Conservative gender mores are changing in Georgia
Note: This article first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. The article was written by Otto Saladze, a junior researcher at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.
Gendered norms prevail in Georgian society, which often translates into deprecation of women for smoking, drinking alcohol, having pre-marital sex, and even living with a boyfriend. However, attitudes appear to be shifting.
CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey asked people what they thought about several such activities. The data showed that the public are least accepting of women smoking, with 80% reporting it is never acceptable at any age. Sexual relations (63%) and cohabitating with a man before marriage were also commonly thought to be never acceptable for women (60%).
Although there are still widespread prejudices about what is acceptable for women, some attitudes are changing. While in 2010, a slight majority (56%) said they were against women living separately from their parents before marriage at any age, this number had decreased by 18 percentage points by 2019 to 38%.
However, people’s attitudes do not appear to have changed over the last decade towards women smoking and drinking strong alcohol.
Note: The original question text was: ‘Sometimes people are considered too young to do or experience certain things. Could you please tell me, from what age do you think it is acceptable for a woman to…’ Respondents were then asked about multiple activities. To ensure clear data visualisation, the answer options: ‘Under 18’, ‘18-25’, ‘26+’ and ‘Don’t know/Refuse to answer’, are not shown on the chart.
There were only slight differences in the opinions of women and men on these issues, and attitudes have changed at similar paces among both sexes.
While 52% of men said it was never acceptable for women to drink strong alcohol, 59% of women reported the same in 2019. The numbers were almost the opposite a decade ago, with 59% of men saying it was never acceptable in 2010 and 55% of women.
Both sexes’ attitudes changed regarding pre-marital sex and co-habitation at a similar rate. The share of men thinking pre-marital sex was unacceptable for women at any age decreased from 81% to 62% between 2019 and 2010, and among women the decline is similar (80% to 64%). In 2019, 58% of men and 61% of women were against cohabitation prior to marriage at any age compared with 71% of men and 73% of women in 2010.
A similar pattern holds among people of different ages, with changes being quite similar in most age groups. One exception is attitudes towards pre-marital sex. While in 2010, 76% of 18-35-year-olds said this was never acceptable for a woman, in 2019 only 52% of young people reported the same, a 24 percentage point decline. By comparison, the decline in disapproval among 35-54-year-olds was 17% and by 11% among those 55+.
People still judge women for a wide range of different behaviors in society, but attitudes are changing. Over the last decade, it appears that people have become more accepting of women’s choices regarding pre-marital sex and cohabiting out of wedlock.
[Note: Social Science in the Caucasus is publishing the work of six young researchers who entered CRRC-Georgia’s Junior Fellowship Program (JFP) in February 2015. This is the third blog post in the series. Click here to see the first and second blog posts in the series.]
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