The Body of the Other Man: Sexual Violence and the Construction of Masculinity, Sexuality and Ethnicity in Croatian Media

Citation:

Zarkov, Dubravka. 2001. “The Body of the Other Man: Sexual Violence and the Construction of Masculinity, Sexuality and Ethnicity in Croatian Media.” In Victims, Perpetrators or Actors? Gender, Armed  Conflict, and Political Violence, edited by Caroline Moser and Fiona Clark, 69–82. London: Zed Books.

Author: Dubravka Zarkov

Abstract:

In this chapter, I examine newspaper articles covering the wars through which former Yugoslavia disintegrated, with the intention of showing how gender, sexuality and ethnicity constitute each other in the media respresentations of sexual violence. I begin from a somewhat unusual point: men as victims of sexual violence, not as perpetrators.

It may be a surprise to many readers that men were victims of sexual violence during the wars in former Yugoslavia, which became notorious for making the rape of women one if its most effective weapons. In the gruesome reality of war, men are usually seen as rapists and not as raped. Of course, this is not only a perception. In most wars and conflicts, as well as in times of peace, the reality is that men are rapists of women. I do not wish to deny that fact. However, I do wish to show that perceiving men only and always as offenders and never as victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence is a very specific, gendered narrative of war. In that narrative, dominant notions of masculinity merge with norms of heterosexuality and definitions of ethnicity and ultimately designate who can or cannot be named a victim of sexual violence in the press.

Annotation:

The author examines male sexual victimization in the Balkans War. She argues that “perceiving men only and always as offenders and never as victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence is a very specific, gendered narrative of war.” In that narrative, dominant notions of masculinity merge with norms of heterosexuality and definitions of ethnicity and ultimately designate who can or cannot be named a victim of sexual violence in the national press. Zarkov examines how male sexual victimization was presented in Croatian and Serbian mass media, after first passing through the filter of nationalism. In the press the author examined, sexually assaulted men were all but visible. An investigation of the Croatian and Serbian Press from November 1991 to December 1993 found only six articles in the Croatian press, compared to over 100 about other forms of torture experienced by Croat men and over 60 about the rape of women. The Serbian press did not publish a single text about sexual torture of men. In the Croatian press the only visible male victim of rape and castration was a Muslim man, while the Croatian man was never mentioned as either being raped/castrated or raping other men. Serbian men, on the other hand, were mentioned as sodomists who rape (Muslim) men. The author argues that, the need of the newly emerging Croatian state to have its symbolic virility preserved through the preserved virility, power, and heterosexuality of Croatian men was crucial for the representation of the sexual violence against men.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnicity, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against men, Sexuality, Torture, Sexual Torture Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Croatia, Serbia

Year: 2001

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