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> Men's Day & Women's Day in Uzbekistan, Holiday practices
ahamill
post Mar 8 2009, 02:25 AM
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February 23rd was Soviet Army Day - a day when, from 1945 to... well, apparently current times, the men were honored for service and such. Here in Uzbekistan, it's called Men's Day now, but they also call it Army Day.
In our offices, the women of the office 'surprised' the men with cake and juice and a little party in the conference room. Toasts were made, speeches by the senior women officers, and all in all it was quite a nice thing.
There are lessons to be learned about other cultures, other peoples, if a person listens more than talks. Here are some parts of the toasts:
"We love you men because we feel safe here with you..."
"We thank you for protecting us..."
"You work hard for us..."

Interesting.

7th of March is International Women's Day, and it is celebrated here too as Women's Day. On Friday (6th), the men did the same thing: cakes were bought, toasts were made, gratitude expressed. Here were some parts of the toasts:
"You take care of all our important office duties like filing and numbers and paperwork..."
"Without you we couldn't do our jobs..."
"Behind every man is a woman..."

There is a woman working full-time in that office who isn't Uzbek and, though not American or with what I'd characterize even as a Westernized 'ideal' of women's equality issues that is such a part of our political and cultural discussion - but still, she was the only one with embers burning in her eyes during the toasts.

Interesting.

Not to say that anyone meant anything bad or disrespectful by it - and there may be something to be said for an environment that is less volatile, less poised on the edge of explosions of righteous indignation, less hypervigilant, less prone to angry objections and insult, less paralyzed by the fear of putting something the wrong way - a verbal mistake that can lead down that road...

My Uzbek and Russian colleagues joke a lot about these types of differences between here and "the West". Ah well - just a topic for discussion, in the end - and observation.



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starlagurl
post Mar 9 2009, 03:10 PM
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Well... I think the phrase "behind every man..." etc etc. is inherently condescending. I would have embers burning in my eyes too.

Maybe you don't mean anything by that, but everytime I hear it I feel inferior.

Why can't women be "beside" men? Why "behind"?


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aopaq
post Mar 9 2009, 08:52 PM
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QUOTE(starlagurl @ Mar 9 2009, 04:10 PM) *

Well... I think the phrase "behind every man..." etc etc. is inherently condescending. I would have embers burning in my eyes too.

Maybe you don't mean anything by that, but everytime I hear it I feel inferior.

Why can't women be "beside" men? Why "behind"?

I completely agree but I guess there is another perspective of this phrase that could be taken. Perhaps it is a subtle way of saying that by being "behind" the man, a woman is always in the best position to give him a good kick in the butt when needed! wink.gif hyper.gif
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findingnine
post Mar 9 2009, 10:37 PM
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QUOTE(starlagurl @ Mar 9 2009, 04:10 PM) *

Well... I think the phrase "behind every man..." etc etc. is inherently condescending. I would have embers burning in my eyes too.

Maybe you don't mean anything by that, but everytime I hear it I feel inferior.

Why can't women be "beside" men? Why "behind"?

Very good point, but I Feel the final frontier is how women see themselves rather than how men see them.

I love the whole appreciation thing though. I for one LOVE women!


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starlagurl
post Mar 10 2009, 10:15 AM
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I see myself just fine.

Whether the person saying that is a man or woman doesn't matter. It's condescending no matter who says it.


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findingnine
post Mar 10 2009, 10:22 AM
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Well really, isn't it condescending to say that Any person doesn't matter. What's your point exactly?


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starlagurl
post Mar 10 2009, 10:24 AM
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Yeah, that is what I'm saying.

If I said...Behind me in all my wondrous success and majesty, is a bunch of awesome people....how do you think those people would feel?


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findingnine
post Mar 10 2009, 10:26 AM
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Credited? Appreciated?

I guess it depends if their view of the world in balanced or skewed with self importance.


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starlagurl
post Mar 10 2009, 10:30 AM
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When I am on a team, I like to be acknowledged as an equal, of course.

When I am in a subordinate position, I don't.


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findingnine
post Mar 10 2009, 10:34 AM
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Uhm, it sort of sounded like they did hold subordinate positions....clerical etc.


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starlagurl
post Mar 10 2009, 10:35 AM
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No...a secretarial job is JUST as important as a CEO's job.

This is why I prefer the term "beside".


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findingnine
post Mar 10 2009, 11:16 AM
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So I guess the pay scale difference is just arbitrary discrimination.



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starlagurl
post Mar 10 2009, 11:59 AM
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Yep. Salaries are decided by people who are in power. A higher salary does not make you "more important".

If you got rid of the secretary, nothing would get done. Maybe he/she gets paid less than the CEO, but if she wasn't there, it wouldn't work.


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findingnine
post Mar 10 2009, 01:08 PM
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a little easier to replace a secretary than a CEO. I'm sure as people, they are just as important. As assets to the company, there could a be bit more of a divide.


