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Slovak Women – Beautiful, but is that all?

June 12, 2010

Slovak fashion magazine, Eva

I’ve made a startling discovery about women on my trip to Slovakia: Slovak women are beautiful, but not expected to be much else.  I have looked hard for famous females past and present – business leaders, politicians, scientists, authors, artists.  Except for a few musicians, a tennis player and some actresses and models, I come up almost empty handed trying to find women amongst the dozens of famous people in Slovak history and in current society.  Instead, women in this country today seem to be valued simply for their physical appearance.

Historically, as in other Eastern European countries, women were marginalized in Slovakia, primarily relegated to the job of running the household and to child care.  During communism, women were given equal opportunities to attend higher education and to work; however, they still had the primary responsibilities at home in addition to work, and they were often prohibited from higher positions in government and in business.  Today, 20 years post communism, I don’t see that much has changed, and worse, I see blatant objectification of women everywhere I look, and both Slovak men and women seem to readily accept it.

Jaro hamming it up with a mature audience poster

One famous Slovak woman from the history books is Madam Bathory, a countess in the 1600’s who was famous for allegedly bathing in the blood of 400 virgins in an effort to preserve her youth and renowned beauty, the most prolific murderer of all time.  A movie, called Bathory, was made about her in 2008, and one evening we sat down to watch it while in Slovakia.  I was mildly shocked by the casual display of female nudity throughout the movie.  In one outdoor battle scene, there are swords, horses, smoke and slaughter: in the middle of the carnage, a bunch of naked women run across the screen.  The movie scenery was beautiful – the Slovakia countryside, villages and castles are a feast for the eyes.  And I am sure men find the naked females that frolic and bathe throughout the movie equally eye appealing.  But I found the female nudity somewhat silly and unnecessary: I think they have created a new movie genre – historical soft core porn.

The day after watching the movie, a group of us met at a café in Dolny Kubin.  As we sat sipping coffee and munching on croissants, I flipped through the magazines on the table.  My cousin George told me that his company printed the magazines.  One was called “Eva”, and seemed to be a Slovak version of Vogue.  It had typical stories and pictures – fashion layouts, a story about JFK and Jackie, another about the new Sex and the City movie, and then a pictorial layout of men in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.  But when I flipped to the centerfold of the magazine, there were – naked women.  Page after page.  What?? In a women’s magazine??

Woman's magazine, Eva. One of the pictures of women - for women?

I queried George about Eva.  “We take the paper, and the ink, and put the two together,” he said.  “We don’t have anything to do with the content.”  “Who reads Eva?”, I asked.  “It’s a magazine for women,” he said. “Why would women be interested in looking at pictures of naked women?” I wanted to know. George shrugged his shoulders, and my cousin Michal looked indifferently at the pictures, and shrugged his shoulders too.  They didn’t seem exactly embarrassed; rather, they seemed a little puzzled by the attention I was giving the subject.

Adam magazine cover

I then focused on a free magazine insert in Eva, a publication called “Adam.”  I flipped through it, and discovered it was a men’s magazine, full of, you guessed it, naked women, a Slovak version of Playboy.  “Wait a minute,” I said to George.  “Why would a magazine full of naked women be an insert in a woman’s magazine?” I asked, knowing I would not get a reasonable answer.  I pondered the idea of targeted marketing and wondered if it had not yet reached this part of Europe, or perhaps it was advanced here, somehow.

Later that day we sat down to watch the evening news.  The anchor was a woman, and our cousin Josef informed us that she was a very popular one.  She was an attractive bleached blond with thick mascara, pouty red lips and heavy rouge, and wearing a low cut, green silk top with large breasts practically leaping out of it.  “Perhaps she is dressed to go out somewhere special this evening,” Josef helpfully offered.  “With sparkly tassles on her nipples?” I replied.  Josef shrugged as she continued to drone on about the top story of the day- a halusky eating contest.  He then added that she was known to date wealthy men and then cast them aside.  I tried to accept this as a sign of progress for women.

Eva magazine - fashion for Slovak women

I continued my search for equal and successful Slovak women on line, and find nothing but articles discussing the inequality.  One promising page that came up in a Google search said it was a list of famous Slovak men and women. The top part of the web site was dedicated to the famous men: composers, inventors, scientists, politicians, writers, scholars.

My cousin's girlfriend. Her high school graduation picture, 2010. She is going into medicine to be a doctor.

I kept scrolling and finally hit the female section.  Bingo, I thought; there are pages and pages of famous Slovak women too. But upon closer inspection, I discovered that, yes, they are all beautiful, and most disturbingly, they are all famous for their sexy appearance: they are pin up girls, models, porn stars and at best, are labeled actresses.  But wait – two are said to be entrepreneurs!  I hopefully clicked on each of their names, only to discover that they are the founders and stars of a successful online porn site.

My cousin George's daughter. She wears a black leather jacket just like her dad. A tomboy - love it!

Is this what capitalism has bred, a society that values women only for their sexuality and looks?   And if Slovak women so willingly accept this lot in life, as it seems to me, what hope is there for change so that women truly have an equal position in society? Will Slovakia ever be progressive enough to pass laws mandating that 40% of the women in elected positions and in boardrooms be women, as Norway has done (and now Spain, and soon France, Britain, Belgium and Sweden)?

I think back to a hundred years ago when Slovaks were under the domination of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and my great aunt Karolina fought to attend school, despite higher education for women being severely frowned upon by society.  Slovak women certainly haven’t come a long way, baby.

