Sunday, 19 April 2009

"Natashas" and some other stereotypes

So, I am thinking….What makes someone a whore? I have been wondering about that since I came across that blog where a clearly frustrated expat lady talked about every girl in Baku (who is out after 9pm) being a prostitute. Also, as my mate Atilla the troll claimed, I was a woman of "corrupt morality". Which made me wonder-Am I? And if not, what makes me any different from some others?

And let’s clarify here. I am not talking about professionals, who take a fee for their services. I am talking about certain girls back home, who are often indeed, hunting for foreign husbands. (But would often settle for some comfortable temporary arrangement, foreign or local).
I like to call them amateurs. Because, technically speaking, they are not whores, are they.

At university, we never really went out much. Our entertainment finished before dinner time, and if we had a party, it would be at someone’s flat, with dishes prepared by the girls, alcohol bought by the boys, and some slow dancing with a bit of intimate touching. (And when I say intimate touching I mean hands moving a few centimeters below the official waistline.)

After the university I got a job with an oil company and started meeting expats through work. Made some good friends, both locals and expats. We started going to (at that time) the only two clubs in town. However, what was the norm for us, was outrageous for the majority of locals. And the local police were convinced most of us were prostitutes.
And of course, some of the girls who went out at nights and went to the same clubs were indeed, either professionals or amateurs. To me, it was always very obvious who was who. But perhaps, not to the local police. To such a traditional local man, any woman out at night was of course, a prostitute-what else could she be? To someone living on the outside of this whole expat community circle, we surely all looked like some axes of evil sent by the demons to corrupt local traditions.

I still have no idea whether those men, who chased taxis after 12 at night, and asked for documents (read: money) were plain clothes policemen, or just some self-proclaimed gangsters. At some point, going out at night got really unpleasant. If you were out late, and if you had a male companion in the taxi with you, you knew you could be stopped any minute. We were all worried, as we heard scary tales about girls being taken to Romani- a women’s jail outside the city for alleged prostitution. And getting locked up in Romani, trust me, is NOT something you want to happen. Luckily, you could always either drop a few ochen vajniy (VIP) names, or pay a few bucks to be left alone. (Or pretend to be foreign- works a treat if your English is good enough.)

But I have to admit, I judge people. I tend to jump to conclusions when I see certain types of women from back home. How can I blame that expat lady blogger, or Atilla the troll for assuming things, when I myself make assumptions? It is just too easy, isn’t it: Goes out at night back in Baku? Oh, must be a prostitute. Short skirt and bleached hair? Oh, definitely one of those. Eastern-European girl with a foreign husband? No doubt, she married him for his passport. So many stereotypes, so easily applied.

And trust me, not only by the trolls.

Once, when I just moved here, I took my baby girl to a local Mother and Baby group. As we all introduced ourselves, a lady next to me exclaimed:
-Oh, Baku! My friend’s husband worked there for a few years. I heard, all women in Baku are prostitutes- is that true?

What can you say when someone asks you something like that?

I smiled back, and told her I was sorry her friend obviously had problems in her marriage. In a few days, when I ran into her on the street, I pretended I did not recognise the bitch.

27 comments:

  1. It never fails to amaze me what people will say to Eastern Europeans (or about Eastern Europeans).

    'All the woman in Baku are prostitues' Who says that to someone from Baku? Good grief.

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  2. The situation in Baku with prostitutes and women out at night seems to be cyclical and just reinforces itself. Women who are interested in going out at night are either looked at like they're hookers, or treated as such. Unless they're actually depending on this lifestyle for a living, it seems like most people would say 'well to hell with that' and then not put themselves in similar situations where people will judge them. Then, the percentage of regular women goes down because of social pressure and then the percentage of prostitutes goes up, which reinforces the stereotype that all the girls out after dark are 'working.'

