Masha Efrosinina: “If you take responsibility for your life, you are no longer a victim”

Woman Magazine

When it seems like it’s a tough enough year, you can always stop, take to social media and be inspired by examples of the strong and talented. That’s exactly the kind of heroine we chose for our December digital cover. Masha Efrosinina fights against violence against women, takes exams for candidness from famous personalities, raises two children with her husband, and tells us about the main events of 2020. 

Woman Magazine

Masha, since we are summing up the year in December, please share what insights you personally had during this period.

The other day my group of girlfriends suggested we get together for the annual meeting. While I used to wait for these messages in girl chats, this year I suddenly realized that I didn’t want to break up with my family. I feel very comfortable with my family, even though I’ve spent more time with them this year than I have in my entire life. 2020 sifted everything through the sieve: showed real values and finally devalued what had no great meanings. This year was able to truly ground and set a new focus on what matters most. If it weren’t for my husband, who maintains an incredible optimism, humor, and calm, and if it weren’t for my children, who are happy about being home, I wouldn’t have been able to handle this year psychologically. Because it’s not my speed. I can’t remember a time in my life when it was so slow and empty. But I managed to keep my optimism, my faith in people and my inner love. Probably by retaining these feelings, a person is able to adapt to the circumstances he likes.

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You show by your own example that in any period it is important not to lose your humor, to be positive, to burn with your activity. How do you do it?

I think it’s a life experience. It just gives insight into so many things about yourself. You know exactly which of your reactions to the situation will be disastrous and which will be life-giving. We are all ordinary people and experience different emotional states. Moreover, it is important to learn to love and accept yourself in difficult moments. It is a great sign that we are alive, that our heart beats and our soul sometimes cries. You can go crazy if you pretend everything is fine. We have enough of that on social media, where the picture rules the world and simultaneously destroys the psyche of billions of people. So at least you can be honest with yourself?

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Publication from Masha Efrosinina (@mashaefrosinina)

I confess that no panic, despair, anxiety or apathy in my life has ever led me to anything positive. I’ve learned how to manage it and take control of myself when necessary. Of course, 10 or 5 years ago I didn’t know how to do that. Today I understand that everyone has to take responsibility for his or her life. Expecting someone to help or be a victim is a stupid waste of time.

For two years, one of your professional tasks, as a UNFPA ambassador, has been to fight for gender equality in Ukraine. What changes have already taken place on this difficult issue?

2020 was slated to be a transformational year in this matter, but nothing foretold a pandemic. In terms of national importance, there has been decentralization this year. This means that the authorities of individual cities and regions have become responsible for people affected by violence. I have appealed to measures and governors to supervise the shelters, crisis centers and mobile teams. In September, the President of Ukraine signed a decree on urgent measures to prevent and combat domestic violence. This is a very important point. Now work continues on shelters and shelters, which previously were not available at all. In addition, there are several crisis apartments in Kiev, where victims of violence can be brought immediately after the police record the fact of beating.

Of course, due to the fact that the quarantine has made its monstrous adjustments, we are not yet able to carry out full control. I had dozens of visits to local authorities planned for this year to make sure they were ready to continue the work we started. So far, it’s been happening in an online format.

Hotline 1547 was launched in test mode and still operates in this mode. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I am completely satisfied with the state hotline. I am used to recognizing the good as well as fixing what needs to be improved. 

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On a large scale, few public figures in our country take on the responsibility of working with socially significant topics. Do you feel a lack of support for Influencers?

When we created the Your Support Foundation in 2014, I made a promise to myself that I would never rebuke people. It can drive you crazy to think about how many people have money and spend it without thinking about those in need at all. It can be frustrating when you realize that you can’t help everyone, that some people give children to orphanages, that your efforts are a drop in the ocean. You can’t waste energy blaming others for inaction. So I have a rather cemented attitude that everyone lives by their own conscience.

A public person is a channel for transmitting meanings. That’s the way it is all over the world and that’s the way it can be in Ukraine. I won’t criticize my colleagues, I can only thank them. Olya Polyakova, Dima Monatik, Julia Sanina, Alyosha, Taras Topolya agreed from the first call to star in a video calling for the fight against violence against women. They instantly endorsed the idea that the commercial would be drama-free, but rather faith-inspiring.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Publication from Masha Efrosinina (@mashaefrosinina)

Your degree of sincerity in interviews, on social media, and in speeches for female audiences is a delight and a mild shock. Because most have not been taught that discussing many issues frankly is not shameful and is vital. Where do you personally get the courage to be so honest?  

My path has not been an easy one, either in my career or in my personal life. It was filled with trials that made me resilient so that I could now defend my integrity. I am as honest as my inner limit allows me to be. Why would I want to do that? I feel the feedback from people and hear how it changes their lives. Never before had I walked the streets as I do today: people stop me, take me by the hand, and tell me their stories. Even if a few dozen people were able to admit that I helped them at some point, that’s enough for me to stay in that honest tone with my audience that I am in.

