They teach us from an early age that real men do not cry. In the same way, even before we are born, they paint our room blue, they buy blue dummies, prams and towels. And rompers, bodysuits and baby walkers. Once we learn how to talk, we must know which sports club we support. As soon as we learn how to walk, they put football boots on us, wrap white, yellow and black belts around us. Here, in the Balkans, if you are not a stereotypical man who is 6’7’’ tall and who weighs 15 stone 10 lbs, if you do not have sports medals, a wife and a mistress, you are not a man. This is why children are raised according to stereotypes. In order for them to adjust more easily, and to boost their parents’ low self-esteem.
The system we live in has tripped us up perfidiously and deviously ever since we learned to stand on our own feet. Fairy tales have created princes on white horses, gyms and fashion have imposed unattainable physical standards, porn movies have shaped insatiable appetites, television has promoted instant morality… Love is mentioned by only a few people, very rarely and so shyly that in such an atmosphere we have reached a point when love is unwelcome. As they like to say – it makes us feel vulnerable. That’s a lie. The absence of love makes us vulnerable, and love makes us stronger.
I had an opportunity to work as a wedding photographer. On average, it happens that every third bride is not pregnant. Those who happen to be pregnant almost invariably have an awful time of it. First their feet get swollen in high heels, then they have swollen joints wearing flats, their corset is too tight, the smell of incense makes them feel sick in the church, they struggle with long dresses… During that ordeal-like ceremony that lasts a whole day, even those who are not pregnant do not have a particularly good time. They kiss who they would not otherwise, smile at those they would rather slap, dance when they would rather sit, are photographed when they would rather hit me with their bridal bouquet.
It is still deeply ingrained in the male psyche to divide women into several categories: mothers, sisters, wives and Others. Priorities are set in their minds almost in the same order. The truth is, women should not be categorised, just loved.
Some men still stick to the rule, particularly during their dating period, that the other women are divided into those for “those things” and the ones to stand in front of a lighted candle on their patron saint’s day. In translation, that means they divide them into those for sex and the ones they can bring home to meet their mothers.