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Logbook to the middle ages. XII

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I walk the city and I see that as much as I like it, there are issues that are of concern. There are details that tell you so.
Examples abound. You are still allowed to smoke inside public places and smoking is very prevalent on the young. The men buy a beer and smoke a cigarette next to my table on a regular basis, slightly ruining the flavors. The young women are catching up and although they still do not smoke in the same proportion the younger and more affluent are heading on that direction. Which is kind of sad. I gather you have to first go through the “You’ve come a long way” period before you realize that indeed you didn’t.
I notice that women also take driving lessons. I find it strange that there are so many cars marked “AutoShkolla” (driving school) but all the people I see taking lessons are the women. I am carefully explained that men do not take lessons. Men just take a car and start driving, as if they have a special gift for this. Judging by the way they drive on the roads it makes for a case of the total opposite. But I guess it is like the old joke: there are three insults that no men can take: You have no problems, you have no sense of humor, and you can’t drive. A joke I have always wondered about because I would gather that any man whose abilities in bed are frowned upon will fetch his gun to try to rebut the point.
And of course, the way women are treated in the country is fairly backwater. I already touched on the subject but it needs expansion. You can see the young girls walking up and down the promenade late in the afternoon but one cohort is blatantly under-represented. Women between the early 20’s and the early 40’s are few or missing from the crowd. That is because they are at home taking care of the babies. But the reality is that it does not take too deep a scratch to see that women here are still property, to a degree. It is Europe but it is Mediterranean Europe. Southern Italy, across the waters, sets the pace. Men like their women barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.
So this is the stage where Albania stands. High unemployment, a young population that migrates because there are so few opportunities, and a large female population even more strained to make ends meet. I can see that the bakeries and small shops are tended by women, perhaps their sole realm of economic refuge, but that is no way to develop equality.
For the last few years I have been joking that women should be allowed to shoot one man once in their lives. If you don’t kill him it is your fault but you have that right. It would make us men behave in a whole different way if we knew that she (or her mom) has still not pulled the trigger on any of us. But here in Albania I gather it would not be a bullet. They would have to go for an arrow in the chest. Or some poison in the raki. Anything, just as long as women would be able to get just a little bit even.
Albania and Berat are not a middle age enclave. But my point keeps coming back over and over: 2019 has not rung in yet.

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  1. GlennHarman's Avatar
    Albania was incredibly isolated from the rest of the world from soon after WW2 to 1991. That is over 40 years. And even since 1991, they have not been as connected to the rest of the world as almost all the rest of Europe. How much do you think that is reflected in what you see now? Are they simply 40 years behind the rest of Europe, or is the difference even greater than that? It sounds like the situation with women is not where women were 40 years ago in Europe, but rather further behind, possibly reflecting the Muslim influence (?).

    By the way, I was on a boat from Brindisi to Korfu once in the 1970's, and I remember very clearly looking over at Albania from the boat and thinking, "That is somewhere I can't go. And it's somewhere that almost no outsiders get to. I wonder what life must be like in a small country with that much isolation from the rest of the world."

  2. GlennHarman's Avatar
    Another are also right that the fact that smoking is so ubiquitous in public places puts them way behind most countries of Europe. I have an actual allergy to cigarette smoke (not just an abhorrence of it, though I have that, too). Prior to restaurants in Europe banning smoking, I actually ate in European restaurants rather infrequently, despite spending a lot of time there. I got really good at buying meals from deli-like counters in supermarkets, etc. In most of Europe, I've had a solid 14 or so years of smoke-free restaurants in which to catch up on European cuisine. I hope Albania switches that before I go there.