“Georgian Mentality”

What does it mean when a Georgian refers to “Georgian Mentality?” I’ve heard the phrase used by Georgians in one and only one context: to refer to attitudes or behaviors that reflect aggression, belligerence, or a tendency to resort to conflict or violence to solve problems. And I’ve only ever heard Georgians use it to refer to men.

In the USA, we have certain stereotypes about male behavior: men are more violent, more aggressive, more likely to start wars or fights, etc. We tend to think of male belligerence as a universal and innate characteristic of human beings (and many other primate species as well) and so when two men get into a stupid fight over nothing, oftentimes this behavior is dismissed as commonplace or inevitable. Violence and aggression is a typical male response, people say: “boys will be boys.”

So one of the things that I am curious about is why this frame does not seem to have made it to Georgia. I have never heard a Georgian explain aggressive male behavior as typically male – only as typically Georgian.

Now the student of modernist gender theory might immediately jump to the existentialist-based One/Other frame – the idea that men are the people who society identifies as The One, while women are The Other, and so typical male behaviors need no explanation, because the typical male is synonymous with the typical human. In this system, only women’s behavior needs to be explained and understood, because men’s behavior is normal or expected by default and women are different or abnormal by default. This system is in turn based on what we term the male solipsism, which is the fundamental assumption that all rational inquiry is performed from the male subject-position.

However, this answer doesn’t completely satisfy me because while it explains Western male solipsism as performed by men, it doesn’t explain why women would participate in such a worldview to the extent that is indicated by the equation of male aggression with Georgian mentality.

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Georgian identity politics is a very complicated and deep subject with a lot of historical (and some not-so-historical) roots. Georgian statesman Ilya Chavchavadze famously said that the three pillars of the Georgian identity are land, language and religion, and the truth of that statement is still apparent in modern Georgian politics – from the resurgence of religion in post-Soviet Georgian life to the unwillingness to part with Abkhazia and South Ossetia – but of course Georgian identity amounts to much more than Georgian nationalism. Georgian identity involves food, art, dance, music, and other cultural practices; and traditions that Georgians may associate with religion but that clearly have their roots in simple social conservatism.

But on a day-to-day basis, what I am most struck by is the gender divide in Georgian identity. For every custom or habit that is explained to me as being characteristic of Georgians, there are two or three that are specific customs or habits of either the Georgian Man or the Georgian Woman.

There is clearly a very strong gender identity politics in Georgia, and the system is maintained equally by men and by women. There are different sets of behaviors expected of men and women. I’ve already talked about some of these expectations (and been criticized for doing so) but the less controversial ones are no less entrenched: women aren’t supposed to smoke in public, aren’t supposed to drink much or get drunk, are supposed to dress a certain way, carry themselves a certain way, and generally abide by one set of social expectations; men are more or less expected to be demanding, to smoke and drink whenever they want, and to abide by a different set of social expectations. There are some jobs that are overwhelmingly performed by women (teachers, nurses, telephone operators) and others that are overwhelmingly performed by men (police, cab drivers).

And Georgian women, in general, seem proud of their place in society. When a Georgian woman tells me “I act/think this way because I am a Georgian Woman” there is always an unmistakable pride in that identity, and often a note of challenge or defiance, as if they expect me, as a Westerner, to criticize or deride their identity because they are different from American women. On the other hand, Georgian men, when explaining their attitudes or behavior, sometimes seem proud, but often seem slightly embarrassed or sheepish about them.

Or perhaps that is just my Western judgment or observation bias that I am projecting onto Georgians. It just seems to me that women have to work very hard to fill their various roles in society here, and so are justifiably proud of such an accomplishment; whereas men here don’t have to do much work at all to live up to the expectations of their gender roles and are more focused on what they can get away with.

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So if there are two distinct, well-defined, well-recognized identities in Georgia – the Georgian Man and the Georgian Woman – then I can rephrase my earlier question thusly: why aren’t these identities the site of political or social contestation in Georgia? Why do Georgian women accept the “Georgian Man” as the holder of the “Georgian Mentality?” Why don’t they call it the “Georgian Male Mentality” or just the “Male Mentality” as we call an overly aggressive/confrontational disposition in the West?