Note: If you are interested in learning about what it is like to be a woman in a country in Eastern Europe, both before and after communism, I highly recommend that you read the books by noted Croatian writer, Slavenka Drakulic. I’ve just read three of them: How We Survived Communism And Even Laughed, Balkan Express:Fragments from the Other Side of War, and Cafe Europa.

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51 Comments leave one →
  1. June 13, 2010 9:26 pm

    totally awesome read tonya… what a good writer you are…
    unfortunately the sex trade in eastern euro countries is at an all time high… esp. upsetting is the kidnapping of 12 and 13 yr olds from very poor countries promising them a good job only to be shacked up with several other young women and literally sold like slaves in the sex trade. very sad indeed.. and thanks for the good read… xoyo

    • June 13, 2010 9:52 pm

      Ugh, I didn’t even think about that. Thanks for the feedback, Yona – I greatly appreciate it!

  2. Stan permalink
    June 14, 2010 11:32 am

    This article and Yona’s comment have been really bothering me over the weekend and I think it became more clear when I read today’s POLITICO. An article by Erika Lovley states how few female lawmakers appear on Sunday shows. In N. America this is (to some) the epitome of success and arrival. Evidently research shows that only 13.5% of appearances on the Sunday shows have been female lawmakers. Slovakia and N. America have much in common in the denial of respect for women (starting with young girls as Yona points out) and in particular educated and successful women.
    An objective survey of the media would show many articles on “successful’ (sic) women. Let me see, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and now Miley Cyrus is the new oracle of popular taste. If such airhead females and their behaviour are the mainstay of current journalism both in N. America and in Slovakia, what hope has the female scientist who discovers a cure for cancer, or an Afghan female President?

    • June 14, 2010 10:20 pm

      I just can’t believe that there aren’t women out there writing beautiful poetry, or books, or painting great works of art in Slovakia, or great scientists or females capable of high positions in government and business. I think it’s not about ability, it’s about being noticed, promoted, valued, supported and accepted in society.

      I remember when I was 18 (and 5 ft nothing, a tiny waif) and I attended a seminar one evening on the use of computers in the classroom presented by an MIT professor. I had waited all year for the presentation, and had read everything I could find on the subject and on the professor. Afterwards, I went up to the prof (who happened to be a woman) and asked her how I could get into the program. She looked me up and down, sniffed, and said haughtily that perhaps I should try Wellesley, the all girls school!!! I was crushed that my idol dismissed me out of hand like that. She knew nothing about me, except what I looked like (I have sometimes wondered what she would have said to me had I been a tall male).

      Over the years, I’ve been ignored, discounted and had to work twice as hard to gain the same acceptance as men. I continue to be amazed at how a man is immediately assumed to be smart and in command, without having to do a thing to prove it, and, that a male’s behavior is considered the “standard” by which we measure capability.

      Men, I think are immediately accepted, respected and expected to be smart and capable and talented, and only have to prove themselves otherwise. For women, it’s the opposite. We are not immediately accepted or respected, and in fact are looked down upon, and we have to prove ourselves before we are noticed. (Think of the initial reaction and then awe at Susan Boyle). However, if a woman is attractive, they will immediately gain attention, and it doesn’t seem to much matter what they have to say (Sarah Palin is a great case in point).

      I’m not blaming men, because I have to admit that even I catch myself thinking this way sometimes. It’s the way patriarchal society has conditioned us to think about women, and as long as we allow this to be the norm, women will never have a chance to be equal. We have to consciously change the way society thinks about women, and maybe Norway has it right: force companies and governments to hire 40% females in higher positions, until it becomes the norm. When we get this right, then we need to tackle minorities and people with disabilities.

  3. Rebecca Bončo permalink
    June 14, 2010 10:48 pm

    i’m glad you didn’t write about slovak easter traditions;) that would have just added fuel to the fire! i didn’t believe my husband the first time he told me!

    • June 14, 2010 11:32 pm

      I’m getting to that!

    • Yanai permalink
      November 2, 2013 4:41 pm

      What’s so bad about it? I like our easter tradition, and I’m a girl :DDD
      I just kinda dislike how boring it must be in other countries…just egg hounting…LOL :) (nothing against it, just not used to things like that :D )

  4. June 14, 2010 11:17 pm

    just two words more from me… rachel maddox.. brilliant, out, and very mouthy… check her out for a bit of refreshment from the female side of the globe.. xoyo

  5. June 15, 2010 1:00 pm

    i am already afraid of the easter traditions…. i suppose that would be the first bit of advice, do not go to prague during easter..

  6. Stan permalink
    June 16, 2010 11:11 am

    Re your MIT professor reaction, I think the telling point is that you ignored what she said and became even more determined to succeed which you have done so very well in a male-dominated US corporate environment.
    I often think of those Afghan girls now in schools and defying the Taliban every single day despite the incredible provocation and intimidation and acid throwing. There is hope, every day those young women are getting invaluable education. And yet in my Toronto paper today an “honour” killing of a young 16 year old woman by her father and brother. A man who brought his family to Toronto from a rural village in Pakistan, raised in that culture and fearful of his daughter in such a permissive Canadian environment.
    I think that living in such a technology-driven, instant gratification era we expect immediate change. Cultural change has no such parameters.

