"But I identify as a bisexual. I feel like bisexuality is more accepted in Georgia, because there’s the idea that a traditional male/female relationship is still possible."
My parents are separated. I lived with my mother until the age of 17, not too far from the neighbourhood where I now live with my father. I changed schools three times, the last time I changed schools was for two reasons; bullying and to learn German. The kids who bullied me came from wealthy families and the teachers would favour them. In Georgia there’s a problem with women who don’t want things to change because they have suffered, and they believe young girls should suffer too.
My family from my mother’s side has had a lot of influence on my independent nature. My mother took care of herself and I did not see her often. Seeing my mother work so much has had a huge impact on me. Almost every woman from my mom’s side is separated or divorced from their husbands and they live alone, which is not at all common in Georgia. So I come from a long line of strong women who work, who raise their children alone and that are independent. I’ve always understood that in order for me to be independent, I had to work. I started working from the age of 15, I worked for a Georgian TV show and we created short videos about Georgian youth culture. From this job, I was able to save some money to go to Turkey for a Pink Floyd concert. It was incredible!
I have a roommate type relationship with my dad. We both take care of the household chores; we even split all the bills related to the apartment, which is also very unusual for Georgia. Neither my father nor my mother is very traditional. I don’t consider myself a traditional Georgian woman either. I chose to pursue a STEM career (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and I hate doing housework. But I feel a responsibility towards women in Georgia, I consider myself a feminist. I feel challenged to do things that people say women can’t do. Since I hate driving and playing football, I do other things. I also go to a lot of feminist’s protests in Georgia and I’m very active on Facebook, especially when I end up on pages with hate speech commentaries. Whenever I get a chance to say I’m a feminist, I say it. But with every protest, it’s always the same group of 50 people. A lot of them go to catch up with their friends. I feel sad that it’s always the same people; all my friends are feminists and I realize that I live in a bubble. Just the fact that I am able to attend a university, that’s already a privilege… I regret not being more active during my adolescence, because I think I could have changed some people’s views. Like for example when I was in middle school and I was around people that were different from me, my bullies for example. So now I do try to step out of my bubble, I take part in summer camps for young kids or young girls that come from other regions of Georgia. I have a responsibility to inspire these girls and to give them the idea that they have the power to decide for themselves. Many girls don’t know they have choices and options; getting married early is the only way they know how to live. A lot of my friends are already living with their boyfriends and are not pursuing a career. I am afraid that they are relying entirely on their significant other, I don’t want them to end up stuck or without options.
"In 2013, there was a very violent Gay Pride in Georgia. All the churchgoers came to attack the Gay Pride attendees. They only had one hour to march."
I’ve always heard my mother say how nice it would be if she had a husband that she could depend on, and that really stuck with me. I asked myself a lot of questions. Was my mother’s independence a choice? Or did she suffer from it? What is the best way? Either way, I always split the bill evenly with my boyfriend; I chose to be with someone that shares my progressive ideas. I support the LGBTQ+ cause and any other minority.
I’d love to be involved in the Gay Pride that is suppose to take place in May 2019 in Tbilisi*. But its organisation will be very difficult and it will be very dangerous for its participants. The people organizing it want the government to support them, but they will never get this support. In 2013, there was a very violent Gay Pride in Georgia. All the churchgoers came to attack the Gay Pride attendees. They only had one hour to march. There have been other Gay Prides since, but in 2018, it was cancelled. For the past 2 years, there has been a rise of right wing groups who are against foreigners and liberal views. They created Facebook groups against the organizers of the Tbilisi Gay Pride and that’s how it got cancelled. We still tried to have a clandestine Gay Pride march, but a right wing extremist savagely beat one of the participants. The aggressor faced absolutely no consequences; in fact he even received praises.
I consider myself a centrist, sometimes I am politically more to the left, and sometimes more to the right, it depends on the subject really. But I identify as a bisexual. I feel like bisexuality is more accepted in Georgia, because there’s the idea that a traditional male/female relationship is still possible. I spoke to my father about my sexual orientation, but I am not sure whether he thinks it is a phase or not, at least he did not react negatively. From time to time, he makes homophobic jokes, but he isn’t violent. I have never told my mother because she’s a religious orthodox. I would only tell my mother if I found myself in a committed relationship with another woman. In a certain way, I am not very close with my family in the sense that I don’t seek their approval, we have more of an “adult” relationship.
Right now, most of Georgian women’s occupational roles are concentrated in the educational sector, community care or customer service. These are all roles that are associated with nurturing. From my point of view, I see a lot of powerful women going into STEM fields. But when I step out of my bubble, like when I take part in summer camps for girls who come from remote places, I realise that when you live in Tbilisi, you have so much more opportunities. For me, everything is correlated to the Internet. If you grow up without social media and without Internet, your world can be very limited.
Many Gender researchers say that before the USSR, there were a lot less gender equality problems. Already during the first Georgian Republic, in 1918, women had the right to vote. The Soviet Union rearranged the way labour should be organized; this brought forward a different perspective of the family unit. A lot of people say that according to Georgian traditions, a woman’s place is in the kitchen, but in my opinion, this comes from the USSR. In the 90s, the men either went to war or became drug addicts.
Our country went through hard times with the two wars, so the use of narcotics became a big problem. The women weren’t affected in the same way; they took on all the responsibilities. Women in Georgia are very active but I always wonder if it’s because they want to be this way or if it’s because they don’t have a choice?