It’s not that there’s absolutely no contestation. There are some individuals who defy stereotypes or social expectations, as there are in any society. And there are certainly some organizations that seek to advocate for Georgian women and women’s issues. But overall, there is little indication that either men or women in Georgia wish to challenge the traditional gender system as a whole.

I feel comfortable making this observation because I am not the only one. Recently an article came out about Georgian women in politics that argues the same thing: that deeply held social beliefs keep women from politics despite women’s formal equality. And the Boell Foundation has a short documentary on their website that explores the history of women’s activism in Georgia and argues that there has been a decline in women’s participation in civil society since Soviet times as a backlash against Soviet forced equality.

And I think this leads pretty directly to the question, if Georgians are all apparently satisfied with their identity as Georgians and as Georgians of a particular gender, and if Georgian society has been engaged in a twenty-year “return to normalcy,” then why should there be any gender-based conflict at all? If Georgian gender roles exist in a harmonious balance that almost nobody in Georgia wants to destabilize, then why do I, and other Westerners, keep poking at this obvious sore spot in Georgian society?

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I’ve tried to keep my posts about gender issues in this country descriptive, rather than prescriptive. In other words, I’ve said “Georgians seem to do X” but not “I think Georgians should do Y instead.” I do this partly out of a desire not to offend my host country, but mostly out of an understanding that there is very little good that can be done by coming to someone else’s country and telling them how to live their lives. My only deviation from this formula in general is when I discuss treatment of foreign women in Georgia – both the elevated levels of harassment and violence, and the code of silence that surrounds these problems – and I am willing to be more forceful about these issues because they directly involve foreigners and so I feel that I, as a foreigner, have some standing in the discussion.

However, I’m going to veer a little into the prescriptive side of things now. I am an educator in Georgia, and I have been asked here specifically to offer my expertise in the English language but also my experience in the methods and culture of education in the Western world. The US has gone through many of the struggles that Georgia is going through in terms of education, and while neither country has found the perfect solution, we can learn from each others’ experience.

An oft-cited problem in Georgian education is classroom discipline. In my classrooms, discipline problems are mostly caused by boys. Boys tend to be the instigators. They are more likely to be defiant, more likely to disrupt class by getting out of their seats, throwing things, or talking or yelling during class, and more likely to escalate verbal conflict to physical conflict.

In the US, there has been an ongoing discussion of the gender divide in education. Some (foolishly) believe that there is a “War Against Boys” that explains why girls are consistently outperforming boys in US schools. Others argue that the classroom environment is just more suited to the female disposition. Others cite social problems, differences in child-rearing strategies, different rates of development or maturity, and many other more or less credible explanations.

Whatever the case may be, it is clear that the issue of education has a gendered component – that is, any solution to the problem of how best to educate our children must necessarily take gender into account. This is just as true in Georgia as it is in the United States. The difference is that in the US, the issue has widespread recognition because there is a very long history of gender-based identity politics; whereas in Georgia the issue has virtually no recognition at all.

The idea that education can be gender-targeted, or that problems in schools can be best addressed by taking gender into account, seems to be completely absent. And as I’ve said, it’s not just written off as “boys will be boys” – it’s written off as “Georgian Mentality,” or in other words, “Georgians will be Georgians.” There’s a certain amount of hopelessness in Georgian education – the idea that classroom discipline is impossible to achieve and so it’s pointless to try seems to be very common.

So I think that the idea of the “Georgian Mentality” needs to be questioned. Georgians need to ask themselves what the “Georgian Mentality” is, and who has it, and how it relates to Georgian identity as a whole. I know that the Georgian identity is very important here, and it is what has kept Georgia in existence despite the efforts of Russia and other historical empires. But I also know that “Georgian Mentality” was not one of the pillars of the Georgian identity that the Georgian people have rallied around – it doesn’t have to do with land, language, or religion, nor does it have to do with Georgian food, music, dance, or anything else that makes Georgia unique and special – and so if “Georgian Mentality” is not part of the Georgian identity, and doesn’t serve to strengthen Georgia or the Georgian identity, and in fact is holding Georgians back from their national aspirations, then maybe the whole concept just needs to be discarded in favor of a more nuanced, inclusive, and constructive way of looking at what drives and motivates Georgians.

