My first week of travelling in the heart of the East to the Ukrainian capital coming to an end, I feel the need to put my emotions into words in order to see things more clearly. There’s a spirit of revolt in Kiev. In the downtown streets, the revolutionary tension is palpable. Militaries can be seen on every street corner. Sometimes, very animated conversations last until late at night. Nevertheless, I feel perfectly safe. I have a hard time imagining that only a few months ago, bloody confrontations took place on the main street of the center of Kiev.
Ukraine feels the need to distance itself from Russia, its powerful neighbor. In stores and cafés, the Russian language is not spoken as it used to be in the past. The Ukrainian language comes back with greater force since the incidents with Russia. A wind of patriotism is blowing on Ukraine.
In the discussions I have with Ukrainian women I meet about the conflict involving Russia, I rather feel pain and suffering than patriotism. It’s as if patriotism is more a masculine than a feminine claim. Regardless of age, Ukrainian women with whom I discussed unanimously disapprove armed violence, in no way justified. It’s not a matter of taking sides, but rather of restoring peace and calm.
’’I don’t want my son, who will soon be 20, to go fighting in Donetsk, confided one of these women.’’
Of course, this Ukrainian woman acts as the guardian of the family values and order.
In a very serious way, a young Ukrainian lady explained to me that she felt family was the most important value in her personal life:
’’More than anything else, my utmost personal accomplishment is creating a family in which I will raise my children. Therefore, it is very important to find a man who will be strong and protective enough to ensure my family’s security. I think every human being can find fulfillment within its own family.’’
When I ask if Ukrainian men are any different than Western Europe men, I get the following answer:
’’One cannot categorize men in general without taking into account where they live. Everything depends on how they were raised and in what type of family.’’
This is a logical way of seeing things. Family is at the center of our upbringing. Women have a sacred mission that goes beyond its own existence.
As for myself, my role as a man is clear. I must ensure the security of this sacred family core.
’’A child raised in a dysfunctional family will suffer all of his life and will have a hard time creating a stable family. As women, our role is to protect our children.’’
In my sleep, I constantly relive parts of the interview. The speech is simple, well articulate and pronounced with confidence. Sometimes, I have the strange feeling I am not the one asking questions. These strong Ukrainian women staring at me seem to question me with their eyes and in silence.
’’What should you draw from my explanations? Isn’t all of this self-explanatory?’’