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Subject: Women in War
From:  Lepa Mladjenovic
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 11:17:09 +0100


THE WOMEN IN CONFLICT ZONES NETWORK   

A comparative study of the issues faced by women as a result  of armed conflict: Sri Lanka and
Post-Yugoslav States.   Budapest, Hungary, October 1999

A Paper by:  Lepa Mladjenovic, Autonomous Women's Center  Against Sexual Violence and Women in Black Against War,  Belgrade, Serbia   

THE POLITICS OF KNOWLEDGE OF DIFFERENCE:  thoughts and  contradictions in feminist politics in the anti war movement  in Belgrade from '91 to '99  


Short Introduction:   

"Good Girls go to heaven, bad girls to LJUBLJANA" was the  title of the Fourth Yugoslav Feminist Meeting which was held  in May 1991 in Ljubljana, in Slovenia. The organizers at  that moment could not think of the depth of the possible  meaning of "hell and heaven" in the context of pain that  will devastate many women across the homeland in the next  years of war and fascism.  

Women's groups, in the beginning of nineties, were in the  first phase of actively organizing, and all these small  steps were historic moves. Feminists of Former Yugoslavia  were planning to organize a meeting of the SOS Hotlines, to  discuss for the first time only matters of male violence  with activists from Ljubljana, (Slovenia) Zagreb (Croatia)  and Belgrade - the first three feminist services for women  survivors of violence. New initiatives were organized to  support women in policy making, first time forum titled  Women's parliaments appeared in Belgrade and Zagreb, a  Women's Party in Belgrade, Women's Lobby in Belgrade and  Zagreb. Feminists across the former homeland were  collaborating, copying ideas from each other, having fun  together. New issues were discussions on laws to be  changed, on women in parties to be supported, on launching  Women's studies.... More theoretical work on 'women's  question' evolved. Feminist lesbian initiatives in Croatia and Slovenia were the matter of fact. Connecting among  feminists across the continents was on the way. All these  groups still did not have any space and money of their own.   

At that time, in '91, in the state now called Ex Yugoslavia  there were 22 million of inhabitants, 21 language spoken, 25  ethnic groups, six republics and the Adriatic sea. Of all  employed, 39% were women. In that year, among feminists,  nationalism was not yet an issue, abortion neither, the law  of 1976 legalized abortion free and on demand. Average  standard implied that more than 70% of families have washing  machines. Kindergartens were for free, and there were not  enough of them. School system and medical care were also  state covered and free. Trade unions, instead of protecting  worker's rights, took care that workers and their families go to vacations. "Communism before 91", we used to say,  "was paradise for children".   

On 27th of June 1991 the lesbian and gay group ARKADIA had  its first public discussion in Belgrade on Right to be  Different, when the 7:30pm state news pronounced that the  first Slovenian soldier was killed by Yugoslav Army soldier  in Slovenia. It was a sunny day in Belgrade, very warm and  people enjoyed beaches on local river. I was not aware at  that moment that this was the first day of war, but a  feminist in me was thinking days after that how men walk out  off the beach, take a gun and kill other men.   

Foundation of Women in Black   

In September '91 the Peace Caravan came along to Belgrade  from Zagreb and Ljubljana, some four buses full of  pacifists of Europe. It was an initiative launched by  Helsinki Citizens Assembly which finished with thousand of  people hand in hand in the streets of Sarajevo. In  Belgrade, feminists organized a small session to meet women  from the Caravan, peace activists from Germany and Italy.  In that occasion we heard for the first time that in Italy there are Women in Black groups who protest against Italian  government and involvement in Gulf war, and who support  Women in Black initiatives in Israel, where, already for  three years, Women in Black were protesting against their  own Israeli government's occupation of Palestine.   

The first vigil of Women in Black in Belgrade was held on 9th of October 1991. In those months, as well, every  evening civil initiatives organized one hour vigils with  candles "For all victims of war" in front of the Serbian  parliament. From then on in the next two years there were  many peace protests initiated by anti-war intellectuals but  they ceased by '93, and were transformed into opposition  demonstrations against regime. Women in Black remained the only permanent anti war public protest until this day.   

