I detest March 8th. To me it’s the day when i get carnations – a pretty flower, that sadly in our culture is connected exclusively with two things – funerals and International Women’s Day; on any other occasion gifting carnations could be viewed either as a bad joke or – even worse, as a threat.
Today, newspapers in the region reported that journalist Olivera Lakic was severely beaten in front of her home; she has been covering illegal production of cigarettes in the north of the country, was harassed and assaulted many times and has received dead threats from the mafia – among else – by receiving flowers that are brought to one’s funeral…
By official data, every third woman in my country is beaten – by husband, by brother, by father or by another male family member.
Mind you, many cases go unreported, i would say – most.
Strange thing happened here. We didn’t really have feminism as a movement, like in the West. After WWII, which at the same time was proletarian revolution in these parts, women legally were given equal rights, just like that – overnight.
But as we know, tectonic changes of a kind can not happen overnight. So, what our women got by that? In addition to all the housework, which our men traditionally don’t do – in addition to raising children, they got to work too.
My mother’s generation, the first women who came into adulthood after WWII was raised to a following ideal: ‘a real woman is a housewife at home, udarnik at work (Russian term for a superproductive worker), a lady in the street and a ho in bed.
Nothing more than that. A ‘lady’ in Western Balkans means meticulously maintained woman – with her hair and nails always done, slim and nicely dressed – the term as it’s widely used here, has nothing to do with being noble or having some distinctive character traits.
Christianity came quite late to Montenegro and never really grew on majority
here; a culture that did influence local population to big extent is that of Ottoman Turks who were around for over four centuries; the attitude towards women has a lot to do with what’s learned from the Ottomans.
It’s interesting how this influence has remained – until our days. I am always entertained to make comparisons between politicians in, let’s say, US, caught in adultery – and our guys.
In US – presidents get impeachment, a politician’s career is jeopardized and mostly over if such scandal is brought on the daylight… not so here. The guy gets respect for being a ‘real man’, and the mistress… Don’t think she’ll get to hide from public eye as Monica Lewinsky did, to the contrary – the concubine gets applauded for being pretty/thrifty enough to catch such an influential guy, she gets promoted and usually achieves high ranks in various governmental structures and institutions.
I shun away from judging people because you know who should be throwing stones… And i am certainly not the one without sin.
What stuns me is not the fact that people fall in love and sometimes are trapped in very complex relationships, but that the society doesn’t see anything wrong with it.
I am not a prude and i don’t really care but… What are you going to teach your daughter? What does this reality teach her? That education and hard work mean nothing and that she’d better spend her days at beauty saloon because her looks are her only bet.
“The Mountain Wreath” , the masterpiece of Montenegrin literature, an epic poem written in 18th century by our Prince Bishop Petar Petrovic II – Njegos, his magnum opus and the banner of our culture – does not mention a single female character by her name.
In the opening scene of Zivko Nikolic‘s 1986 movie ‘Lepota poroka”/ The Beauty of Vice – an adulterous woman places a loaf of bread on her head and declares not being worthy of the bread her husband fed her. After that he shoots her.
These and other monuments of our culture provide an opening through wich it can be peeked at the draconian laws by which warriors tribes, high in the mountain wreaths of Balkan peninsula, lived.
The problem is that those went almost untouched by modern civilization – and if so – then only superficially, only seemingly.
My two aunts, my father’s sisters, were arranged marriages for by the family – their father and brothers.
Myself, i was strongly advised to agree to an arranged marriage at the age of sixteen, to a man whom i found repulsive.
I know there is still a lot of matchmaking going on around the world, it’s a norm in Asia and among Orthodox Jews too… but for goodness sake, this is Europe and it is 21st century.
So, please, don’t wish me Happy 8th March. Instead – don’t beat your wife or daughter. Pay your female employee equally. Give us equal opportunities and keep the carnations for yourself. Thank you.