Bojana Genov, Women's Network coordinator

Show-business feminism

"As a public person, she ought to show more
responsibility to B.a.B.e. campaigns"

„I cannot feel for her“, says Sanja Sarnavka, B.a.B.e. NGO president, in answer to the question of Jutarnji list on why do the abused women stay with their partners and in comment of the RTL anchor lady’s statement on how she still loves her abusive husband.

The fact that many do not understand the dynamics that keep an abused woman in her trap of violence and the fact that most believe there is a legitimate reason for her exposure to it, constitute a mechanism that gives license to equanimity, not only of individuals, but of institutions legally bound to report and sanction violence.

When a prominent feminist joins this circle of ignorance and judgement, everyone can stay sedate, no one needs feel guilty, and the society heaves a sigh of relief. A woman is beaten up because she is stupid and unresponsive to obvious facts, so it somehow stands to reason she will be punished. The woman was abused because she obviously likes it, so how can we feel compassion towards her. The fact that she is stupid was amply demonstrated by the fact that she does not understand and has ‘thrown to the wind all the awareness campaigns by the Organization in the effort to protect women across Croatia’. She shows herself to be irresponsible in view of these campaigns’ effects, placing them in jeopardy by her public declaration of love for her abuser.

As a public person, she ought to show more responsibility to B.a.B.e. campaigns, is the essence of Sarnavka’s message to the public, showing that her relationship to women, bereft of understanding and compassion, is the measure of their involvement in the workings of her organization.

Who is it that needs education and mandatory therapy?

„Something in the way they were brought up has turned them into masochists“, says Sarnavka, and suggests mandatory therapy. What is the difference between this feminist highpoint, in which the publicly perilous and unaware campaign disruptors are removed from the public eye to mandatory therapy, and the age-old practice of incarcerating insubordinate daughters, wives and sisters dangerous to the public equilibrium and family reputation in the same way?
What is it in the upbringing of „these women“? What is it in the upbringing of all women?

Through all the phases of a woman’s life, the parents, the churches, the media, literature, all handbooks and the authorities aggrandize marriage and family as the holiest of holies, a reason for suffering and the crowning success of her life. Women are situated in a world where a frock is sold by a promise of conquest and interest of a man, and a man’s suit by a promise of business success and envy of the competitors. Women are situated in a world parallel to the Wife Swap reality show, in which men rate the culinary, household and social skills of the temporary replacement of his own cleaner, child-minder, cook and quirk recipient, depicting clearly the meaning of the word wife. At the same time, no one is asking her about the qualities of the man. Women are situated in a social hierarchy with a Ministry of Family, mandatory reading in school that includes Ana Karenina throwing herself in front of a train, and advertising business promoting beer drinking and soccer watching as sufficient reason for domestic violence. This social hierarchy still considers marital failure to be a tragical shipwreck, a failure at life and purpose, and a threat of personal and social loneliness and isolation.

Especially if the husband is seven years younger, which no text failed to mention, voluptuously dragging out all the personal details of the public personality, justifying its voyeurism and additional victimization by the pretext by her public prominence. Parallel to this media candy of public showdown with the odd couple, there is a text and a photo of ageing Lupino with „his new girlfriend“, whose significantly younger age provokes no comment.

Is it than hard to understand a woman who states what the society expects to hear about her younger husband and her reluctance to give up the image of wedlock projected upon us all?

Who is it that needs education and mandatory therapy, the abused woman or the entire society with its prejudice, stereotypes and double standards?

Even show-business feminism involves responsibility

Feminist activists organise campaigns and write books with the very purpose of denouncing the patriarchal model that shapes and defines women only in relation to men and institutes inequality in all walks of life, from defining the beneficiary of the age difference to deciding who should beat whom and proclaiming a better party representative for most remote villages.
„I cannot understand “, is a cue for feminist activists to react with an effort to clarify the situation in which a beautiful, healthy, young, capable and overall above-average person shares the prevailing, social bias against losing and staying without a partner and the belief in her own inferiority that she allows herself to be systematically abused, understanding her prejudice and fear of loneliness as love.
„I cannot feel for her“, discloses Sarnavka the degree of her championing women’s interests in proportion to their willingness to be the objects of campaigns and show-business feminism. However, even show-business feminism involves responsibility, so Sarnavka should, at least in view of her own organization’s campaigns, read the literature that she magnanimously, along with mandatory treatment, offers the abused woman.

Mali Lošinj, June 12. 2006