Women Enjoy Their Day Even With Men's Failings




It's like Valentine's Day and Mother's Day rolled into one - the day when Russia's women are supposed to be surprised with gifts and lavished with praise.


But usually International Women's Day has a predictable outcome. It's about great expectations and unmet expectations. Women like to fool themselves with big dreams but ultimately get no more than insignificant little presents and drunken compliments. And they try hard to enjoy the holiday anyway.


A survey conducted by the Laboratory of Social Technologies for Izvestia newspaper proves the point. Of 800 people questioned in Moscow and St. Petersburg, 20 percent of the women said they'd appreciate a trip abroad, preferably to Paris or Turkey, as a March 8 holiday gift. The same percentage of Moscow men surveyed said they wouldn't spend more than 100 rubles ($4.35) to please their loved ones.


Hopes for evening gowns and fur coats, and more practical dreams of washing machines, apartment renovation and money for their children's education, remained nothing but dreams. After sober thought, most women said the best they could really expect was perfume, makeup and, ultimately, "some sort of junk." And they were right. While the thinning store supplies still offer lots of gift opportunities, the imagination of 30 percent of men doesn't go beyond the limits of flowers and chocolate, according to the survey. Half the men surveyed in both cities were willing to spend no more than 500 rubles.


"I wanted an apartment, a car and a large inheritance," Olga, a secretary in a Western firm, said half-joking, half-serious. "What I got from my husband was flowers and a cake. A better surprise was a cosmetics set from the company."


Some men have developed a rather cynical attitude toward the holiday, considering it the last hurrah in a celebration bout that kicks off with Defender of the Motherland Day on Feb. 23. Alexander, 41, recalled giving his wife a gift of cucumber cologne and sipping it the next morning to soothe his hangover. He confessed to another post-holiday gastronomical eccentricity - snacking on rose buds as a vodka chaser.


Olga, an employee of an investment firm in Perm, said she often comes across men like that. She celebrated March 8 in a bar with champagne spraying and an impromptu male striptease. A group of tipsy men assaulted her with endless toasts, a flow of drunken compliments and dance invitations that she resisted. "Men use the holiday as a pretext to hug you and kiss you and make all sorts of unwanted advances," she said.


Another girl, Sasha, spent a few hours at Vnukovo Airport, returning from vacation. She and her friend Polina were tipsy and jolly, singing and offering a drink to anyone willing to swig champagne straight from the bottle. "This is the first time I feel this day is a real holiday," said Sasha, 21, after wishing a stranger "lots of good dirty love to all women in your life - your mom, wife, girlfriend, daughter and granddaughter."


Sasha's boyfriend Dima, charged with the luggage she was unable to carry, stared at her with a tired, patient look. "There is nothing I can do. How can I dare to spoil her fun on such a day? She'll get sleepy soon and I'll load her in the cab," he said, adding that a taxi driver offered them a discount ride to the center for the sake of the Women's Day - 700 instead of 800 rubles.


All in all, women seem willing to put up with their husbands' and boyfriends' lousy attitude toward March 8.


"He is my best gift," said Alina, 24, who works for a printing company. "He exceeded all my expectations. I was mocking him all day and he just listened to me attentively."