In the following years in Belgrade, women's and peace  movement, if we can use these words 'movements', were  practically not connected, except by individual women. On  the other hand women were majority in the beginning of the  peace initiatives. At that time our analysis of this fact  said: 1. because women, traditionally, by knowledge of free work in family, know the volunteer work, 2, they  traditionally, by knowledge of the one who has less, are  better for horizontal, non-competitive activities, and, 3,  because it was safer for women to act against regime, men  were in the beginning under threat of forced mobilizations.  We can conclude by saying that almost all peace initiatives  in this first year ('91) were initiated [by] women. ( Anti war Center: Vesna Pesic, Jelena Santic, Zorica Trifunovic,  Sonja Biserko; Candle vigils: Biljana Jovanovic, Natasa  Kandic, Nadezda Gace; Peace Caravan: Sonja Licht, Janja  Bec, Gordana Susa; Women in Black: Stasa Zajovic, Neda  Bozinovic, Lepa Mladjenovic).   

By transforming peace initiatives into party demonstrations  the men came on the stage, and women, apart from Vesna  Pesic, slowly disappeared from the peace-opposition scene.  Some decided that they did not want to be on the streets any  more, but set up centers to work. Therefore Humanitarian  Law Fund was founded by Natasa Kandic, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights by Sonja Biserko, non-governmental  organizations which protect and register violations of human  rights done by the state. Feminists as well started to  work, and from '91 until today more than twenty five small  non-governmental organizations were founded in Belgrade  alone.   

Women in Black Against War - Belgrade. Founded in 1991   

Founding team: The founders of the Women in Black were  mostly feminists who were active in the Feminist group  "Women in Society", which was a first such group in Belgrade  from 1981 until
'90. Very soon other women joined in who  were not necessarily feminists, but were strongly opposing  Serbian regime, war, nationalism. Soon, men found their  way in, as well.   

Aims:  
- protest against Serbian government / war / militarism /  nationalism / male violence
- supporting solidarity of women across the "enemy lines' and  internationally 
- supporting deserters
- creating women's culture of peace   

Activities:  
- weekly vigils  
- peace protests on 10 of December, 24 of May, and  participation in other peace and anti- 
  government protests
- public statements  
- annual international meetings "Women's Solidarity Against  War"  
- publishing women's peace history (published eleven  different books with 1.000 to 3000 copies
  each)   
- women's peace workshops in five towns in the region  ('97,'98,'99)   
- working in refugee camps ('94,'95,'96)
- theoretical analysis of position of women in war and militarism     
- weekly meetings and workshops on all related issues: fear,  militarism, violence, war...   

Weekly vigils are one of the key activities of the group:  Wednesdays on the main square. Women wear black, stand in  silence with banners, for one hour.  

Political principles:  
- supporting national differences 
- supporting all other kinds of differences due to class,  age, social status, hetero/gay status, marital
  status,  ableness.   
- solidarity  
- non violence   
- society free of militarism, male violence and patriarchy 

Relation to the state: The group is registered. Every  street protest is announced to the police. Every of the  five founders have been once or more times on police  investigation interviews. Not one activist was in jail.  Few times police banned the protests. On the weekly vigils  two local policemen are usually sent to "protect" women.

Contradictions and dilemmas  

This essay is written from a position of a feminist who is  eight years in the anti war activism in Belgrade, in a town  which is a symbol of the Serbian regime that manufactures  fascist politics and nationalism, and it is also full ....  already for years, with killers, war rapists, war  profiteers, nationalists.  

The past eight years of war have formed many of us feminists  in Belgrade. There were numerous disagreements among  activists on every issue except the one that the  dictatorship of Serbian regime should be [overturned]. This  time I want to name only few points of contradictions that  are alive in our women's networking. The sparkles of  disagreements and misunderstandings happens often, and  during the wartime they hurt. Some of the contradictions  are not solvable, because the truth of some types of  experience is contradictory in itself. Some dilemmas women  see in their own ways. Many of these issues are actualities  for feminists who work in states without wars. But many of  these issues become intensified with nearness of torture and  death of war. Therefore the disagreements do not remain  just different points of view but carry pain, traumas,  threats and other dangers inside themselves. This is  exactly why I wanted to name few of them.   

War   

"I was every day working in order to survive war, small  things, supporting each other, food, cold... and then at  nights I wished that someone would hit a huge bomb,  anything, atomic, nuclear bomb, and kill all of us together  so that all this horror will be over once for all". These  are words of an activist who was 17 when the war in Bosnia  started, and four war years more of sniper hits, bombings,  concentration camps, rapes, killings, when it ended ('95).  "The distance between the town, my home and my soul was  immeasurable..." These are words of a young woman who lived  through the terror of ethnic cleansing and NATO bombing in  Pristina, Kosovo, in spring '99, closed in her own apartment  with her family. The street they live in they could  sometimes see only through the small hole in the curtain.   

