Cheating Cheaters Who Cheat

Last week was a crazy week, news-wise, so I didn’t have a chance to post one of my recent stories here for your commentary.

In a piece for Slate’s Double X — the site’s lady blog — I wrote as soberly as possible about how commonplace and accepted extramarital affairs have become. It begins with:

One evening in Moscow, Tanya (not her real name) found herself at a dinner table with a group of friends, most of them married couples. One of the men started to tell a story about the coda to a recent guys’ night out. He’d stumbled home the next morning to his wife and two children—a 2-year-old and an infant—to find that he’d forgotten his underwear. Everyone at the dinner table, including the man’s wife, laughed at the story: the hijinks!

Wandering spouses have become a common trope for the women of Moscow. “Men’s environment here pushes them towards cheating,” Tanya told me, adding that, these days, a boys’ night out in Russia often involves prostitutes. Tanya and her friends are young, educated, upper-middle-class Muscovites, but talk to any woman in Moscow, and, regardless of age, education, or income level, she’ll have a story of anything from petty infidelity to a parallel family that has existed for decades. Infidelity in Moscow has become “a way of life,” as another friend of mine put it—accepted and even expected.

I’ve received a mostly positive response, like this one (from a man living in Russia):

Loved your article in Slate. I always have trouble reconciling the conservative moralising of my homo/xenophobic male Russian friends, who in the same breath will insist that ‘all men cheat,’ and that it’s just the way of the world. Nicely done.

And this one, from an enraged young Russian lady named Maria:

Dear Julia,

let me ask you where are you from to be able to write this BS about Moscow? I was certain that you were Russian from the very headline!
Me being a Muscovite have been very assaulted and ashamed that someone like you is bitching about our country and particularly Moscow.
Right now i’m talking on behalf on the majority of Muscovites. Majority is about 90% except those 10% for the jet set, who can afford buying Mercedes E class as you say so. You have such friends or maybe you were one of them and you have been cheated on???? Those 10% i agree got soo much freedom and lost their mind so they think they can “buy anything”, but in general the situation in Russia and in Moscow in particular is far from what you have described above. Yes, there are assholes who cheat but as many as in any countries! Shame on you writing about the Russian history as if it was the most abusive nation re: sex subject while China and some other countries are still socialistic republics (if you dont know) and still have the same restrictions!!! I assume you are too young to judge if it really was unbearable living in Soviet time!!
Let me ask you one more thing, have you really watched a “What men talk about” movie?? Then i suggest you to watch it one more time because you didnt f**n understand a damn thing what the main idea of this movie was!!! It has a completely opposite meaning and you unfortunately didnt get it! Yes, we can laugh and make fun of our flaws but it is what makes us human beings, but in the end men declared that “Family is the most important thing in their lives” and without making any mistakes they got back home to their wives. They might now have liked everything what they had in life but they cherished their families! And most of the people do! Do you???
I feel very sorry for you because you probably are trying to draw attention of the audience like that, but believe me it looks “very cheap”!!!

Yes, I wanted to post that in full. But I am also curious to see how you guys, my loyal — if sometimes hateful — commenters see the article, and what it describes. Speak on up, please!

Article here.

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7 Responses to Cheating Cheaters Who Cheat

  1. I responded in detail on my site, but the bit in your article about women at 30 and with kids being “essentially unmarriageable” struck me as plain trolling – or else an exaggeration similar to “and Muslim women in veils are essentially forced into the practice by scary patriarchal male guardians.”

    The article brought out the crazies in full force though – one particular comment from some woman who said that “all smart Russian women try to immigrate and the rest aspire to high-class prostitution” was very entertaining. As well as the screeching that all Russian women think that being breadwinners is beneath them or something. (I’m not sure how that relates to male cheating patterns – but I guess some people take the opportunity to unload their stereotypes on a captive audience all at once)

  2. Titus says:

    “I wrote as soberly as possible about how commonplace and accepted extramarital affairs have become.”

    This statement is false simply due to the last two words “have become”. The correct word is “are”. Extramarital affairs have always been a part of life. Men are not the only ones who stray. You’re not writing about anything new.

    Let’s be entirely honest here. This was meant to call attention to a small, emotional issue. The bigger issue is why does it cost 135 million euros to produce 1 kilometer of road in Russia and why do the neveau rich, the parvenues, have so much wealth that they cover their cars in gold? Vid here:

  3. R.R says:

    dont understand women(men) who put up with cheating or their hostile relationships. bad ending is better then endless madness.

  4. Igor says:

    I apologize for my language upfront, but in the original article you had thoroughly mixed “политику с блядством” – to quote a line from a joke popular during the times of “puritanical” ” communists”.


  5. Tim Newman says:

    I’d offer an opinion, but having spent almost my entire time in Russia living in an oil town, it would paint a pretty sordid picture which would likely not be representative of the more genteel types living west of the Urals.

  6. grafomanka says:

    Sounds like Moscow is the Great Babylon of our times. Kind of glad I don’t live there. Saying that, it’s interesting whether young (unmarried) Russians have so much casual sex, one night stands etc as British and Scandinavian folks.

  7. yacha says:

    If you look at some studies, there’s support to what you’re observing. Also one more interesting point raised in the study (link below), is that there was less awareness of the threat of STDs in Russia than in Northern European countries and that may have contributed to more lax attitudes toward cheating.

    It looks like women are more tolerant of cheating in Russia and there’s also more infidelity in marriages in Russia than comparisons in Sweden and Finland.

    About 35% of St. Petersburg women accepted male infidelity according to this study:

    Click to access gender_polarisation_liberalisation.pdf

    (take a look at page 17 and on). That is similar to how Finnish women judged marital infidelity in the 70s, but since then Finnish women became much less accepting.

    St. Petersburg men, meanwhile, are much less tolerant of a woman’s infidelity (about 20% accept it). And their attitudes closely match those of men in Sweden and Finland.

    As for actual cheating, it looks like about 35%+ of survey respondents said someone was cheating in their marriage, a higher percentage than in both Sweden and Finland. (p. 21)

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