Länsi-Savo and toilet etiquette for Russians

by , under Enrique

An article on Friday’s Länsi-Savo, a Mikkeli-based daily, is a good example of how old stereotypes are kept alive in this part of Finland. The article, headlined ABC Juva teaches Russians how to use the toilet bowl, reveals more than anything else our stereotypes and prejudices against Russians. 

Länsi-Savo is the biggest newspaper in Etelä-Savo, a region that is starting to look like a home for senior citizens due to the rapid graying of its population. Even so, foreign tourists and foreign investors could play an important role in the region’s future economic development.

Kuvankaappaus 2013-1-12 kello 10.07.40The article, which is pretty racist towards Russians, offers us the classic ethnocentric view of the world: Russians (“them”) are so backward that they don’t even know how to go to the toilet.

“Tourists usually stand on the toilet seat Russian style,” said ABC Juva manager Minna Rasa. “We want to instruct them so that our toilets stay clean.”

Rasa states, however, that standing on the toilet seat isn’t “a big problem” but due to cultural differences.

If it’s not “a big problem” why is it being written as if it were one? How many foreign tourists are we speaking of? How does ABC Juva know that Russian tourists stand on toilet seats? Are their hidden surveillance cameras in ABC Service Station toilets?

Let’s talk about toilets…How Finns use outhouses, maybe? Isn’t it disgusting how a person can defecate on top of a pile of urine and feces in the heat of summer?

Instead of making a bid deal about such a problem, why doesn’t Länsi-Savo write about how oligopolies like ABC Service Stations kill competition and rob communities of jobs?

Certainly that would be a much bigger social problem than writing about foreign tourists standing on toilet seats.