  7. Tereza permalink
    June 17, 2010 10:56 pm

    Just a few names of Slovak females

    Magda Vasaryova-actress and diplomat, She was ambassador of Czechoslovakia in Austria (1990 – 1993) and ambassador of Slovakia in Poland (2000 – 2005). She was one of the candidates in the 1999 presidential election. From February 2005 to July 2006 she held the position of State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia. In the 2006 parliamentary elections, she was elected to the National Council of the Slovak Republic for Slovak Democratic and Christian Union – Democratic Party.

    Professor PhDr. Iveta Radičová PhD-Slovak politician who served as Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of Slovakia from 2005 to 2006. Radičová ran for presidency in the 2009 presidential election and was ultimately defeated by the incumbent Ivan Gašparovič. She received 38.70% of votes (about 750,000 votes) in the first round and then 44.47% (988,808 votes) in the second round. She had managed to gain support of all major opposition parties in Slovakia, and is the only woman in Slovak history so far to reach the second round of a presidential election. Iveta Radičová has won the primary election of SDKU-DS and has thereby succeeded Mikuláš Dzurinda to be the party election leader. She has won the election winning over Ivan Mikloš. This means that if Robert Fico does not form a government in the upcoming election, she is likely to become the new Prime Minister of Slovakia, the first woman to hold this position in the Slovak history

    Silvia Gašparovičová – attended the Slovak Technical University from 1960 until 1965 where she studied civil engineering and also from 1971 to 1973 she studied economical law at Comenius University. She worked at the Ministry of Construction from 1971 until 1991.

    Blessed Zdenka Cecília Schelingová (December 24, 1916 – July 31, 1955), was a Slovak nun of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Holy Cross and a victim of communist persecution in the former Czechoslovakia, She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003.

    Anna Kolesárová (* 14 July 1928 at High Uhom – † 22 November 1944 High Uhom above) is a Slovak martyrs of purity and sacrifice crime committed by soldiers of the Red Army during World War II .

    Marina Čarnogurská – sinologist and philosopher, acknowledged translator of Tao Te Ting

    Izabela Textorisová (1866-1949) – first Slovak female botanist

    Cornelia Kropiláková -Born on 12th januára 1914 v Slovenskej Ľupči. January 1914 in the Slovak Lupca.. After university studies in mathematics teaching at secondary schools in Dolny Kubin, in Ruzomberok and Banska Bystrica. Od r. 1951 v Bratislave na JSŠ Jilemnického a od r. 1960 až do dôchodku v r. 1982 na SVŠ Novohradská (z ktorej v r. 1969 vzniklo gymnázium Jura Hronca). Since 1951 in Bratislava, JSS Jilemnického and since 1960 until his retirement in the year 1982 for CST Novohradská (which in the year 1969 was high school Hronca Jura). Medzi jej najvzácnejšie devízy patrili prenikavý um, láska ku svojim žiakom a najmä nevyčerpateľná chuť do života. Among the most valuable currency were penetrating wisdom, love for their pupils and in inexhaustible appetite for life. Bola náročná, ale aj zhovievavá, dokázala svojich najlepších žiakov doviesť až k zlatým medailám z Medzinárodnej matematickej olympiády. It was difficult, but also lenient, showed its best pupils bring to the gold medals from the International Mathematical Olympiad. Bola suverénom vo svojom povolaní, tí ktorí mali to šťastie, že s ňou dlhšie spolu učili, ju stále nevdojak napodobňujú. It was sovereign in his profession, those who were lucky enough that they have more to learn together, it still nevdojak imitate. Bola náročná najmä k sebe. It was a difficult task for you. Až do konca svojho učiteľského pôsobenia sa stále vzdelávala. Until the end of their teaching activity is still to educate. Bola plná optimizmu, bez ohľadu na vek patrila vždy medzi najmladších. It was full of optimism, regardless of age, has always belonged to the youngest. V rokoch 1973 – 1975 zastávala funkciu podpredsedu Pobočky JSMF Bratislava 1 av r. 1975 – 1979 podpredsedu Matematickej sekcie JSMF. In one thousand nine hundred seventy-three – one thousand nine hundred and seventy-five held vice-Branches JSMF Bratislava and a year 1975 – 1979 Vice Mathematics JSMF. Za svoju prácu dostala v živote viacero uznaní, pedagogických vyznamenaní JČSMF, čestných uznaní za dlhodobé vynikajúce výsledky v Matematickej olympiáde, Čestné členstvo v JSMF, aj titul Zaslúžilá učiteľka. She has received more recognition in life, JČSMF teaching awards, honorable mentions for long-term excellence in mathematics competitions, Honorary membership in JSMF even deserve the title of teacher. Najviac ju však tešili úspechy jej žiakov. Most, however, it enjoyed the success of its students. Zomrela 24. She died on 24th januára 1992 v Bratislave. January 1992 in Bratislava

    Ľudmila Pajdušáková (June 29 1916 – October 6 1979) was a Slovak astronomer, The asteroid 3636 Pajdušáková is named after her.

    Klára Havlíková (1931-2007) – pianist

    Zuzana Božíková (1990-) – contralto (youngest opera singer in Slovakia’sEster Šimerová-; also a model)

    Ester Šimerová-Martinčeková –
    (* 23 January 1909 , Bratislava – † 7 August 2005 , Karlovy Vary ) was a prominent and famous Slovak painter , artist and designer, a representative of modernism. Často ju nazývali prvou dámou slovenského maliarstva. It is often called the first lady Slovak painting.

