It is generally believed that the profession of bodyguards is meant only for men. However, in some cases outstanding persons, such as actors, singers or businessmen for some reason prefer female bodyguards.
In Moscow, there is only one special school training female bodyguards. Nice and smart women between 21 and 37 can be accepted there for training. The owner of the school, former security services employee Nadezhda Mikhailova says that people employing female bodyguards first of all insist that these women must be very attractive and demonstrate good intellect. If a man prefers a female bodyguard he does not want to have someone unfeminine by his side. It often happens that expectations of majority of clients wishing to employ a female bodyguard are too exaggerated. They demand this woman must be a slender model-like blonde having a driving license, being able to act as a personal secretary, speak languages, know some fighting techniques and handle all types of guns. The school of female bodyguards usually ignores such exaggerated demands of clients, and certainly takes into consideration those reasonable ones. This is one of the reasons why girls under 21 are never accepted to the school.
Nadezhda Mikhailova says that young applicants usually look great but something is obviously wrong with their minds. These young girls imagine that being a female bodyguard is as cool as to act like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. It is important that women wishing to be accepted to the school of bodyguards must be absolutely healthy, including perfect eyesight. Every applicant undergoes detailed psychological tests and really tough physical examinations. The school owner admits that although the exercises seem to be simple often even professional sportswomen fail to do them properly.
Under such severe conditions only five women have managed to complete a six-month period of studies lately. Nadezhda Mikhailova helped all of them with employment. Unfortunately, she says that wages paid to female bodyguards are lower than that paid to men of the same profession. “It is sad that clients do not believe in the great potential of female bodyguards. Their training level is as perfect as that of men. And it is important that in most cases female bodyguards are more effective than men. It is known that women oftener resort to “peace talks” than force. Women are seldom treated as a source of menace, and this fact helps female bodyguards act promptly and effectively in case of emergency.”
Victoria Korchagina, former biathlon athlete, is now the head of the North-west department of the National Bodyguard Association. She was one of the first female bodyguards in Russia. She explains that there are no special secrets pertaining to female bodyguards only. Like male bodyguards, women trained to become bodyguards are taught to use any item at hand for defense or attack. This may certainly be even a hairpin. Victoria Korchagina also explained that shooting an enemy is an outdate trend. Today, killers prefer strong and fast decomposing poisons. But irrespective of the instruments that killers employ for an attack main goal of personal bodyguards is to always avert or anticipate critical situations. For this purpose bodyguards must not only be able to analyze any situation but also to understand the issue of security as a complex. Indeed, Victoria adds that it is easier and better to teach a bodyguard give his diabetic client injections than have thorough checks-up of nurses coming to give these injections.
Unlike men, women readily assume more functions. Male bodyguards are more conservative than women: they believe that bodyguard’s hands must be always free and will never help their clients carry baggage. And this attitude sometimes entails really curious situations. One male bodyguard escorted a businessman with his family during a vacation abroad. When arrived at an airport abroad, the Russian group found out there was no tourist operator receiving them there and they had to get to a hotel themselves. The bodyguard would not carry the man’s baggage, and some boy at the airport insisted he could help carry the cargo. At the end, the annoying boy seized a suitcase out of the businessman’s hands and ran away. The bodyguard had to abandon his clients and chase after the boy about the airport for 15 minutes. And the man was no success. It should be mentioned that the suitcase contained all the best evening dresses of the businessman’s wife which meant that the unlucky bodyguard was dismissed immediately after the trip.
Outstanding clients abroad now understand perfectly well that female bodyguards are more universal than men. Even Sharon Stone employs female bodyguards. Indeed, female bodyguards can accompany their female clients in fitting-rooms in a boutique, in beauty shops or ladies’ room in a restaurant. Russia’s Victoria Korchagina was the personal bodyguard of Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson during her visit to Russia. She also was the bodyguard of Sir Paul McCartney during his tour in Russia. The Russian bodyguard admits that it is easier to work with foreign clients coming to this country as they are more attentive to security requirements and are very careful towards the escort. They seldom reveal snobbism while this is still the favorite tactics of many of Russian VIPs.
Female bodyguards may tell lots of unusual details of their work. It is an open secret that they sometimes have to help their clients out of restaurants and parties when the latter are absolutely drunk. Women working as bodyguards of well-known singers, looking absolute macho on the stage, have to escort them even to WC because these men turn out to be panicky afraid of the rest of the world. And it may happen that a female bodyguard must be ready to repel sexual harassment toward their clients. Victoria Korchagina loves her job and she dreams of working with President Putin some day. “This work would be interesting for me from the professional point of view first of all. And also it would be a good chance to learn what kind of a personality the president is. It is also interesting to know what is done for the president’s security,” Russia’s first female bodyguard says.
The history of female bodyguards is really very long. It is known that Chinese emperors had some female bodyguards; women also served as bodyguards in ancient temples of India, Egypt and Mideast. The tradition was not typical of Russia at all. It was under the Soviet regime only that female bodyguards appeared for the first time. First female astronaut Valentina Tereshkova was always escorted by a woman belonging to security services who obviously performed the bodyguard functions.
Today, about 500 women (approximately 2 percent of the total number of bodyguards in Russia) are personal bodyguards. They are usually paid not more than $1,500-2,000 for 15 workdays a month.
Zurab Kekelidze from the Serbsky Institute of Social and Forensic Psychiatry says that both male and female bodyguards have their advantages. But it is a proven fact, he says, that women easier overcome stress than men, they seldom take to alcohol to cope with stresses. What is more, women are usually more careful about their psychological and physical health. They never reject medical aid if it is required, which is not always typical of men. Besides, the expert says that men are guided basically with logic while women also employ their emotional flair and experience. Women often act correctly thanks to their intuition. So, the expert recommendation is that clients wishing to employ personal guards should have a team consisting of both female and male bodyguards.
Translated by Maria Gousseva
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