TINDER TENSIONS

Russian Women Are Hungry for a Sexual Revolution—and the World Cup Is Giving Them a Taste

During the month-long sports festival, Russian women are hooking up with fans from all over the world, leaving macho local men threatened and angry.

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

MOSCOW—In all of Kristina Gorbunova’s 19-year-long life, Moscow has never felt as fun and sexy as this summer of the World Cup. Every night has been full of free-floating emotions, flirting, and drinking with foreign visitors coming from all over the globe to party, watch soccer, and in many cases to find love in Russia.

Before the World Cup started last month, Kristina, a tall shop assistant with dark hair, and her shy friend Svetlana, a student at the Moscow Aviation Institute, did not think much of soccer (or football, as most of the world calls it). Kristina told The Daily Beast that long games on TV often disrupted her family evenings when she was a kid. But now, thanks to Antonio and Manuel, the new Mexican friends she and Svetlana have made, the game seems exciting.

In spite of the rain on Monday night, both women joined the ongoing party along Nikolskaya Street, the heart of the international football festival, just a few steps away from Red Square. Goodbye, loneliness—this cozy pedestrian street, decorated in happy lights, was calling the two women to dance, sing, hang out with new friends, hug and kiss with their new boyfriends.

“Rossiya, Rossiya, Rossiya!” the crowd on the veranda of the Varenichnaya #1 restaurant began to chant, celebrating Russia’s victory over Spain. Wrapped in a Mexican flag, Manuel passed his beautiful black velvet sombrero to Kristina: “Put it on, it will protect you from the rain,” he said. “Thank you,” Kristina responded in English with a big smile.

The two Russian women, with beer bottles in hand, began to giggle—they looked happy and free. “Even if this sexual revolution lasts for just one month, I want to enjoy it for as long as I have a chance,” Kristina told The Daily Beast. “Who knows? Maybe I am going to live [a lonely life] for years afterward, just like my sister and many girls I know.”

Russia is full of lonely women, who live longer than men and often take more responsibility for the upbringing of their children. “My mother keeps telling me that I should be selective, careful. She is worried about me on the one hand, and on the other hand I think she would be happy if I found a good man to marry, even if that man is not from Russia,” Svetlana said.

Both Kristina and Svetlana were aware of the gender war that has erupted online: Russian men have been attacking women on social networks for having intimate relations with foreign football fans. The Russian internet is flooded with hateful comments and video blogs condemning “Natashas” for supposedly shaming their country. On one blog the author criticized three Russian women for repeating vulgar words in Portuguese without knowing what they mean. It seems that some Brazilian football fans decided to make fun of their local female friends, making them chant “buceta rosa,” which means, in polite translation, “pink vagina.”

Vitaly Popov, who runs a successful start-up, was among the men feeling angry at the so-called Tinder street parties by Red Square. “With all due respect for our women, I honestly do not understand their attraction to Latin and African men these days,” Popov, a 32-year-old divorcé, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “My ears hurt when I hear these shallow conversations between Russian girls and foreign guys on Nikolskaya Street. They drink together and have sex; it has nothing to do with long-term fun.”

The Russian media is taking the gender war seriously. “This war might grow into a sexual revolution capable of liberating women from the burden of public opinion,” Lenta.ru, a news site, editorialized last weekend. The article quoted a critic of the “Tinder World Cup” in its headline: “They are ready to spread their legs at the sound of a foreign language.”

The article quoted a Russian racist, Andrei Milyan, who said he feared that as a result of dating foreign football fans, Russian women would give birth to non-white children: “And then it will all turn into a colored compote. I am white and I respect my race.”

Not many Russian men realize the extent to which women are fed up with their sexist view of things, their abusive behavior, and their shameless cheating.

Women have their reasons for feeling disappointed. Many have been dreaming of revenge for a while. According to the latest polls, more than 2 million young Russians, men as well as women, dream of escaping abroad. So it’s not surprising that Russian women are looking for foreign boyfriends and husbands in the 11 cities hosting the World Cup games. 

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“Nobody has a right to interfere in my sex life, especially some racist, sexist, infantile boys who have no idea how to treat women,” Kristina told The Daily Beast on Monday.

“I haven’t had sex in a long time, since I broke up with my rude boyfriend, simply because I don’t find the guys at our university attractive or maybe because I’m not lucky,” Svetlana admitted, before giving a big smile to her new boyfriend, a football fan from Mexico.