12th, 2013 05:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you that you have raised this topic:)

As was mentioned before due to Mikhail Zadornov, who is a Russian artist, the main stereotypes about Americans are fat and stupid:) And actually I had never been interested in America until our colleagues from the US came to Russia. Imagine how I was surprised when I saw that they weren't fat at all!:) Even more, they were smart!:)))
Then I started to chat with one my colleague from the US office and was really amazed how interesting it was to speak with hem!
All this had influenced me to go to the US for vacation. As a result what I saw:
- the problem of overweight really exists but outside big cities where citizens really care about their health and go for sports
-Junk food also exists but it is not food for everyday for most of the people
- People are growing with patriotism from the childhood, thinking that America is the greatest country in the world
-Still America like another planet because the majority of people don't go abroad and don't know that many things in Europe are another: measurements, culture, languages, etc.

And I think the myth of stupidity was born from the point above. You know we have a joke about Americans: there is always written at instruction for a microoven "Don't put cat into a microoven" :)
For us it's unbelievable: who CAN put cat inside??

As I sent a link to you for an article: Americans have a low-context culture, Russians - a high-context culture. That is a difference between us. It is not good or bad, it just exists.
Jul. 12th, 2013 09:24 pm (UTC)
I've heard that some woman really put her cat to a microwave to dry after a wash.
And then she sued the microwave manufacturer :))

These instructions everywhere really look shocking for a foreigner but in fact it's just for legal protection.
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jul. 13th, 2013 02:11 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 12th, 2013 05:16 pm (UTC)
hahaha, beautiful photo!!! :))))
Jul. 13th, 2013 02:11 am (UTC)
It's funny. :)
Jul. 12th, 2013 05:28 pm (UTC)
Such a great post, wow!
I afraid I’ll disappoint you. I don't have stereotypes that you wrote about. And I don’t have the stereotypes about Americans. Moreover, I think we are the same. We want the same, we hate the same and and we love the same. And these stereotypes were needed our governments in the time of the Cold War.
Jul. 13th, 2013 02:15 am (UTC)
Denis, we're the same. I never go into a country looking to confirm stereotypes. I judge people based only on their character and if you read my LJ bio you'll see this. A person's ethnicity or religion is completely irrelevant to me. And I agree all humans have the same basic desires for love and acceptance. :)
(no subject) - Rapax_aquila - Jul. 13th, 2013 08:58 am (UTC) - Expand
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