When I was in high school, all of my friends were afraid to come over because they thought my dad was in the Russian mafia. Sure, he had an accent thicker than Pumpernickel bread, he always paid in cash whenever he took me and my girlfriends out to eat, and you could pretty much guarantee he was in his office talking on the phone with a Russian “pal” or doing “business” whenever he was home, but all those things were purely coincidental, and could easily be explained. He had an accent because he’s from Russia. Don't let your jaw hit the floor here, but you’re born somewhere else besides the U.S., sometimes you have an accent. I think he paid in cash because he didn’t trust debit cards. And he was on the phone all the time because A) he basically knows every single Russian Jew in America and all of Eastern Europe, and B) he was always working. See? Not so scary.
But Russians are always perceived as such, probably because of Cold War holdovers and cartoons like The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, whose Boris and Natasha characters didn't exactly help us out in eradicating stereotypes. And maybe because Putin is kind of an unstable joke (but you can say that about most American presidents and vice-presidents, too). Everyone thinks Russians are crazy, perma-drunk, and infinitely angry—and that’s probably true sometimes, but mostly it’s not! We’re regular people, I swear. Here are some more Russian stereotypes which are, for the most part, untrue:
All Russians love vodka
A lot of Russians do like vodka, and that’s because at one point it was cheaper than water, and also because it's delicious and gets you drunk, so honestly, what's not to like? Vodka was so cheap in Russia, that in 2010, former President Medvedev hiked up the price from a $1.96 to $3 for a half-liter, as to deter people from guzzling it down. BUT STILL, guys—not all Russians like vodka. They like other alcohol too, like tequila and beer. And some, believe it or not, don’t drink at all. *Gasp*
Pretty Russian women are probs Russian brides and gold diggers
I ain’t sayin’ she a gold digger, but wait—yeah, I’m definitely saying she’s most likely not a gold digger, because to assume all Russian women want to get on some American D for money is annoying and inaccurate. Does it happen? Of course. But it’s not different than the Real Housewives we have in U.S.
Russian ladies are submissive and just cook a lot
Oh, hell no. Every Russian woman I know will not hesitate to knock her husband out if he dares touch her. And Russian women like to cook, but they also order take-out, too. Like many other humans do.
We are anti-laughter
As you can tell by every single Russian photograph featuring stolid, severe faces, Russians don’t generally smile a whole lot. That’s kinda true, but it’s not because they’re not funny or happy. Russians are hilarious. But culturally, we don’t smile at strangers for the sake of being “polite” because we consider this gesture weird and a waste of time. Smiling for pictures makes you look like a derelict in their eyes, so that’s out of the question, too.
Everyone wears those furry hats (ushankas)
I mean, that’s like saying all Americans wear baseball caps.
Russia is basically one giant ice cube
It gets really, really cold, but Russians also experience beautiful summers, too. Vacation spots like Sochi (you know, where the Olympics were held last year) are actually super warm.
Russians have pet bears
I think not (although I wish).
We only read Dostoyevsky, Pinsky, Tolstoy, and Nabokov
All excellent authors, and I highly recommend Ada or Ardor and Anna Karenina when you have a few weeks of spare time, but Russians are avid readers all around.
Russians miss the USSR and they’re Communists
I mean, I guess some do and some are? The Soviet era was a super crucial time for many Russians. It was a time of tremendous advancements in science and economic prosperity. When the USSR collapsed, Russia’s GDP was sliced in half. Like, when we see the turmoil between Ukraine and Russia, it isn’t because they’re hating on each other for fun—there’s a lot of history behind Russia and its former states. But with that said, no, Russians don’t worship Stalin.
Everyone is in the Russian Mob
That would be super cool and intimidating, but most Russians are normal people with normal jobs. Sorry.
All of us are bad drivers
Since Russian dash cams are the new cute animals on YouTube, I see where that notion comes from. And some Russians are bad drivers and will drive badly on purpose to extort you, and Russian cars are typically pieces of garbage. BUT like any country, Russia has a variety of drivers at all different skill levels.
Russians are homophobic
Just because Putin is a homophobic monster doesn’t mean all Russians are. For the most part, Russians really don’t care either way. Sure, our crotchety old Russian grandmas and grandpas are a bit put off by “the gays”, but a lot of old people across the globe are ignorant and not so progressive.
Russian ladies are especially vain
Okay, yes, I have yet to meet a Russian woman who isn’t covered in make-up and perfume and wearing DKNY when she’s out and about, but let’s not pretend American women aren’t obsessed with their looks.
We’re insanely rude
No, we keep it real. There is a difference.
Okay, Russians are very, very expressive. My mother waves and shakes her hands like she’s having a seizure when she’s just talking about the weather. We’re loud. Go out to dinner with my family, and you will hear my dad start singing a Russian folk song like he’s doing karaoke.
Russians like weapons
Eh, probably not more than Americans, honestly.
We have our own version of Winnie the Pooh
Okay, this is entirely true and he’s better than yours.
Images: Astronesian Expeditions/Flickr; Giphy(10)