23. feb. 2012

Nova Slovenija against women

When the right had been in charge the last time around, I dreamt that Ljubljana had been occupied by neonazis. The city was watched over by gangs of boys, armed with fists, knives, clubs and dogs. If anyone got away from them, the soldiers took care of it. They were not uniformed and the army was not officially involved in the street fights but we nevertheless knew who we were dealing with; such an effective weapon could only be afforded by their (and our) master, the church-and-state as one. As crowds of hungry, tired and scared people were hiding in cellars, the Cankarjev dom (house of culture), the opera house, the national theatre and other cultural institutions in the city centre were being turned into an enormous armoury.

The visions from my nightmare would haunt me for the rest of the day. When I described my dream to a friend, I jokingly remarked that the unusually vivid imagery was doubtlessly indebted to my menstruation. She gave me and wry smile and shook her head. „A friend had a similar dream,“ she said: „and he doesn't menstruate.“

In the following days, the details of the dream evaporated. But the fearful feeling that the left was defeated remained.

Once I learned that Nova Slovenija (the New Slovenia party or NSi) would be taking part in the decision making of the new ruling coalition alongside SDS (Slovene democratic party) and others, my head began to swim. Then I remembered the occupied Ljubljana from the satirical dystopia 4000  that Ivan Tavčar had written in 1891. In the work, which he wrote as a response to Anton Mahnič's conservativism, Emona (the ancient Roman name for Ljubljana) has been „The Pope's province number LII“ for over two thousand years. The church has taken over the country, the only thing that's still being printed in Slovene are prayer books and the last foreigner that set foot in the city was burned at the stake. The first and last rebellion of the „at least 4000 heroines“, that fought for equal rights, was quelled in 3919. The population is divided based on gender and class; a high wall and an army of „old spinsters“ defend the unmarried women against the unmarried men. The only exception is the married people ward, where „the Maker exalts all the couples that remained faithful till death“. The women that interrupted their pregnancy („the sinners, that single-handedly murdered the fruit of their own bodies“), are condemned to unending psychological torture, situated on top of a cliff that offers a vista of a green meadow, where sweet, angelic children play under the watch of god's childbearing women. Any woman that attempts to reach the meadow is driven back by an army of angels with „bloodied swords“, chased back to the cliff where there is only „crying and the gnashing of teeth“.

Tavčar's liberal mockery of the catholic demonisation of women may allow a feminist interpretation, but it should be known that in 1905 he voted against the introduction of a general right to vote that would be equal for men and women. It is common that in democracies in a patriarchal society even the most ideologically divergent and quarrelling political parties will identify feminism as the common enemy. It is telling that we always find some excuse for the sexism pronounced by a male politician, but never for the same opinions of a female one. So I found myself wondering why Franja Tavčar, Ivan's wife, also opposed the female vote, even though she established a number of women's associations and shelters in Ljubljana; how could she have excluded herself from the women's ranks and resist the female political emancipation?

The same question arises in the case of the female president of Nova Slovenija and her views. Ljudmila Novak regards women from a patriarchal, national and population policy viewpoint and thus sees „mothers and wives“ as and only as a way to reproduce the workforce, free of charge. And if until now her antifeminism was supported only by God, „nature“ and the moral majority, the state has now taken her side, too. If the sexist, homophobic, islamophobic and racist opinions of Nova Slovenija could have been dismissed as mere demagogy in the past, their new-found power will allow them to beatify the heterosexual family as „the most important cell of the nation“. This will be followed by restrictive regulations, punishment and stigmatisation of all those of us that are not fulfilling our patriotic mission. All signs suggest that such treatment of gays and lesbians will then be applied to women.

