Canadian men have a good reputation in Russia for being honest, practical, handsome, strong and even stoic. The image of the proud Mountie standing on guard or the hard-working manly lumberjack providing for his family is what comes to mind when Russian people think of Canadian men.
Among Russian women, in particular, Canadian men rank among the top most suitable foreign husbands in the world. When I ask my female students "If there were no Russian men left and you HAD to marry a foreigner, in which country would you look?" Almost all of them answer "Spain" and "Canada". As with all questions posed in English class, there is the obligatory follow-up question: "Why?"
The girls usually respond that Spanish men are sexy and sensual and know how to dance and have a sexy accent, while Canadian men are strong and dependable and intelligent and know a man's role in a family (most Russian women are proudly traditional). While these stereotypes may or may not be true, it doesn't hurt that as a Canadian male I'm looked upon favourably by the women in Russia!
I recently took to exploring this concept of being a part of the top most-desirable men in the world, a notion that I have hitherto never entertained, and did a bit of online research. I was pleasantly surprised when I came across lots of articles and information that indicate that not only Russian women but most women around the world believe that Canadian men are top-notch marriage material! Imagine my surprise!
Cosmopolitan magazine, the most widely-circulated woman's magazine in the world (translated and published in over 85 languages globally), runs an annual survey of its female readers concerning the "Top 10 Sexiest Men In The World". For 12 years in a row Canadian men have ranked in the top 10 (while American men have, regrettably, never made the list). Spanish men continue to come in first place year after year, but in 2008 Canadian men made it to third place before falling back to 6th place.
Apparently Canadian men have a reputation, outside of Canada, of being strong, hard-working manly men with firm family values and big hands while at the same time being doting fathers and caring husbands AND at the same time being highly intelligent and cultured. Just look at this excerpt from an article I dug up from the Russian website yandex.ru (and used google webpage translator to read it):
"[Canadian men] are some of the best husbands and fathers [in the] world....with one hand they will [can?] pull a car from a ditch while feeding a baby with the other...tall and rugged, the Canadian [man] knows how to be [a] man and at the same time be his wife's best friend...[he] will put his family before all else and use his strength of body and mind to protect and nurture his loved [ones]...."
As a Canadian man myself I had to laugh at this article. It usually takes both hands to pull a car from a ditch.
Another, much more practical blog entry on livejournal.ru from a Russian woman living in Vancouver read..:
"I've been living amongst these species of men for seven years and when comparing to Russian men, there is no comparison. Canadian men are my ideal [men]. Most of them are tall and good looking and that [only] improves with age. They are much like big, loyal, well-behaved dogs who don't need a leash and chase away bears and burglars at night. In their eyes and bearing there is a relaxed confidence, confidence that comes from knowing they are strong and intelligent and being proud (sic) of their abilities. They don't smoke and rarely do they drink. They fight only for just reasons and prefer to sort out problems with diplomacy [rather than] fists, whereas Russian men simply throw childish tantrums and smash each other's, and their wives', faces in."
After reading a couple of more articles and blog entries about Canadian men, my feathers were proudly preened and I started to read what I wanted, thinking "Yes, that's right. That describes us (Canadian men) perfectly!" Of course that isn't all true. There are a lot of alcoholics, junkies, wife-beaters, trailer trash, assholes and complete morons in Canada, just like anywhere else. And because the Canadian diaspora is made up of hundreds of different nationalities and ethnicities, it is impossible to place any one type of label on "Canadian men". I'm sure a proud and beautiful Slavic princess from Moscow would find a different type of man, with a different set of qualities, in a third-generation Chinese-Canadian living in Vancouver than she would from a first-generation Polish-Canadian living in Toronto.
Nevertheless I decided to look further into this phenomenon. Russian women have a Canuck fetish (I can imagine a Russian girl fainting at the mere sight of a Spanish-Canadian!). I used google.com to search for impressions of Canadian men from around the world.
British women also think of Canadians as rugged, nature-loving, dependable, strong and stoically-handsome Mounties, although this doesn't appeal to the British girl as much as it does to the Russian girl: Canadians ranked 12th in Britain's idea of desirable men.
Japanese and Korean girls ranked Canadians as the sexiest and most desirable men in the world, believing that Canadian men are very family-oriented and make fantastic fathers and husbands while putting their wives/girlfriends/lovers before their careers (does that say something about the overworked cultures of Japan and Korea?). Also, Japanese and Korean girls ranked Canadian men as being the best lovers in bed!!! I know there are a lot of Canadian ESL teachers in Japan and Korea, but surely they haven't slept with ALL the Cosmo-reading girls in those countries yet? Still....yeah, baby....
Australians ranked Canadians rather poorly, and I wasn't able to find much information about what the hotties down under think of Canadian men, except that they are "..boringly normal, although with nice bodies..." Well, we could care less about you too, Australia. That's not true. You have a lot of hot women...
Europeans also gave Canadian men an average rating, although keeping them in the top 10. Again, the image of the proud man fending off circling wolves in the Yukon while his sled dogs tire prevailed (I supplied the imagery but you get the picture). Interestingly, the further east in Europe you travel, the sexier Canadian men become in the public mindset. This is probably because "sexy" for a French woman means something completely different than it does for a Ukrainian woman (tanned, rippling muscles, chiselled face and beautiful long locks compared to a dependable, loving family man).
Spanish women chose Spanish men as the hottest men in the world, followed by Brazilian men and then Spanish-American men. In fact, I noticed a bit of nationalist pride there, and Canadian men ranked extremely low in the eyes of Spanish beauties. Brazilians, however, ranked Canadian men extremely high, as the third sexiest men in the world! In fact, Brazilian women, when asked if they would prefer to have a one-night stand with a Canadian or marry him, responded positively to both! Again, that myth of the tall and strong stoic intellectual has travelled to the warm bikini-covered beaches of Brazil.
American women, on the other hand, apparently don't even spend their time thinking of Canadian men. Results were incredibly low and nearly 40% of those polled had "no opinion" (probably because they're not sure where Canada is on a map, or what it is). Contrary to gun-toting flag-waving American patriotism, however, they also ranked their own American men very low (too sensitive/not confident/unsure of themselves/too stupid were the most common reasons given), while most American women, it would seem, are busy drooling over the Spanish men.
As a proud member of a much-sought-after group of men in the world, I asked Katya what she thought of Canadian men. "I only know you." She answered. I reminded her that she met my friend two months ago, to which she replied "Yes, but I didn't sleep with him". Typical Russian answer. I pressed her to tell me what she had believed about Canadian men before she met me, to which she replied "That Canadian men were tall, strong and handsome, and took care of babies and helped their wives but were also good at fixing things and building things and loved the outdoors and....."
So there you have it. The tall and proud Mountie, despite having disappeared in his traditional form 100 years ago (except for the tourists), continues to represent the ideal Canadian man to the women of the world, or at least part of the world (why won't those Spanish knock-outs come over...?). And while I hold my head high after reading these articles, I know that when my soon-to-be Russian wife makes the big move to Canada, the vast mix of races and the fact that Canadian men are really no different than men in the rest of the world will probably be a disappointment to her, and then it will be time to buy a red uniform with a wide-brimmed hat and role-play some kinky Mountie stuff...