Sex in Georgia: The Anniversary

One year ago today, I published a blog post called “Sex in Georgia.” The ensuing shitstorm changed my life (mostly for the better). Let this post be considered a retrospective, a reevaluation, an update. Things change, things stay the same. The Wheel of Time turns, ages come and pass. You’re the next contestant on The Price Is Right.

A year is a strange thing. I clearly remember sitting in Gldani at the computer desk – I remember pulling the couch over to the computer to watch TV, or a chair from the kitchen when I was doing something more interactive and wanted to sit up. I remember sitting in my kitchen, drinking Vodka-Nabeghlavi and listening to my friend who lived in Imereti tell me about her experiences with men in Georgia – the cab driver who pulled his cab over three times on the way to my house to ask her to marry him; the sleazy TLG volunteer who kept hitting on her and every other TLG woman in the most desperate and obvious way possible – and I remember waking up the next morning and writing a blog post about what the situation was in Georgia with regards to getting laid, with basically two purposes in mind: one, shaming the current male volunteers into not acting like cocks with legs, and two, informing potential future TLG volunteers what the heterosexual marketplace looked like in the country so they could, like, mentally prepare themselves.

At the time, I didn’t think that I was saying anything particularly non-obvious or controversial. I mean, objectively speaking, we were told all of the things that I said we were told at orientation, and whether you agree with what we were told or not, we were definitely told those things. We were definitely warned that in Georgia, there is a saying that when a woman says no, she means maybe, when she says maybe, she means yes, and when she says yes, she is not a woman. Now, maybe that saying obtains more in the villages and less in Tbilisi or maybe the various people who told it to us had just pulled it out of their asses, but the ninety-something of us who came in group three all heard that (and various other nuggets about the medieval Georgian mentality towards women and sex) a number of times. For the audience I was expecting – a few volunteers and their parents – the post was probably sort of unremarkable.

So the response I got was really unexpected. I think that a lot of it was not really directed at what I was saying in particular but at the fact that I was a Westerner and I had written about Sex in Georgia. I think a lot of people read one paragraph, got pissed off, and fired off an obnoxious comment or three without bothering to try to understand the context or purpose of the post. I think that hundreds of people probably completely missed the paragraph where I said “Now, it’s a little different for those of us who live in Tbilisi” as evidenced by the very first comment on the post, which was “I think it all depends on the area you live in, in urban areas it’s mostly not true or the above described is too bold.”

The reaction to the Sex in Georgia post and the ensuing discussion taught me a lot about Georgia. I met a lot of cool people, got interviewed by journalists, and earned a lot of trust and respect from women in TLG who had run up against the massive institutionalized misogyny that pervades every level of Georgian society and culture. Despite the backlash and negative response from angry Georgians, the post and its aftermath was a really good thing for me. And every time I go back and read that post, I cringe at how bad it is. If I had known that it would be read thousands of times and linked to in the New York Times, I would have tried not to be so rambling, so unfocused, and so… I don’t know, so amateur-blog-ish. I would have wanted to say something big and important, something bigger and more important than “people in Georgia say they don’t have sex, but secretly they do.”

Anyway, a lot of people at the time said that they’d be interested in seeing what I thought after six months or a year in the country. And that Peace Corps guy who I mentioned in my last post linked to my blog and disclaimed that I’d only been in the country for a month or two so people should cut me some slack for being so wrong about everything, all of which implies that with time and wisdom I would recant my culture-shocky reaction to a new place and come to realize that Georgia is actually a happy land made of unicorns and sunshine and apologize for being so culturally insensitive as to point out the really obvious things about sexual culture in a conservative country.

I think at this point it’s obvious to all that I’m not going to do that. So here’s what I think, a year later. I’ll just boil down the substantial claims I made in Sex and Georgia and discuss each one:

1. “men are expected to be sexually experienced when they get married and women are expected to be virgins.”

This is something that we were told at orientation, and it is totally true. Yes, there are some men who marry women who are not virgins – there are women who get divorced and remarried, or widowed and remarried, and there are even some women who openly admit to having had sex and men marry them. However – and I know I keep beating the hymen restoration surgery drum, but even without that barbaric self-inflicted mutilation – in general, there is a perception that most men will not marry women who are not virgins, and I have heard of an actual case where a man discovered that his girlfriend was not a virgin and refused to marry her, and yes, it happened in Tbilisi. In general, women are still terrorized by the so-called “institution of virginity.”

2. ““Dating” in Georgia is vanishingly rare. Instead, there is courtship.”

I shouldn’t have said this because different people mean different things by “dating.” When I said it, I meant two adults in an adult relationship, who probably call each other boyfriend and girlfriend, who probably do things together that they don’t do with other people, which may or may not include actual sexual intercourse, who probably advertise their relationship on facebook and probably spend Valentine’s Day together and annoy their single friends with how cute they are, and who are probably not yet at the stage in their relationship where marriage is seriously on the table.