In a public chatroom interview for RTV Slovenija's MMC (the state broadcasting company's multimedia centre website) in December 2011, Ljudmila Novak wrote that „the right to life once conceived is greater than the right of a mother to abortion“. When a reader asked how she is able to deny other women the right to terminate a pregnancy as a fellow woman, the president of NSi seized the moment and during the public discussion „lay aside“ her political function, power and responsibility. She began to reply as „a woman an a mother“, that has the right to her own opinion, with which she „isn't condemning anyone“. With this move she reduced the political programme of her party to her personal opinion, but as female citizens of Slovenia we can't afford such a reading since her position could soon interfere with our rights. Ljudmila Novak opines, as a politician, woman and mother (she could not in the end refer to her expert qualifications), that the artificial termination of a pregnancy leaves „lasting psychological and physical consequences, and thus young girls should be helped otherwise.“. She was not thinking about sex education or aspiring to a friendlier reception in hospitals or making an effort to de-stigmatise women that had had an abortion. It seems clear that she is more concerned about raising the natality than about the psychological and physical health of women, since she suggested that adoption was a „more adequate and humane solution than forcing girls to terminate their pregnancy“.
Ljudmila Novak is not an anti-feminist because she would be aware of feminist arguments against the instrumentalisation of women and tried to counter them. She doesn't need to do this since feminism in Slovenia is not strong enough that anyone other than the feminists themselves would consider it as a political movement. Together with her coalition partners from SDS she can continue to refer to God and nature without worry. If nobody will stand up to the conservatives that have taken power, sooner or later they'll be able to refer to the constitution which currently says that one is „free to decide about giving birth“.

I am fearfully awaiting my next nightmare. If the image of the neonazi occupation of Ljubljana from my first dream will merge with Tavčar's image of clerical fascism, Ljudmila Novak will be marching in front of the paramilitary angelic forces with a baby in her arms. She will be zealously reciting the thoughts of Pierre Bayle, the French philosopher that in 1740 praised the „motherly instinct“ as highly as he could. „The motherly instinct is god's gift,“ she will shout: „it ensures that women will continue to multiply even in the face of their unenviable position of giving birth and taking care of children.“

Translated by Gregor Vuga
First published on February 15th 2012 at the LifeTouch portal.

Nova Slovenija proti ženskam

Ko je v Sloveniji nazadnje vladala desnica, sem sanjala, da so Ljubljano okupirali neonacisti. Mesto so nadzorovale tolpe fantov, oborožene s pestmi, noži, palicami in psi. Če jim je kdo ušel iz rok, so zanj poskrbeli vojaki. Niso bili uniformirani, vojska se uradno ni vmešavala v ulične boje, a smo kljub temu dobro vedeli, s kom imamo opravka; tako učinkovito orožje si je lahko privoščil samo (njihov in naš) gospodar, država-cerkev v enem. Medtem ko so se množice lačnih, utrujenih in prestrašenih ljudi skrivale po kleteh, so se Cankarjev dom, opera, drama in druge kulturne ustanove v središču mestu spreminjale v orjaško orožarno.

Podobe iz nočne more so me zasledovale ves dan. Ko sem jo opisala prijateljici, sem v šali dodala, da je bila za nenavadno žive sanje gotovo kriva moja menstruacija. Kislo se je nasmehnila in odkimala. "Prijatelj je imel podobne sanje," je rekla, "pa nima menstruacije."

V naslednjih dneh so podrobnosti iz sanj izpuhtele. Strašljivi občutek, da je levica poražena, je ostal.

