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In Russia as a whole, there are 11 million more women than men, due in part to a century of bloody revolutions, gulags, and wars that drained the country’s male population.Add to that the fact that male life expectancy is particularly grim in Russia—on average, 59 years, as opposed to a woman’s 73 years, the largest gap of any country in the world—and you’ve got a serious demographic imbalance.A single woman herself, Zhuravleva says she “never had any interest in marrying a drunk, to later suffer the pain of divorce and splitting [of] real estate.”Her stance reflects the fact that Russian culture has yet to catch up with women’s lib—a point that frustrates the country’s younger women in particular.Despite the overwhelming surplus of women in Russia, only 3 percent of the country’s senior executives are female and a scant 6 percent of politicians are women. A professional dancer and the art director of Moscow’s new Leica Academy, she favors a wardrobe of black designer threads that hang gracefully on her trim frame.She is a fixture of Russia’s avant-garde art circles, and can often be found hosting hip gallery openings, welcoming visitors to photography exhibits at the Russian Academy of Arts, or teaching art students at the Rodchenko Photo School.And while many Russian women still hold out hopes of finding a Prince Charming, they are also coming to terms with the weight of the demographic and cultural factors working against them.Some women, like Shpakova, have decided to date only non-Russian men.

“As a teen, I always thought I would be married by my early 20s” she says.Despite the prevalence of domestic violence in Russia, the country has no law on the books outlawing physical abuse of a spouse.It’s unsurprising, then, that Russia is home to the world’s second-highest divorce rate—after Belarus—with 65 percent of marriages ending in a split.The dating prospects are so grim, in fact, that Shpakova and many other Russian women of her generation are consciously deciding to stay single.Moscow alone boasts more than 3 million single women between the ages of 25 and 50, out of a population of 11.1 million (that’s three times the number of single Muscovite men).

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