In Georgia, relationships do in fact carry more of an expectation of marriage from a much earlier point. Relationships are indeed expected to have less physical intimacy – and since sexual intercourse is only for married people and oral sex is only for whores, Georgians who date each other have to either brazenly violate social taboos or limit themselves to cutesy G-rated eyelash-batting nonsense, which is often cited as the reason why so many Georgians get married at such a young age.

Georgians who do date each other in a more Western sense of the word generally maintain some level of pretense about what is going on, especially with their families but in many cases also with their friends and acquaintances. Of course this applies more to women, who have to deal with the aforementioned virginity crap, then men, who I am told love to brag about how many nashebi they have fucked.

3. “In theory every woman has a “patroni,” or male guardian”

For some reason this one caused a lot of controversy, with some Georgians absurdly claiming that they had never even heard of a patroni. What the fuck is that bullshit? You know what a fucking patroni is, you dissembling douchewad.

That said, I never encounter this at all in Tbilisi. That’s why I said “in theory” – as far as I know, women do have men in their lives who would seek to defend their honor and safety, but in practice women police themselves and each other and very rarely do men step in and interfere in women’s day to day activities. I’ve heard of men (and women, incidentally) offering TLG volunteers to be their patroni, and I’ve definitely seen Georgian men trying to protect the TLG volunteers, especially the women, who are placed under their care in very obvious and occasionally overbearing ways. However, in general I think that the folks at orientation made too much of the whole patroni thing.

Also, one of the things that patronebi would theoretically do is take revenge on men who had deflowered the women in their charge. This is basically a vacuous responsibility because no Georgian woman in her right mind would ever admit to her “patroni” that she had had sex with someone who she wasn’t married to.

4. “It is considered strange for men and women to be friends.”

They told us this at training but as far as I can tell it’s not true – although there do seem to be certain social activities that women are enjoined from participating in, like sitting around at a restaurant smoking cigarettes or standing around out in the street and smoking cigarettes, that men seem to spend the bulk of their free time doing, and so often men and women do lead totally separate social lives. This is different for the young, educated, affluent Tbilisi set, who are more likely to come in mixed crowds.

5. “Apparently, Georgian men do not understand the concept of a single woman who is not interested in marrying the first random stranger to approach her, and can become insistent and/or dangerous if not rejected properly”

This is snarky but basically true. What actually happens, in my experience, is that Georgian men act all butt-hurt when a woman doesn’t treat them like visiting royalty and become argumentative and pushy, and if a woman shows any sign whatsoever of being willing to continue the conversation, the Georgian man will continue to demand an explanation as to why the woman won’t give him what he wants, whether it’s her phone number, a kiss, sex, or marriage. It’s irritating and pathetic but rarely gets to the level of dangerous, although I have heard of many cases in which the Georgian man will stop asking and just decide to take what he wants.

6. “I’d say the most striking thing about this situation is the fact that the women who come to Georgia with TLG are basically seen by many men in Georgia – Georgians and TLG men included – as the only potential sexual outlet in the entire country.”

Not just true, but oft cited by Georgians as if this excuses the constant harassment Georgian men subject foreign women to. “They don’t mean any insult, they just think that all foreign women are sluts!” If I read that in one more comment I swear my brain is going to start leaking out of my ears.

However, I did neglect the fact that TLGers are not the only foreigners to come to Georgia and are thus not the only sexual outlet for Georgian men. There are also Russian and Ukrainian girls, various NGO workers, and of course there are Georgian women who come to be known as sluts through such transgressions as being divorced or being indiscrete about a premarital relationship. So, “only” was too strong a word, and I probably should have said “one of the few sexual outlets” instead.

7. “Finally, a note about talking about sex in Georgia. The subject seems to be a lot more taboo than it is in the US.”

Well, I think that was amply illustrated in the weeks that followed my post.

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So look – there’s a few nuances I’ve come to appreciate, and a few clarifications I should maybe have made (and would have, had I known the level of scrutiny I’d receive after the post), but overall what I said then and what I think now line up pretty well, taking into account the fact that my intention in repeating items like 2, 3, and 4 was to paint a picture of what we were told to expect rather than what I actually observed – a point which I attempted to clarify in my editor’s note.

There’s also the general gist of the post – the impression people seem to have gotten from reading it. For instance, many people took the post as harshly critical and inferred that I did not like Georgia. Although there are some things that I described in the post that I think are seriously awful, and I can understand that there’s a sort of implicit judgment in how you frame certain things, I actually took pains – at that point – to try to be descriptive rather than prescriptive. I never said “Georgians should be having more sex!” or even “Georgian men should stop sexually harassing my friends” – even though I do think that Georgian men should stop sexually harassing my friends – and yet people accused me of trying to impose my values on Georgia like an imperialist colonizer. The truth is, I actually really like this country, and if you can get past all the gender crap (for instance, by not being a woman) it’s actually a really nice place to live. After the Sex in Georgia post, I definitely became increasingly critical of Georgian gender relations, and as I said, I do think that Georgian men should stop sexually harassing my friends, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that in the original post I was insulting Georgia or Georgians.

