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The majority of my female students think it is a woman’s place to cook for men, to clean the apartment, to look after men generally and to always look beautiful.

It is their primary role to be slim, fit and sexy at all times in order to please men. This is why I have been discussing feminist literature with my female students and asking my male students lots of questions about cooking, then telling them how an egg is boiled.

In my view the ‘tough Siberian woman’ is a bit of a false cliché: my female students are probably busy beautifying themselves right now or thinking about what they should be doing to please someone else rather than what they’d like to do as people.

At the same time one could argue that Siberian women are tougher than women elsewhere because they exist in such an old fashioned patriarchal society and therefore have a longer road to empowerment.

Picture: Michael Oliver-Semenov As you asked, I have to say that in my opinion she ‘wears the trousers’: she makes the majority of decisions when it comes to spending money, where we spend our holidays, our future plans; she even edits my work and advises me what to submit to each publisher. Men like to ‘appear’ as the boss when in fact women always have the upper hand; that’s how marriage works doesn’t it?

In Russia there is an expression that goes something like this: ‘Russian women can stop running horses in their tracks’.

They, like women all over, have to live in a male dominated world and put up with the same crap, while constantly competing for equal rights and fairness.

While I haven’t seen any evidence of Siberian women displaying super-human strength I can say that for the most part they are very stoic and hard-working.Siberian women especially have a reputation for being tough, because Siberians are generally tougher than the average human being.Picture: Michael Oliver-Semenov Siberian women may appear tough, in that they are able to live in a world with an often hostile weather system, and rub shoulders with men when it comes to chopping wood, making fires for the barbeque etc., but to describe the women here as tougher than others may be going a bit far.I have a habit of writing late at night but Nastya likes to watch movies with me before she sleeps.I like to keep the apartment clean and organised whereas Nastya likes to carpet the floor with all the clothes she decided she isn’t going to wear that day.

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