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My Story - The Russian Girls of Harbin

August 22, 2010

daria.jpgby David Richards

I spent last year teaching English in the 'Ice City' of China, Harbin, which is close to the Russian border.

During my stay, I spent few social evenings in mainstream Chinese society, instead gravitating to the clubs where Westerners and Russians congregated.   

A frequent sight on these evenings were beautiful Russian girls, the majority of whom were studying Chinese. Many of them looked like super models, wore revealing dresses and drank heavily, raring to go!

A young man's dream you might think. But the reality was much different. I found these girls to have a self-destructive lifestyle of alcoholism, drug abuse and casual prostitution.

The story I am about to relay encapsulates the experiences I had with Russian girls and provides valuable insight into the female psyche.

One night, in the middle of a Siberian winter, I was sitting in a bar. This night was typical; a giddy concoction of electronic beats, pint after pint of lager and fractured conversation creating an endless pattern.

And then I saw her. Across the bar was a pretty young Russian girl, a typical sight, but there was something different about her. She was a thin pale girl with black hair and a black dress, and curiously on her chest were tattooed two blue love birds facing each other in song.

She held a fag loosely in her hand and surveyed the club with a mild sneer. She had a unique presence and I couldn't take my eyes off her.

Now don't think this will be a bawdy tale of sexual conquest. I had been in the city long enough to observe the tricks and dangers of these girls. The Russian girls I knew gave the impression of being promiscuous but in reality they used sexual suggestion as a weapon. They can drink their own bodyweight in spirits and expected the guy to pay for the night. It was a common sight to see a man hunched over the bar in the early hours of the morning, his sexual hopes fading into a boozy blur as she casually talked to a friend.

Many of the girls also practiced casual prostitution; they would lead guys on and ask them to make an offer. They seemed to reason it was like casual sex with a cash bonus. The willing men were usually wealthy students from Africa who were kitted out like their rap idols, wearing basketball shirts and oversized jewelry, and had an insatiable lust for white girls.

For girls who shunned this behavior the price of dignity could be high. One girl I knew worked all week on top of her studies in a bar for only 8rmb (80p) an hour. She could have earned a month's pay in one degrading night.

It took me a while to reconcile prostitution with these often intelligent and charming girls, but sometimes they would hint at a familiarity with the underworld and it gave me a glimpse into the degeneracy of their homeland.

One night, two girls casually told me with utter indifference that a boy in their dormitory had been missing for a week. They had been knocking on his door and phoning him but to no avail, so eventually the Chinese security guards checked the CCTV footage of his corridor and it showed him entering his room one night with three Russian men, and the men emerging five minutes later with a body bag. He had gotten involved with drugs. 

I was not naïve enough to imagine I could tame the girl I saw at the bar. I had an English friend with a Russian lover and it was like watching a cat toying with a mouse. She would scold him for neglecting her emotions one minute, then criticize him for being clingy the next. Rare moments of warmth and affection were spread out between long Siberian wintermoods, with the smallest misdemeanor provoking a public dressing down.

I wondered why she insisted on playing the role of a cruel mistress but the more I knew her the more I realized her persona was the tip of the iceberg. I saw a scar on her wrist, and her friend told me that she had been living with a boyfriend in Russia and had cried every day for six months upon coming to China. These girls were damaged goods and more trouble than they were worth.

The Russian girls of Harbin were like the Sirens of ancient Greek myth who lured nearby sailors to shipwreck. But there was something unusual about this girl, so I decided to speak to her.

daria1.jpgI introduced myself and found her name was Daria. We immediately started laughing together. She had a quite a cruel wit but a sparkle in her eye. She was only 17 and her parents had sent her to study in China against her wishes and she loathed it. 

Over the next few months we became good friends.  She was a difficult friend. She would stop contact for long periods of time and borrow money I never saw again. It was almost certainly spent on a low-grade hallucinogenic drug popular with the Russians, which took her to 'a beautiful alternative reality.' I persevered because I recognized something true in her. 

One night I saw her looking very ill and weak in a club, no doubt because she lived on booze and fags and it was taking its toll. She was asking for money from a guy and he and his friends were being abusive and laughing at her.

I picked her up and took her to McDonald's to get something to eat. She ate and cheered up under the bright lights and gaudy childish artwork on the walls. As our conversation developed I asked what would make her happy.

 Love, she replied. I was shocked. Maybe there is a Russian boy I can be with forever. I looked at the love birds tattooed on her chest, and saw the damaged child inside. I sat with her until sunrise.

Daria taught me that despite their sexy and dangerous veneer, the Russian girls desired what all women innately want; love, a family, a good home.

In another life they could have been loving wives and caring mothers but like a nation hit by an atomic bomb, they grew up on ashes of Soviet destruction and were robbed of everything but their sexual desirability, which they weaponize to dupe men. 

We in the West should take warning in the fact these damaged girls are a product of cultural degeneration and a shattered economy, and wherever these circumstances arise, so will they.

Scruples - the game of moral dillemas

Comments for "My Story - The Russian Girls of Harbin"

Ronald said (August 24, 2010):

I went 3 summers to Harbin. There are a lot of Russian girls there and while I met a few out and about I didn't see what David Richards did. The Russian girls I met were nice girls who weren't into the bar scene (neither was I) and were not sluts.

Yes, they did dress sexy. That appears to be the national pastime for females throughout Russia. Russian women will rarely go out without being dressed up in as sexy a dress as possible. Here we would say they look like sluts because of the tight, revealing clothes. However, the reality is that they just want to display their femininity. Remember under the Soviets they were not allowed to, they had to be good socialist women without makeup and fancy clothes. So some of this is a reaction still going on 20 years after the fall of communism.

