“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.