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What do you think would help other girls and women to be on such a path of honesty?

Stop expecting the world to pat you on the head. Stop waiting for someone to come along and solve your problems.

I’m not God, and I don’t even have the psychological resource to read thousands of direct messages urging me to help. I’m just a man who declares: “If you take responsibility for your life, you are no longer a victim! My task is to eradicate in Ukrainians the victim syndrome, which they absorbed with the milk of their victim mothers. I want women to understand that they can’t expect anyone to make them happy. All the responsibility is on them! Many people think that if I brought them into a state of “epiphany,” then now I should help solve the problem with the apartment, the money, the lawyers.

First of all, I suggest that you think about your own internal standards of self-love. A woman with high self-esteem will not live in a loveless marriage, will not give up the work she loves, will not tolerate sexual harassment from her boss. A woman who loves and respects herself will arrange her life as she sees fit.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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In addition to challenging external circumstances, many couples had difficulties in 2020. How do you keep love alive in a relationship?

My husband and I have a rule about talking to each other. I believe as long as this rule works, our family will exist. We discuss any acute or tense situation that has arisen between us. When the quarantine began, Timur (Masha’s husband – editor’s note) and I sat down and talked about how we would work out our personal space and budgets and divide up household chores. My daughter Nana, who stays and takes care of Sasha (my youngest son – editor’s note), helps a lot , so we can spend some quiet time with my husband. The kids know that there is space for the two of us. This is our second rule.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Masha, what is the first thing parents should talk about with teenagers in order to raise a confident and conscious generation? Perhaps you can cite your own example with your 16-year-old daughter, Nana?

On the one hand, I feel sorry for the social dominance of teenagers, and I have no way of predicting the consequences of the authoritarian pressure of social media and virtual authority figures. On the other hand, feeling sorry for them is definitely not the answer. I try to give my daughter an understanding of reality. Is the world a cruel place? Yes. Is there room for betrayal and hypocrisy in it? Yes. How to live with it? We can analyze situations by examples.

I share a lot of what I see and read, involve Nana in charity events and trips to orphanages. She certainly understands that there is both good and bad in the world. I would recommend that all parents show their children reality more often.

I am also very supportive of the introduction of sex education. If we are progressive parents, we will bring it into schools and home rhetoric. Thanks to this, millions of girls will not repeat the mistakes of their mothers.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Publication from Masha Efrosinina (@mashaefrosinina)

You just recently released an interview on your channel with blogger Sasha Chistova. What attracts you to the younger generation?

I’m interested in bloggers, because if they’ve been made icons of a generation, it means they appeal to millions in some way. It’s important for me to understand the language they speak. Because it is the bloggers who will carry the meanings in the future. Values have no age, only translation and adaptation.

Talking to Sasha was important. A girl of 22, who has experienced psychological abuse from a boyfriend, has the courage to speak out about it, so that thousands of other girls will not tolerate similar treatment of themselves. After all, each of us has packed into ourselves complexes imposed by someone and gone with them in life. And if, after this interview, 10% of the viewers think about or find the strength to break such a relationship, I would be glad.

As we continue to talk about the issues of “The Exam,” it’s interesting to know which interviews have made the biggest impression on you personally?

I can’t identify any individual interviews. The commentary, which is under almost every video, is: “I discovered a public person in a new way. That, to me, is the main reason to be proud of each issue. I can be unhappy with myself for being overly complementary or harsh, but the fact that we make material that reveals the character from a completely different perspective is a fact.

All of the characters come with a decision to talk openly.

This year I started earning a little bit of money from the Examiner by integrating advertising. It untied my hands and allowed me to create a better product. I’m investing a lot in developing the channel, and I’m even thinking about a new show.

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Which Ukrainian women inspire you?

I never had idols, but every heroine in “The Exam” in the moment we talked was an inspiration to me. It’s a deep degree of trust and a connection of two feminine energies. I love my life because I meet outstanding people from whom I can learn something.

I am also inspired by happiness in the moment. For example, my birthday is very difficult and I always run away somewhere on this day, and because of the quarantine I was not able to do it. So my husband brought us to the woods, where we sat on a stump and drank tea. Moments like these should be treasured.

In addition, I experience tremendous happiness and even physical pleasure in the moments when I can truly help someone. And it’s not just about charity.

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Masha, what would you like to wish your audience for the coming year?

I wish everyone who reads this interview to think about their health. 2020 is the ultimate test of strength and how you live your life and how much respect you have for your body. Do a serious analysis of what you are made of. The pandemic that quarantined the entire world is specifically testing whether our bodies are ready to face the challenge. I wish everyone to reconsider their attitude to life and to physical and spiritual health.


Text: Natalia Filon

Photo: press service 


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