by João Lopes Marques (Eesti keel)
It is never easy to write about — or to break — a national taboo. I will do my best: I guess Estonia is on verge of a dramatic social convulsion. Statistics don't show us this demographic trend, but seems to me all my female friends and acquaintances are about to leave the country.
"Can you explain me why?", I asked Maarja.
"Especially because I am fed up of Estonian men", she replied fast. "Besides being arrogant, they drink too much and don't make any effort to seduce us! They know it is still quite easy to get a girl in Estonia... Historically, there are more women than men in Estonia."
"They became blind with this neoliberal model from the 1990's and they just think of being successful", added Triin, who also has a foreign boyfriend. "They think money is everything, that they can be fat and nasty as long as they can show off their car or wallet. Plus it is not difficult for them to get a good position and visibility here, independence is so recent that success is easier here than abroad..."
Marta also spiced up the debate: "Why we want to emigrate? Don't be too surprised! This is the typical behaviour of all post-communist girls in Eastern Europe! Happens the same with Czech girls, or Romanian, or Ukrainian, or... It doesn't matter! We couldn't travel then and now the sky is the limit!"
They all spoke with so much self-assurance and revolt I decided to continue my quest. That moment I also recalled my ex-Estonian girlfriend opted to move to Melbourne. Likewise, most of my early female friends in Tallinn aren't living in the Baltic region anymore.
"Hmm... If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, then it is probably a duck", I wondered. I will never forget the day I was asked: "João, convince her to stay in Australia, please. What is her future in Estonia? Just bad weather and short money!" For sure, "the weather thing" I fully understand. And the severe Baltic downturn provoked by the credit crunch just amplifies this Nordic pragmatism.
Curious about the subject, I started gathering empirical information in a more systematic way. The figures about the Estonian community in Portugal, for instance: out of three dozens of Estonian residents, there are just a couple of men. I saw the same percentage while in Australia last year. The opposite pattern applies to almost all Southerns European souls I had the chance to meet in Tallinn: inhere is more like cherchez la femme, of course.
"Unlike the girls, most Estonian men don't want to leave the country", underlined me Maarja.
Are men more territorial than women? Anything to do with freedom after 800 years of alien domination? Do men feel more attached when it comes to protect the local sovereignty? Asked this several times to my Estonian male friends — but for them this isn't even an issue.
Seen from this perspective, seems quite logical lots of Estonian men face foreigners — either tourists or residents — as potential threats. Especially because these "alien hunters" acknowledge the high potential of native girls: nice looking, usually talented, good command of English language and eager to conquer the world. Not nice to say, because of their post-communist-nordic-blonde exoticism, some of them are seen as trophies.
In short, the "Homo Balticus Syndrome" has a reason to exist as a quasi-diagnosed-pathology. Some girls also confess they can feel embarassed when they are seen chatting with a foreign mate.
Actually, my latest surprise popped up home a week ago. I laughed but soon I understood sweetheart was very determined: "Don't you think we should leave Estonia for a while?" Indeed, this question was mere rethorics. The world is quite big for a former Erasmus student. I had plans to stay for another couple of years in Tallinn, but know it seems that our future together will be in a French-speaking country. Or in Latin America. Perhaps Asia. Or...
Well, I am confused: another thing I have learnt is that Estonian women are flexible as long as the journey is long and exciting. Free from religious and family constraints, they jump and full stop.
Assuming it is true, such a sharp demographic phenomenon will bring unavoidable consequences in the future. Specific gender roles — if not antagonism — will emerge in Estonian society. One historical example: it is not a coincidence Scandinavian women are some of the most emancipated in the world: the viking expansion was a mannish thing triggered by the shortage of land. It paved the way for present-day feminism.
Similarly, in case of shortage of women, future Estonian society also risks fostering a new mentality. The likeliest scenarios? Even knowing societies are slightly unpredictable: a) Homo Balticus will become less arrogant and strives in order to convince the best Estonian girls to stay; c) Homo Balticus will be more flexible and starts conquering the world by their partners; c) Estonian machismo will rise because Homo Balticus believes their women haven't faced their national responsibilities.
Honestly, a) and b) are much rosier than c).
* author of the novel "The Man who wanted to be Lindbergh"