Russian girls have a curious dichotomy - traditional and wild. They want to be fully female, which they couldn't do under communism. They don't want to be men or work like a man - and they definitely prefer strong men.

They don't have a strong religious moral background so casual sex doesn't mean what it does here. And if the girls are short on their tuition or rent, they will sleep with a few guys for money but do not consider themselves prostitutes. In fact they consider themselves good, moral girls because they don't sleep with everyone. Of course, there are real prostitutes available everywhere in Russia, including the major hotels.

In the ages from 18 to 35 there are about twice the number of girls looking for husbands than there are men. There is a severe shortage of men, why I don't know. Out of the men available many are lazy, or on vodka or drugs, or otherwise not a good choice. Many men want their wives/girlfriends to work and support them. Perhaps a leftover from Soviet times. Other girls think a man should care for their every whim. But there are many girls who still want to be traditional wives and mothers, even if they have to work and balance husband, work and family.

The society overall is still strongly patriarchal, although many younger girls have grown up on American TV programs and have absorbed feminist ideas, and use sex to get what they want. And they definitely want the good life, with clothes, jewelry, perfumes, trips, fancy meals, etc. Children are mainly born to teens who don't use birth control. Most only want one child, and then perhaps in their late twenties. That way they can enjoy being young and spend their money.

But as I said, I did not see either in Harbin, nor in Russia, the despair that David Richards described in the girls of Harbin. I think these girls must be the typical party girls emulating the West.

It is true, however, that Russians are more fatalistic than Americans and don't believe everything will work out well. The upside of that is they don't have the swing from optimism to despair that many American women evidence. Life is simply life. Cope. Make of it what you can.

There is also the viewpoint in Russia that you cannot predict the future, nor can you plan much in advance as everything is always changing in Russia, especially with regards to economic stability. We plan for years in advance, they plan a few days and wonder if that is too bold.

Christine said (August 24, 2010):

Your article on the Lost Girls of Harbin struck a raw nerve. Every year in my tourist city, we are invaded by Russian college kids who take jobs that would ordinarily go to locals. Since the unemployment rate is now estimated at 25%, we here in the USA are wondering why this is happening.

The Russian girls get into trouble because these girls don't seem to understand that you can't run around loose at night and expect to have a trouble free life. Do they have mothers?

As you can imagine, the results have been horrific. E.g., one girl was attacked, badly beaten, and has never really recovered. She still lives here, and many of the college kids don't go home.

They seem to get first dibs on jobs we Americans can't get. Even one of the postmen is Russian.

It's too bad the writer of your article frequents bars. Has he noticed that you can't meet nice girls there?

While I'm sure there are lots of bad Russian girls, I'm also sure the good ones don't hang out in bars.

Manuel2 said (August 23, 2010):

Actually being in an almost identical situation as Peter [below] I can corroborate what he says. I have had very young girls expose themselves sexually to me and work colleagues and even one 12 year old american girl coming up to me and telling me she liked me (I am in my twenties). I don't know if this is due to young girls watching porn as much as them watching mainstream tv( is there any real difference anymore?)

Peter said (August 23, 2010):

I'm a big fan of your website and read it on every occasion that a new article is available. I like this new direction you have taken in sort of out-sourcing some of the articles to real people out there in the world. It gives it a very real and visceral feel. It takes the experience and message away from 'a grumpy religious curmudgeon' to the most important thing: real, live young people out in the world who attest to your words of wisdom on these most important of topics. I'm not saying you're a grumpy curmudgeon, that is simply the perception with which some could and probably do dismiss your writings on topics of youth, sexuality, love, etc. To many perhaps you're 'behind the times' and living in a bygone era. So giving voice to your concerns through young minds with these articles is a brilliant idea that I would think opens up a whole new demographic of readership interest and gives the problem a very real and immediate impact.

I'm writing this in response to the latest article by David Richards whose writings I've grown to appreciate, and from what I recall he's quite young to boot, early 20's even perhaps? He has a nice way of writing his experiences with prose driven individual stories that encapsulates a small given 'theme' in each article.

It's important to give such example stories and then derive the meaning, or theme from them as you two do.

Peter said (August 23, 2010):

eading the article by the English teacher about the girls in China, reminds me
of something I see here on the Costa de Sol in Spain.
I work in a five star hotel, the clientele being the well to do from all over
Europe. I work in the restaurant serving customers in a certain capacity. There
are a lot of family groups.and the kids are left to their own devices. What I
notice often are the young girls - some as young as eight or nine - who - put it
this way - look at me with the knowing eyes of girls much older My intuition is
usually good and I get the sense that these young girls are very aware and
probably watch pornography. I am a young man in my early 20's and the way they
look at me makes me nervous because it is inappropriate. Young girls of 9
shouldn't be looking at young men that way ! My friend agrees and says "Oh
they're watching pornography"

We all know that the internet rides on a huge sea of porn. This might make an
interesting - and pretty horrifying - topic for your web site.

Manuel said (August 23, 2010):

Great article, I like this trend of how the site has become a way for
regular people to share their stories related to how the NWO is
affecting our lives. Hope this doesn't stop.

Richard said (August 23, 2010):

First class article by the English teacher living near the Sino-Russian border.

"In another life they could have been loving wives and caring mothers but like a nation hit by an atomic bomb, they grew up on ashes of Soviet destruction and were robbed of everything but their sexual desirability, which they weaponize to dupe men."

Henry Makow received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982. He welcomes your comments at