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Between Paris and Moscow: Remarks from (and about) the Second Sex
Russian television personality and writer Eva Lanska, who divides her time between homes in Paris and Moscow, reflects on differences between the two cities and the women who inhabit them.
Text Eva Lanska

Paris is a well-kept, esthetically beautiful city, while Moscow is overpopulated, choked with cars, and constantly being torn up.

That said, Moscow is, of course, closer to my heart. Today Moscow is one of the most dynamic and fastgrowing cities in the world. The feel, the memories, the energy of this city are unforgettable, and it forces you to be in perpetual motion, to move constantly ahead.

Like when you are driving, and you’re at the very front of a lane of traffic. You look in the rearview mirror and see that there is a whole line of people behind you waiting to pass you if you hesitate for a moment. This competition keeps the pace up.

Of course, it’s really sad that in our city so little attention is paid to ecological issues. This is a contrast with Paris, where, for example, the basic elements of life — water and air — are just delicious. Coming from Moscow, they’re a real treat. I hope that someday we will get to the point here where we care as much about nature and ourselves as they do in France.

French women are diffrent from Russian women most of all in their degree of self-confidence and sense of control over their own future. A Frenchwoman knows, for example, that if her husband suddenly leaves her for another woman, he will have to divide their properly equally and honestly, pay alimony and child support, etc. He’ll have no way around it. Russian women, on the other hand, don’t feel protected by the law in any real sense.

In France, a woman can win a court case, even, for example, if the man promised to marry her and changed his mind. It’s the same thing with jobs and careers. In France, worker protection is one of the government’s top priorities.

French women are also more economical than Russians. You don’t see women going into a brand-name store and blowing their whole month’s salary on designer clothes. They are very thrifty, which is a good thing. The obverse side of that coin, though, is that they can be jealous, even when it comes to unimportant things. That sort of envy has become such a norm that they don’t even see it as a negative.

Another thing is that in Europe, a woman at age 30 is only starting her life. In Russia, age and stages of life are viewed in a completely different way. Many women see themselves as old at age 40 or 45 just because that’s what male opinion says.

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