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  3. The situation is actually very serious. Me and my expat fiance go out a lot, because, firstly, I'd been to the western europe for some years, secondly, because I am not a traditional azeri woman, my values are very pro-western and by that I mean a lot. By that I mean sex before marriage, by that I mean moving in together.
    The expat community is deteriorating in here in terms of going outs and having fun:
    It seems to me the expat society is getting sicker as well. Whenever you enter some pub or a club, most of the expats look down at you like you are a hard-core prostitute. Our society has been poisoning them as well. After all, what should they think if they see only women there for sex?

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  4. @Anonymous: Hi! I did notice, to be honest, that the atmosphere in baku bars got worse. I noticed a lot of women who looked like very, very cheap whores indeed. And fewer 'normal' local girls. Whereas before, in my days (ha- I sound like a 70 year old!) it was totally different. Most of the girls were modern local women who just worked for foreign companies and hung out in expat locations to avoid getting harassed by "chushkas". But nowadays...I felt I would not enjoy going out in Baku bars anymore. Sadly, the place feels different now, throughout.

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  5. who the fuck can say that kinds of words about baku?! just tell her to shut her mouth fuckin up! prostitutes are everywhere yes thats true, but talking in that way about all the women in my city is really really god damn unbearable.. tell that bitch to speak for herself! if she was right next to me now, i'd fuckin finish her off !

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  6. @Anonymous.....

    I get this strange feeling that you might be a little upset by that woman's words? :)

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  7. I am going to Baku in a couple months with my fiance while he's there for work. We're American, I'm 31, he's 33. I'm an avid photograher and I've never been to the region and I'm really looking forward to experiencing the dynamic culture. A few of my pictures/stories have been featured in National Geographic (mostly South American) and I hope to be able to do so again with photos of Baku.
    Although prosititution doesn't phase us the least - to each his own we say - the guys he works with told us because prostitution is such a problem, non-prostitute women get hassled for being out past a certain time or alone in certain areas, and/or they get propositioned by men mistaking for sex - sometimes agressively. I'm the type who will go about on my own photographing, studying, marvelling over the sights a new place offers; however, should I be concerned to do this in Baku?
    We were told some hotels are brothels in and of themselves (Park Hyatt) and the local police force are as much on the take as pimps themselves, that valuables should either be kept on our person or left home in the states. We will be staying at the Park Inn Hotel on the Caspian Sea. I have read every travel advisory site, but I don't feel they ever give you a true feeling of 'living' in a place. I'm hoping you could shed some light as to the Park Inn hotel and surrounding pubs/bars where everyday 'ladies' could mistaken for prostitutes.
    Having heard so much about this particular way of live in Baku, I'm tempted to do a piece on it too.
    Any guidance at all would be extremely appreciated. We will be there from March 25th thru June 3rd. Thank you very much in adance.
    Jen

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  8. Hey there,
    I do not think that prostitution is such a huge problem in Baku, to be honest. It won't really be a problem for you, I would not think. I also assure you that locals will identify you are a photographer/foreigner, even if you tried hard to look like a local prostitute! :) You won't fool anyone. And locals don't normally harass expats. It is a safe environment and you will be just fine. Of course, within a reason. dont go wandering around town alone in the dark corners drunk at 4am and you will be just fine.
    If you ever need a chat just email me on
    scaryazeri@gmail.com
    I might use this question for the magazine column I write, if that's OK. :)

    PS Park Inn on the caspian sea? If it is on the Crescent beach then that is a very isolated place actually. it is nice and in late May would be a lovely place to stay, right on the beach. But you will probably be happier in town. I would stay in the Hyatt if I were you, to be honest. It would be easier for you to go out at nights, as everything is at your doorstep. I doubt the gossip about the HYatt being a brothel has any truth in it. It is a fab hotel. trust me. :)You will love your stay. Let me know how you find it once you are there! Enjoy my home town!

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  9. Is it just me or are you intentionally portraying expats as some seperate, I would dare say even divine species? What is the point of all this emphasis on Bp expats?
    May be 10-15 yrs ago they were seen like that by many, USSR being closed country for so long, but not nowadays. They were like ticket "to get out".
    Besides, cheap women are not interested in natinality, but wallet. The wallet of the local crooks got thicker and thicker since the oil boom. So nobody sees expat = prince on white horse I think.

