MAN2016: Gender and number is the expert Conference that was organized this year for the sixth time by Centre E8. The Conference brings together experts who, in different areas of their work, deal with issues of gender, gender equality, non-violence and promoting positive social values among the youth and it was held from 1-3 June in the Center for Cultural Decontamination.
The Conference began with the session “Who is the real man in Serbia today?”. Violence in schools, on the streets, at sporting events, against minorities or dissidents of any kind has become an almost daily occurrence. The men, as fathers, friends, decision makers, leaders, play an important role in the fight against violence and through their engagement in society they should become positive role models for young people. The Conference speakers were Zoran Kesić – journalist, TV show host, TV author, Marko Somborac – author of comic books, graphic designer and illustrator, and Dragan Ilić – journalist.
Dragan Ilić: We as a country had a long period during which the equality existed and I was convinced that something that was a part of society could not disappear so easily but it happened. We have a case of turning a death of a female singer into a reality show, the show programs which promote some wrong values and in all that both young men and women need to find their own place to resist the fact that someone will make fun of them if they are different, to find their idols. It is not easy. It is important to recognize if someone behaves nicely and politely toward their friends, environment, girls, and it is important to praise them and encourage them.
Marko Somborac: Although I have taken some things for granted, sometimes I need someone to invite me to be a part of some campaign, to talk to people and understand that it is not the same everywhere. I think it is normal to be equal in the community, to participate in the life of your child, to be with your family. However, it turns out that this is the exception, not the rule. Yes, so it is important to talk about these issues, about gender equality, about fatherhood, about participation in the family. I think that Real men exist, just like the Real women, they are the people who do the right and proper things.
Zoran Kesić: First of all, I think that it is very important for children to have a stable family. If parents are constantly watching TV and reality shows you cannot expect the child to be any different. No matter how much the environment, friends and schools try, the family is the most important in making the future Real men. I had my role models when I was young, mainly in the sphere of sports and I understand that I have become a role model for some new people. Everything I do, I do with a group of wonderful people and we are trying together to do things that will make people think, but also to promote some positive and true values.
This year’s Conference was inspired by statistics indicating the unequal distribution of power between men and women, and it was conceived as an attempt to ask the question: What is needed to increase the number of women in decision-making social functions, i.e. in order to change devastating statistical figures which testify that women are more numerous exclusively as victims of gender based violence, stereotypical social roles, i.e. as victims of structures which are using their unpaid work?
Introduction to this topic was made by a scientist Marina Blagojević from the Institute for Criminological and Sociological Research and Dragan Knežević, advisor at the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Affairs.
The speakers at the first panel discussion, “SUM AND QUOTIENT OF MALE PRIVILEGES IN THE PATRIARCHY” were Marko Veličković, activist; Radojica Bunčić, founder of the Museum of violence and Aleksandar Gubaš, activist.
This session was dedicated to the issues: what privileges do men enjoy in a modern Serbian society, how much they are aware of them and can they be used as a tool to work on breaking gender stereotypes or a weapon in the fight for equality?
As those who earn more, who often work in better paid jobs and rarely or almost never in those unpaid; as those in whose gender respectable professions are usually referred and those whose hormonal status, physical appearance, dressing style and family life, are not subject to public discussion nor “argument” with the help of which their views can be discredited, men can be the lever that maintains the patriarchy, but also the lever that can destroy it.
After that, there was a panel discussion “SENSATIONAL SUMMATION: WOMEN ARE PEOPLE!” addressed by Tamara Skrozza, journalist; Antonela Riha, journalist; Robert Čoban, the owner of the publishing house “Color Press Group” and Ivana Petrović, journalist.
Starting with the famous slogan: “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people” the question was raised in this session why the media were not informed about this “sensational discovery”?
This session was dedicated to the treatment of women in the media, but also the ways in which media shapes our consciousness, making us to perceive women as inferior, subordinate, less significant and isolated members of the society.
We got answers to some questions, such as how to educate journalists to include feminist knowledge in their work, when we know that they are brought up and socialized as men and women, long before they chose journalism as a profession? Why is a feminine gender of the word sociologist “clumsy” and the word maid is a “normal” word? Why are naked female bodies on all billboards and naked male bodies exclusively in medical and pornographic magazines? Why we read about the love life of female ministers and the love lives of male ministers are hidden as a state secret? Are the tabloids responsible for femicide or femicide is a “natural” ally of circulation?
The third day of the Conference MAN2016 was dedicated to the topic of fatherhood and Super dads!
First, the Association of Citizens “Gnezdo” (Nest) presented their activities and programs they developed, with particular emphasis on the work with fathers.
The publication “State of the World’s Fathers: Balkan Review” which was developed as part of the project “Boys and Men as Allies in Violence Prevention and Gender Transformation in the Western Balkans” and regional “Super dad” initiative, supported by CARE International Balkans, Austrian Development Agency and the Oak Foundation. The publication was presented by Aleksandra Galonja.
Sociologist Dr. Dragan Stanojević presented his new research entitled “Emergence of new fatherhood through the practice of fathers in Serbia”.
Dragan Stanojevic: The problem in our society is the lack of different models of parenting and family practices. Those who deviate from the traditional model of roles, most often say that they do not have anyone to talk about it except with their female partner. Our society is also evolving like any other. In this sense, there was a detraditionalization of the model of marital and family life. Marriage simply is not the same as it was before. What does it mean if a man wants a harmonious life, he must be focused on his female partner and he must be part of the partnership that is separate from the child but also from the child’s upbringing. Simply, they should have an equal relationship.
The panel discussion was addressed by Slavimir Stojanović – designer, Dusan Čavić and Dušan Šaponja – authors of popular shows “Marka žvaka” and “Ciklotron” and Miloš Latinović – writer and political analyst.
Each of them spoke about their experiences and about what and to what extent has changed in their lives since they became fathers. The challenges were there, fears, doubts, like with all couples, but all this was overcome by joint efforts and care.
Do not forget that we will see each other next year on MAN2017!
The Conference MAN2016 was organized with the support of the US Embassy in Belgrade, CARE International Balkans, Austrian Development Cooperation and the OAK Foundation.