    Viera Žilinčanová (1932) – painter

    Mária Holoubková (1898 – 2004). First professional photographer in Slovakia, famous for her photographs of the president T. G. Masaryk

    Zuzana Liová- film director,screenwriter

    Kristína Herczegová – film director

    So, I guess I had a better luck while searching for a successful women in Slovakia, and I believe there is more.
    Plus every woman in Slovakia is a hero to me. I haven’t met an US woman who wakes up every morning before all the family members, makes them breakfest, has a nice conversation with each member of family, clean up dishes, prepares snacks, share one bathroom, goes to work, comes home with grocery bags carried in her hands, does homeworks with kids, fixes dinner, clean up dishes and she does it day by day every day, plus she has time to take care of herself, looks beautifull, chat with friends, bake 2 times a week, make homemade jam, take care of garden, go to the gym and much more!

    I do not have a problem with a nudity, it’s a part of life but I do have a problem with all the aggresion our kids are expose to every day at TV, video games etc while parents are busy with something more important.

    Bathory is a great movie and I would not called it a historical soft core porn. Yes, there are parts where women are naked and that’s how it was back in 1600.

    I remember how my grandparents took me to Bulgaria and Croatia for a vacation and there were a nudist beach. I did not think there is something wrong with these people. We are different and we like different things and that’s why we are unique. I used to take my bath with my dad while a I was little and had so much fun, it was our time. And I have a 18 months old and do the same with her and she loves our bath time together.

    Slovak women are strong, very family oriented with their owns strategies and can have work done. They do have the options and I know a lot of young university female studnets.
    Thanks to Stan to mentioned Britany Spears etc, yep, nice example.

    Do I feel like a subman just because I am woman? Not at all! I have the ability to carry my baby under my heart which men can never experiences and so far it is the best what happened to me, I never felt I had work twice as hard to gain the same acceptance as men and I am a succesful in waht I am doing. I think it’s just in woman self-confident. Plus women got an extra weapon, the look! So lets used it and make the most of it, why not! I like to dress up, put the make on, wear high heels and just walk on the street while all the men turned their head after me! And never wear a neakers with your suit!

    Sexual slavery is not only a problem in eastern europe, it is a problem everywhere, even here in DC!! You should have your eyes open!
    http://abcnews.go.com/US/domestic-sex-trafficking-increasing-united-states/story?id=10557194

    http://humantrafficking.change.org/blog/view/children_are_sold_for_sex_in_americas_capitol

    just a few examples.

    • June 18, 2010 5:57 am

      Thank you, Tereza. Perhaps the reason it was more difficult to find successful Slovak females than males is that they are not well publicized or promoted, at least not in the English language.

      I appreciate your comments.

      • July 27, 2012 7:25 am

        This shows you how sloppy your research was … we have a saying: “Who wants to beat a dog – finds the stick to do so very easily.” but in your case the stick is really short and weak.

        Slovak women not being promoted in English language is a weak argument – again just gives much less value to your research.

    • February 21, 2012 5:33 pm

      Well done Teraza, your points are very accurate. Paulinescookbook, first of all I suggest you to do a literature search when you want to write about something. Slovakia is a beautiful country full of successful women. Secondly, do not forget ‘success’ has a different meaning to every person. Thirdly, it seems like your article is based on assumptions, not on real facts. Eva is not like ‘Vogue’ but it is a magazine called ‘Fashion’, Slovakia is not Eastern but Central Europe, traditions vary from Slovak regions and in terms of nudity you are exaggerating. Finally, look up at the size of population and then you can talk about the amount of ‘successful women in Slovak Republic’.

      In addition, personally I have found your article truly offensive.

      • February 28, 2012 2:45 pm

        Martina, I really appreciate your perspective on women in Slovakia, and thank you for taking the time to write a comment. I did do a fairly reasonable amount of research in trying to locate successful Slovak women in business, politics and the arts, and was frustrated in what little I found. I suspect that a lot of the documentation of Slovak women successes is still only available in the Slovak written language. And unfortunately, I think the perspective of Slovak women in this article is commonly found in North America, which frustrates and disappoints me as well. To Americans, anything that was formerly communist is considered to be in “Eastern” Europe. It was only through speaking to native Slovaks that I learned that they consider it to be in Central Europe.

        Regarding attitudes towards nudity, I think most of Europe is much more liberal than North America. I find attitudes towards sex and women here in the US offensive; women are highly objectified here and valued more for their looks than their brains. As the mother of a young daughter, this really bothers me as she grows up and tries to figure out what is of true value in this society.

        I know that Slovakia is a small country, and that Slovaks in general have been fairly oppressed for centuries. I am very proud to be of Slovak descent, and have greatly enjoyed meeting newly discovered relatives and new friends through my Slovak heritage research and blog. I hope that more and more people like you and Teraza stand up and make sure your voices are heard, so that we can show the world what Slovak women are really made of.

        Tonya

      • HellYes permalink
        May 4, 2012 3:19 pm

        I totally agree with you, Martina!

        Dala si ju dole :D

      • Yanai permalink
        November 2, 2013 4:54 pm

        Ďakujem ti za tento koment, jednoducho nemá o Slovensku ani šajn =__= :D

  8. Rebecca Bončo permalink
    June 18, 2010 11:18 pm

    I have to say that after I read your initial post I was sadden by your observations and it made me think about my experiences in SK. My impression of Slovak women (in person, not on tv or magazines) was that they were strong, tough, and sure of themselves. I can say I was (and still am sometimes) intimidated- or in awe of their confidence (perhaps that I lack). In my husbands family the women could be considered the heads of the household. They surely are the loudest and most oppinionated and will push you to eat, eat, eat, until you feel like your stomach will explode:) My father-in-law does a lot of the household chores- laundry, dishes, and vacuuming are his main jobs. I guess that’s why I was shocked to hear about the Easter Traditions- how could these types of women put up with that? But my husband reassures me that the women want to be whipped, what?!
    On the point of nudity- it seems that europeans in general are more comfortable with nudity than us prude Americans. My husband tells me that in the summer its pretty common to see women wearing their underwear and bra around their houses and even in the garden or on their porches. Many times his mom and stara mama go bra-less too. Nudity isn’t really anything shocking for them when its a part of their daily lives.