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For some reason I can’t embed this documentary on WordPress, but check it out – it’s free and interesting: http://georgien.boell-net.de/web/116-996.html

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30 Responses to “Georgian Mentality”

  1. Tymala says:

    “However, I’m going to veer a little into the prescriptive side of things now. I am an educator in Georgia, and I have been asked here specifically to offer my expertise in the English language but also my experience in the methods and culture of education in the Western world.”

    My question is what do they “Georgians” want/expect from us? Are they only interested in language skills and to discuss the weather and American pop culture with us? That is fine- but tell us from the beginning. We know not to talk about sex, religion, and controversial topics. As I have stated in other posts, yes, we should be culturally sensitive as a guest in Georgia and abide by certain rules. And yes, it is rude to come into someone’s country and say, “we do xxxx in my country- you should do the same”. We should not be imperialist or impose our views on them to an extent. They should also respect our views and except us for who we are as well-but that is a tricky situation. It was quite hard for my Jewish friend who hid her religion.

    As a woman, it is still hard to bite my tongue and accept certain realities; especially since I am obligated to be here for another year and half, making my stay here in Georgia a total of almost 3 years ( I have been here since Dec 09 in Samegrello). What are we supposed to say when Georgians ask us, “how does your country do so and so” “what do you think about xxx”? Are we supposed to give an answer that will be favorable for them? Are we supposed to hide our true selves 100%? I am constantly doing this and it does get exhausting. I am always worrying about not offending them; but they do not worry about offending me.

    So the question also is “how much do you/they want to modernize?” Traditions can be kept in tact with modernization but many changes have to be made. Do they only want everything to stay the same but with more economic advancement? What do they want us to bring them from the West? Only paint a rosy picture of our countries and not be totally honest? Only tell them how much we love xxxx about Georgia? Avoid any open discussions or debates? I am through with telling the truth about my country, discussing gender issues with them, discussing my true thoughts, ect…. I am at the point nowadays where I just want to smile, smile, smile, talk about the weather and Brittany Spears, tell them I am going to home to cook dinner for my man, and disconnect emotionally, truthfully, and mentally.

    Do they truly want a cultural exchange? We can always start a virtual online program that will only bring them language lessons and save the government lots of bucks and cultural clashes by not having us here in the flesh. How can we ever meet half way?

    • panoptical says:

      I think that Georgians do want a cultural exchange, but of course, different people want different things.

      I think that specifically as regards TLG, we have to tread a line between doing the work that we came here to do, which includes being cultural and social ambassadors, and not becoming so controversial that we mar the image of TLG in Georgian society. It’s tricky because in some cases we can get away with doing and saying things that Georgians couldn’t get away with, and yet in other cases we can’t get away with saying or doing things that Georgians could get away with.

      I don’t know what guidelines your organization has given you and perhaps you are more bound by their rules than TLGers are – or perhaps you feel bound by Georgian tradition because you are stuck here for a long time and have to face daily judgment – but for me I try to strike a balance between patience and action, between speaking out for what needs to be said and establishing enough of a baseline of trust with Georgians that what I say will be taken as intended and not as the imperialist commands or criticisms of an outsider.

  2. pasumonok says:

    I might not see it cause I am native, but I got confused: why is Georgian mentality Georgian men mentality? It is often used in regards to women as well. Like she’s a virgin cause of her Georgian mentality. People like me use it with a negative connotation, others use it in a positive way.
    Also, can I mention the smoking issue? How are girls not supposed to smoke in public? Some of my girlfriends specifically started smoking only to smoke publicly in cafes, because ” it is sexy”.
    In the end, what you’re supposed and not supposed to do varies from place to place and in Tbilisi, from district to district.

    • panoptical says:

      I’ve never heard it used about anything other than aggression or conflict, but you’ve been in this country longer so my sample size may be insufficient to make a judgment. Also I don’t know how the term translates, and I’m specifically talking about English usage, which could also explain the discrepancy.