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starlagurl
post Mar 10 2009, 01:10 PM
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I do not feel the same as you on this issue. A good "executive assistant" is IRREPLACEABLE, whether that person is a man or a woman!


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ahamill
post May 3 2009, 06:57 AM
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I'm kind of delighted and horrified to see that my topic inspired a bit of ... enthusiastic rhetoric? For the record, when I make a little entry in this forum area, I do so taking great effort to simply relate what I observe and limit my comments to neutral (but accurate) ones such as "INTERESTING!" - I make no judgment and offer no hints as to how I personally feel on a topic. I hope I've succeeded!

By relating some of these experiences I hope to give folks outside of Uzbekistan a little taste of what life is like here, everyday life. The truth is, the roles played by women and me here are quite different. As an example, having lived here for more than a year and taking local taxis at least 5 times a week, two days ago was the first time I experienced a taxi driver who was a woman. Worthy of note only because it is an experience conspicuous by its singularity - and helps to underline both the divide between women and men and also that, in Tashkent anyway, women are exploring career and activities that used to be taboo for them. (one remembers that in Saudi Arabia, it is illegal for women to drive)

Another example was the plof I was invited to about 3 weeks ago by my gardener. He lives in a very small apartment a bit up the road, behind another home, and he lives alone with his wife. They're probably around 60 years old and have children and grandchildren. I was treated to a quite tasty meal of plof (rice prepared in the fat from a sheep's hindquarters (specifically) with a few yellow carrots cut up into it and a bit of shredded meat - either sheep or horse or, sometimes, beef), and of course was seated with the gardener on the floor mat with the knee-height table, covered in blankets (in the winter, a warmer is placed under that, and legs are inserted under the low covered table, to keep yourself arm), and served tea. The wife appeared only to serve and clear; when she approached, my very traditional Uzbek gardener didn't even look at her when issuing instructions to bring more of something, or take something away. Naturally, to MY sensibility, this treatment which would have easily offended any waitress in the US, was only unsurprising because I've seen it so often before and know it to be cultural and established - he wasn't being rude to his wife, he was behaving as he was taught to behave, as was she.

Now here's the rub: with a very fun and frank discussion with a young Uzbek who's traveled around the world and seen many different cultures, I have learned that this lifetime of serving their men (often men who sort of laze about, drink too much too often, sow wild oats with impunity, and so on) does NOT go unnoticed. In fact, what I was told was that in fact these men, after a lifetime of being nurse-maided and cleaned up after and cooked for and spoiled, and drinking too much and smoking too much, they usually age quite a bit more badly than their wives - who are usually a lot younger than they are, too. When the man finally reaches an age of infirmity, this is the time when the wives blossom a bit - and, unfortunately, the husband finds himself on the receiving end of some pretty long-fermenting revenge. Whether that revenge is just being talked-back-to and not being as available to 'serve' as she had been for the last 40 years, my friend didn't specify: he limited himself to saying "it can be pretty bad!". I asked him if that was something that was visible to the family, that young boys can see - and he said yes indeed, that that role-reversal in old age is something that is also instructive for young boys and girls and perpetuates the whole cycle.

Think for a moment about this cycle, and imagine it. Young boys see mothers behaving as servants - and grandmothers behaving far differently. Interesting.




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aopaq
post May 3 2009, 07:54 AM
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Thanks very much for your interesting perspectives! I am sure your experiences in Uzbekistan must be culturally stimulating and helps to provide some perspective on your own life in the West.

For myself, who has not been fortunate enough to have the unique experiences that you are going through, your insights are most appreciated and thought-provoking.
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starlagurl
post May 4 2009, 10:59 AM
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Wow...I still don't think that's worth it... why go through a whole lifetime of servitude and then turn around and become a bitter mean old lady? Why not just be equal and nice to each other the whole time?

Do you ever meet any women who travel? What do they think about the culture they live in?

P.S. there aren't many women taxi drivers in North America either.


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jacquesl
post May 4 2009, 11:10 AM
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A lot of people might think..."HOW CAN SHE BE HAPPY".....but I would not be surprised at all to learn that she is very happy.....it's all a matter pf perspective.

She is used to that life and that is what is learned as being the right way of doing things........

When I read blogs within TravelPod and see how things are in different countries, some of the stuff I read amazes me and sometimes I think ..."HOW CAN THIS BE".....yet it is and it's accepted by those involved in it....

I may not agree with it but I certainly have learned that on our small planet there are many "great" ways of life...they are not mine, but I respect the right for them to chose.


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starlagurl
post May 4 2009, 12:30 PM
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What ahamill said PROVES she is not happy!

I have learned that this lifetime of serving their men (often men who sort of laze about, drink too much too often, sow wild oats with impunity, and so on) does NOT go unnoticed .... and, unfortunately, the husband finds himself on the receiving end of some pretty long-fermenting revenge.

Why would she want revenge on him if she was happy?


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