    • June 19, 2010 5:24 pm

      The women I met seemed confident too, and happy with their current status. They work, have kids, and I saw some of the men doing the cooking and some housekeeping. I also experienced them pushing me to eat too :).

      Regarding nudity, I agree that nudity is far more common and accepted in Europe. But what disappoints me is that I don’t see the recognition or praise of powerful and successful Slovak women. There may be some (and I am sure there are), and Tereza listed several, but they are not held up and admired as the men are by society. When I went into the museum in Prague for example, the room full of busts of famous people held exactly 2 of women, and hundreds of men. All I see in the media, on the Internet, and in museums are successful Slovak men, and the women that are portrayed are admired for their looks. I guess I need to start researching successful and writing about successful Slovak women, and create a place that recognizes their accomplishments. Slovak women need to be supporting and promoting other Slovak women, right?

    • Yanai permalink
      November 2, 2013 5:01 pm

      Well, about the tradition, here they don’t whip women very much, they’re throwing water a lot more at them :D

  9. August 11, 2010 5:11 pm

    You mention the countess Bathory. Wasn’t Elizabeth Bathory a Hungarian who terrorized Slovaks? I’ve never heard that she was Slovak herself.

    • August 11, 2010 9:26 pm

      You know, you are right. I had been told that she was, and then read that she lived in what is now Slovakia and in the castles there, and jumped to the conclusion that she was Slovak. In reading more about her now, after your question, I am reading that she was Hungarian, and that the Slovak peasant girls were some of her victims. Thank you for pointing that out!

      • HellYes permalink
        May 4, 2012 3:16 pm

        She was very Slovak.

  10. Steve Christie permalink
    August 24, 2010 9:49 pm

    All Slovaks were once upon a time Hungarians who spoke Slovak.

    • August 24, 2010 10:57 pm

      I suppose they were, for about 1000 years, when the Hungarians controlled them.

    • Lucia permalink
      January 23, 2011 6:16 pm

      once upon a time Hungarians came as Turkic tribes from Asia an Slovaks were just Slavs like Russians, Czechs and Poles…
      And then there was Austro-Hungaria. The inhabitants of this big multicultural formation where Romanians, Austrians, Slovaks, Hungarians and other…

  11. Lucia permalink
    January 23, 2011 6:07 pm

    ,,Slovak women are beautiful, but not expected to be much else”

    This really made me laughing. Because the biggest difference that I discovered between Slovakia and West Europe is that bauty means nothing in Slovakia because here are tons of beautiful woman. It means that I as a woman cant count on the beauty as something that can ,,bring me through”
    And to your reflections on the topic why woman look at naked woman in Eva.. I personally dont read thode types of magazines, because of their brainless articles BUT I appreciate the pictures. A female body is pure art when corectly ,,used” in frotn of the camera as well as a male body.

    And last but not least. Reading your artile I get the feeling you have never been in Slovakia…Physically yes….but not with eyes soul and…

    • January 23, 2011 6:24 pm

      Hi Lucia, I definitely am struggling to understand Slovakia with my eyes and soul. I’ve been searching for books and articles on Slovaks, especially women, hoping to see what great accomplishments they have made. I am sure they have, but it has been much more difficult to find than it to find information on men. I know many Slovak women, and I know they are very smart and strong and usually responsible for running the household, as well as working outside the home. But what I didn’t see in Slovakia while I was there, what I cannot find easily on the Internet and what appears rare in books, is public recognition of women beyond their physical beauty. I am thrilled to see that the current prime minister, Iveta Radicova, is female. Are there current famous female writers, artists, chemists, etc that you can point out to me?

  12. Beber permalink
    March 16, 2011 5:09 pm

    Correction- Slovakia now has a female prime minister- Miss Radicova- and she is doing a hell of a good job. Also Jana Kirschner- a singer- is quite known -also in UK. Many good writers are here too but during the communism it was a bit difficult to learn English and consequently it is rather unmanageable to sell your books outside your own country. New generation of authors has yet to grow up I guess. I know people from different countries who live here, in Slovakia, and find our literature beautiful. There are books already translated, if not, you can simply ask somebody to help you understand. You get to know people and their culture through their speech and words. That is why I learned Spanish- to read Marquez, and English to read Robert Burns. It just seems to me a very shallow attempt to get to know- relying onto wikipedia and such. Before we became Slovak state, we were under Hungarian suppression- it was all but easy to produce books in Slovak and to keep the culture alive at all. Nevertheless writers like Hviezdoslav or Vansová- woman who started first magazine for women, Timrava, Soltesova… and many more, all brilliant authors who voiced the mood of those times- struggle for independence and life and love as women and fight for the right of having their own country and culture.
    Also today, there are many women indulging themselves in art, whether it is music, poetry or painting, but you have to look for them. The official museums and galleries have likely not changed in last decades, but have you ever tried visiting the fairs? Whether the traditional ones during festivals or numerous expositions in Incheba, Bratislava?
    As for the- obliged only to look good- part, I am not sure what kind of women and girls have you come into contact with, but I assure you there are many who prize different values than smoothness of make up and what to wear dilemma.
    I have lived in the US for a year and trust me, I would never expect the movies turn out to be truth. Then imagine me shocked to the bone when I saw popular/unpopular secularization in the school cafeteria or those certain cheerleaders with excess of mascara instead of brain. However I treasure the memories of people who have defied the feeling the average sample gave out and would never condemn all Americans into one narrow perspective.
    And as for the Bathory myth I recommend actually watching the movie you have mentioned here. More probable outlook onto the things there.
    And for the lack of famous Slovaks, during the past many people from our countries weren’t recognized either as Czechs or Slovaks, etc. during both first and second WW the Czechoslovak army was among the best in the world and Czechoslovak pilots were the stars of British aeronautics. Andy Warhol´s parents were Slovaks too.
    Cheers