I can also understand how people may have gotten the idea that my post was just a thinly veiled complaint about the difficulty of getting laid in Georgia. Thing is, that couldn’t be further from the truth. By the time I wrote Sex in Georgia, I had already had sex in Georgia, and so had a whole bunch of other TLG volunteers of my acquaintance (not all together, don’t get any ideas…). As I said in the post, a number of volunteers paired off right away – in like, their first day or two, before orientation even started – whereas others, like myself, waited a couple of weeks (I generally don’t have sex with people I’ve only known for a couple of days, amoral foreigner though I may be, just for practical reasons). For TLG volunteers, the circumstances actually line up in favor of a lot of sex – there are a bunch of young people far away from home who bond strongly with each other (often over a few drinks) because of shared struggles and are isolated from the locals by language and cultural barriers – and if you happen to have your own apartment with no host family to tiptoe around, your odds are even better.

Also, and I know this is going to offend a bunch of people, and I’m sorry, but the women in TLG complain about Georgian men all the time, and so the impression that I get is that a large number of TLG women have simply ruled out sex with Georgian men and focus their attention entirely on guys in TLG or other expats (and several women have explicitly told me that they would never date Georgian guys); whereas guys in TLG have nothing to complain about in Georgian women, who tend to be beautiful and intelligent and saintly overall, and for every Georgian woman I meet who claims that she could never marry a foreigner because she’s a good traditional Georgian girl I meet another who says she would never (or never again) be with a Georgian man. What I’m getting at is that Georgian men, by doing all the shit I complain about in this blog, actually do foreign guys a great big favor by making us look really good in comparison. Of course there are exceptions – there are Georgian men who are really, really great people – but there aren’t enough exceptions to satisfy all of the women who find the Georgian male mentality repulsive.

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But enough about that. The last post has been argued and re-argued ad nauseam, as per general internet custom. All that is old will be new again. What’s new is what I want to focus on for the end of this novel post.

This past year, I’ve seen the first ever production of The Vagina Monologues in the Caucasus region. I’ve seen the Ministry of Education admit in a report, in front of various assembled representatives of government and NGOs with media coverage, that the issue of sexual harassment of volunteers required special attention from TLG and on other occasions I’ve seen TLG provide that attention. I’ve seen continuing dialogues – despite occasional hiccups – about issues of sex, sexuality, gender politics, race, and other pertinent issues, and I’ve seen countless Georgians open their minds to ideas they may never have encountered or considered before.

In other words, I see progress, all around me, and I feel honored and gratified to have a chance to be a part of that progress. People always want to know why I want to stay in Georgia – why I don’t miss New York – and this is why. Here I feel like what I do matters and has an impact in a way that I never felt in New York. Here I feel like I’m part of something much greater than myself.

It’s been a good year.

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Video: Aretha Franklin, “A Change is Gonna Come”

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29 Responses to Sex in Georgia: The Anniversary

  1. Russ says:

    Excellent post! I love Georgia and am thankful for my experience there but I do have one regret–I was not able to gain the insight that you have due to the short length of my assignment and the limited contact I had with the local populace. Thank you for continuing to add to my knowledge of that wonderful country.

  2. Mach says:

    Having read quite a few of your blog posts by now, I can say that I think you are contributing A LOT to this country and me and many others are really grateful for it. here’s a quote that think will be quoted: “In a sense, your own cultural quirks are invisible to you if you have nothing to contrast them with. By the way eventually you should absolutely collect all your posts in one bunch and publish them. Best wishes!

  3. Hmmm..... says:

    You know, it’s interesting when you mention that Georgian men won’t (by and large) marry a non-virgin. It’s true (minus the younger generation in big cities..), but I notice that it’s only true if the woman is a Georgian. Georgian men have been marrying Russian and Ukrainian women for decades, and they are not virgins before they get married – in their culture, premarital sex is natural, and common. So maybe this just applies to Georgian women?

    Well it’s good to know that Georgian women have a good reputation 🙂

    I think Georgian women are more desirable for foreigners than Georgian men are because more is expected of us, in every way: be beautiful, cook, clean, work, make good grades, take care of your and your husbands’ family, be welcoming, be smart, be loyal, know how to walk the whole day in 5 inch heels, but most important: be feminine! So we live up to those expectations, and add in the fact that as a people we want foreigners to like our country….and there you go…Georgian women are liked (or at least admired) by most men.

    The problem with Georgian men is that because of wars, economic crisis, and immigration, there are more women than men in Georgia, so men don’t have to try as hard as women. Add in the fact that more men are alcoholics and drug addicts than women, and a lot of Georgian mothers spoil their sons, and that’s what you get. It’s mainly because of an imbalance of available men – during my father’s time, the ratio was even and it wasn’t like this.

    One thing I have to say though – I think sometimes it’s good that we have the whole “virginity institute” because I don’t want my country to be a hotspot for sex tourism, like Ukraine, Brazil, and Thailand. It’s creepy enough when 60 year old American or European men hit on you (it’s happened to me thrice…I’m 20), but it’s even worse when there are sex tourists who prey on girl’s feelings and emotions, or just use them for sex, and then “compare” which country has the “best girls.” I think that a lot of foreign men think that Georgian women are naive or that we will be “easy” to get since we are friendly and inquisitive. Or they think that we are desperate to leave Georgia and will go back with the first foreigner we see. OR they think that because we don’t like Georgian man’s mentality, we will date them JUST because they are not Georgian! Well sorry, but you have to have something else (personality, charm, etc…) and not just a nationality!

