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Despite her commitment to the cause, Popova says that many male protesters told her to sit at home and make borscht instead of turning out to organize rallies.
It’s an attitude—expressed in the traditional Russian adage that “an accomplished woman is a married woman”—that exasperates Popova.
A professional dancer and the art director of Moscow’s new Leica Academy, she favors a wardrobe of black designer threads that hang gracefully on her trim frame.
She is a fixture of Russia’s avant-garde art circles, and can often be found hosting hip gallery openings, welcoming visitors to photography exhibits at the Russian Academy of Arts, or teaching art students at the Rodchenko Photo School.
At Start Up Women, a recent conference held in Moscow, hundreds of glamorous female entrepreneurs discussed how to take over consumer markets through online social networks.
Most of these women admitted to being disillusioned by the way their career paths were blocked by male colleagues.
“Their parents had no tradition of sitting down and talking things over, either.” After watching several relationships with Russian boyfriends fall apart, Shubina realized that she needed to redefine her idea of happily ever after.
“As a teen, I always thought I would be married by my early 20s” she says.In Russia as a whole, there are 11 million more women than men, due in part to a century of bloody revolutions, gulags, and wars that drained the country’s male population.Add to that the fact that male life expectancy is particularly grim in Russia—on average, 59 years, as opposed to a woman’s 73 years, the largest gap of any country in the world—and you’ve got a serious demographic imbalance.Others have resigned themselves to a life of singledom, rather than wrestle their boyfriends into the role of a modern, supportive partner.“Most [Russian men] have no clue how to communicate,” says 40-year-old Maria Shubina, a leading researcher at the Boris Yeltsin Foundation in Moscow.“I am sick of men always treating me as if I were somebody’s dumb secretary, unable to make my own decisions!