    • March 16, 2011 5:29 pm

      Hi, thank you so much for all this information. I was thrilled to see Miss Radicova as the new prime minister, and proud too. I have slowly been finding Slovak female authors and artists, but they have been hard to find on the Internet. And I have also found that they are often classified as Hungarian or something else other than Slovak. I hope that we can change that by blogging and writing about them, and giving them an international voice.

      I have also come to understand that the Slovak wife and mother often runs the household. Here in the US in the early part of the last century, they were the ones who managed the household budgets, ran the boarding houses, managed the money for each of the boarders, did all the cooking and cleaning, looked after the children and the house repairs, and often even worked outside the house. They are the unsung heroes of a whole immigrant generation. Back in Slovakia it was often the same.

      I hope that we can hold these women up as role models for other young Slovak women to emulate, instead of most that you find on the Internet that are objectifying women only for their looks.

      Tonya

  13. Zuzana permalink
    August 4, 2011 11:45 am

    Hi,

    Your article is a bit offensive to Slovak women. I am from Slovakia and I am 22 years old. I am studying at University as do all of my female friends, few of them are studying International relations and Diplomacy in Germany and they are all not JUST beautiful, but also smart. I understand that you can not find a lot of successful slovak women, but that does not mean they do not exist. They are doctors, judges, lawyers, poets, singers, etc.
    You might not find a lot of information in English, but if you do speak Slovak (or use google translate) you will find a lot of slovak websites with Slovak successful women. Also, there are any women working for slovak embassies world wide, however I do not know what you count as successful?

    I am studying in UK now and next year I am going to do my masters degree in Florida, I have visited America many times, but most women I have met, either have career or children. If you visited Slovakia then you must know that we are able to do both (and without help of nannies, cooks, gardeners etc).

    Regarding the women magazines, Have you ever read daily mail? Or any British/American magazine? They are full of sexy pictures of Kim Kardashian etc. So I would really not go there :)

    I just found your article misleading, but as I said if you spoke slovak you would be able to find more articles.

    Same way, if I wanted to learn something about Canadian successful women, I would probably have hard time finding anything in Slovak language.

    Anyway,
    Good luck with your website and I like your recipes.

    • August 6, 2011 8:35 pm

      Hi Suzana, I am very glad you took the time to write. I did look for celebrated Slovak women – historical figures, business and political leaders, well known writers, musicians or artists, and entrepreneurs, and I looked on both English and Slovak websites. I also looked in the museums when I was in Slovakia (and in the Czech Republic), and asked relatives. In the museum in Prague, for example, there were dozens and dozens of statues and busts of males who were celebrated, and only 2 of females. I am happy to see a female prime minister (she was elected after I wrote the blog). In my own family in Slovakia, my female relatives include doctors, concert pianists, lawyers and professors. But I did not find females who were celebrated, had books written about them, had holidays named after them, etc.

      In Canada and in the US, (and in other countries in Europe, as you point out) there are finally successful women being written about, but yes, sadly, there are many more articles that objectify women. I hope that more and more women like you and your friends will become female role models and the leaders of tomorrow in Slovakia. And I think we need to work on writing about strong Slovak females, in English, to share their success with the English speaking world.

      If you make it to the Washington DC are, please let me know – there’s a great group of Slovaks living here!

      Tonya

  14. Stephan permalink
    December 16, 2011 7:03 pm

    Hi,

    Well, a good article is meant to be controversial I suppose. Your writing style is good but the research was perhaps lacking. I’m French, male and madly in love with Slovakia and terminaly in love with a Slovak woman. I’m not sure what she looks like because I looked into her soul and heart and I found so much strength, humility and beauty that I don’t need to worry about the rest. I find Slovak women amazing, cultivated and extremely competent and you are right, very very pretty. To me they have everything all women on the planet should have. they don’t try to be men. They know they are better than men when they do things the woman way. Unlike in the UK or US where women try to behave like men to establish themselves. Articles about women and power always make me smile. Women always had the power, the edge, the lead. They give birth to boys and raise them. Every man on this planet has a mum. Isnt that power? Anyway, did you get I’m madly in love with my Viki? Yes maybe you did ;-)

  15. HellYes permalink
    May 4, 2012 3:08 pm

    You don’t know anything about slovakian women.
    I think you are discriminating them by judging them by their physical appearance. Just because they are beautiful, and are known for it worldwide, doesn’t mean that they cannot be taken seriously. They are intelligent and ambitious. Many have achieved great things, which you probably didn’t investigate, because you only looked at the negative aspects. Just because they are supportive of their partners, doesn’t mean that they aren’t equal. It was always women’s duty, to take care of the family and it still is in the 21st century. The society does make a lot of progress but some traditions should be kept.