    OR…..golden line….they resort to stereotypes about Eastern Europe such as: “so how did your cousin pay for his ticket? Sex tourism?” <– that one was supposed to be a joke, which they told me.

    Most foreign guys aren't like that, but there's always a couple that spoil it.
    Sorry for the long post, but I just had to get that out.

  4. --> says:

    > The problem with Georgian men is that because of wars,
    > economic crisis, and immigration, there are more women than men in Georgia

    This is one of the most commonly repeated misconception and myth.

    It is NOT the case.

    Here is the source:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_sex_ratio

    In the table ratio of man/woman at birth and before age 15 is 1.115:1 and 1.15:1 which is WAY above normal. The next column in table is age group 15-64 which is too general to taken into consideration in relation to the topic discussed. However, if one uses statistical methods of approximation you will discover that up to the age of 30 (when most marriages happen) there are more men in Georgia then women.

    Secondly, the immigration was mentioned. Again, wast majority of immigrants in Europe and North America are women, not men. Georgian women abroad adopt and integrate to the foreign environment MUCH better than men. A grown (age >30 years) Georgian man adopting in Western environment and assuming/sharing local cultural values is an exception, rather then a rule.

    As a result, there is a fierce competition among men in Georgia in dating scene and that competition creates negative feedback loop. There are certain spoken and unspoken standards one must fit to be considered a marriage material and machoism is one of crucial part of those roles. Interestingly enough that machoism thing is one of the quality a woman in general would require from the potential suitor and here is where negative loop comes to its end – men can not allow themselves to be ‘civilized’ (i.e. not being macho) because they risk laugh at and be shunned by woman who want ‘real man at home’.

    As it already has being said multiple times by commentators in provisos articles – situation does not and will not change unless women want the change to happen. So far it seems they are pretty OK with the status quo.

  5. Tom says:

    Hm, I think I’ll stop referring to your blog. I do so because I like and respect it, and I think it’s worth the read and consideration–even if I don’t agree with it all. It’s the second time you’ve taken one sentence and tried looking WAY too into it. I never implied that at all and included a disclaimer so people knew I don’t agree with everything (which if natural and normal). Still, I’ve been misrepresented here and it bothers me a bit.

    Otherwise keep up the good work.

    • panoptical says:

      I look way too into everything, that’s the nature of the game. I’m actually glad for the opportunity to understand how I come across to other people and when I may not be expressing my ideas in the most accurate light.

  6. maikoka1 says:

    I signed up on WP just to “Like” this blog post, because I wanted to show that I agree without repeating things that have already been said.
    Bravo.

  7. oh, sex again 😀 in Georgia 😀 awesome 😀
    so you left? no more Georgian adventures?

  8. Ashley says:

    I’m a female TLG teacher and these issues have been on my mind all week. I read your original post before I arrived in the country and it was good preparation for my own experiences. Your update (and its deeper insights) came at exactly the right time!

    • Second Thoughts says:

      Hi Ashley,

      I’m a female seriously considering applying for a teaching job in Georgia, but was alarmed by a few things raised in this blog. I’m from Australia and getting called names by guys driving past while you’re quietly walking home does happen here, but the thought of taxi drivers following you and asking you to marry them, or possibly being physically harassed by family friends (as read on post below) is a little worrying. Since posting this comment, has anything happened that should deter other female volunteers from coming over? Otherwise, any advice perhaps? Cheers

      • Ashley says:

        I live in a city, so I can’t speak for those women in villages, but I don’t find harassment to be a daily problem (maybe I’m just not the Georgian man’s type?). I experienced more street harassment living in Los Angeles than I have here in Georgia. I feel very safe walking the streets by myself, even at night. Most of my concerns about the male-female dynamic in Georgia have been related to beliefs and attitudes, i.e. sexual freedom, chauvinistic ideas, double standards, the (literal) patriarchy of the Orthodox Church.

        I wouldn’t let the possibility of catcalls or unwanted flirtation keep you from coming to Georgia!