"I remember my neighbor Taiba Hodzic. We used to sit hours  in front of the house and talk, talk, talk... And we  laughed. Still now I wear the blue scarf that Taiba gave me  before she escaped with her daughter to Munich. She has blue  eyes like this scarf. Taiba, my best neighbor, like my  sister. Even more. That is why I am silent now and I keep  all the beautiful stories for us, so when she comes back we  will have something to laugh about." These are words of a  Bosnian Serbian woman about her Bosnian Muslim friend in '94  .  

From the '91 until now about five million of people, of all  territory of Ex Yugoslavia, at least once had to move from  their homes: they were called refugees, displaced, exiles,  immigrants, deserters. Last cleansing is done in Kosovo  with 700,000 people of Albanian nationality expelled in  three months, March, April, May '99, and 200,000 of Serb  nationality expelled after that. And fascism has not yet  crumbled in Serbia.   

Most of the contradictions in the women's peace movement [in  Belgrade arose from ] not walking the line of death and life  as were the activists from Bosnia and Kosovo. But certainly  the echo of their cry is the background of all the  contradictions we, who were out of the front line, had to  face.  

Contradictions Among Feminists  

 TO SHOOT OR NOT   

When a soldier comes to shoot at you or your daughter what  shall you do? Shoot back or not?   This was a first demand some of us posed each other in '91.  Feminists in that time practically did not have any culture  of ethics that will suggest answer to this question. The ex  Yugoslavia had suppressed religion and feminists were not  religious at that time and would not know the religious  response to this question. The Marxist politics used to  say: we shall defend our ideas even if it means blood, but  by '91 Marxism was not any more so popular nor present in  everyday life. On the other hand the Ex Yugoslav system  annulled the notion of human rights, it was simply absent.  So the few feminist activists found themselves in the  emptiness, no knowledge of human rights, no knowledge about  peace movement in the world, no religion, no communist politics, no feminism yet developed to become a subject of  social change. Activists of women's groups were answering  this question "To shoot or not" out of political void, faced  with their own interiorized patriarchy and first steps in  feminism.   

In the meantime, being outside or inside the war zone, many  women passed through different phases of this dilemma. If  we shoot then there is no end to shooting, we enter the  circuit of revenge. If we don't shoot maybe he will shoot me? What is motherly thinking if not shooting the one who  wants to shoot her daughter? And is it? The feminists who  declared that they will not shoot felt hurt by those who  said Yes. Those who said Yes felt betrayed by those who  said No, they felt that we the pacifists will let them be  killed. How shall we be pacifists if we say Yes to  shooting? How shall we be pacifists if we go along the line  of Big Serbian Intellectuals who say: "Serbs have historic  excuse to shoot first in defense" (D. Cosic)? What is a line  between shooting first and shooting second? Are feminists  supposed to be pacifists? How shall we be brave feminists  if we let them shoot us? How do we redefine braveness not to  include killing and violence? How do we deal with fear of  violence if we do not shoot?  

 If I sum up, then probably about 80% of women in women's and  peace groups have, in this period of 8 years of wars, said  at least once YES to shooting. Being one of those few who  have consistently said No to shooting, whatever that  implied, I think that this percentage of 80% is very high.  With new dilemmas of Yes or No to NATO bombing this  percentage is still alive. It shows how deep the patriarchy  and war is dwelling inside ourselves, and how much  militarism and global capitalism is part of our daily lives.  Feminist and peace movements have still long way to go.  

WHAT IS THE LINE BETWEEN NATIONAL FEELINGS AND NATIONALISM?   

Where is a line between nationalism and national feelings  that always put one's own nation little bit  higher/better/more right/ justified?   In the middle of war when nationalism is used for fascist  production of hatred and death, nationalism is more than a  right to think different. Everyone in the women's network is  extremely sensitive to this issue. Not one activist names  herself a nationalist. But many have national feelings and  defend Her Nation in every possible situation. Others do not defend, but rarely can hear this particular difference  of the Other. Where is the line between not hearing someone  of different nationality and excluding her? How do our  nationalist feelings distort what we hear from the Other?  How do we listen if our nationalist feelings are already  part of the listening process?   