    Before you are going to make a bold statement like this, which is offensive in many ways, you should explore a little bit more than you did in your little research on your trip to Slovakia, and look deeper into things, other then flip through a magazine or watch a movie without knowing the background information.

    Oh, and there are plenty of women who are amazing writers, poets and artists in Slovakia, you just need to open your eyes.

    • May 22, 2012 9:08 pm

      Well, I spent the better part of 2 years trying to find information, travelled to Slovakia and the Czech Republic, visited museums, asked Slovak relatives, looked up information on line, in libraries etc. Perhaps there is more information in Slovak, but I found very little in the English language, sadly. I hope we see that changing over the next decade.

    • jojo permalink
      July 27, 2012 6:51 am

      presne tak

  16. no thanks permalink
    July 7, 2012 5:58 pm

    I love how people think they are entitled to go into other countries and judge other cultures that aren’t the same as theirs. Like they have some right to decide what is best. Their traditions should be destroyed by your hand and everywhere should be the same.

  17. Gabi permalink
    July 27, 2012 6:39 am

    when you are writing something about some coutry try learn about it because Slovakia is not in Eastern Europe !!!

  18. jojo permalink
    July 27, 2012 6:49 am

    slovensko je stredoeuropska krajina,nie vychodna

  19. July 27, 2012 7:17 am

    I’m sorry but your view of Slovakia is so distorted and biased, I won’t even bother to read the other half of your article. It seems a lot of envy being involved here …

    Don’t write about things you don’t have enough information about – and especially – don’t judge other people. Just because Slovak women in the past were not celebrated as much as the men – doesn’t mean they were weak or incapable. There are still women all around the world who are abused, hurt and have not the same possibilities as women in other parts of the world, like in Africa for example? Do you judge them also? Do you also look for information about them being celebrated and if you find nothing – you judge them just by their most outstanding quality among the few they have left?

    You are always writing about you looking for articles and such … are you kidding me? Do you really think you can get an objective opinion like that? Talk to every young or old Slovak man about his mother, his grandmother. See how much we honor our mothers and their capabilities – THAT is the real measure of a person, the love and thankfulness in other people towards that person. NOT articles or other non-objective source.

    Tibor

  20. July 27, 2012 11:24 am

    you should learn slovak to find more informations about slovak women. slovakia is a small country and we are not that important for the rest of the world so they don’t write much about us and if they do, they usually don’t write that those people are slovaks. i think you haven’t seen enough and haven’t searched enough to write something like this. plus, you ask why adam-slovak playboy is sold with women’s magazine. it’s simple. women buy magazines a lot more than men so they give this small part to their husbands and i don’t understand what’s weird on looking at naked/half naked women. that body is truly beautiful when it’s presented in a good way- not like playboy and similair.

  21. chris permalink
    July 28, 2012 6:33 am

    hello there. my wife, who is slovak, came across this post on facebook, i have to say, we both find it to be more than a bit unfair. i am from the states and i have lived in slovakia for almost 9 years now and i have found slovak women on average to be more intelligent, articulate, and independent than their american counterparts. in my wife’s family, there are at least three female entrepeneurs who have opened their own shops over the years. my wife’s cousins, two sisters, are each highly successful in their fields: the older graduated at the top of her class in pharmaceutical school, the younger attends conservatory in bratislava and is a sought after concert violinist. they both come from a lower middle class village family. another cousin is a veterinarian. my sister-in-law has a PhD. a friend of our family is a researcher in artificial intelligence at TU in kosice and her mother is a professor who lectures internationally. almost every boss i’ve ever had in slovakia has been a woman, one of whom has started and runs two successful companies while being a mother of two. my wife’s boss is also a woman, an engineet and a successful entrepeneur herself.

    i teach english in both state schools and privately. in the top grammar schools girls invariably outnumber boys and perform better. many of my former female pupils have gone on to study abroad and become doctors and lawyers. in fact, all 3 of the GPs i’ve had since i came to this country have been women. i have given private lessons to more businesswomen than i can recall, all of whom paid top dollar and expected their money’s worth. as for politics, i’m sure you know that our last prime minister was a woman, iveta radicova, who is a professor in sociology. she has had a career in both politics and teaching university.

    if slovak men have any problem, it’s not so much that they jealously guard positions of power, but that they’re passive and lazy. it’s true they often expect their women to handle all the domestic duties, and it’s also true that many times their women accept this role (though from watching them first hand, i get the feeling it’s not so much because they feel submissive to their men, but because they don’t trust their men to handle housework properly). but it’s also true that, aside from an optional maximum of three years’ maternity leave, the stay-at-home mom almost doesn’t exist in slovakia. both spouses work, the wife often makes just as much as the husband, and there is very little wounded male pride about who should be the “breadwinner.” salary laws are based on years of experience and it is legally impossible for a woman to be paid less just for being a woman. in fact, my wife4 has always made more than her male colleague in the same position. both my in-laws have always worked, until recently my mother-in-law retired after nearly 40 years as the sole postal clerk in the village–a respected woman indeed!

