3. Russia’s views on gender seemed outdated.
Several comments Russians made to me during my trip made me think that the views on gender in the country aren’t quite the same as in the US — or at least in liberal New York City, where I live.
Francesca Ebel wrote for the Associated Press earlier this year that while women in Russia may hold prominent government positions, “traditional gender roles still hold sway, and efforts to address problems like the gender pay gap, domestic violence and sexual harassment have hardly scratched the surface.”
Throughout my trip, locals seemed shocked that I was traveling alone in Russia as a woman.
During my two-day journey riding the Trans-Siberian Railway— the longest train line in the world — one of the Russian women sharing my compartment asked me, “You’re not afraid to travel in Russia alone?”
I shrugged. “Not really.”
“Because we are,” she said. “Russia is a dangerous place.”
While I was visiting a diamond mine in Siberia, a publicist for Alrosa, the country’s largest diamond miner, told me that doctors recommend women don’t work in the mines because it could harm their reproductive health.
And later in Moscow, a professional contact I spent a day with opened a car door for me and then immediately seemed concerned. He turned to me and asked in all seriousness, “In America, is it considered harassment now to open a door for a woman?”