Zero Patience for Ignorance

“A society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated.”

Today as I was walking down by the sea a man who was walking in front of me kept looking behind him to see if I was still there. He wasn’t smiling like the wonderful Georgian guys I buy my kebab from everyday, in fact, he had the same sort of disgusting look I saw so many times on Indian men as they turned around to ask me for porn. Was I being paranoid, I wondered, that any time a guy now looks at me for more than two seconds I automatically assume the worst?

After I took a seat on a bench by the populated walkway he turned around to join me. He started speaking to me softly, as if he didn’t want the passerby’s to hear, in either Russian or Georgian as I adamantly ignored him by staring straight ahead. After a minute or so I angrily stared him down and sternly said “english,” but that didn’t deter him either. Finally, after another few seconds, I turned around to find him still staring at me, and yelled “what the hell do you want.” Though he hadn’t understood what I had said, he had finally gotten the point and disappeared.

Or so I thought.

After about half an hour or so I began my walk home, only to find mister creepy still following me only a few paces behind. After zigzagging around for a few blocks (where he continued to follow me, at this point I was very sure I wasn’t just being paranoid) I popped into a small shop for ice cream and subsequently lost him. I was never in danger – there were hundreds of people around me at all times – but his frustrating ignorance made me want to give him a lecture as I had so often rehearsed in my head while being harassed by men in India.

“Would you have sat here if my boyfriend was with me? Would you have continued to talk to me when I made it blatantly clear that I wanted nothing to do with you if a guys arm had been around my shoulder? Would you have followed me home if I had been born with a penis instead of boobs?”

No, the answer is no, so why did you do it?

It’s ignorance, I know it’s ignorance. It’s being raised in a society that devalues girls because of the gender they were born with. It’s parents loving their sons more than their daughters because they are a more valuable asset later on. It’s rape, it’s honor killings, and it’s harassment, but it’s also daily predicaments such as these which show that even here in Georgia, a country I feel completely comfortable in, equality is not yet a hundred percent.

I was frustrated by the time I got home. Frustrated that little situations such as these bug me as much as they now do, because after a year of constant degradation, my tolerance for ignorance towards inequality is at an all time low. I walked home thinking grumpily how much I hate men (alright, besides Kevin that is), so it was a good thing that when I walked into the hostel I was greeted by a friendly, interesting, and respectful man for Turkey. He helped me plan our trip through Turkey, I helped him figure out where to visit in Georgia, and we exchanged ideas about cultural difference between Europe and Turkey, and why we prefer different aspects to each.

Men aren’t inherently bad, just as women aren’t inherently weak. We are taught these qualities from birth both consciously and subconsciously and it’s up to us to educate a new generation of children who understand equality – between blacks and whites, between the rich and the poor, and between men and women – in order to progress.

9 thoughts on “Zero Patience for Ignorance

  1. Sigh, I completely know how you feel. My tolerance for this bullshit only decreases the more it happens to me.

    I wonder how much of it has to do with ignorance, though. Certainly some of it does, but I think there is also an element of straight up bad there. I don’t like admitting that I don’t think people are inherently good (though I wouldn’t say they’re inherently bad either), but after experiencing men threatening me over and over in a variety of different cultures, I wonder.

    For example, I got in a very rare fight the other day with a guy on Facebook. He’s American. He basically said that women like being street harassed. My first comment to him was a pretty simple “actually, a lot of women don’t like that” and of course, lots of women started liking my comment. Then, this guy went off saying how disgusting it was that so many people liked my comment and how awful it is that women just assume men are threatening. I responded saying that if someone threatens me sexually on the street, of course I’ll feel threatened. I mean, how else should I react to someone basically saying they want to rape me from behind? He then went on to say things like “well I haven’t seen such things happen” and “you must be bringing it upon yourself.” So I think interactions like this show that it isn’t straight up ignorance that generates these gender dynamics but perhaps a willful ignorance instead, if that’s what you want to call it. I think many men know what they are doing is not appreciated, but since the current dynamic is in their favor, they don’t see any reason to change or to actually listen. And then there’s just the basic fact that even though they know they aren’t being nice, they just don’t care.

    That said, if children are raised to understand and appreciate equality, I don’t think situations like this would be nearly as common! But when talking about adults who make the choice to treat others poorly, I think that sometimes the choice stems out of reasons more insidious than just ignorance.

    Sorry for the huge comment, but this is something I think about a lot!

    • No it’s great I love huge comments! I think though that this type of comment (his not yours!) is also a demonstration of ignorance. Even if he “knows” (because he lives in america) that maybe he should treat women right, movies constantly portray every women as a sex object, and therefore, he may actually belive you “are bringing it into yourself” since movies, even western movies, have taught us that by wearing sexy clothes we will indeed need to fall in bed with any guy who asks. That being said, I also feel some people are also just bad. I don’t know if it’s just because they were born that way (I don’t feel any baby is trying to be bad) or if it’s how they were raised, but I think in all of that ignorance has a role in it in the sense that these men have been raised through media and movies which definitely portray each sex a certain way. But yes, some people just don’t want to be nice as well… Still can’t figure that one out!!!

      • Yeah, ignorance always plays a role in some way. It is completely true that the way women/sex are portrayed skews people’s views. But, at a certain point when people KNOW they aren’t being nice yet continue – that’s when I question whether ignorance or just flat out being unkind plays the largest role. Also, ignorance is only an excuse when people don’t have easy access to the information. I think a lot of people just don’t want to know because it challenges their worldview. Like this guy who after he said I must bringing it on myself by dressing a certain way continued along this line even after I explained that I was harassed once while dressed as a MAN for Halloween (wearing a hat, coat, and baggy pants!). Sometimes people just cling to what they want to believe, even when they have new information.

        Anyway, this can get pretty philosophical in some ways, but the bottom line is that people should try to spread notions of equality to their kids and others surrounding them because believing others are inherently worse because of gender, race, anything else is inhumane.

        Glad you love huge comments. 😉

      • Yeah I agree, good point, because say here in America everyone should know that equality is suppose to be a thing, but here are people who choose to ignore since it suits their addenda better. Very true!

  2. I always find it sad when women go straight to I hate men as though we are homogenous. It is no different from going straight to I hate all people of XYZ race or religion merely because one person behaves badly.

    I am a man but I was born a woman. I lived as a woman until 19 years old. The day I became a man women started to treat me with fear merely because of my gender. I didn’t change. I didn’t become someone bad or dangerous merely because I transitioned. But women treat me as though I am automatically a monster. Someone who will hurt children merely by approaching and talking to them. Someone who will just want to take advantage of any unsuspecting female. Someone who has no feelings or self control.

    I am not trying to argue with you. I love reading your blog. Nor do I want to belittle your experience with this one individual man or the men in India. I do not say in some cultures men don’t have an inappropriate way of behaving.

    But I am asking that women think about the words they use because discrimination against men and masculinity in the West is rife. You only have to experience life on both sides of the gender divide to see this. If I said I hate women after one treats me badly I would be shunned. Yet women say I hate men all the time and then receive empathy or sympathy.

    I am looking forward to your travels in Turkey. Oh and thanks for the tips on Georgia in your later blog post. I think perhaps I will go there for cycling too because it looks amazibg

    • True, and I’m glad you have pointed that out. That being said, as a women, I do fear some men because unfortunately my past experiences have taught me to. Not all men are bad, of course not, most of my friends are men and I love my boyfriend, but my visceral reaction now when men start leering or grabbing is “I hate men.” I know it’s not a productive reaction, nor does it help anything as you pointed out, but at this point that’s just the reaction I get. Thanks for pointing our the other side though, there is always two sides to a story.

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