Failures of Feminism and Manipulative Memes in Serbia

How mainstream feminism was manipulated by the Serbian government – and how high-status women abandon their poor and working class sisters in favour of men.

This article was originally published on Cyber Wanderlust as a response to Julia Long’s ‘A Meaningful Transition?’

Thank you Julia for bringing this meaningful transition meme to light. Many of us who have been following the development of the women’s fight with the GRA in the UK did hold the same stance about language and what it serves for, and for a long time. You warned us about the use of the language of our oppressors from the start.

What I miss in this conversation in my country Serbia and the Balkan region, is the fact that none of the feminist or leftist groups who understand transgenderism project as an assault on women’s and lesbian’s rights, talks about the fact that the Serbian state covers, now elective, ‘sex reassignment surgery’ as well as ‘hormonal therapy’ trough the state sponsored psychiatric system, to this day. Meanwhile the services for mothers and women are all already disregulated and outsourced to the private sector hospitals.

Since 2019, trans activists working in the LGBT organizations, with rising neoliberal cuts and measures on their side, did achieve a sort of ‘Self-ID’ in Serbia. The state sponsored commission for ‘transsexualism’ (they still use that term in their books here) no longer holds so called SRS obligatory for trans identified persons. They only make one thing obligatory: a year spent on cross sex hormones. After that one can get their cross sex certificate and have their ID & Passport that says their SEX is the opposite of what it is in reality.

In Serbia, cross sex hormones (artificial hormones – none of those used are endogenous hormones) can be bought in many pharmacies in Serbia, without prescription. This way, the state is preserving money from the public healthcare budget, and privatizing this ‘trans business’ one step at a time.

This could be compared with the fact that before the 2000’s and the ‘austerity measures‘, Serbia had free publicly sponsored abortions. This was due to the fact that abortion was, and still is the first massively used form of contraception in the Balkans. Men liked it that way, it didn’t hurt them, so it stayed free for a long, long time since the 70’s. When Serbia changed it and made abortion a commodity (that now must be payed) in state hospitals, they’ve also introduced one nasty nationalistic patriarchal condition (2013) that’s still endangering lives of the poorest women in Serbia.

If an unemployed women, who receives publicly sponsored healthcare from the state, has an abortion in state hospital, they temporarily loose that state sponsored healthcare.

This way, the poorest women are pushed out of the state hospital system towards the private health sector, and abortions outsourced to the private hospitals now costs up to two minimal paychecks in Serbia. Therefore, most of the abortions are done in the private hospitals, and the data is not as reliable as it was when this was done in the public hospitals.

What was the fearmongering meme they used in Serbia to introduce this condition into law in 2013? They talked about how BAD it is that the corrupt state has all the data about abortions done in the public hospitals. The establishment that controls almost all the media and newspapers in Serbia now (Freedom house report on Serbia), scared women in Serbia with absurd articles about state owning the ‘Lists of women who had the abortions’. Who do you think reacted and spread the fear about this? The prominent, established feminists did, the middle class women did, those whose husbands gladly pay for the private sector already. The ‘Abortion list‘ meme was successful, and not many feminists noticed the nasty condition for those women who depend on the state help, and that law was put in place with no feminist rallies in front of the parliament.

It looked as if something had changed, but everything remained the same.

Considering the fact that young trans identified men in Serbia (who are mostly gay men!) tend to do not even want the ‘SRS’, and the fact that free doping with artificial cross sex hormones does little lasting change to their body (while testosterone does considerable harm to female bodies), and that they’re usually sponsoring their body modifications through prostitution or working for the LGBT NGOs (who also push some of them towards prostitution), we already have a sort of Self-ID in practice.
The state of Serbia is moving out of the whole transsexual issue in the same way it went with the abortion issue. At the same time, they’re gladly issuing men legal fiction IDs where it states that they’re female. Not ‘women‘, they’re considered ‘female‘ as we don’t have ‘gender‘ in our documents neither the state defines ‘gender identity‘ (a term that first appeared in Serbia in 2009’s the Law against discrimination)! I think this was introduced because of the fact that most of the young trans gays in prostitution are being pimped to homophobic but powerful men in Serbia, the same way young women are.

Meanwhile, the clueless ‘leftists’ in Serbia push women to adopt the ‘meaningful transition’ meme, introduced here trough The Academia. In 2019 The Academics riled up against a few of us who spoke of this issues on the public radio station while at the same time the academics gave Judith Butler an honorary doctorate. The group of them also push the notion that ‘transing homosexuals‘ is justified by Simone de Beauvoir’s ‘Second sex’, all the while psychotherapist help for LGBT people in crisis is outsourced to the private health sector and the incompetent ideologically driven NGOs. There’s no ‘gender critical’ psychotherapy in Serbia anywhere.

In all this, I’ve come to know several post 2000’s female transsexuals in Serbia – and all of them are lesbians. None of detransitioned lesbians that one can see appearing in the Westworld more and more, appear here in Serbia. This is due to the fact that misogyny and lesbophobia are very, very strong. None of the lesbian NGOs receives funds particularly for lesbians from LGBT funders in EU, UK, USA (who did help for the last 30 years) and the little that we have left of the old organizers or activists or events or clubs or programmes live under uncertainty of their future.

Recently, I came into a clash with my feminist friends in the EU about another very popular meme that has been gaslighting us on the margins in the last two months, and that is – ‘We Are All In This Together’ meme. No, we’re NOT ALL in ‘this’ together. More women in marginal little countries like mine, on the border of EU, already LOST this fight due to systematic failure of the whole neoliberal project that allows illiberal democracy to thrive while making sure it happens somewhere else. More poor women are unable to have an abortion, and more and more young women will choose to trans themselves to survive. Or they’re going to sell their babies! The surrogacy laws (similar to those in Ukraine) are being introduced in 2020 and nobody is doing any serious organizing needed here in Serbia. You see, there’s not enough funds for the feminist NGOs right now.

With all that said, do you think any of us really care about the women in UK who want to preserve their social capital/social status by catering to men? No. We don’t.

Therefore, I do hope that Julia’s warning makes UK women and all the women in the Westworld think twice about the politics and who is really being protected via introduction of men into any of the feminist fights. It is not the poor womenthe working class women, nor the women in ‘illiberal democracies’ like us. It is the established women who need the support of men to stay in their feminist ranks*. We saw what happens when one of us breaks the rank for so many many times. The backlash to those like Julia is not feminism; it’s the status quo preservation. Or ‘Everything must change, so that everything remains the same‘.

The feminist revolution must make our own memes. It’s not going to be possible if we denounce women who bring the memes like #GetTheLOut or #StandingForWomen.

A short video in Serbian language on how feminists are bullied from men ‘on the left’:
*Women’s Place at the House of Lords

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Article Discussion

  • Thank you very much for this article! Yes, the information about the feminist situation in "little" countries is mostly unknown. The surrogacy problem in the Balkans is completely ignored, unfortunately. If you are interested, here is a CfP on this topic (from a feminist abolitionnist perspective)

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