VOICES OF MEN...
The following analysis is largely based on the results of the survey, i.e. the quantitative indicators related to the position, attitudes and behaviours of men in Serbia. But before the results, we present some of the voices of men gathered in the process of qualitative analysis, primarily as an illustration of many different ideological and personal positions, different discourses and attitudes. These attitudes reveal a high complexity of the transformation of the gender regime in Serbia and its social context as a whole.

Deconstruction of gender identity

Deconstruction of gender identity is certainly an advantage, because it is freedom. Freedom is not physical. Freedom from social constructs is freedom. You are freed and you can have freedom to create an identity… I am not saying that a man should become a woman and vice versa, but that everyone can construct themselves according to their needs and their own story. A man is a thought paradigm, which, in fact, needs to be overcome.

A typical man?

He can drink a lot, watches football matches, goes to family’s patron saint celebrations. He’s a sexist, thinking of screwing a woman. Pseudopolitics from the positions of power. Cynicism is an important feature of this patriarchy because you have to show that you are not naive. Because everything is a fraud. It’s the the position of an infantile patriarchy. Authoritarianism.
You’re looking around and see your dad, grandfather, brother, school mates who are always measuring something, measuring some power, competing and rivalling. Boys and men often feel the need to be right, to have it their own way. And since as a kid I watched and listened to what other people were doing, I absorbed a lot of these things, but did not necessarily reproduce them, because it was not really my thing; however, you must meet certain expectations to fit in the peer group and you have to play by these rules.

Feminism

I think that it is about the ethical message being sent out and I think that feminism has brought the key to unlocking the code of ethics. In fact, it’s a matter of justice. Of love, of understanding yourself. Not an individual against others but an individual as a part of others. (…). So feminism is a key that unlocks culture, unlocks policies in order to understand the depth of social injustice.

Peer violence

And then, over time, these friends of mine have become more and more serious in a kind of “bad boys” behaviour. There has always been some kind of admiration for mobsters, Ćenta for example. This Nenad guy was a member of that group, but I didn’t like it and therefore I distanced myself.

 Violence in the 1990s

Well, I saw violence more, how to explain, I grew up in Voždovac. I went to the primary school Nušić. Together with Kristijan, Knele and all of these idiots. It was a disturbed system of values, no plan, hopelessness. A completely different value system. Let me explain it – chavs, looting, shooting, you know, everything is allowed for cash, and there is no any. People work for peanuts, and you’re wearing a checked shirt, which automatically makes you weird, out of the group. Or, for example, you have some unbranded sneakers and you’re mocked; criminal; f’d-up times… The 1990s passed a long time ago but they have left consequences. Many of these people are in prison, addicted, all kinds of stories. Very few people from that generation got out of it. It’s the generation portrayed in the Wounds. That’s it.

Divorce and paternity

I grew up without a father and I think I may be a little bit more sensitive in that respect and that I’ve made that kind of decision. That’s one of the reasons why I didn’t leave immediately; I thought about how my child would bear it, I know how I felt, and so I supposed how my son would feel like… Later in my life, I realised that my father was violent, regardless of being a teacher. According to her stories, when he got angry at us, their life was hardly ideal. But I don’t remember that and therefore for a long time I thought:”A father is a father”, I loved him, and I still do, no matter that I grew up without him… As regards our life since our mother took us, since she suffered from a mental illness, it’s very difficult, in some periods of our lives we lived with our uncle…

Spirituality and theology

I think there are some prejudices about the students of the Faculty of Theology in the sense that we are not normal like other people, that we have some special consciousness and behaviour, and all of us here are ordinary guys, just like our female colleagues are. We are all normal like students from other faculties, but, as my colleagues have said, we have some deeper interest in spirituality. And perhaps it has nothing to do with spirituality, but some people are more interested in some truths of faith or relationship with other religions. Many enter the faculty to find spirituality, but it cannot be found at the faculty because there is no spirituality there; it is an academic study of theology and therefore it happens that many students become agnostics or atheists at that faculty.

Causes of violence and responsibility of the Church

The causes of violence in Serbia are multiple; first of all, people have lost the frame of reference; they have lost contact with God, so they have a problem with the meaning of life, on the one hand, and on the other hand they feel the economic pressure because, let’s be honest, Serbia is now one of the five poorest countries in Europe and it affects people. Also, a better life is presented to them on a daily basis and it creates frustration, which probably results in a certain percentage of violence, verbal or physical. And what could the Church do? It could definitely have an influence because it still has a certain reputation in this country, although to a smaller extent. It is possible that it would be good for both the Church and the society if the Church and its heads changed a bit their attitudes, which means that a certain spirit of time must be followed, no matter how religious one may be. These messages sent by the Church do not reach people. Maybe another way should be found.

About LGBT people ‒ majorities and minorities

I think that this is a bad marketing for children and as such suitable for the minority, but it undermines the stability of the large majority. Why do my children have to know that a guy with the beard wears a dress and sings at Eurovision? Why should it be normal? So a boy may say: “Maybe I could wear a dress too.” A very bad marketing for growing up of children in the majority population. I define this as tyranny of the minority over the majority. Like the oligarchy, in the political sense, is the tyranny of the majority over the minority, like the consumer society is tyranny of big tycoons over the majority, like so much advocacy for Roma rights, I think, is also tyranny of the minority over the majority. We live in a time when it is more important to belong to a minority than to belong to the mainstream or to be straight. It’s clear to me, it’s because of the demographic boom and because people have to be killed, prevented from reproducing. The economic system has its limit and cannot be inflated for an indefinite period, and the main limitation is the population. And when you impose something that is not natural to children, it only creates subsequent aggression, division, dilemma and similar situations. I have no objection to having children in adolescence deciding whether they will be homosexuals or not; they are capable of deciding at that age. But until their hormones wake up, why do you show them such things, that it’s normal that two men are kissing? It’s bad for the growing up of children.

