Top Ukrainian TV presenter urges women to be silent about their needs and feelings

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The #Metoo movement and the fight for equal rights for women all over the world doesn’t seem to impress Olga Freymut, a top TV presenter at Ukraine’s Novyi Kanal TV channel.

While women all over the world have been speaking out about sexual exploitation and harassment,  Freymut earlier in April recommended that Ukrainian women be silent about their basic needs, do not eat in public, and behave as if someone is constantly watching them.  

This is all that is required to be considered “a real lady,” Freymut said.

That prompted an online outcry that is still rumbling on more than a week later.

Freymut is the host of the Ukrainian version of the “Ladette to Lady” reality show, where she educates selected female contestants, considered to be tomboys by the show, on how to become a real lady.

In an interview with Novyi Kanal, Freymut shared eight rules she said Ukrainian women should follow to be a lady.

Freymut said Ukrainian women should eat only foods they associate with themselves.

“Never talk about your health. And if someone asks what’s wrong with you, better say you are in depression or have anemia because it sounds mysterious and makes you a real lady,” Freymut’s rule No. 7 reads.

Freymut’s rules have sparked controversy in Ukrainian society, with numerous women accusing Freymut of pushing the wrong message to viewers who might consider her as a role model.  

Freymut refused to give any comments to the Kyiv Post. “My book on etiquette for women will be published in two weeks, you will find all the answers to your questions there,” Freymut said.

But Freymut has already come in for criticism.

“It is sad that a celebrity, who has a certain influence to the audience through media, is transmitting such an offensive stereotype about women,” Oleksandra Golub, the member of Ukraine’s League for Women’s Rights protection told the Kyiv Post.

“That doesn’t help to fight for equal rights for women in our still quite patriarchal society,” Holub added.

Olena Shevchenko, co-chairperson of the Ukrainian Anti-discrimination Campaign on March 8 organized marches for women’s rights all over Ukraine, where at least five women were attacked with pepper spray and red paint..

Shevchenko described Freymut as “just a product of a current sexist system”, a TV personality, who has been using the old, frequently misogynistic rules just because it is much easier to sell them to the audience than to teach women about equality and teach them how to gain respect.

“It was hard for me to read Freymut’s calls for women to be patient and not to show that they feel sick or cold. To be silent that they have needs, to be an object,” Shevchenko said.

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