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  10. @Anonymous: It is you. :)

    I am not sure what "emphasis on BP expats" you are talking about. I think you are just being extra sensitive.

    I am also glad to hear that Azeri cheap women prefer local crooks these days, that makes things a lot cooler! National pride can relax now.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. I visit Baku frequently for work. Going out for a drink with clients after work you can stand back and people watch... Young girls tarted up to the night propositioning middle aged male oil workers. If you don't call them prostitutes, not sure what you do call them?

    I've stayed at the hyatt, it's a nice hotel with good service. Although I swear it has bed bugs! Every time I come home from a trip to Baku I'll find a load of bites on my back and legs!

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  12. @Anonymous: But surely, you can tell the difference? Can you not tell who is a professional, and who is not?

    I am sure there are no bugs at the Hyatt. :) The bites must be from the vampire mosquitoes. A special Azeri type.

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  13. I'm living in Canada for 11 years. I love Canada. It was, and it is my home for all this years. Honestly, i truly don't understand pretty much what is going on in my back home now,but reading this articles I can say there is not much changes since I left. I would say things at some point become even worth.Unfortunately, mentality doesn't change a bit.When I was young girl ( Soviet Regime era) I was very openminded. For person like me, living in that kind of society was such a challenge. It's like being suffocated all the time.I fill very sorry for all those local girls who don't have much opportunity in they lives. I'm not optimistic about future in that region. It doesn't matter how rich this society grows financially. If mentality toward women doesn't change, nothing will change.

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  14. in short - Baku is extremely safe place, friendly people. You can find prostitues everywhere in the world. Baku is not a top destination for sex shoppers. But you certainly can find what you need.
    City's outlook is one of the best I have ever seen, especially night time. No wonder, state is spending fortunesssss for nice look.
    Overall, it is grate experience. Cousine, fun, safety,life style. All is simply grate. What is unfortune - Baku became unreasonably expensive place to be. Average dinner for two with average bottle of exported wine will cost around 100 manat (120 USD), which is high for that place. I pay almost the same bills in London's prime places.

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  15. such kind of blogs are settled by armenians to damage the image of azerbaijan . n there is smthing els i went several times to red light streets in amsterdam holland , and met many whores in streets of new yourk london , ind saw many german porn movies .so it means all dutch ,american n british women are sluts and prostitutes and germany is porn industry impire,in difference of azernaijan there is no porn movies and redlight streets????????

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  16. I have been in Baku, many times, i stayed in the Radissen and the Hyatt, the Hyatt is a real hookers hang out, they have no shame they aprouch you and ask you straight out if you want sex, but even if i wanted it at nearly $500 for the night, i dont think they will find many willing customers, as for Azari women generally, they are ok, good fun, and in most cases loyal if you are seeing them, i went out with one women though, Toma was here name , she had more men on the go, her scam was to get them to pay for apartments and furniture, then move on, bad women, think she married an italian, god bless him

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  17. shit i know this Toma, her real name is asgarkhanova, shes a real peice of work, shes fleeced more men than you have had hot dinners, the list is endless, i had the fate of knowing some of them, David, was one of them he went bankrupt because of her, and another welsh wizard lost $10000 to her watch her if you meet her, she used to live near the british embassy, if shes married an Italian, wonder if he knows her background

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  18. I am often in Baku. I am an foreigner and frequents bars sometimes

    I must say I have not had all these problems you are talking about, and find Azari girls to be decent and nice.