      As for smoking, women are definitely not supposed to smoke in public – I’m willing to stand behind that statement despite only having been here for seven months. Certainly some women do it anyway, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re going against explicit social norms.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    As a reply to Tymala I can fully understand all the frustrations she has described but think resignation and smiles is not a way out. Do not be afraid to upset several persons around you. Do not hide your views completely. Do not avoid open discussions and debates where possible. Not speaking your mind is deceiving yourself and others. You will not be able to make major changes in attitudes and the ways things are done (it takes more time) but if you can at least make one person think twice you have reached your goal. It will be these small victories that count in the end. I am a Georgian woman and I know what it means to speak your mind in western Georgia or anywhere in Georgia where male-female power sharing is not an option. I continue try. Changing mindset of at least one person is more than I can hope for. Join in, help.

  5. Tsudi Studentabeli says:

    **You started to discuss discipline in schools. I’d really like to address this issue as it just boggles my mind that in the year 2011 Georgian schools are so far behind with basic concepts of discipline.
    I’ve tried to implement a rule of no cell phones & no headphones in my classrooms. They must be turned off & put away while in class. First they are warned, 2nd time the items are confiscated till the end of class, and when the students refuse to hand over their electronics, mandatory (the security guard) comes in and takes away the items. Has it been effective? No. Because the co-teachers & principal don’t enforce the rules & they don’t have these rules in any other classes. The Georgian teachers prefer to just yell at a level 10 to the students when they are misbehaving.
    How can these kids learn anything when the classrooms are like zoos? I had 3 fights in my 7th grade today, a test was passed out in my 9th grade and some of the students just ripped it up and threw it on the floor and in my 10th grade I had to have the mandatory visit the class to get them to be quiet, which only lasted until the mandatory left, then they continued to talk over me. So I turned to my co-teacher for help, and she just yelled for the remaining 10 minutes of class, and the students just yelled back at her.
    I feel like many of my Georgian co-teachers are not even teaching, but babysitting. This is especially true in grades 10-12 where the students NEVER bring books. Why is Georgia so far behind on basic concepts? And when a student doesn’t do their homework, the worst thing that can happen is that they get a “0” mark from the standardized grading scale of 0-10. And what happens if a student consistently gets “0” marks??? Nothing. Every student passes and moves on to the next grade.
    This completely dismisses the whole point of getting an education.

  6. Tymala says:

    I have both more freedom and less freedom than a TGLer (is that a term). I am not trapped in a host family or with a teaching contract. I have a bit of freedom, but I don’t- I know I am making little sense! I am trapped in my town (where most people know me and spy on me) for another year and half and I still want to help the IDP’s, work with the NGOs, and participate in the gender studies that is at my organization (and they asked me). Meanwhile, to accomplish anything and keep friendly terms, I can’t make waves or cause much conflict ( I am waiting to do this on my last 3 months here). My organization is also a feminist organization that specializes in domestic violence awareness (which is great). But the whole enchilada with gender issues is not addressed and my ideas do not seem to be welcome- but they ask for it (scratching my head).

    One of my ideas was to have some type of “women’s history” discussions with the women of the organization. Discuss what other countries have done in the past to create a more just society.They said that the parents would be upset if we discussed this in the classes with the kids- but the youth are the only ones who can make any change. The kids have constantly said, “men are more clever than women” so I brought a book and articles to claim otherwise, but have fallen on deaf ears of course! And my female, feminist co-workers have kept silent during such statements, hmmmm… And I brought the book “The Female Brain”. None of my feminist NGO’s read it.

    I want to discuss all the things that women have invented in the past, and to of course stress that these inventions were created in a male dominated society. There are many websites with lists of female inventors. No one wants to discuss this. So dear anonymous Georgian girl, if any of these ideas appeal to you- go for it! A woman invented the bullet proof vest, fire escape, white out, the dishwasher, windshield wipers, and many other interesting things that we cannot live without today. And buy the book, the “Female Brain”. My copy is currently collecting dust at the office.

    Meanwhile, I am exhausted. I am going to temporarily shut down and disconnect. I will start a fire later πŸ™‚

    And for Tsudi about the discipline and co-teacher problems. I have no clue how to remedy any of this. I am whipped and defeated at the moment! I know of one gal whose co-teacher argues grammar with her! If they do not think we know our own language better, how can we get anything else across to them?