    i’m sorry that you were unable to find any female slovak role models on the internet, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist–in spades. they just don’t feel the need to trumpet their achievements to the world. i think that’s part of their sense of duty. and to be honest, how much about slovaks can you find on the internet, period? if central european women have a reputation as porn stars, that says a lot more about the british and american mentality than it does the slovak. slovak women are indeed beautiful and fit, precisely because they lead a wholesome and active lifestyle, and they are also extremely friendly and charming, but they are far from being the sex objects that western european and american culture holds them up to be. i’ll wager you could scour this little country for 10 years and not find as many loose, or as many stupid, women as you could on one spring break in daytona beach. also, i’ve never seen in slovakia that particular breed of american woman whom i was very familiar with as a child, the lazy, slatternly housewife watching soap operas as the house falls apart around her.

    next time you’re in this country, feel free to stop by our village, near kosice. my wife and i will introduce you to precisely the kind of women you’re looking for. and who knows? maybe my mother-in-law can even show you a little slovak cooking. she did work in a restaurant in her younger days! :)

    chris

  22. chris permalink
    July 28, 2012 6:42 am

    p.s. i notice a lot of slovak women beat me to the punch here. one more thing i would like to point out, though:

    all these slovak women are defending themselves and their fellow slovaks in almost perfect english. how many of us westerners, male or female, could do the same in perfect slovak? i know i couldn’t…

  23. dominika permalink
    November 7, 2012 5:05 am

    Bathory wasn´t Slovak woman !!!!!!!!! she was hrom Hungary

  24. Yanai permalink
    November 2, 2013 4:50 pm

    I was slightly touched when I was reading this :/ Well, I’m from Slovakia and I just don’t think man can see only her big boobs and bottom =__= I agree – women from Slovakia are beautiful (just like I am :D Sorry, I just wanted to be funny, bad try :D), but they aren’t popular just because of it. We have nice tennis players, basketball players who are sponsoring oncological children patients, singers who don’t expose their…you know what and are still popular (for example, Zuzana Smatanová), women, who work hard and especially, we have very good mothers :) And if you think, that men like some popular women just because of their appearance, you’re wrong :) A while in Slovakia is too short to understand slovaks
    Have a nice day ;)
    Jana

  25. February 1, 2014 12:08 pm

    just a few words and at the beginning im sorry for my english, still isnt the best..Im from Slovakia, now a days i live abroad but it doesnt matter..thanx for your article, is pretty nice see some different point of view to slovak culture, to slovak women, BUT

    Bathory – the movie made a director, who is known for his controversial point of view of the world, his every single movie is strange, so people love it or hate it and many people criticized him for nakedness in the movie.

    Eva – already i dont read this magazine, but what I remember there were somethimes ads with naked women that was because of ad to underwear. In mans magazine naked women are understandable

    famous slovak women – we have quite a lot, but maybe arent so known abroad, 42% of slovak women studied at university, but most of them prefered family before career, what is still quite deep in womens minds. Firstly take care about family, have a family and than anything else. On the other hand you should understand that even during comunism there werent a lot of opportunities for women, because everything depent of family background (if they are in comunist party or not, if they have some relatives abroad and when yes you couldnt apply for studies at university) and position of women were and still is at home, in kitchen with family (i dont agree with that, but women still have in society this position and for that is more difficult to achieve som success for example in politics, because men think women isnt able do this kind of job, so it has to be really strong women nearly be a men.

    And for sure I dont agree with some coments about sexuality in eastern Europe. Maybe Russia, Ukraine, Poland are well known for it, but not Slovakia. Sometimes I think we are more conservative than any others. For example one night stand isnt so tipical in Slovakia like in west countries.

    Im proud that Im Slovak women, there are many things I dont agree with and are maybe better in yours and we can learn a lot from you, but Im really proud that I have born in my countrie and not in Uk or USA or in others. The reason is, that my country gave me strenght (because life is quite difficult in Slovakia), gave me sense for hard work (because if I wanted something I had to work hard, I have never got something for free) and gave me motivation be better (because everybody from big countries like USA, UK, Spain, Italy,France atc. thinks they are better just because they have born in these countries and not like me in some small eastern country what they almost think is part of Russia).

    • February 1, 2014 12:15 pm

      and I forgot one thing about the woman in news…yes she have married with wealthy man, but it istn some mark of progress in womens life, just she is well known for that, so you can imagine what kind of person she is. Is known for that because majority of people dont like this kind of persons, of women who get married just because of money…

  26. Trixee permalink
    February 5, 2014 5:57 pm

    1st the Easter tradition is cute & fun flirting. No one is getting whipped to the degree of pain. We could use more of some more flirting rituals for young folks. Might allow them to use up some of those hormones.
    2nd – I am a PROUD 2nd generation American of Polish & Slovak decent. I am 52 yo. All my life I heard, “You are too pretty to be a Slavic girl. Are you sure you aren’t Swedish or German?” The endless Pollack jokes. The horrible comments about dumpy, plain Slavic/Russian women being too ugly to “shag” or marry. Those girls were only good to pull plows.
    3nd – I remember a Johnny Carson show (towards the end of his career) where he had Miss Polish American on as a guest. Out walks this gorgeous tall blonde who left the audience speechless. Carson said something to the effect of, “I will never say another Polish joke ever.” She was very educated speaking eloquently about her family & plans.
    I remember feeling a sense of relief & pride. We are NOT some troll women with warts & a hump.
    4- Is beauty the most important thing in life? No. Most of these Slovak women modeling are not empty in the intelligence department. For decades the proud women of Poland, Slovak & Czech Repubs, Russia, etc were portrayed as old babushka, troll women.
    5- I am proud to be a background of women known for their beauty….finally.

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