After one of the workshops on the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo  in '99, one woman of Serbian nationality approached  Albanian woman from Kosovo and told her that she is the  first Albanian woman she sees in her life, asking her if  this is true what they say about cleansing. The Albanian  woman told her that they can sit down and she will tell  what she knows about the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. The  woman of Serbian name looked at Albanian woman in the eyes  and said: 'How shall I believe you?'   

In the women's network in Belgrade nationalism is the  least-discussed issue. It is years that conflicts between  activists are left to private telephone talks, and few  workshops. I believe some of us were lacking the courage  or knowledge to face all the pain behind it. Nationalism is  the issue why some feminists have problems relating to each  other, it is an issue that has also separated some feminists  across the line Belgrade-Zagreb. On the other hand it is  also an issue that has attracted those who think similarly,  bonding in waves of emotions among feminists across all the  region:
Belgrade-Zagreb-Sarajevo-Zenica-Pristina...   

Nationalism is a huge construction machine that produces  feelings in connection to blood, soil and skin as if they  are coming exactly from blood, soil and skin and therefore  are natural to all. I believe that the feminist politics of  constructionism is not enough used to work on deconstructing  this issue, certainly not among feminists in Belgrade.   

"When I saw her dressed in the shirt that has names of  Serbian kings across her chest... I felt bad. I felt that  she was excluding others, that she is excluding me, her body  was speaking. I am working in the same project with her, how  shall I let her be different?", said one activist in  Belgrade in 94.  

 "When I gave interview to the independent daily paper GLAS  there was a sentence that said that our Center communicated daily with 'our Albanian friends in Pristina' during the  war. The editor changed the word 'Albanian' to "Shiptar"  which is a degrading word for Albanians in our language, and  changed the word 'friends' to 'colleagues'. I ask myself  how the fascist policy of eliminating possibility to have  friends among Kosovo Albanians and forbidding to call them  Albanians enters into everyone of us? And are we aware of  that?". These are words of a feminist from the Autonomous  Women's Center in Belgrade, September '99.   

These examples are here first of all to say that the line  between national feelings and nationalism are slippery and  that national feelings in the context of fascism that uses  nationalism for its aim can be dangerous. In Serbia,  fascist system is using the national feelings as its food.  The system produces the national feelings and then uses them  for fear, control and hatred of Others. If that is true, it  means that it is difficult to have any national feelings at  the moment and not be part of the nationalist discourse.  Second, the examples show that fascism that uses nationalism  in Serbia is permanent and persistent and unavoidable, it is almost impossible to not be nationalist in a state like  this. It is almost impossible to have national identity and  not be nationalist. The force of fascism is so strong that  the question here is what are feminist counter forces that  enable us to survive free of fascism? How do we use feminist  politics in order to construct the reality we live in, which  is already destroyed by fascist manufacture of  falsification, in order to construct our feelings and  identities?  

COLLECTIVE GUILT - INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY?  

If we belong to a state or nation that produces terror,  where is our collective responsibility? Do guilt feelings  push us to act and move if we identify them as a process and  as a continuum that has different emotions behind them?   

I told once in '96 to a friend from Belgrade who was going  to Sarajevo: 'Before you talk to women tell them who are you, what were you doing during the war in Bosnia and how do  you feel about the fact that Serbian soldiers kept three and  half years this city in siege.' She was so furious and said  ' I haven't done any of that shooting! Why should I excuse  myself for the criminals who are
oppressing me here in  Belgrade as well?'   

This example is a most frequent answer in Belgrade to the  issue of collective responsibility. Usually there is a  liberal attitude behind this answer, we are all equal, I  treat them equal and I want the others to treat me so.  Unfortunately we miss part of the truth in this attitude.  Therefore we can always end up in the circle of  misunderstandings and the circuit of culpabilization, the  circle of making each other guilty: I will defend myself  and then the other will accuse me, then I will accuse  someone else, or them.... One way of not taking  responsibility is to enter in this circuit.   

Second way to not take responsibility is to draw oneself  into guilt feelings. Guilt feelings are on the other side of making each other guilty, and apart from fear, are most widespread feelings among women in and around the war zones.   

"I would stand in front of the window and watch the planes  and the bombs falling and think 'It must be that I am  guilty for this horror, these bombs have to kill me.'"  These are words of a woman who was living in Bosnia during  the war, told in '95.   