  7. Tymala, I’m a westerner and a woman and I wouldn’t want to read any of those texts you tried to share with your colleagues. Oh, and am an avid non-fiction reader.

    I think that there are two types of people: those that are very very interested in feminist books and discussions and those who’d rather never ever have anything to do with them.

    Sorry Tymala! I think you mean well but maybe your paradigm should be a more positive one. People might change more towards a rosier future than try to escape from a negative one. Show the fun and sunny future not the sad sad history…

    • Tymala says:

      @pink forest fire

      The issue is that I work in a feminist organization, not a high school. Part of our funding is from private English lessons that both teens and adult women take part in. Feminism is the main issue here-we train women in language skills, driving skills, accounting skills, and give psychological counseling. The focus is to build their self-esteem and to empower them. Many of these women have successfully found jobs after our courses. The problem is that most of these women (and some of my colleagues) do not also focus on the psychological issues of society and inferior complex among genders.

      You are a western women and you would not be interested in discussing the amazing things that women have done throughout history and you are comparing it to non-fiction? Or the debate that the female brain is inferior than the male brain. This is positive not negative. Please tell me how this is fiction and how it is negative? I am missing something? Your post makes no sense? And this is proving the amazing things that women have done in the past and are capable of doing. So many women here have inferior complexes. I want to do whatever can be done to help them.

      • Tymala says:

        Oops, I misread your quote, you said an avid non-fiction reader. But how is any of this negative at an actual feminist organization? And there are many articles such as this in the actual adult English textbooks-ie FCE, CAE, and Cutting Edge.

        The female brain is a reading assignment in Cutting Edge-upper-intermediate. If they want all of this far away from the teens-fine (however in my country we studied segments of womens history in elementary, jr.high, and high school). These are ideas that I thought useful for the women that we train (and I am asked to give input). How in the world can we preach equality with silence? But I can continue to sit pretty and agree with everyone.

        • You said : “Feminism is the main issue here-we train women in language skills, driving skills, accounting skills, and give psychological counseling.”

          Maybe for you feminism is the main issue but not really for them (your Georgian colleagues and clients), for them it’s the latter: the language skills, driving skills, accounting skills and the counseling provided.

          You are into the -isms and the history and they want the skills –the skills they’ll focus in/on whatever they want and make their own women’s (and men’s) history.

          There is no need to “preach” anything and no need to focus” people where we think they should be focused -unless we’re talking of emergencies.

          If you want just be an example. Be yourself. Some people will take notice of your ways and then you might get real questions and have conversations where together you can share ideas and histories.

          But if it seem that no one takes notice don’t despair. Just finish your time and go your happy way. Sometimes people focus on something when it’s gone. Perhaps those books that you gave them will finally be picked up and read.

          People always always affect each other.

        • panoptical says:

          As a side note, what do you think about Cutting Edge? I like them overall but find their many pair exercises annoying.

        • Tymala says:

          It is Ok- I like it better than Headway, but I have taught ESL for 6 years to adults and English File or Total English are always the textbooks that everyone likes and I have tested them all! FCE is enjoyable as well-an entire chapter on the male/female issue. For Business English- International Express or Business Spotlight magazine is the best.

    • panoptical says:

      Yeah, Tymala, you need to show a more positive attitude! Why not try explaining to the women you teach that almost two thirds of them probably won’t get beaten up by their husbands?

      There are so many things to be happy about when it comes to a woman’s place in the world. Why talk about women inventing the dishwasher when women are dishwashers? Ignorance is bliss, which means that the less you know about reality the happier you are!

      If you ignore feminism and just teach women how to drive, they can drive their drunk husbands around and lower the car accident rate in Georgia! If you teach women accounting, they can make money in the workplace for two or three years before they get pregnant and have to leave their job to take care of the kids!

      Tymala, think about all the benefits women in Georgia can get if nobody teaches them about the struggles of women in other parts of the world! Those struggles are a total downer and women still make under 80 cents on the dollar in the US, so what’s the point? Feminism is boring and pointless. Learning from history is overrated. You’re better off just smiling prettily and keeping your mouth shut like women are supposed to do, right pink forest fire?

