In my upper intermediate class today we talked about some cultural differences between Russia and the States and touched on manners. I brought up the staring thing, because folks here really have a very different concept of inappropriate staring/looking. At home, we have an accepted, unwritten rule about when to look away. Here, there’s no unwritten contract, folks just look until you look at them, then they look some more, then they look away, then they look back.
I tried to explain how, at home, we have an underlying assumption that if it goes on too long, that the staring person may mean us harm, especially if you grew up being told all the shit you need to do not to get raped. (Men, kudos to your parents if they taught you how not to get raped.) It was interesting that the immediate assumption was that men here are doing all the staring. Even more interesting was seeing their reaction when they were told it’s really more babushkas than anyone. On top of that, it was yet more interesting to hear the excuses that folks made up for the old ladies.
Overall, I think we all learned something today. Gender roles were challenged. Stereotypes were confronted. Everyone spoke English and used new vocabulary. Win, win, win.
*******Short, unrelated factoid: Someone from Nigeria viewed my blog. Does this mean I’m going to get letters asking for money on sallyism????***************************