" During the war in Bosnia some of us from the peace groups  thought that we are so guilty by sitting here in Belgrade  and not being bombed, that the only way to finish with our  guilt would be to go to Sarajevo under the grenades, and be  killed". Words of a peace activist in Belgrade, told in  '96. There are books written about the guilt feelings of  people in the concentration camps and prisons, there are  stories told of White feminists feeling guilty about the  Black women... but I will now only touch few dilemmas about  the guilt feelings encountered among some activists in the  peace movement in Belgrade.   

The history of experience of guilt feelings for some of us  in Belgrade says that we started with a decision that the  guilt feelings will not exhaust the notion of our  responsibility, individual and collective, and will not  freeze our possibilities. Some of us around Women in Black  group announced in '92: Let's transform the guilt feelings  into language and action. This somehow implied that we  should get rid of guilt feelings and do something about  them. It was a very productive attitude and feminists from  different groups were working on many projects all during  the war in Bosnia and Croatia: with refugees, with sending  packages to women in Sarajevo, with survivors of war, with  humanitarian aid, with women raped in war, with founding new  women's groups, etc. Probably after this first phase of  being active, many women went through different other  phases, because some of the guilt feelings did not go, of  course. Many worked on their guilt feelings in the way  that they have decreased them, others worked so that they  let their guilt feelings float around while they are  searching other emotions behind the guilt, third got tired  of so much guilt feelings and are taking the opposite side,  they are angry... etc. The question here is: how do we  connect guilt feelings with collective responsibility?   

I want to introduce the idea of the politics of knowledge of  difference. I believe that feminists who want to know and know about the crimes done to the Other and to Us, can  decide. That the knowledge about ourselves and the others  can on one side help us deal with our guilt and on the other  side help us understand what is a collective responsibility.  This knowledge implies wanting to know the crimes done by  one's own regime, or by any government or military  formation. This knowledge implies that out politics is to  ask, to listen, to hear, to search the news, to listen long  into the nights different radio news... and in it's essence  it is already an anti-fascist act, because fascism does not  want us to know. Fascism is rising on falsification, lies,  oblivion, erasures. Therefore it is not easy to know what  are the crimes done, and what are the feelings like, because  fascism means manufacturing falsifications of reality  permanently.   

For example, in my building of 6 floors and 32 flats I believe that not more than four or five people know that  there were concentration camps in Bosnia in '92. which were  organized by Serbian militaries. It is true that all  activists from Women in Black do know this fact, but it is  not necessarily true that all feminists or activists of  women's network know this. In fact many do not.   

If we know about the crime against the Other, and crimes  against Us, if we know about the pain of the Other and our  pain - these facts lead to ethics of our decisions, of our  language, of our acts, of our emotions. By knowing all -  that is one way how we can come to collective  responsibility. What I want to say is that the politics of  knowledge of difference can inspire ten thousand acts,  small and symbolic, and empathic, and linguistic, and  passionate that will show the collective responsibility  that one has a decision of. And collective responsibility  is important for communicating between each other, for  projecting lives where we shall meet, the different with  the different.   

RELATING TO WOMEN IN DEPRIVILEGED POSITIONS   

How do you approach a woman who belongs to a national group  that at the moment, or from ever, is in a diprivileged  position? Do you put her in victim position, do you treat  her as equals, or we find the third way of relating to her  as equal with the knowledge of difference?   

In relating to women in depriviliged position we have at  least three types of approaches. One is so called liberal  approach which says: We are all equal, therefore women  from Pristina and Sarajevo as well with those from Belgrade  and Paris. There is nothing more or nothing less to this  fact. This attitude excludes the whole dimension of painful  difference between them. For example, a woman in Pristina,  if she was closed down in her flat and was put in a  position of a victim, forced to go through trauma, is not  equal with those who do not have these political facts  behind them. The difference is in her experience, in the  history behind her name and her body and her nation and this  difference changes the meaning of the truth of equality.  She is equal but different in a way that this difference has  to be part of this equality.   

On the other hand there is a charity approach which sees  others who have suffered as those who are victims to be  helped. This attitude implies the difference in power  between the two sides, and leaves victims to be always in  the position of victims to be soothed. For some moments,  and in very difficult situations of war and poverty, this  attitude can lead to immediate help which is the most needed  in that moment. But this does not lead to feminist  attitude to women, since the equality is never reached.   

So, how do we create approach which is neither of these two.  How do we approach the Other who is different with a  knowledge of her difference, with open spaces for her experience and history, and vulnerability, with open spaces  for our experience and listening, and still keep equality as  basis of our encounter?   