      • I disagree with you. When you teach people skills they want you NEVER know what they’re going to do. So you cannot predict that people will maintain the status quo.

        When you come as a foreigner and push your takes on history on people who are not into it you get probably get disinterest and waste your time and you become needlessly frustrated.

        In a blog you can write all about your interests and opinions (including all the isms in the world) because if people are interested they will flock to your blog.

        But in person you need to wait for the right opening and perhaps the right persons -especially if you’ve tried already and it seemed to go nowhere.

        In an English class you can try (you kinda have the power, no?) but if there’s no connection nor interest the class bombs.

        • Tymala says:

          @panoptical

          “If you teach women accounting, they can make money in the workplace for two or three years before they get pregnant and have to leave their job to take care of the kids!”
          Actually, our organization has been around since 2002 and we have done lots of good and even created one of the first domestic violence hot lines (but lost our funding). We do not only train young women-we often train women in their late 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. Many who are IDP’s and victims of domestic violence. What I have seen is that the women get skills and later good jobs in banks, offices, ect… while their husbands still are unemployed and sitting around smoking and drinking.

          I have worked with Georgian women for my duration here and most of the ones I know are doing the double shift as always, working all day while their hubby is drinking and then going home and doing all the housework-while hubby is out with the guys. Either way-they have gained some skills and confidence while feeding the family. Yet, they still seem to think women are inferior and less intelligent. Is bringing literature or just a simple article to prove otherwise wrong? What am I supposed to do/say when the boys shout, “men are more clever than women”- smile right? I can’t offend anyone and allow my own sex to be offended, right? Discussing the fact that scientists have proven otherwise is a ridiculous thing to do I suppose. Should I agree and continue to not stick up for my own sex? Sticking up for the intelligence and capabilities of women is not insulting anyone; I am baffled as to why it is negative. I am glad our grandmothers in the west did not have such attitudes.

          It gets confusing because in my organization my colleagues are quite emancipated and progressive one minute and then switch gears the next. Three years ago the children had signs and marched about the town yelling “no more domestic violence”. So it is clear that steps can be made. So when I make the outrageous claim that women are as intelligent as men I have thought that it would be accepted by my female colleagues at least.

          I still do not say, “you should do things this way”, “you should not put up with your men’s crap”, “our way is better”, but showing that women have done amazing things and are capable of doing so is not hurting anyone’s feelings except perhaps the drunk husband. Is discussing their own women in history negative, such as Queen Tamar or Saint Nino?

          They are the ones who ask me questions about how things are in my own country. I am not shooting my mouth and volunteering such info. They ask me, “what do you think about xxx” “do women have to be virgins in your country”, again, what do they want to hear? Should I say, we behave the same way as in Georgia? Or should I lie and say that men in the west also do not do any housework? They are the ones asking me these questions- so yes I do have openings. They are the ones who tell me that they want me to discuss gender issues with the women; so I am doing so. Should I not do anything. Why should I be involved in the first place? Maybe I should stay home.

  8. Richard says:

    This is a very good article, but I think you would do well to broaden your focus a little from just gender theory. For instance, there are also other post-modern theories besides feminism that may inform your view, most notably post-colonialism and orientalism. You mention that Georgian identity has involved in large part in opposition to the influence of imperialism, buy if you study Georgian history and customs, you also have to acknowledge that these “Asiatic” empires like Russia and Persia have also influenced Georgian culture and identity a great deal. In this context, what is perceived to be negative in “Georgian mentality” isn’t simply a “male” mentality, but an “Asiatic” mentality, which Georgians both see themselves as part of and want to escape from. In this sense “uncivilized Asia” is a place Georgians want to leave while “civilized Europe” is something many Georgians (but by no means all!) want to join.

    • panoptical says:

      Okay, but first of all, I vehemently disagree with the frame that “Asiatic” mentality is uncivilized or is somehow more warlike or conflict-prone than Europe. Europe has been the site of basically uninterrupted warfare for like two thousand years. Second of all, even if that were the “Asiatic” mentality, that still doesn’t change the fact that it isn’t the women in Georgia who are constantly disrupting classes by fighting with each other (or getting into fights outside Munich International).