    I brought my girl friend here once. She say she will never come back. She had never experienced so agressive men as here

    She was nearly haraazed on the street, cars running up her side trying to get contact in the middle of the day. Guys coming over to her in restaurant asking her intimate questions

    Its not the girls here that is the problem. It's the local men. Pretending to be moderate and good muslims, but are plain through rough unpolite sexual agressive bastrads

    My girlfriend will never come back here. It a pitty, since we are travelling together where ever my work takes me. For a period now, it has been Baku. Luckely, I also have projects in other areas of the world, so she still gets to travel

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  19. I was a nice guy "friend without benefits" trying to help a so called friend in need. Got taken moderately. My open mind, and giving the benefit of the doubt, is much less open and cynical now. My limited experience with Azeri women is that that some should be in the movies because they are great actresses. I travel the world extensively, but this experience caught me blind.

    Expat

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  20. Ha the word "Natasha" for *that thing* is in itself something, you know... such a common Russian name...

    The line dividing whoredom and non-whoredom is not that easy to define, but that fact has nothing to do with the police confusing some college kids having fun for *that*. What I mean is that, what do you call a Turkish girl who makes an affair with a married 60 year old American guy visiting Istanbul, so that the guy divorces his loyal American wife of so many years to marry her instead. Now that Turkish lady has a kid with the guy, and my Mom tells me to be "nice" to her, but -- hell-- it is SO WEIRD.

    Yeah, when my Mom forwarded me some news about that nice family, I wrote to my Mom saying how WEIRD they still feel to me and that "even turks are becoming natashas now!" as if we Turkish girls are somehow emblems of nobility. LOL. Yeah. And, now that they are married and with a kid, I really should somehow RESPECT them. But the way it all happened was like ... so dirty.

    And, when my Mom scolded me with the "she is a nice girl though!" I was like, "yeah but natashas are nice too. niceness is not the problem with them. maybe they are *too* nice even hahaha" And, somehow, I could just bring the logical argument to this conclusion:

    Ok, so the problem is not that we should judge this Turkish lady with her new old American husband and kid, but maybe that we shouldn't judge natashas in the first place!!

    Yeah, so that is the only place that all these arguments lead. Because, you know what, Natashas are "nice" too! LOL

    PS: I can't speak for Azeri girls, though "Yahxi Cazibe" has upheld your wholesome image in Turkey (even though the girl isn't even Azeri). But, in Turkey, the girls seem VERY aware of their own sexuality, almost in a ... crafty? way.... far more than most American girls that I know. It does kind of disturb me, as an also-American, since people seem unaccustomed to "just being natural".

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  21. Is whore the one who perform sex for money?What do you call a woman who sleeps with the half of the town for fun? They are same in my eyes,don't know about yours.

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  22. I'll fuck anybody who says bad words about my beautiful city Baku.ok here there are some prostitutes but less than any city in the world. most Azeri girls are clever than any girl in the west most of them loose their virginity after marriage!!!!!!!!!!!!and that says everything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  23. What, Azeri prostitutes aren't beautiful?

    Also watch out: Somebody might find a way to give the Azeris IQ tests. How certain are you that Azeris would score as well or better than, say, Italians?

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  24. Expats do get a wrong impression about Eastern Eaurope, Central Asia, Caucasus etc, because of the foreign husband hunters. These are frequently desperate girls from low income families who want to get out of their countries.

    I do not think they are any worse than western women who marry the money. I mean... that gold digging western women get paid for their services with nice house, car, gifts, etc.; They look down on streetwalker but if you think what is the difference between her and a prostitute is that she has a legalized permanent "client," while prostitutes have more random encounters.

    Finally, the world needs to get over the obsession with virginity, because the reality is that most women cheat on their husbands, especially after 10 or 15 years of married and a few kids. The women who were medically virgins during the day of their marriage are more inclined to infidelity.

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  25. Hi everybody,

    Can you please advice me regarding the costs of living in Baku? I should come for working there, for a while, but I am not so convinced that my employer presented me the real facts regarding all these issues.
    On the other hand, please, you are not tired yet of speaking about prostitutes and whores all the time? Come on, must be other topics of interest regarding Baku, right?

    Thank you all!

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  26. hey anon. the rents will vary depending on where in the city you are planning to live. it can be as low as 80AZN (~$100USD) to as high as 3000+ AZN (~$3800USD).

    tinker

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