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Black men, Estonian women: the truth

By Abdul Turay

Published Postimees 11 November 2009

Well that got your attention; the headline I mean. Any story on this subject, the technical term is miscegenation, is bound to get punters. The yellow media, women's magazines and reality TV shows are obsessed with the subject. Not a month goes by without some publication writing about it. Anne and Style, for example, recently ran a long feature about mixed couples.
Most of these stories are muddle-headed and wrong. There's paranoia in this country that there is an army of dark-skinned men form Turkey, the tropics, some place south, who are going to make off with the nation's women. It's never going to happen. I'll explain why in a minute.
Seriously, I think there are more important things to think about and worry about. I worry about feeding my family. I worry about other people being able to feed their families, so I write about politics and economics.
But the press won't leave me, or any other black person in Estonia for that matter, alone.
A women's magazine contacted me once to join a round table discussion about foreign men and Estonian women. I told them I wasn't interested.
A well-known T.V. presenter asked me to go on her show to talk about foreign men and Estonian women. I told her I wasn't interested.
A journalist asked me about foreign men and Estonian women. You can guess my answer.
Since the issue is out there and because there is so much nonsense that's been broadcast and written about it, I have decided to set the record straight. I am hoping against hope that this piece will be the definitive story on the subject and the press will henceforth steer clear of it.
I hope I don't sound too dumb in stating the obvious. Estonian women prefer Estonian men and it is normal and natural that they should.

There are a million and one reasons for this, the underlying principle is it's more comfortable for anyone to be in a relationship with someone who speaks the same language and shares the same culture.

What it boils down to is an Estonian woman can joke with an Estonian man with something like: “How many times do I have to wash the same man's socks?” and not have to spend 20 minutes explaining what she means.

Not only are Estonian men, in my opinion, tall and good-looking, at least compared to the foreign men I see around Tallinn, with the type of looks that are popular in the Mediterranean, but they have skills that Western men don't seem to have. An Estonian guy knows how to be a “man”. He can put up a shelf, he can chop wood.

Of course some local women date foreigners. Part of the reason appears to be that there aren't enough Estonian men to go around. But some women like what foreign men have to offer. Foreign men can appear sophisticated and urbane. Foreign men in Estonia are by definition travelled, women like that.

But actually, the best way to appear sophisticated and urbane is not to be a foreigner. The best way to appear sophisticated and urbane is to be an Estonian guy socialising with foreigners. There are two guys in a club, a black guy and his Estonian friend, who gets the interest? who gets the girl? Think about it.

The number of Estonian women who are even remotely interested in foreign men is no more than in other countries and a lot less than most. The figures back this up. In the U.K. an estimated 30 per cent of all black women, my sister included, are married to or living with white partners. Could you imagine if 30 per cent of all Estonian women had Russian-speaking partners or vice versa? And Estonian and Russians are the same race.

What this demonstrates is for people to get along what matters is culture, not race.

All those black women, like my sister, share the same culture with their husbands. They speak the same language, have grown up with the same TV shows, have read the same books and played the same school yard games.

And what about black men in Estonia? I know a lot of anecdotal tales about foreign men in general and black men in particular who are complete failures with Estonian women.

I knew of one guy who was over here playing basketball. As a professional sportsman earning a good salary by Estonian standards you'd think he'd have no problem getting women. Think again. He could never get any woman to commit to him. He was looking for love, he was getting brief encounters. He felt exploited. He was frustrated and angry

“I really hate Estonian women,” he said.

I knew another basketball player. He was a real nice chap. His girl dumped him anyway, when the right Estonian guy came along. She gave no warning and no explanation, just “goodbye”. He was fairly philosophical about the experience; which was big of him because he had only stayed in the country for that girl. He has now left Estonia.

And there are others with even less success. Take a friend of mine, let's call him John Doe. He's 28, American, articulate, attractive, a graduate student, highly intelligent, and to make life really easy for him, white. He's been in Estonia for over two years. In that time he hasn't dated a single woman, not one. He said he found it difficult to have any kind of meaningful dialogue with Estonian women. He found it especially hard to talk to those women who hadn't spent any time abroad.

Just to demonstrate how farcical all the stuff that is usually written in the press about this issue is; let's get back to the women's magazine and their round table discussion. They did eventually rope in somebody to take part. And who was this expert on Estonian women? you've guessed it, John Doe.

There was the women's media asking John Doe why more and more Estonia women are picking foreign men as partners, not realising the real story was right under their noses, namely: “How come there are all these foreign men living in Estonia now who can't get near a local women?”

So what happens when an Estonian women through accident or fate does end up with a foreign men.

Simple, they Estonianise them. It is universally true that foreign men with Estonian partners all develop a keen interest in Estonian language and culture. I don't know a foreigner who has been with an Estonian woman for any significant period of time who doesn't have a passion for Estonian culture. With some people it can become an obsession, but that's a subject for another article.

You'd think that an Estonian woman married to a Dutchman or American would chose to live in the United States or Holland. Salaries are higher there after all. However often the couple chose to live in Estonia. If you've ever wondered why, now you have your answer. It’s part of the process whereby those clever Estonian women customise their men folk, combining the best of Dutch or American with the best of Estonian.

