CONCLUSION: CHANGES, RESISTANCES AND CHALLENGES

Men in Serbia, as shown by this research, undergo changes, express resistances to these changes and face new challenges. Changes towards the establishment of gender equality are profound and inevitable. They take place both in the private and public sphere, in different areas and at different speeds. But they do not happen stepwise, gradually and unilinearly. The most educated men accept them first and participate in them most, while the least educated men resist most. As regards age/different generations, the change is not always one-way, that is, the youngest are not always the most emancipated, the most conscious, the least violent or the most open to positive influences. Violence is very present in the lives of young men and in the true sense of the word it is constitutive in the formation of their gender identity.

Many of the challenges are simply contextual, linked to the low development of Serbia, poverty, the negative consequences of wars, as well as the intensive aging of the population and the high rate of emigration of the most educated young people. The long-term, multi-decade influence of negative factors has led to repatriarchalisation and retraditionalisation, which not only have very negative effects on women, but expose also men, especially younger generations, to an extremely high risk of harmful lifestyles pursued to confirm the imaginary ideal of a “real man” , including the acceptance of dangerous extreme ideologies. Therefore, it is necessary to focus strongly on gender equality education, which would include contemporary knowledge in the field of critical studies of men and masculinity. But such educational content should be based on research and the knowledge that already exists and that should be further developed to fit the contextual needs of Serbian society.

The greatest challenges are to maintain or strengthen the flow of positive social change despite many social pressures that support retraditionalisation, radicalisation, extremism, crime and violence. Gender is always determined by a particular social context, and therefore the hegemonic masculinity in Serbia is determined by the context of Serbian society. Nevertheless, even within this context there are significant variations both in relation to the family environment and in relation to individual characteristics. As shown by data, education is the most important factor in the formation of attitudes and practices that support both non-violence and gender equality. It is necessary to ensure proper gender mainstreaming of educational institutions and contents at all levels but also to encourage non-formal education for different groups and categories of men. In addition, educational contents should be contextualised and adjusted to the specific life circumstances and needs of men, especially the young ones.

Plenty of work remains to be done in this field since that there are still numerous possibilities that can be used in Serbia for the promotion of modern, progressive and humanistic values, including gender equality, through the educational system. It’s good news!