LGBT and education

Basically, I support them; I was in one or two Parades. I am not an LGBT, but I support their fight and I understand it. Since I entered the NGO world, I have met many LGBT people. And surely I also had some prejudices and homophobic moments in that secondary school period that we’ve talked about. Afterwards, I have educated myself and met people, spent time with them; I think that in addition to education, it is very important to have a direct contact and good conversations. It helps in breaking prejudices and stereotypes. And now I know many LGBT people and have a lot of LGBT friends. I support their fight, I understand what they want and I know what they want to achieve with these Pride Parades and I also understand the purpose of their marriage and I support it.

LGBT and child adoption

Why not? How many abandoned children are in the street? It would be better if they adopted a child. Really. The child would be better off with them than in the street. At least from my point of view. I do not mind, let people do what they want, for heaven’s sake. I’m not against it at all. I’m not superior to them. They are not much more different than we are, they just have a different orientation. As far as children are concerned, I believe that they would be better parents than a bunch of idiots who raise children, for example.

Dying of nation

There are discourses about the dying of the nation, about the dying of Serbdom, about abortion, about being the old nation. But I think that no one is guiltier than those who created these wars and not the LGBT population that has existed and will exist. Everybody should do what they want to do. While you are a citizen and pay your taxes, you can do what you want, that’s how it should be.

Divorce and property

One of the issues raised in this whole divorce thing is property. A great thing in my relationship and in my divorces is that I’ve never had a property in my name. The apartment I live in, in which we lived, is registered in my mother’s name; I only had a car that I left to my second wife. And no matter how much the wives wanted to take or seize everything from me in such situations, they were not able to do anything. I protected myself in time, deliberately, and they couldn’t do anything. They were left to use their own capacity, not mine, and to invest it in children, while I’m using my own capacity and investing in my children. It’s an important relationship because people change. People are greedy. Especially women because they are attached to the material level more than men. Though, I’m not saying that there aren’t the same examples in both groups. That’s why I easily got divorced amicably. No property, no discussion. The only property is my salary. This is an important thing. One needs to think in advance. So, now we are dealing with children, not with assets or our relationship, thanks to me. I managed to do it because I didn’t have any property.

The vulnerability of men?

There are different types of violence and I think not only women are at risk. I think this story has been promoted by the feminist movements over the past 20 years or so, in a pretentious and aggressive way. I even have the impression that in 20 years time men will have to associate and organise their movements to protect themselves. Violence does not have a name and violence should not be suffered by either a man or a woman, or by a child, by an old or a young person, simply violence cannot be categorised in that way. That’s why I wouldn’t say that only women are at risk or that only men are abusers. I think that it exists in both groups. There are certainly more abusers among men; however, it’s never mentioned in public discourse that women can also be those who manifest some kind of violence.

A good divorce?

If a divorce is good, then OK; if it’s traumatic, it’s bad. I know many people who were divorcing with knives, axes, fists, judges, social workers, restraining orders, imprisonment, and in such cases children have traumas. If a marriage has lost its purpose, it should be ended in the least painful way, not through some traumatic scenes, use of violence and mediation of a third person. I don’t see why I need an intermediary to tell me what I need for my child, whether he/she should live with me or with you; it’s a stupid idea. If there is a child, the divorce cannot end the relationship completely. If there is no child, everyone goes their own path and they can go f**k themselves…. If there is a child, there is still a close relationship with the child; one should always choose words when talking about the child’s parent, and there’s no place for spitefulness. It’s very bad to show a shock in the child’s presence. For example, if I am somewhat better off financially, it’s stupid to show to the child that I can give him or her more than his or her mum. If I’ve already given the child a lot today, and she goes with the child tomorrow, I will rather meet her and throw her some money so that she can also spend it if she needs a lot, to show the child that love is not bought; it should never be used as an advantage. You will have less there, you will eat a Big Mac with me and some green beans with her – this must never be done…

Violence as an accepted form of communication

A lot of work on education and prevention must be done with both children and adults. If you have been taught that violence is not a form of socially accepted communication since your early age, then you will use it less often in kindergarten and school, in the street, wherever. Let’s see, over the past five years, 25 women were killed in Serbia each year on average, which may not be a high number out of 6 million people, but the number of women who suffer violence is much higher. The problem is that this violence is not reported, and even if it is reported, the police do not respond properly, so we have women who have reported abusers seven times and no provisional measures have been imposed yet. Violence is a social phenomenon that is present and will always be present; it is present also in Sweden, Denmark and Norway; it’s something that exists across the globe, but the attitude towards violence here is that it is a socially accepted form of communication. Beating a child, shouting at a child, woman, brother, yelling, aggression – these kinds of negative approaches.

Who is a social activist?

A person who advocate for some values, for a collective well-being. It’s practically impossible to be a person who is isolated from society in your own cell and excluded from everyone else because personal is also political, and then you have to engage yourself, at least to save a cat in front of your building or help a neighbour to cross the street. Social activism can be a broad category; there are social activists who are not publicly exposed but are the heroes of their neighbourhood.

Knowledge

And then, in fact, anthropology and all the knowledge I gathered there formed me mostly because I got some arguments and distance from all that nonsense: nationalism, chauvinism, xenophobia, racism. All these things that surround you while you’re growing up: we hate Gypsies, we hate Croats, we hate these, we hate those. And nothing of it exists; we have kind of agreed that this is something different, while essentially we are all stuck in the same s**t; we don’t have any bread to eat.

The position of men in Serbia?

They are certainly in a better position than women; that’s a fact; they have a greater freedom of decision making, movement, but we are equally stuck in the s**t due to the very fact that we are here.