  9. Better Late Than Never says:

    i am a former tlg teacher from the states, and i have been reading past entries and comments all day, fluctuating between outrage, bemusement, befuddlement, and disbelief. first, im not going to write with grammar or formal accuracy, as this is the internet and not a term paper. second, if anyone here deduces my true identity, i would deeply appreciate you not mentioning it; it is not for my sake, but for others that i would like to stay anonymous. that being said, i have not read one word of neals that is untrue. he is not sensationalizing, catastrophizing, or bullshitting anything when he gives accounts of the way women (both foreign and native) are treated in georgia. i was told by many women – not one or two ‘crazy, attention seeking, lying, culturally ignorant whores’ – but at least five foreign, and many native georgian, women that they had been personally PHYSICALLY attacked by georgian men. in the case of the foreign-tlgers, they were observing the ‘guidelines for safety’ given to us by tlg staff (staying in groups, not being provocative around men, sitting in the back of taxis), and they were nevertheless attacked by georgian men. some stories ended fortunately, others did not. the stories from georgian women were perpetrated usually by close family friends, but just as usually by random men on the streets. these stories include none of the rampant, chronic harassments and abuses suffered by both groups of women nearly every single day. i personally witnessed this constantly. regardless of whether these women were in any way ‘provoking’ (quotes indicate irony, non-english speakers) this type of behavior by walking the streets alone, wearing less than modest clothing, or *gasp* SMILING at a man (those disgusting whores! (sarcasm for any non-english speakers)), there is no justification for treating any person the way these men treated these women. it doesnt matter if your socio-cultural norms state that a woman doing these things is ‘asking’ for advances, no ‘cultural norm’ justifies debasing a person to the status of a sexual object – especially with such aggressive, coercive, violent tactics, and especially after being told ‘no’ by said object. after hearing so many horror stories (and witnessing just as many), i hope people can see that recounting these stories is not a matter of one man’s opinion. reducing the stories to ‘your liberal western opinion’ not only debases the humanity of the victims, but also reduces the argument to ‘a difference of opinions’ – a nice little rhetorical trick, as it makes denying their truth a simple matter of cultural misunderstandings and opinion.
    the very fact that anyone would try to deny these stories is absurd at best and dehumanizing at worst. many of the commenters to previous posts were so bold as to say that there are no gender inequalities or problems in georgia, while in the same breath saying that if this happened to a woman, it was probably because she,’…’ whatever came after that, it was, pure and simple, victim blaming. some of the comments were so laughably full of shit that they would both admit that these things have happened and deny that they could ever happen in the same breath. im not sure whether to chalk these inconsistencies up to cultural misunderstanding, ignorance, delusion, or blatant lying. in no case is there much hope, save possibly innocent ignorance. if a person is outright lying, then he is strongly propagating the myth that women are treated with the same respect and care as a man and knowingly and willfully oppressing women. if he is delusional, then he is doing the exact same thing only that he is also lying to himself about the gender relations, and a ‘cultural misunderstanding’ may actually be the worst case scenario. he is then propagating a lie and actively oppressing women, but the worst part is, he sees nothing wrong with it – indeed, he believes that the stories are somehow justified by the fact that since the woman does not understand the ‘rich and mysterious’ georgian culture, she is actually at fault, and whats more, not only is there nothing wrong with what happened, but it is somehow a testament to the beauty and majesty of georgian culture and tradition. neal, the foreign women, and i are just the sad byproducts of american liberal PC culture, one that seeks to indoctrinate the world with our tradition-killing propaganda, and are just experiencing a bit of culture-shock, one that, in time, will pass when we shed our imperialist skin of arrogance to open our occidental eyes to the mystery and beauty that is georgian culture and tradition, one that we will in time come to embrace and love, though never fully understand, because it is beyond our inadequate methods of analysis, and because, quite frankly, georgians dont really understand it themselves. BULLSHIT.
    there is no mystery to misogyny, and thats what it is. dress it up in pretty words, cover it up in singing ballads to your beloveds and spend your months pay on flowers and chocolate for her, but there is no mucking up what it truly is – the systematic and chronic oppression of women. this is not ‘cultural relativism,’ of which i was accused roundly when i was in georgia. that is a nice panacea to use whenever someone criticizes your culture, but it just doesnt work. neither does pointing out that other countries are worse, or that the u.s. has just as many problems. those are flawed arguments which only serve to redirect attention away from the issue and make you seem like a ten year old tattle-telling on his little brother when he gets in trouble. just because someone is worse than you doesnt mean you are suddenly less bad. that is relativism if ive ever heard it. the argument of cultural relativism, as i see it, shouldnt be used when it justifies inhumane practices. if the argument of cultural relativism stands in this case, then no one can criticize the practice of female circumcision (mutilating the female genitals of young girls by barbarically slicing off the clitoris so that they never feel any sexual pleasure), or killing albinos and using them in elixirs, or throwing acid on womens faces, or footbinding, or stoning a woman to death because she had premarital sex, or sending a gay boy to electroshock therapy to ‘cure’ him of his gayness, because, regardless of how widespread or how localized, all of these things are part of certain cultures or subcultures CULTURES, and any attempt to criticize or eradicate these practices is cultural relativism and tantamount to cultural imperialism. i dont see any of these things as wrong because i believe american culture to be superior, i see these things as wrong because they are inhumane and torturous. the very fact that people see anything like this as the result of a cultural misunderstanding only means that the culture is steeped in twisted and oppressive values, and instead of recognizing and trying to rectify these problems, the people instead take a zealous pride in them and gloat about their righteousness and ‘beauty.’ this is, as i see it, the problem with culture in general. many georgians criticize americans of having no culture, but that is wholly untrue. good or bad, hate it or love it, america has a distinct culture, otherwise georgians wouldnt be able to even talk about ‘americans.’ i, however, tend to strive to be a cultural anomaly and culturally unique, not because its chic, but because culture is an institution set up in order to, for lack of a better phrase, keep people in line. it creates a herd mentality, one that, no matter if good or bad, becomes the norm and standard by which everyone is judged, which is at the core of the problem with ‘sex in georgia.’
    neal, nor i, ever said that ALL georgian men are knuckle-dragging, chest-beating, sexual predators that have absolutely no respect for women. nor did we say that all georgian women should be amoral sluts that throw their legs open to the first american dong to hit the ground, merely that the choice should be up to them how they lead their sexual lives, just as the men are allowed to, and they should not face tremendous social (and possibly legal) detriments due to their choosing to do what others privately deem as wrong. i met many georgian men who were intelligent, decent human beings who respected women and treated them also as decent human beings, but unfortunately, these men were in a very small minority. when it came to their interactions with me, nearly all were great guys. when it came to their interactions with women (or just talking about women), they were dastardly scoundrels. even i, who in the past have proclaimed myself a misogynist, was deeply disturbed by the pervasive view of women taken by almost every single man i met in georgia. the most disturbing aspect of the degrading view of women from men in georgia was not necessarily the views themselves (though these were disgusting, to say the least), but more the fact that the views these men held were in no way unique or self-developed; they were merely the dogma and tradition instilled (read: brainwashed) into them from almost every aspect of their culture. my culture is (at least theoretically) instilled with gender equality. the fact that i hold some anti-feminist (read: misogynistic) views may not be practically novel, but is seen as anathema generally and come from beliefs i have developed over years of my own experience from which i drew conclusions. i am not trying to justify any misogynistic views i may have, but the point i am trying to make is that although i may have them, i have developed them on my own, and, in all seriousness, practice equality in the end (disclaimer: neal and i are not affiliated in any way, so dont use anything i say against him).
    but i think the main problem is that, although there are many fine and decent georgian men, the society and culture is a highly developed and rigorous misogyny machine. it is instilled in every georgian from the day they are born that women and men are not equal, that, although women are beautiful and lovely, they are simultaneously devoid of the integral components found in men that afford them the possibility of becoming sovereign, self-actualizing, liberated humans. they are mere objects of mens affection, inert and fixed in value until a man comes along to bestow worth upon her with his love and validation, and fix a price on her with the beautiful and mysterious act of making her his wife, and then finding that she is indeed worthy on their wedding night when he TAKES her virginity from her – something that she had been holding just for him, a precious gift of which she was merely the carrier, a fleshy vessel placed on earth by god to be dominated and controlled by her man, nothing more…unless shes not a virgin, in which case, fuck that slut. but its worse than that. before her man, she is not even an object, she is merely a potential being, a person in a waiting room with no name or face, waiting in a quasi-state of being for a man to open the door, and with the single act of recognition, bestow upon her his generative love and call her forth into being.
    i knew a georgian girl who was an alien in georgia. she was born there, spoke the language, looked georgian, but was wholly and unequivocally not georgian, but of some fabled race of people that once could fly and talk to animals and turn ice into fire, but decided, foolishly one day to descend to earth and walk among us. i knew immediately by looking at her that she was neither human nor angel, nor georgian nor devil, but something else entirely, and i loved her. she taught me how to sing and smoke and wonder and make love. she still has her wings, but after years of being told theyre broken, shes succumbed to the crushing weight of the gravity in georgia. she likes to think she can still fly, but no matter how hard she tries, shell never fly again.

