Jewish, Female, Educated and Political: Dr. Rahel Straus on Abortion in the Weimar Republic
Summary / Abstract: The article concerns reproductive rights debate in Weimar Germany and its Jewish community. It refers to the activity of Dr. Rahel Straus, a pioneering female gynecologist, Zionist woman and advocate of the recognition of women’s needs. Born in 1885, Dr. Straus was involved in promoting women’s health issues and the national Jewish agenda in the first half of the twentieth century and later was a devoted physician and peace activist in Israel. At the turn of the 1920s and 1930s she was involved in the struggle against penalization of abortion in the Weimar Republic. She wrote a guidebook for Jewish women concerning sexual education, and lectured for women participating in the Summer School organized by a middle-class Jewish women’s organization Jüdischer Frauenbund. In her article published in Jüdischer Frauenbund’s magazine she advocated women’s freedom to decide on their bodies, and a need to provide them with legal access to termination of pregnancies, framing the issue in terms of social justice and class inequality. Her argument, which was part of the historical debate concerning reproductive behavior, provides an important point of reference for contemporary critique of body politics in Israel and also other nation states.
Keywords: Rahel Straus, Jewish women, reproductive rights, abortion, Weimar Germany, German Jews, body politics, female doctors
Neo-traditionalist Constructions of Nation and Masculinity: the Rule of Patrilineage
Summary / Abstract: This article examines how reproduction, masculinity and nationhood intersect within the neo-traditionalist narratives and conceptions of the nation in Serbia. It is argued that within the neo-traditionalist narratives patrilineage serves as an organizing principle of the nation-state, designating masculinity as the carrier of the national. Thus, the rule of patrilineage is supposed to salvage the threatened way of life of the nation and the men alike. The focus of the article is a failed attempt in international matchmaking launched by the social organization Seoski prag (Village Hearth) in the late 1990s. This organization and its unusual project of marrying Serbian middle aged rural bachelors to foreign women tell a story of the national fall and renewal. On the one hand, it is a story about demographic fall of the nation and its threatened biological survival; on the other hand, it is the story of the rural family renewal, restoration of the patriarchal order and traditional masculinity as prerequisites for the renewal of rural Serbia and of the nation. While rural Serbia is designated as the hearth of the nation within this type of neotraditionalist discourses, the whole matchmaking project was actually founded against a backdrop of urban-rural hierarchy. As a result, it is argued here, instead of restoring rural masculinity the matchmaking project contributed to its subordination and marginalization vis-à-vis hegemonic masculinity.
Summary / Abstract: In this paper I review debates concerning the analytic use and ethnographic prevalence of the culture concept in social anthropology with specific focus on Anglo-American and South-East European anthropological traditions. I draw specific attention to the highly problematic use and prevalence of the culture concept amongst people with whom I spoke whilst conducting fieldwork in Belgrade and Zagreb. The paper begins with a discussion of problems concerning the idea of culture and how the term is used. It then moves to consider debates surrounding culture with particular emphasis on its use amongst the academic Left. Writing from an antinational, radical humanist perspective, I argue that the insistence on strong versions of cultural difference and the definition of culture as a bounded whole resonates with a mainstream Western tradition that anthropological writing on the Balkans would do well to avoid. The paper concludes with a discussion surrounding the possibility of acknowledging the importance and reclaiming the concept of tradition as an alternative for ‘culture talk’, which is rejected for its insistence on radical cultural difference and uncomfortable tendency to reify social wholes.
Egyptology, Gender and Sexuality: Critical Perspective
Summary / Abstract: Egyptology appropriated gender and sexuality studies relatively late in comparison to archaeology. This paper is not as much a history of research in gender and sexuality as a critical note on deficiencies and potentials of gender and sexuality studies in Egyptology. The introductory part introduces gender studies in archaeology with key theoretical concepts which are in the continuation of the paper discussed in comparison to their place in Egyptological studies of gender. Criticism of androcentrism and the question of (in)visibility of women were discussed as starting points of early gender research in archaeology, surely influencing Egyptological research. The paper points to a lack of gender history of the discipline as a consequence of general Egyptological resistance to theory, necessary for every serious research, but it also points to the lack of critical reflexivity towards the history of the discipline. The categories of sex and gender are discussed with a special attention to their research potential in Egyptology: in destabilisation of heteronormativity in research of the past as much as in more an more present aversion towards potential binary deffinitions of sex/gender in the past. Binary gender norms do not necessarily also mean heteronormativity, as argued in queer theory. Heteronormativity calls for a series of identity categories and practices of signification completely alien to ancient Egypt. The last part of the paper discusses the influence of queer theory on archaeological and Egyptological research of the past.
Keywords: sex, gender, sexuality, archaeology, egyptology, queer theory
Back to Struggle Concepts: Class, Sex, Universality
Summary / Abstract: The author provides a structural definition of struggle concepts of class and sex. She problematizes not only identity theories and politics, but also those theories and politics of misidentification which omit analysis of relations of production. Instead of emphasising cultural materialism, she stands for (a return to) historical materialism. New emancipatory theory and politics entail a new definition of universality.