      Also, feminism is not a post-modern theory. And postcolonialism and Orientalism are in complete opposition to each other. Postcolonialism, for example, would say that there is no such thing as an “Asiatic mentality” and that the idea that there is is just something Europeans made up to make themselves feel superior and justified in raining a giant, centuries-long shitstorm down on basically everywhere that wasn’t Europe. Which I would agree with. Postcolonialism actually does inform my complaint that Georgians shouldn’t accept the label of “Georgian mentality” without question.

  9. Richard says:

    Feminism in itself might not be post-modern, but feminism in the form of gender studies and identity politics is clearly part of the post-modernist turn in political sociology. Neither did I say that orientalism and post-colonialism are one and the same. You are right to point out that these are opposites. However, I also did say that many Georgians do accept the orientalist European notions of “Asia”, and that this is one of their motivations for escaping from their perceived “Asian” shackles and “rejoin” Europe. This is a parallel to the debate in the Baltic states, which has also been about “rejoining” Europe after many years of “Asiatic” Soviet control. I do not think this is a clear cut gender-issue either, and not only about physical violence. Maybe Georgian women are not as likely to resort to fisticuffs as men are, but are just as likely to support violent and intolerant practices borne out of fundamentalist religion and ultra-nationalism as men are. I think you will find plenty of support for the wars in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as many of the oppressive practices of the Orthodox Church among Georgian women too.

    • panoptical says:

      I hate to be so disagreeable, but modern Western feminism arguably started with Wollstonecraft in the 18th century and became cemented in the classical Liberal tradition with such texts as John Stuart Mill’s “The Subjection of Women.” I say arguably because some would argue that certain classical texts (like Euripides’ Medea) can be given “feminist” interpretations even though there is no record of a concept of “feminism” as a movement. And identity politics in particular are diametrically opposed to post-modernism, which deconstructs the concept of identity in ways that second-wave feminists (the modernist feminists associated with identity politics) find highly objectionable. I’m sorry if this sounds pedantic, it’s just that post-modernism and feminism actually have very few intersections and most feminists seem to disagree with post-modern thought in favor of the more intuitive modernist feminism.

      I agree with you that many Georgian women support the social status quo and the political stances taken by men, but I wonder whether that is because their mentality leads them toward conflict and violence or because they are deferring to men about matters in the public sphere.

  10. Tymala says:

    “Ali and Nino” is a great book analyzing the Europe/Asiatic clash. Many debates throughout the book involve the question, “are we in Asia or Europe”. His wife Nino was Georgian and so she was considered the European.

    Thank God for our women such as Mary Wollstonecraft as well as the men during the Age of Enlightenment who helped start the movement and get us where we are today.

  11. zvigena says:

    this habits comes from old times – after that many things has changed – different problems occurred, but this time wasn’t enough to change peoples mentality and it stayed in old centuries – need stability, peace, not wars again. 70 years spent into soviet union made terrible influence – who could think properly and make good effort to develop our country’s mentality was killed during this period and Georgia stayed without well-thinkers and body without brain is just body and thats all

    • Tymala says:

      Very true! I think many Georgians live with such fears to speak out.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not true. Soviets were one of the best engineers, scientists and writers.

      • eka says:

        unless they expressed any kind of anti soviet regime opinions, that led them directly to death. So a significant part of georgian (and other soviet republics’) “inteligetsia” was cancelled during 20 century
        @ panoptical : regarding georgian mentality, I agree with most of the points of your post, but I do not get why you limit the the context, “georgian mentality” is used in, to only male violence and belligerence. I have frequently (as a georgian) heard this kind of discourses aiming to justify any kind of custom/tradition/way of thinking in georgia from men as well as from women.

  12. ana luna says:

    The biology teacher in my school doesn’t believe in evolution. I wonder what’s being taught in her class. Is this the case with other science teachers at other schools?
    What about at the Universities in Georgia?

  13. Pingback: Window dressing – a comparison of Russian and Georgian culture | | noomizo

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