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Objectification 101

by Tara

This morning, while Tyler showers, our host Evgeniy begins earnestly instructing me on the merits of various breast shapes and sizes. As he scrolls through an online forum where Russian women regularly compete for prizes by posting photos of themselves topless (in this one, the best "rack" wins a FREE IPOD!), he explains that the "biggest tits" always win.

To Evgeniy, this is an outrage. Apparently size doesn't matter nearly as much as form! To be certain I understand, he proudly launches into a lengthy explanation about his non-discriminatory boob-appreciation-policy. In the middle of a sentence, he gets distracted by a naked woman holding a sign that probably says something like "Vote for me!"

"Look at those tits!" he commands, pointing at his computer screen. "They are sideways! In Russian we say коза. Sheet, how you say in English?" He types it the word into, a popular Russian translation engine. Successful, he turns to me triumphantly. "A goat! They are like goat! You see?"

Then Evgeniy grabs his own chest and shows me how his nipples tilt slightly outwards, so I will be sure to understand this important concept. "I am like goat, too!" he laughs. I sigh and shake my head, trying to be appreciative of this bonding moment it seems we're having.

While Evgeniy's remarks over the past few days have left me everywhere from from deeply offended and very upset, to short-of-breath-from-laughing-so-hard, I quickly learned there is little I can do about them. Attempting any kind of critical discourse is roughly as effective as spitting into the wind. Communicating why something is offensive is simply met with laughter and derision. Silly Americans, too politically correct, too easily offended.

Balcony View from the Balcony

Once everything is prepared, we thank our hosts for their hospitality. Evgeniy tells us it is nothing, and that we are silly Americans who always have to be polite. We don't say official goodbyes—after we spend a day or two with Tyler's cousin Elizabeth and her husband Max, we will perhaps return to Evgeniy and Svetlana's for one more night. Evgeniy feels certain he can get us a visa for Kazakhstan very quickly.

As we drive to Elizabeth's house, the air thick with smog and smoke from the peat fires outside the city, we look at each other in silence.

Moscow Smog & Towers

After three days with the high-strung, prismatic Evgeniy, we joke that we feel a bit colorless and plain, like the groom's parents, Rodney and Harriet, in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."