I just got back from the United States and was out of touch with Kyrgyz reality for women for some time. Yesterday it hit me hard. My housemate is a graduate of Sports Academy and has been teaching there until a year ago. She enjoyed teaching but had to leave because her university instructor’s salary being too low to sustain herself. She played rugby professionally for years and started looking for other jobs. The only available choices were either in teaching or being a security guard. She trains a girls’ soccer team to fulfill her passion for sports and has been working as a security guard with 24-hour shifts every two days. I only see her at home every other day and she is usually very sleepy and tired. Recently she was transferred from a job of security guard to an office job at the same company. Last night she came back home and said that her boss told her to dress more feminine and start wearing skirts and blouses. She does not have any feminine clothes so I got out whatever dresses, blouses and skirts that I had and we had a drag evening because neither her, nor my other lesbian housemate ever wear this kind of clothes. I personally wear them only when I need to appear as a ‘standard woman my age’.
When both of them were dressing up there were jokes thrown about how they both would get a raise if they wore this kind of clothes to work and how we should start dressing like that more often because we’d be driving Mercedes. It is sad that we see more prospects in dressing in a certain way than in studying or improving our skills. It’s true that job prospects in Kyrgyzstan improve with changes in length of hair, style of clothes and willingness to respond to men’s invitations.