Militarism, Nationalism, and Sexism Always go Together

(Against the Population Policies of the State and the Church)

At the end of the 1980s, while nationalism was quickly establishing itself as Serbia’s state ideology, propaganda and actions against women were also on the rise. Various legislative initiatives that reduced women’s identities to solely the roles of mothers and wives were proposed. Women were asked to return to ‘home and family’ and to make their bodies available for reproducing and expanding the Serbian nation. This propaganda was constantly repeated by the worldly and spiritual ‘fathers of the nation,’ the regime, church authorities, and the nationalist opposition parties. Their common characteristic is HATRED OF WOMEN as ‘the other’ because they are different. War is the logical outcome of a nationalist-militarist ideology based on the exclusion and murder of ‘the other,’ those who are different in any way—ethnically, religiously, ideologically, and sexually.

Politicians, media, doctors, and demographers aligned with the regime are asking Serb women to ‘save’ their dominant ethnicity and are accusing women of other ethnicities, primarily Albanian and Muslim women, of "unreasonably reproducing and threatening the Serbian people." Such a double standard of population policies—pro-natality for some populations and anti-natality for others—is one manifestation of the patriarchal segregation of women by ethnicity. It encourages nationalist hatred, racism and ethnic fundamentalism in Serbia. Simultaneous with this maternal mobilization (‘calling up’ women to bear children for patriotic reasons) is the mobilization of men for the fatherland. Nationalist and militarists are transforming maternity wards into recruitment centers. The cradle and the rifle are to be the basic means of production in Serbia; to bear children and to wage war are to be the main occupations of Serbian women and men, respectively. The limitations of abortion rights recently proposed by the Serbian Parliament are part of this misogynist, racist logic. These repressive administrative measures are ineffective because Serbian women are having fewer children and Serbian men have less desire to be soldiers.

Numerous facts prove the active participation of the Serbian Orthodox Church in war-mongering propaganda. Church leaders have blessed tanks before battles and war criminals as they depart for the ‘holy war,’ encouraged and approved of ethnic cleansing, and presented medals to soldiers and Serbian mothers who have had many children. For the Serbian Orthodox Church, women are strictly objects for hatred and condemnation. Such even attitudes even permeate the Christmas epistle of Patriarch Pavle. For church leaders fetuses that the church can baptize, incite to hatred, and train to fight numerous Serbian enemies are what matters. For a fetus conceived by ethnic Serbs, the SPC (the acronym for the Serbian Orthodox Church in Serbian) and Patriarch Pavle express boundless humanism. These fierce opponents of abortion show their concern for Serb women raped in war by giving them absolution to abort, thus preventing the birth of non-Serb children.

The SPC is unsuccessfully trying to convince us that its sole concern are the ques­tions of faith and spirituality, that everything, even conception, are in God's hands and by God's will. They insist that numerous earthy concerns should be governed by the church. Church authorities are not only involved in war propaganda, but also in political maneuvers and financial machinations.

Through propaganda, the SOC turns faith into fanaticism and orthodox fundamentalism. It contributes to the growth of ethnic and religious intolerance, as can be seen in various church publications printed in the past few years. The latest example was an anti-Semitic article printed in the last issue of Logos, the magazine of the students of the Belgrade Theological Faculty.

We consider the aforementioned propaganda, legislative proposals, policies and politics explicit cases of the abuse of women's human rights, the negation of women's right to self-realization, and a tremendous lack of respect for women's corporeal, spiritual, social, and emotional integrity. If women truly have the right of choice, then there is no demographic problem.

Instead of administrative population policies, we advocate reproductive rights. Women must have the freedom to decide whether, when and how to have children or to not have children, regardless of her ethnicity, class, race, religion, marital status, or sexual preference.

Belgrade, January 18, 1995.

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