Ko sem izvedela, da bo v novi vladajoči koaliciji ob SDS in ostalih soodločala Nova Slovenija, se mi je najprej stemnilo pred očmi. Potem sem pomislila na okupirano Ljubljano iz satirične antiutopije 4000 (1891) Ivana Tavčarja. V delu, ki ga je napisal v odgovor na konservativizem Antona Mahniča, ima Emona že dva tisoč let status "Papeževe provincije številka LII". Cerkev je prevzela državo, v slovenščini se tiskajo samo molitvene knjige, zadnji tujec, ki je vstopil v mesto, je končal na grmadi, prvo in zadnjo vstajo "vsaj 4.000 junakinj", ki so se borile za enake možnosti, so zatrli leta 3919. Prebivalstvo je ločeno glede na spol in stan; neomožene ženske pred neoženjenimi moškimi branita vojska "starih devic" in visoko obzidje. Izjema je oddelek za poročene, kjer "Stvarnik poveličuje vse tiste zakonske, kateri so si ostali zvesti do smrti". Ženske, ki so prekinile nosečnost ("grešnice, ki so svojeroč pomorile sad telesa svojega"), so obsojene na večno psihološko mučenje na robu pečine z razgledom na zeleno livado, na kateri se pod varstvom božje porodnice igrajo angelsko ljubki otroci. Vsako žensko, ki skuša doseči livado, vojska angelov "s krvavimi meči" odžene nazaj na pečino, "kjer je jok in škripanje z zobmi".

Tavčarjevo liberalno norčevanje iz katoliške demonizacije žensk dopušča feministično interpretacijo, vendar je treba vedeti, da je leta 1905 glasoval proti uvedbi splošne in enake volilne pravice za moške in ženske. Za demokracije v patriarhalni družbi je značilno, da ideološko še tako različne in medsebojno sprte politične stranke v feminizmu prepoznajo skupnega sovražnika. Že to je zgovorno, da za seksizem, ki prihaja iz ust politika, vedno najdemo opravičilo, medtem ko za enaka stališča političark ne kažemo velikega razumevanja. Tako sem se ob dejstvu, da je tudi Franja Tavčar, Ivanova žena, nasprotovala ženski volilni pravici, čeprav je v Ljubljani ustanovila vrsto ženskih društev in zavetišč, tudi sama spraševala, kako se je lahko izvzela iz razreda žensk in nasprotovala ženski politični emancipaciji.

Enako vprašanje se zastavlja ob stališčih predsednice NSi. Ljudmila Novak ženske obravnava s patriarhalnega, nacionalnega in populacijskega vidika, zato v "materah in ženah" vidi zgolj in samo sredstvo za brezplačno reprodukcijo delovne sile. A če so njen antifeminizem še pred kratkim podpirali samo Bog, "narava" in moralna večina, je po novem na njeni strani tudi država. In če je bilo seksistična, homofobna, islamofobna in rasistična stališča Nove Slovenije v preteklosti mogoče odpraviti kot navadno demagogijo, bo z novo pridobljeno močjo zlahka beatificirala heteroseksualno "družino kot najpomembnejšo celico naroda". Sledilo bo omejevanje, kaznovanje in stigmatiziranje vseh tistih, ki ne izpolnjujemo svojega državotvornega poslanstva. In kot vse kaže, bomo za geji in lezbijkami na vrsti ženske.

Decembra 2011 je Ljudmila Novak v Klepetalnici MMC RTV Slovenija zapisala, da je "pravica do spočetega življenja večja pravica od pravice matere do splava". Ko jo je neka bralka vprašala, kako lahko kot ženska pravico do umetne prekinitve nosečnosti odreče drugim ženskam, je predsednica NSi zgrabila priložnost in sredi javne diskusije "odložila" svojo politično funkcijo, moč in odgovornost. Začela je odgovarjati kot "ženska in mati", ki ima pravico do svojega mnenja, s katerim "nikogar ne obsoja". S to potezo je politični program svoje stranke reducirala na svoje osebno mnenje, žal pa si državljanske Slovenije takšnega branja ne moremo privoščiti, saj zna njeno stališče kaj kmalu poseči v naše pravice. Ljudmila Novak torej kot političarka, ženska in mati (na strokovno podkovanost se le ni mogla sklicevati) meni, da umetna prekinitev nosečnosti pušča "trajne psihične in tudi fizične posledice, zato bi bilo mladim dekletom potrebno pomagati drugače." S tem nima v mislih izobraževanja o kontracepcijskih metodah, prizadevanja za prijaznejši sprejem v bolnišnici ali družbene destigmatizacije žensk, ki so umetno prekinile nosečnost. Očitno je, da jo bolj kot psihofizično zdravje žensk skrbi pozitivni naravni prirastek, saj je v omenjenem pogovoru kot rešitev predlagala posvojitev, ki je "veliko bolj primerna in humana rešitev, kot siljenje deklet v splave".

