Vladimir Rakovsky teaching Russian women in his popular course, "bitchology."

MOSCOW (February 16, 2007 03:54 PM EST) How to become an accomplished, independent and happy woman in Russia? Be a sexy bitch, says a popular new course. In a country where women are often referred to as the weaker sex and politics and business are dominated by macho men, a Russian woman's quest for success is never easy. Photo by  Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press

But psychologist Vladimir Rakovsky claims to have found the recipe for a woman to achieve whatever she wants: manipulate men using her feminine charms.

In his Stervologiya (Bitchology) class, he makes his students practice such things as saying "I have a big ass, do you want to touch it?" or squeezing their breasts while cooing "Hey mister!"

Feminists dismiss the course as fostering old stereotypes, treating women as sex objects who should don a miniskirt to find love or get promoted at work.

Yet Rakovsky, 41, who holds a psychology degree from a top Russian university, says he isn't dissing women by encouraging them to achieve success through sexuality.

"A sterva is a successful, confident woman, a caring mother and a passionate lover."

A bitch, he says, isn't mean or domineering; she's a gentle, artful manipulator, somebody who will flirt and smile to get what she wants from a man - be it her boyfriend or her boss.

"The man is the head and she is the neck who turns the head in the needed direction," explains Rakovsky.

--- Photo by  Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press


The class begins with a lecture on self-presentation. The students - about a dozen women mostly in their late 20s and 30s, all diligently wearing dressy skirts, low necklines and perfect makeup - listen quietly and with unconcealed admiration as Rakovsky lists the virtues that would make them real sterva: self-esteem, physical attractiveness, fitness, sexuality, education, social status and financial independence.

When another student arrives late and takes off her coat, revealing a red blouse that barely conceals her ample bust, giggles and cheers ripple through the hall and Rakovsky invites the group to give the student a round of applause for doing good homework.

The women then are asked to walk around the classroom, swaying their hips, parading their breasts and smiling sexily to the instructor and each other to pop music.

"Draw yourself up, show it to me! Show us that you like to be stared at!" Rakovsky tells Lana, a timid skinny brunette. She's visibly uncomfortable, but says she hopes the class, which cost her about $200, will help boost her self-esteem and finally find a boyfriend.

Shy and giggly at first, the women eventually relax and enjoy the drills, continuing to wiggle their butts and turn around on their high heels even when the music stops.

"Now we'll learn how to get men," Rakovsky says.

--- Photo by  Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press


When it comes to seduction, the 41-year-old Rakovsky defers to his "latest and I think my last" wife Yevgeniya Steshova, an eye-catching 21-year-old model with long dark hair, sporting a brazen miniskirt and a see-through black shirt.

As Rakovsky turns on music, Steshova and three assistants walk in front of the group is if in a fashion show, demonstrating three kinds of walk:

- The "girl walk," a seemingly innocent but flirtatious gait with the tip of the woman's index finger inside her mouth.

- The "young woman" walk: a more coquettish and assertive step.

- The "femme fatale" walk: a passionate - even somewhat aggressive - stride of a woman about to enslave a man.

As part of the exercise Steshova and her assistants also approach the students, sitting in quiet astonishment on a row of chairs, and perform lap dances on them, prompting some to giggle, others to blush and still others - the fastest learning students - to play along.

 "I help them find their sexuality and learn how apply it," she says.

Rakovsky then exhorts his students to make use of these skills not only on dates but also in the office, saying that a short skirt and bright-red lipstick has never hurt anyone.

"A woman must always be a woman, even in the office," he says. "A boss is not interested in a robot, he is interested in an attractive, interesting woman, who is also a professional."

--- Photo by  Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press


Western-style feminism has been slow to catch on in Russia.

In the Soviet era, all men and women were proclaimed equal "comrades" and thus officially there was no need to defend women's rights. Women plowed fields, shoveled snow and labored at factories along with their male colleagues. However, the men still ended up holding the majority of government and management posts.

At home, despite both spouses' busy work day, most of the cooking, cleaning, ironing and child-rearing fell on the wives, with the husbands - as a joke had it - busy with much less mundane issues, such as whether life exists on Mars.

Today, things are slowly changing. Maria Arbatova, arguably Russia's first feminist, says 10 years ago she was pestered with "exotic" questions - some perceived her as a lesbian others as a man hater.

Nowadays, even though a feminist is still perceived as "a woman who wants too much," and women face discrimination in many spheres, Arbatova says Russian women are increasingly moving up the social ladder, becoming top managers and leaders. In politics, however, there are still few women.

Nascent Russian feminism has a special national flavor, Arbatova says: it is more feminine than in the West.

"On the whole, Russian women tend to present themselves more through clothes and makeup," she explains. Partly, its due to constant shortages of decent clothes and makeup they experienced in the Soviet times. Partly, it's because so many men perished in Soviet gulags and World War II "sowing a myth about men's super-value," that women had to work hard to attract the attention of those who survived.

In Arbatova's view, Rakovsky's class is nothing but a "bumpkin place for silly and easy-to-fool women."



Yet, many of Rakovsky's students disagree.

Olga Kharitonova, a soft-spoken 30-year-old project manager with short brown hair, is divorcing her husband because he didn't live up to her expectations.

Kharitonova, - or Pussy Cat as she identifies herself on her name badge in a bow to Rakovsky's teachings - says the husband didn't earn enough money and didn't support her and her son.

Once she completes the course, Kharitonova hopes to meet a man who would not be scared off by her achievements - a man whom she would let take charge.

"I want to be next to a strong husband, I want to know my place," she says. "Yes, he will be strong, but I won't have to worry about anything. I will feel comfortable in that warm, cozy place."


asap contributor Maria Danilova is an AP reporter based in Moscow.


WOMEN AND MONEY -- Bitchy and proud of it

By MARIA DANILOVA -- The Associated Press

Photo by  Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press

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Цитата момента 

Жизнь ставит тебя в определенные рамки.
Ты или ломаешься, или нет.
В этом и есть сила.
И еще, мне кажется, сила заключается в том, чтобы ту самую силу скрыть.
Выглядеть ласковой, нежной, беззаботной, зажигательной, не способной принимать решения, зависимой от мужчины.
По-моему в этом и есть самая большая сила. Остальное — слабость.

Лолита Милявская