    • Oh dear :)) I did not have nerve to read all of it. even though I don’t consider myself Georgian, i am still kinda .. offended .. ish..
      you write like you know it all.
      well you don’t 🙂
      i don’t mean it in a bad way, just really you don’t. you’ve been here for what? 2 years? i’ve been here for 21. i’ve seen idiots, more idiots and the rest of the idiots.
      But to tell u the truth, there are normal folks around here as well. absolutely normal men and nonetheless normal women.
      I don’t like to be compared to some morons . I don’t like my friends to be compared to some morons.
      Can’t help but wander, if i took all of stereotypes about American rednecks and said All americans are that way.. I wonder if you’d like that 🙂
      probably no.

      • Better Late Than Never says:

        i dont blame you for not having read it all. it was long, and i tend to ramble and repeat myself. i never would claim to ‘know it all.’ i am not stupid enough to make that claim (either implicitly or explicitly). you dont consider yourself georgian? then you shouldnt feel offended in any way because i never said anyone was a moron. any offense you feel you have taken upon yourself. you have chosen to feel that way by misreading and misinterpreting what i said; that is completely your fault. you misinterpreted what i said to say that ‘all georgians are sexist morons’ in order to bolster your feeling of indignation and pin me as applying one stereotype to all people in order to discredit what i was saying. its a weak rhetorical trick and it doesnt work. never did i say that all georgians are like this and that they are all morons (i never once talked about ‘you’ or ‘your friends’ – seriously, where did you find that in what i wrote? are we reading the same thing?), i was merely speaking about what i had experienced personally. you dont have the right to say i was talking about all georgians, because i wasnt. i clearly stated that these were my personal experiences, and i also stated that i met plenty of georgian men who were good and decent people. stop misreading and misinterpreting what i wrote to fit your ends. its childish. everything i said about what happened was true. im not saying i know it all, or that all georgians are like this. i am merely saying that these were my experiences. what i said about georgian culture i believe to be true from what i experienced. no, not all men are sexist, but is there an implicit sexism in the culture? look around you and figure it out for yourself. 300 years ago, would it be accurate to say that american culture was ingrained with an implicit (and sometimes explicit) racism against blacks? most definitely. would this mean that you were saying that all americans are racist? no, because that would be stupid. would it be accurate today to say that there is an implicit racism in american culture against mexicans? of course. would that mean that all americans are racist against mexicans? i think you get my point. there is definitely an implicit (and sometimes explicit) sexism against women in georgian culture. of course this is not saying that all georgians are sexist – it would be stupid to say so. but anyone who says that there isnt sexism in georgian culture is either dumb or delusional. its there. every culture has some prejudice built in; denying this is asinine. of course there are ‘normal’ people in georgian culture (i put this word in quotes because it is essentially meaningless), but the majority of the people I MET would not be considered ‘normal’ by your definition. are you going to deny me my personal experience, or are you going to discredit me as blindly blanketing everyone with the stereotype? you have to learn how to read what people are saying and take their arguments the way they were written, not the way you want them to be written.

      • Better Late Than Never says:

        and say what you want about america. i really dont care. i have no sense of nationalism or pride in my country and would probably be the first to agree with you. i have no problem with negative things you can say about america, as long as they are true. i wouldnt have a problem with you saying that all americans are rednecks because of the offense to america, but to the offense to logic. its just plain illogical to say all americans are rednecks because one example to the contrary invalidates your statement. i dont understand why people are so against what has been said on this blog. yes, there are some great georgians, but if you cant accept the opposite, that there are some terrible georgians, you are way too involved in your nationalism and cultural pride. its the mark of a small mind.

        • well this time I read it 🙂 not that i am expecting applauds or something 😀
          first of all no, I do not think all of the Americans are rednecks and I’ve frankly liked most of the American’s I’ve met. 🙂
          I understand now you did not want to judge everyone, but frankly your posts are so negative and harsh it’s hard of hard to distinguish (especially not having read all of it 😀 ). SO i apologize for misunderstanding you.
          the only thing i wanna add is kind of advise..ish.. filter your experiences and concentrate on positive facts. Don’t get me wrong, nobody has more problems with Georgians than me, just why bother? sexists? hell with them.people bragging about stupid traditions? hell with most of them 😀 women who got used to being slave like disgusting creatures? Good luck with that! i sincerely do not care.
          you can call it denial, just you have an option to chose people around you, and you will feel well in any country if you chose them wisely 🙂

  10. Anonymous says:

    After 2 years of living here and experiencing life as a foreign woman- I agree with everything 100%. Being groped on the street and called an American whore, (had a translator), and experiencing all the gender issues that you have noted, have all been my reality. Thanks for making this blog! And as for your comment,

    “What I’m getting at is that Georgian men, by doing all the shit I complain about in this blog, actually do foreign guys a great big favor by making us look really good in comparison”. I absolutely appreciate you guys more and more and count my blessings.

  11. Left Eye Looking says:

    @Better Late Than Never
    You have made some good points but no matter what you say you will always be perceived as wrong because you are criticizing the country.

    I was with TLG, I’m a woman and I was sexually harassed multiple times. I told Neal and a few other friends about some of those occasions. I didn’t recount all of my adventures because I didn’t want word to get back to TLG that I was getting into fights with men on a regular basis. I like the idea of pacifism but I’m not Ghandi and in Georgia, being a pacifist didn’t work for me. I embraced the violence and beat the slop out of more than a few men. I’m not fat, yoked,or tall but I was full of adrenaline. I didn’t tell any Georgians about it, I didn’t bother. Why make the effort? I wasn’t an expat that went out to bars and clubs and then wondered why the Georgian men were bothering me. My time there was spent at work, at home, or traveling to Tbilisi to visit friends. I spent a significant amount of time lying to Georgians about everything; where I was going and what I was doing. I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt about lying because I knew that if I told them something simple like, “I’m walking across town to buy groceries.” They would suspect that I was doing something “bad” because foreign women are always up to no good. I became a proficient liar. I also became very skilled at self-defense. I made my own pepper spray, mace, carried an ice pick, and created other weapons.

    I’m telling you all of this to say that you’ve made some valid points but don’t become bitter….you seem bitter. I’m not bitter and I’m a woman who had to put up with the stuff you’ve described. I would gladly go back to Georgia again for another 6 months. I miss Georgia and Georgians! Georgian culture has redeeming qualities. My only concern is jail time. I wouldn’t want to be arrested and put in jail for gouging a man’s eyes out or slitting his throat with my switchblade. Those are serious crimes and even if I protested that they were done in self-defense I would still be at fault according to the rules of Georgian nationalism. Anyway I appreciate my time in Georgia, even with its negative aspects, there are worse places on Earth and the Horn of Africa is one of them, especially Djibouti.

