Alex Bower

ALEX BOWER breaks the ice on Russian billboards. It’s all enormous tits and perfectly spherical arses, possibly with some sand.

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Last week The Tab started the UK media’s bum-fuelled “the country’s going to the dogs!” frenzy. It was mental. Somebody at work even heard about it because he had been reading The Daily Mail online, which is normally the thing people turn to when they just want to feel a bit of hate for something that’s not themselves.

Obviously the Mail wouldn’t exist in Russia in its current form because it would be restricted to printing articles about the opposition’s collective monkey fetish.

Nobody seems quite as outraged by this outrageous sexualization of clever people here as at home though, which might have a lot to do with the way that almost every billboard features an enormous pair of tits or a perfectly spherical, bikini-clad bum, possibly with some sand on it.

Opposite my flat, there’s a picture of a woman in an extensively-unbuttoned lab coat with massive boobs and a tiny pair of frameless glasses that, perhaps cleverly, you have to squint to see. She’s how I imagined my new chemistry teacher would look at the start of Year 8 before I found out he was a man whose hairline had receded to the point that it had made the exact shape of a cock and bollocks.

As for me, I just don’t really know where to look when I’m walking down the street. I feel like I’ve been dragged along to a strip club and am not sure whether it’s more polite to look and appreciate the writhing (one billboard I saw did actually holographically writhe as you walked past) in front of you, or respectfully look away. So I do a combination of both, which involves restlessly moving my head as if I’m at some kind of experimental yoga class on crack.

Add on to this Russian public displays of affection. They’re like nothing I’ve seen before. Today I witnessed a couple in some squalid, dirty corner of a metro station doing a Rihanna. Saliva was flying everywhere, hands were plunging into places that would make baby Jesus cry, and not one passing person batted an eyelid.

What strikes me as odd, though, is that even with the scenic backdrop of porn and heavy petting in every social situation, shagging is a far more taboo conversational topic than it is back home.

The reason for this, I think, is that gender roles are very much more defined. Women are women, and they are supposed to be meek, mild and sexy. Men are men, and they are supposed to be real men and do things like enjoy fighting with bears, drinking fuel and buying women things. And Putin is, well, next-level shit.

On the relatively rare occasions that men are used in billboards or shop advertising here, they are usually either engaged in some sort of strenuous physical activity, or being hungrily stroked by a woman. Recently I saw one consisting solely of a man in sports kit standing in front of an explosion.

Combine the cast-iron gender roles with the woefully inadequate sex ed programme, and you get a far larger number of girls who are too shy to take what they want. So they just wait for some bloke to come along with flowers/a higher level of Russian than mine, then proceed to marry very young because their families say they should. Then they go and give Russia the highest divorce rate in the world.

While I wish many girls back home in Derby were a little more shy, I do not feel the same way about Russian girls, because they are about six hundred times more alluring than those that hang outside my local chippy. So, ladies of Russia, I’m leaving fairly soon, and Google tells me you really want to date me, making now the time to shake off that shyness. Come and find me.