Ljudmila Novak ni antifeminstka, ker bi poznala feministične argumente proti instrumentalizaciji žensk in jim želela nasprotovati. Feminizem v Sloveniji ni dovolj močan, da bi ga kdorkoli razen feministk sploh obravnaval kot politično gibanje, zato ji tega ni treba storiti. Skupaj s koalicijskimi kolegi iz SDS se lahko še naprej mirne duše sklicuje na Boga in naravo. Če se konservativcem, ki so prevzeli oblast, ne bo nihče uprl, se bodo kmalu lahko začeli sklicevati na ustavo, ki zaenkrat pravi, da je "odločanje o rojstvih svobodno".

S strahom pričakujem svojo naslednjo nočno moro. Če se bo podoba neonacistične okupacije Ljubljane iz prvih sanj zlila s Tavčarjevo predstavo o klerofašizmu, bo na čelu paravojaških angelskih sil z otrokom v naročju korakala Ljudmila Novak. Pri tem bo goreče deklamirala misli Pierrea Baylea, francoskega filozofa, ki je že leta 1740 na vso moč hvalil "materinski nagon". "Materinski nagon je božji dar," bo vzkliknila, "saj zagotavlja, da se bodo ženske še naprej razmnoževale kljub nezavidljivemu položaju, ki jim pripada zaradi rojevanja in skrbi za otroke".

Prvič objavljeno na portalu Življenje na dotik (Maribor - EPK 2012), 15. 2. 2012.
Angleški prevod.

13. feb. 2012

The Futurist Writing School

Utrecht, February 20th-26th, 2012

The Futurist Writing School is part of The User's Manual - The Grand Domestic Revolution (GDR), Casco's long term 'living research' project developed in partnership with Utrecht Manifest: Biennial for Social Design. The project explores the potential of the domestic sphere as a locus for creating 'the commons', a self-organised form of sharing both material and immaterial resources, by means of artistic, organisational and spatial design operations. 

Following on the rich history of feminist utopian and speculative fiction practices that conjured new relationships, languages and agencies for transgressing structural and invisible forces of subjugation, GDR's Futurist Writing School is organising a week-long workshop running within and alongside the Digest events.

Led by an editorial team consisting of writer, Marina Vishmidt, designers Abäke, and curators, Binna Choi and Maiko Tanaka, along with guest contributors including Merijn Oudenampsen, Quinsy Gario and Tea Hvala, five to seven further participants will collectively write stories imagining alternative forms of living and working organised and intensified in a daily regime. GDR Futurist Writing School will also produce a public reading to close the week-long Digest on February 26th.

The four major themes of the exhibition (Domestic Space, Work, Properties and Relations) will set the major tensions for that near future while the GDR exhibition works will be invoked in multiple ways from catalysts, prompts or props in a story, to historical objects, main characters and offhand references. The GDR library will also serve as immediate reference and resource throughout the week. To accommodate and support this collaborative intensive, Casco, one of three venues for the GDR exhibition, will be transformed into a futurist writing camp. The resulting texts of the school will form the backbone of the GDR exhibition catalogue to be published later this year.

11. feb. 2012

Oddaja Sektor Ž: Feminizmi v dobi revizionizma

V tokratni oddaji bo govora o "stebrih našega zaledja" in razstavi Slovenke v dobi moderne v Muzeju novejše zgodovine Slovenije ter o "steklenih stropovih" v naravoslovju in letošnji podelitvi štipendij Za ženske v znanosti. Sledijo napovedi feminističnih dogodkov, ki se upirajo v hišo zaprtim metaforam. Oddajo sta pripravili Tea Hvala in Ida Hiršenfelder.

Oddaja v celoti (11. februar 2012, Radio Študent).