FEMFACTS
23 Jan 2019

Lack of sex is not what is making feminists angry in Serbia

Serbian journalist Tomislav Tomo Lovreković published an anti-feminist article entitled “A year passes without an orgasm in sight!". In it, he claims feminists are women “who nobody wants to have sex with."

Lidija Pisker
Lidija Pisker NewsMavens, Balkans
Lack of sex is not what is making feminists angry in Serbia - NewsMavens
Tomislav Tomo Lovreković, YouTube

At the end of last year, at a conference about gender stereotypes, a sexist incident occurred involving Darko Stanić, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sport. The incident fueled an escalation of public discourse about what is and is not befitting public officials in Serbia.

As part of the reaction, journalist Tomislav Tomo Lovreković published an anti-feminist commentary in Dnevna Gazeta titled “A year passes without an orgasm in sight!” (in Serbian: “Godina prođe, ali orgazma nigde!”). In the article, he blames  all the “unnecessary fuss” on women “who nobody wants to have sex with and who therefore turn to radical feminism”.

WHAT'S THE CLAIM?

The main argument, which Lovreković graphically elaborates on throughout the article, is that feminism is a refuge for women who are sexually frustrated:

"Lack of sex is, simply said, a nasty disease. Inconvenient, [and] psyche-damaging, especially here, where most men stick to the principle "I’ll take anything, as long as it’s a hole" and you still can’t get any."

He continues by saying:

"In such a situation, of course, mental disorders arise and an exit is sought -- when there is no natural cure in the form of 12 to 22 centimeters, or those synthetic ones prescribed by  doctors -- women turn towards an alternative medicine: Wahhabi activism and jihad feminism."

After making sure that his readers have (very explicitly) understood that women embrace sexism only if they are leading sexless lives, Lovreković continues by defending State Secretary Darko Stanić’s alleged sexist behavior, by describing it as a light-hearted prank. Here, he also finds space to defend another public figure from the current administration, Bratislav Bata Gašić, who told a woman journalist holding a microphone on the ground, that he loves "female journalists who are so quick to get on their knees". 

"Yes, brother Bata Gašić made a funny joke, a playful one -- he did not rape, he did not humiliate. He was joking, just as every day, a million boys in Serbia joke with a million of girls and more importantly, VICE VERSA!

Yes, Darko Stanić was joking and he hit the back of a close associate, as happens in a million similar cases, involving both men and by women."

WHAT ARE THE FACTS?

Stanić’s sexist behavior (a comment about women being worse drivers than men and "the prank", ie hitting a woman from behind with papers) -- cannot be seen in the recording of the conference available on YouTube. The video shows a still camera that was recording only one speaker at a time.

Stanić denied hitting his colleague and explained that his comment about women drivers was actually a joke. “Am I allowed to have a laugh and make a joke or are we in a concentration camp?” he asked the media.

Some media reported that Stanić’s colleague, who is an intern in his Ministry, denied that she was hit by him. Minister Udovičić said he will investigate the case and rebuke Stanić if the allegations prove to be true.  

Assuming the incident really took place, Lovreković -- who wrote his article in an “act of solidarity” with Stanić (and his other criticized “brother”, as he referred to Gašić in the article) -- went too far with his defense. The overall tone of the text is vulgar and insulting. It depicts feminists as unattractive, psychologically unstable women who “can’t get laid” and want to punish men as a result.

If there were any truth in this outdated definition of feminism as the result of a lack of sex -- especially nowadays, when feminist movements are rapidly growing around the planet -- it would mean that no one has any sex at all any more. In fact, of course, the reality is very different.

Lovreković, furthermore, tried to justify the “Stanić case” with the argument that “a million Serbs are doing it every day”. But even if a million people are doing it, it doesn’t make it right. Lovreković may refer to hitting someone in the back as a “healthy way of communication among healthy people” but many women and men find it inappropriate. In fact, if it’s not consensual, there’s a name for it -- it's called harassment.

This is not the first time Lovreković has attacked women. In 2016, he insulted the female politician Branka Bežanov, who sued him after he stated that she “spreads sexually transmitted diseases”. A year later, Lovreković was arrested for death threats he sent through social media to another female politician, Marinika Tepić.

CONCLUSION

A presentation of research about the correlation between gender stereotypes and gender-based violence unexpectedly became an example of why we need to be talking about it. Conferences and similar events can often be dry and routine, but this one has unintentionally presented real-life evidence of how gender stereotypes (“women are bad drivers”) can lead to the justification of sexual harassment (“he was joking”) and hate speech against women (“you need to have sex to calm down”).  

This article falls into the category of violence against women, because it  attempted to justify and actually encourage acts of abuse (such as back-hitting) and also expressed explicit positive bias towards potential and actual harassers. It is also an example of anti-feminist backlash because it contains malicious remarks about the fight for gender equality and the protection of the dignity of women. Disrespectful comments about the sexual behavior (or lack of it) of feminists is an obvious case of the sexual objectification of women.

***

DEEP DIVE -- THE SEXIST INCIDENT THAT STARTED IT ALL

On December 20, 2018, the UN’s International Human Solidarity Day, the Belgrade-based Atina Association organized a public presentation of research about the correlation between gender stereotypes and gender-based violence.

During the conference, State Secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sport Darko Stanić, who was one of the guest speakers, reportedly commented that “women are not good drivers”.

Later, as he was leaving the conference hall, and continuing to disparage female drivers, he hit a female colleague from behind with some papers he was carrying in his hands.

The course of these events were set out in a statement by the Atina Association, which then reported the incident to Vanja Udovičić, the Serbian Minister of Youth and Sport. The statement said that the event (and what happened there) was recorded and that Stanić had “used his position of power to demonstrate violent behavior”.

A group called “Female Journalists Against Violence Against Women” (“Novinarke protiv nasilja nad ženama”) also reacted, arguing that the behavior of public servants such as Stanić should be sexism-free.

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