Again and again I ask, if we know that a woman we face is back from a traumatic experience of war of killers who came  from the same town as yours, how do you approach her? You  know her trauma is a political fact and is connected to the  nationalists in your town. She is sensitive to your  language, to your name to your recent history. You are not  part of the killers gang, but? What collective  responsibility you take? Are we two equals? The one in  Kosovo hidden 77 days from Serbian policemen, or the other  in Bosnia hiding 1033 days from Serbian snipers. How shall  I be equal with her and not erase her history of  discrimination and vulnerability? How shall I act with understanding but not with victimization? How do I give her  the space to talk and space for myself to hear her?  Because she is equal and she is injured at the same time,  and I might be injured somewhere else as well, I have my 77  days of NATO bombing, but I must not let my injury erase the  possibility to hear her injury. What I am saying now is  that we need to give space for our and her pain and not  enter ourselves in the victim position even though we do  have experience of victims, and not put her in the victim  position even though her experience was of a victim. It is  all possible. So the knowledge of difference, of mine and  hers at the same time with my position of equality is one  of the ways for us feminists to approach women of different  nationalities, of different discrimination histories or war traumas.   

These spaces we give to each other are important on all  levels. There is never a criminal who will come to the  victim and say, Yes I have done a crime, I apologize. That  is one of the reasons why the War Crime Tribunal is set up  for wars in Ex Yugoslavia, why the International Criminal  Court. So that international institution will give  recognition of the crimes done to people. But feminists do  small tribunals - workshops for women. Workshops enables  recognition process, some women are talking, others are  listening. Hearing other is not only a process which gives  me knowledge, but also a process which gives recognition of  the Other. The politics of the knowledge of difference is  based on listening, hearing and recognizing. This is one part of feminist politics that is important in the wartime.   

This politics of the knowledge of difference, on the other  hand, is made of the common grounds between us, of what is  similar between the different, of what is similar that we  have in our stories, histories, in our feelings, and there  always are common points.   

The politics of knowledge of difference means that we should  give value to the right to be equal on one side and to  emotions of Others on the other side. This also applies to  us in the same way we apply it to others: we are giving to  ourselves the right to be equal whatever is the context, the  one of pain or the one of no pain in our history. We are giving ourselves the spaces to hear ourselves as much as to  hear the others, as much as to be heard. Remembering the  fact of common
grounds.   

What does this politics of knowledge of difference mean in the context of Belgrade activists in the spring of '99 when  the NATO bombing was the fact of Belgrade and ethnic  cleansing the fact of Kosovo?   

Some feminists started from the fact of the crimes. There  were two different situations at the same time, the  knowledge of two different crimes. One over Us, other over  Others. The ethics of responsibility which is part of our  politics lead us to take care of ourselves as much as the  others in the same time. If we have a political decision  that we are equal in Belgrade and Pristina, and we also have  a decision to know the hierarchy of crimes, then we had a  political starting point for acting: Not to exclude the  others and not to exclude ourselves, and to act upon that.  In the Autonomous Women's Center, where I work, activists  were giving support to women in Serbia and women in Kosovo  all during the 77 days of war.   

During the NATO bombing the Serbian fascist ideology erased  the fact that the cleansing in Kosovo is done, therefore  every act of taking care of Albanians of Kosovo was an  anti-fascist act. If we also know that the fascism of  Serbian regime brought the NATO in the region on the first place, then every act of taking care of ourselves can be  interpreted as an anti-fascist act as well.  

 At the End   

At the end I want to say that after eight years of wars and  nationalism and fascism it is clear that fascism lies on  producing oblivion, forgetfulness and erasing of the Other,  as well as on hatred and mistrust of the Other. Fascism  lies on falsification of reality I live in, on falsification  of my needs and my desires, on making obstacle to almost  every beauty I want. This is why I think it lies on us  feminists to know better, to enter the process of  responsibility, to have knowledge of fascist system and  knowledge of ourselves, who are we, what do we ask, who are the women behind the Other, what do they do, how do they  feel, what they expect from us, what did they feel about us  during the war, what did we feel about them during the war.  I believe in the politics of getting to know the difference  between us, between each woman individually and  collectively, I believe that this politics of knowledge of  difference is one way out of clearing fascism from ourselves  and approaching ourselves and others with joy of hearing each other.   

Belgrade, October '99