Any guy with an Estonian woman will eventually learn how to chop wood or put up a shelf.

Not everybody adapts though. Take our dumped basketball player. After two years in Estonia he wouldn't have known who Mart Sander was, if he came up to him and smacked him in the face.

Things are looking up for John Doe though. He's met a blond, chatty, waitress in Vapiano whom he really likes.
“Why don't you ask her out?” I said to him over dinner.
“What do you know about her, do you even know her name?”
“Yes of course I know her name, it's Opi ...em... Opilane,” he said. (Ed note: Ă•pilane is the Estonian word for student or trainee)


Anonymous said…
Abdul Turay for president!
Anonymous said…
I am not black but I am mixed...brown skin and my experience here has been very different than your examples. I think it is very easy to get an Estonian girlfriend or wife. Then again, its fairly easy for me doesn't matter where I am...
abdul turay said…
I'm not saying it's difficult to get an Estonian girlfriend (if you know what you're doing). But given a choice, Estonian women prefer Estonian men, regardless of race. The trouble is often there isn't much choice because there aren't enough men
What I wrote is terribly unremarkable.
Who wouldn't say British women don't prefer British men or at least men from an English-speaking country.
Anonymous said…
I'm black, and married to an Estonian woman. I must say that I fully concur with Abdul that Eesti women try to Estonianise their foreign men. Even though I'm a British Citizen, and a US permanent resident (my wife is also a US permanent resident) and having a child that's a US citizen; my wife still insists on permanent relocation to Estonia.

Despite my pleas (mainly because of the Eesti language, food, terrible weather, appalling customer service, little diversity) she has no interest to permanently live in the US. Suffice to say that we're permanently moving to Tallinn in Nov 2010. She won, I lost!
Anonymous said…
I think that Estonian women who do marry foreigners fall into two categories - those who Estonianise their husbands and those who are only happy to leave the country. The latter group you never really hear of because they leave and never look back. And people like that exist everywhere. To each their own.

There will always be women for whom one of the requirements in a husband is plenty of money. It's almost like a matter of making sure your offspring will be better off. Hey, if men are allowed the excuse that they need to procreate with as many women as possible then let women have this one! ;)
But this need for a more secure future doesn't always require a rich foreigner - it happens on a national level as well. A friend of mine once told me that the bars around military bases in the US are buzzing with women looking for a G.I. Joe to marry - because he has a secure job, a secure income and is held to certain standards by his employer.

This is a topic that most people can go on and on and on about. I've learned that there will always be people who think I married a foreigner for every other reason but love. Let them think so if it makes them happy. Meanwhile I'll be living our "happily ever after" with my kids and my Estonianised husband.
Anonymous said…
As a foreign man married to an Estonian woman, I must agree that I am becoming Estonianized, but I wouldn't complain about it. Knowing the language and the culture really helps to live and survive here.
I think there is also the fact that Estonian men have it too easy here. Firstly, there are more women than men, a fact in figures. More men move to work in other European countries, so there are more women in Estonia. Added to that, many Estonian women are very attractive, that is also true. So in the end, Estonian men don't even have to try hard to get an Estonian woman. In fact, many Estonian men have several ongoing relationships, and have several children with different women. This is widely recognized.
Also, many young Estonian men live a very strange life. They are continuously drunk or partying, or thinking about how great, handsome, vain, "cool" they are. Sure, some Estonian women fall for that, but I think many aspire to more than a drunken, short-minded, bigoted, shelf and self-propping, wood-cutting, cheating man.

And another thing. Much of the above described applies equally as well to the UK and other countries.
Antonio said…
Well, I just ended recently a long relation of almost 4 years with a Estonian girl and still did not learn to chop wood :) But as far as I have seen during my life in Finland and Estonia, usually you find two groups of girls: the ones very open minded and curious towards foreigners and the ones who basically would not make even the effort to talk to you for being foreigner. Btw, great and interesting entry!
Piret said…
I think the relocating is due to dairy products. Estonia is known for its high quality dairy alike British dairy. (by my British boyfriend). We discovered that he also has learned to put up shelves and chop wood while living with me, an Estonian girl. How bizarre.
Pablo said…
Well, for my experience of five years (and counting) with an Estonian woman, I must say I think it's just about individuals.

It's true Estonian women will try to "estonicize" you, but who doesn't want its partner to understand such an important part of ourselves as our culture is? What may lead to some of us to thinking of the Estonian case as a particularly acute one in this regard, is the fact Estonians still feel pretty insecure about themselves and are still understanding their identity, battered by history until too recently.

My wife is a travelled person (more than I, I'd say) and she's had time to put things in context and we're both valuing different aspects of her culture (which she has eagerly shown to me in detail) when we agree they are truly unique or simply new to me. Estonians may marvel at some aspects of their own culture that are simply pretty common in other peasant cultures. They are also a small country discovering everything at once, so naiveness or snobbism may surface regularly. But they have a good inner common sense that ends up countering this, I think.

Having said that, I'm not that fascinated about Estonian culture as much as I am happy of having found a people with its own hard-working, proud and honest character as they are. They have issues with their own national self-esteem and it would help their mental health talking more openly in general, but, overall, they are a pretty decent people. And they made a great girl out of mine :)

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