The Female Body and the Concept of Otherness – Serbian case

The Female Body and the Concept of Otherness – Serbian case

In the history of Western philosophy, the dominant dichotomous mode of thinking includes hierarchical ranking of two polarized terms: One term is always privileged while the other is repressed and subordinated, as a negation and antithesis of the first [1].

Me, the Second?

All binary oppositions (such as subject/object, spirit/body, public/private, male/female) are supplementary to each other, but primarily with the basically opposition – man /woman. The first and the privileged term (such as a rational subject) was always identified with a man, while the subordinated and second one always was identified with a Woman. The term “a man” is the synonym for rationality and spirit, while The Second is a synonym for the irrationality and the body. Female bodies are presented as fragile, uncertain, weak and sensitive – reciprocating the social position they actually have. Therefore, Women were presented as other and opposed to that of the first and the only relevant category – a man.

Patriarchy is reborn through various forms of pop culture the patriarchy, given that today, in every context, the Woman’s body is the most vulnerable material and philosophical term: It is ‘’destined’’ [2] to suffer, to feel physical pain, to defend itself , to fight for its own rights, to live and to give birth to a new life. Nevertheless, the prerequisite of the female body is to be perfect , to be desirable and sexy, to change and correct itself. It’s in the window, ready to sell, buy and rent.

Culture is the best way to manipulate people

During the nineties, Serbia[3] was faced with a war and an economically unstable period of its history. On the journey from the West to Eastern Europe it’s as if pop culture were extremely distorted in my country. Imported parts of dance and pop culture, local mindless and lack of education, millions of impossible demands, an unstable and annoyed context led the Serbian society to cultural downfall. In one uneducated, poor and traditionally patriarchal community, culture is the best way to manipulate people – it becomes the main tool of patriarchal operations and the capitalist hypocrisy.

Nowadays, there’s a pervasive system of cultural values in the Serbian society that simply include all horrors of turbo pop/ folk culture [4]. The hyper sexualisation of Female bodies is reflected through the concept of turbo folk and singers which “perfect bodies” and explicit sexuality are amusing people – primarily, men. Female bodies, in this context, are instrumented and colonized by patriarchal capitalist machinery: Female sexuality begins to be perceived exclusively dualistic: chastity/adultery, mother/courtesan, morally clean/morally dirty, etc. The Serbian girls and women massively want to become singers or want to physically resemble them: to look like cover girls.  They obtain the wrong model behaviour that insists on the female body and irrationality. The turbo folk singer does represent such a cultural phenomenon, a pure product of the patriarchal system. They all look the same: like sexy public performers, Barbie or other plastic dolls. It is the classic endless assumed erotic fantasy of men.

Evolving from ‘privileged’ victim

All this drove me to believe that each local feminist approach to pop culture must involve the concept of Women as Otherness, no matter how many times is repeated the thesis that carriers of many female public performers are evidence for Women’s emancipation. But they have that ’’privileged’’ position of  the patriarchal and capitalist victim. Because the identity of otherness contains all binary oppositions (rationality/irrationality, public/private, spirit/body, subject/object) that are still posing the each Woman as other , in relation to the man: As a housewife in the private sphere, as a sexual, political, economical, cultural and social object in the male hands, and as a passive body that is used to encourage the nationalist patriarchal “murder” of the complete community.

Sometimes it’s not important if a woman is a turbo folk singer, Prime Minister, housewife, cleaning lady or young student from small village. Each of them is hit by patriarchy, but in different ways. All of them are the Otherness in relation to the man.

For example, female turbo folk singer is a ,,privileged’’ victim of the patriarchy, because she apparently looks like an intact and happy woman (She has money, glory, specific public space) . But, is it true? Is she really privileged? Does she really have a glory, power and the impact in relation to the system in which she lives? I don’t think so.

Yes, she is definitely privileged in relation to her neighbour Roma woman or disabled woman. But essentially she isn’t free enough.

The feminist entry into mainstream pop culture is legal and legitimate, but only if it acts in that space without glorifying the position of woman as privileged just because she is a super famous star. She really can’t control anything on the national or global level. She is truly not a political subject.

Feminism should be more critical of pop culture and its branches. But not by rejecting women who are in that system, but more by constantly criticizing everything that puts a woman in the terms of Otherness.


[1] Elisabeth Grosz, Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism, (Chapter 1) , 2005 , The Center for Women’s Studies , Belgrade , p . 21.

[2] Destined by birth; biologically and socially;

[3] War wasn’t exactly in Serbia, but warfare was in others countries of Balkan; Serbia was participating in that war

[4] Turbo folk is a musical genre originated from Serbia; A local genre titled novokomponovana (newly composed),



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