People for rent

Single-parent families have become a widespread reality and more people need a hand in their day-to-day affairs at home. To the rescue comes a new service for Muscovites – women and men for hire.

Women and men for rent – it sounds fairly illicit, but it does exist from now on, and it is official.  This new Moscow-based service is more domestic than depraved – though it is likely to still have some all hot and bothered.

It is called Rent-a-Wife, and it boils down to hiring a woman to cook, clean and iron. It sounds like something out of the 1940s and, masked under such a marketing ploy, it feels like it too.

But this is 2011, and some may find such gender roles hard to swallow, but the point is, here in Russia they can market their product in this way and that is because there is very little opposition to ideas like this.

A glorified cleaning service – the owners say that nobody has complained about how their product has been advertised. But they have seen some odd things.

One time I opened the oven, and there was a cat inside. Things like that happen,” says Victoria Mangshlueva, a “wife for rent”.  

In fact, reactions have been the opposite to what many in the West might expect. Business is apparently booming, and even more popular is another domestic delicacy on the market.

We offer a service called Rent-a-Husband. It is more popular than a wife for an hour. It includes such jobs as maintenance and electrical wiring,” explains Tatiana Belevtseva, deputy director of Uborsila.

Though lacking political correctness perhaps, this service is by no means unique to Russia. It exists as far and wide as the US. But it does all prompt the question: how do Russian women feel about such specified gender roles?

Well, many appear to embrace them.

I think that family should come first for a woman, and a career is a hobby. I do not see anything demeaning in cleaning and washing for my husband. The husband earns the bread on the table, and you clean up after him. This is normal,” reckons Daria Roschupkina, a student from Moscow.

This is what we are – service staff for our kids. For me it’s a pleasure to cook and to clean. I enjoy it,” claims Yulia Monakhova, a former restaurant manager.

Such attitudes in the 21st century often stir satire in Western circles. But here they are far from a joke and are part of a way of life that many on both sides of the gender divide feel is fair rather than forced.

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