    • Better Late Than Never says:

      of course there are worse places on earth. again, its pointless to say that. were talking about georgia. if this were a blog on the horn of africa, it would be relevant to talk about the horn of africa. am i bitter? yeah, i guess i am at times. but i was born bitter. im bitter about america, im bitter about georgia, im bitter about almost everything, but not so much that it colors all of my experience negatively. i had some really great experiences in georgia, and i dont paint everyone as bad just because of a few bad experiences; i can separate my bad experiences and my good experiences. it just so happens that this blog post lends itself to sharing negative experiences. and i just happen to be the kind of guy who is more interested in discussing things that need to change as opposed to singing the praises of the things that are great but generally are pointless.

  12. Lorlor says:

    Hi, I really appreciate the information about Georgia. I am currently dating a Georgian man. He is really sweet and caring. I am falling in love with we but I do not know if there is a future for both of us an am from a different background (black). We do not mind other people because we are in the UK for now but what would happen we we visit his family and Georgia. Please can I have a response about this…….

    • panoptical says:

      I think it is likely that the Georgian people will show you hospitality – most people in Georgia are not bigoted or hateful of other races, and if anyone is opposed to interracial relationships they’d likely be too polite to offend a guest by saying so. That said people in Georgia just have different customs and traditions and history with regard to race, which could lead to misunderstandings, but probably nothing serious.

      Also, Georgians tend to view foreign women with less respect than Georgian women, which is something you might notice if you visit here – foreign women are viewed as having “loose morals” – but most visitors develop a tolerance for this after a while.

    • Native perspective here... says:

      I’m Georgian. I agree with most of what panoptical says, except for the part that you’ll be viewed as “loose”. It is true that foreign women are viewed as more “easy” than Georgian women, but if you’re dating/married to a Georgian man, they’ll mostly be happy (since your boyfriend is Georgian) or curious. If you’re by yourself at any time, then you might get men trying to talk/pursue you (even if you mention you have a boyfriend), but if your boyfriend is at your side then no one will try to even flirt with you (naturally). So really, it’s just when you’re by yourself that you have to worry about being stereotyped (and ripped off by taxi drivers).

      With regards to black people, there are quite a few in Tbilisi and the big cities, but none in the countrysides. You might get asked questions about your hair, can you tan, etc…. but people just ask that since they’re curious- they don’t mean any harm by it. In Georgia, it’s common for people to say “wow, he/she’s so black!” when someone’s skin is dark. They do this to black people and to very tan people as well. Once again, they don’t mean it in a bad way (in fact, tanning is very popular in Georgia), it’s just they’re not used to seeing it, so it sticks out.

      Most black people in Georgia are African, and most of them are men. Some of them are married to Georgian women and have children with them, so I wouldn’t be too worried about it. If anything, it’s more looked down upon for Georgian women to marry/date non-Georgians than it is the other way around. So just relax and good luck!

  13. Pingback: In Defense of American Heritage | Georgia On My Mind

  14. smg2010 says:

    I feel a bit different…I have never experienced such things. I have been here now for just nearly a year, but it’s my 3rd time in the country. I’m living in a village, and I hate it, not for the people – they are mostly great, but for the underdevelopment and lack of options. I want to stay, and am going to try to move into Tbilisi or Batumi, and avoid the villages like the plague. Nice to visit for a day, no place to live.

    At any rate, have men come to me in cafes in the city and tried to get my phone number? Yes. Have they ever been annoying? Yes. Have they ever been threatening? No. I don’t think of Georgian men as any worse than men in most places of the world. In fact, I was harassed far more in Turkey (a country I still love and will go back to again & again). I’ve never had a marriage proposal, etc. but it may come from the fact that by appearance, most Georgians think I am Georgian. Until I open my mouth and remove all doubt. Is it possible that sometime I may have been called a name? Sure, I think it is possible, but I do not speak fluent Georgian, or even good Georgian, so I remain blissfully ignorant.

  15. Mary says:

    I am a Georgian girl and I can assure you that all Georgian men that were brought up are bad. They all think that western women and Russian women are all loose. They marry foreign women only to get a nationality of any European country. After they got that they divorce their foreign wife and marry a Georgian girl.

    They are racists as well. Thankfully I now live in the west Europe and I am enjoying my rights.

  16. Georgians says:

    As an American, I’m disgusted at the fact that Georgians view westerners as supposedly “loose” when I often find used condoms on a few lands we bought here in Georgia. Georgian men take other Georgian women to have sex there all of the time, it’s really gross. I’ve heard MANY stories of Georgian girls having sex and I often see them sitting on a bench making out at Vake park. Also, I’ve noticed many Georgian women try to hit on my husband because he drives an expensive car. They are after the money. So please don’t think Georgian girls are so innocent, that’s funny. As for the men, I’ve heard all men are in heat here and they will **** anything that’s female. They also have very bad tempers.

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