Keywords: class, sex, universality, cultural materialism, critique of postmodern strategies, historical materialism, proletarian subject, feminist subject
“When We Dead Awaken”: Inner Split and the Possibility of Healing in the Works of Adrienne Rich
Nataša Tučev, Milena Kostić
Summary / Abstract: In her essay “When We Dead Awaken”, Adrienne Rich argues that the patriarchal society imposes false alternatives upon a female artist, thus causing her to experience inner split. This does not refer only to the different gender roles imposed on men and women in a family or society in general, but also to the split between two kinds of energy which ought to be essentially connected: the energy of creation and the energy of relation. Th e paper focuses on Rich’s contention that it may be possible to heal the inner split through the creative act itself, which the poet simultaneously views as an act of resistance against the patriarchy and a way of struggling for her very survival. The authors explore how this motif was further developed in some of the key poems in Rich’s oeuvre (“Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers”, “Orion”, “Diving into the Wreck”), as well as through the insights pertaining to her essays, including her theories on lesbianism. Even though Rich’s poetic attitude underwent various transformations, it may be argued that the poet’s rebellion against the imposed gender roles and divisions was always accompanied by her need to offer visions of unity and healing.
Keywords: Adrienne Rich, gender roles, patriarchy, act of resistance, energy of creation, healing
„You are a Superwoman“: New Femininity in Popular Culture
Selma Veseljević Jerković
Summary / Abstract: The aim of this paper is to off er an analysis of the postfeminist phenomena acknowledging different readings of the term. Contradictory fields in which cultural identities are formed today are analyzed. One of the topics is the sexualisation of culture, which for many represents a confirmation of the progress of the gender politics, and for the others a means of patriarchal counter-reaction. The Western culture is marked by commodification of the relation an individual has with its body, self and identity, where the main goal is relentless pursuit of the new and wider markets, and the consequence is exploitation of female sexuality. Women’s magazines present idealized images of middle-class women, while postfeminism continuously focuses attention on women’s physical appearance and sexual attractiveness as the sources of value, whilst ridiculing such opinions. Postfeminism relies on the progressive nature of the third wave in order to research the multiplicity of meanings of the „woman”. Postfeminism is also often connected with distancing from the second wave of feminism, moreover with the attack on it, while the message of the third wave is erased by the publicly more accessible postfeminist words. Within the discourse of popular culture, postfeminism is defined as a belief that the contemporary society has entered an age in which feminism is no longer important because women have achieved equality. Postfeminist notions of women’s liberation prevail in the popular culture of Great Britain and the USA, to the point where images of strong, seemingly independent women have become consumer goods, while the postfeminist is equated with the antifeminist, which leads to distancing women from feminism.
Keywords: feminism, postfeminism, popular culture, new femininity, commodification, sexualization
„Killing Me Softly”: Print Media Reports on Women, Victims of Violence
Summary / Abstract: Considering the infl uence of the media in political and social life, it is necessary to regulate and improve the field of media reporting on violence against women (through investigative and responsible journalism, a deeper understanding and knowledge of the phenomenon of violence, cooperation with all actors in the community who are working to suppress and reduce violence), set standards for the protection of victims and continually build public awareness on the unacceptability and punishability of violence. Active participation, investigative and responsible media reporting in the field of domestic violence, is a major contribution to the process of sensitizing the public on this subject, which was, until recently, considered a problem of personal and family space. However, the creation of public opinion, as well as building good practices of media reporting (which are still lacking as opposed to sensationalism, stereotyping and discriminatory mechanisms) is a long process that requires the cooperation and coordinated action of all social actors (courts, police, health and non-governmental, that is, civil sector) and the decision makers who deal with the problem of violence. That is the only possible way for both the victim and the society to leave the vicious circle of violence.
Some Current Gender Inequalities in Political and Economic Sphere of Decision Making in European Union and Serbia
Summary / Abstract: In this paper we examine the level of women’s participation in political institutions, public policy and decision-making process as well as their access to leading business and managerial positions. The analysis contains comparative view focused on gender differences between the European Union and Serbia, according to the available quantitative data derived from official gender sensitive statistics supplemented by qualitative findings of recent surveys. In the first part of the article the analysis emphasizes that women are still underrepresented in political system and its institutions across the EU, particularly at the highest levels of decision making. At national parliaments, one out of four members is a woman, with major differences across the EU, while in the European Parliament, three out of ten Members are women. The number of women in ministerial functions is 30%, while only 17% female judges were the EU average in 2010. The situation is the worst in business, with an average of 30% of female leaders in small size enterprises, 12% as board members in the largest companies, and only 1-3% serving as board chairpersons. Although participation of women in the parliamentary elections doubled during last two decades in Serbia (22% in the national Parliament and 20% at the local level) following the introduction of quota for the less represented gender stipulated by the Law on Election of Members of Parliament, women are still underrepresented in the leading positions in governing, decision-making in public policy and in managerial positions. The paper proposes a roadmap for policy-making recommendations which would improve gender equality in decision-making in political and economic positions.
Keywords: gender inequalities, decision-making, political representation, managerial position, European Union, Serbia