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Serbia offers a colourful and dynamic music scene. However, women face many obstacles: sexism, prejudices… A number of young women wants to change this.

Serbia offers a very colorful and dynamic music scene with internationally famous festivals, club performances and concerts where musicians of all genres can be heard – from classical and jazz to alternative, local folk and pop music. Due to the long-lasting economic crisis in the country a career in music is still quite uncertain, unstable and unsupported, yet young musicians remain enthusiastic.

Alongside the discussion on the effect of the economic crisis on the Serbian music industry is the lack of female musicians performing in Serbia. There are many girls who attend music schools and later work as teachers, and when it comes to bands of diverse genres and local folk scene, these girls are usually active as singers/backing vocals, and less frequently as instrumentalists. On the other hand, young men more often get into independent musical creation and engage in music production, so they outnumber women in dominantly or all-male bands in festivals, concerts and clubs as instrumentalists and leaders of their own groups.

A research on this subject was conducted in 2013 by Femix, a project created in 2010, which focused on promotion and affirmation of women’s creation in various artistic fields. In a work called “She’s got the groove-and she’s a woman! – Young women on the alternative musical scene in Serbia”, Femix quantified the prevalence of “boy” and “girl” bands in the local scene, examined the reasons why women were less active in music, and gender-conditioned obstacles that women face in their career. The study was performed by analyzing music festival programs and counting the percentage of women performers, the percentage of the works of female artists downloaded from certain sites, and interviewing female musicians who talked about their own experiences. The conclusion was the following: in Serbia there are on average 8 times more male than female names amongst artists who create their own work, whereas this number in Europe is 7 and in the USA 5-6. Percentage-wise, the 5-year average prevalence of women from 2009 to 2013 on musical festivals in Serbia is 11.6%, the percentage in Europe is 12.9% and in the USA 14.3%. In addition, the percentage of works by female musicians downloaded amounts to 10-15% when only considering artists who create their own songs.

Femix had also conducted a research on the sample of 1733 high-school students from Serbia, which showed that young men’s interest to play in bands is twice as high as young women. After interviewing young female musicians it was concluded that the reasons for this disproportion lie in a certain male tradition in pop/rock productions, which, in the lack of female models, discourages girls. The vision of a woman as a primarily decorative element on stage, prejudice about women’s capacity and talent when it comes to ‘hard’ music and underestimating female musicians on a gender basis makes women want to prove themselves a lot more than men in order to be valued in the industry.

Performance after the drum workshop for girls

However this image is slowly changing as the number of women who perform and claim their space on stage is growing. In order to empower women in music and support their original work, Femix launched a project called “Femikseta” which, since 2010, publishes an annual compilation of songs of female musicians in Serbia at the end of each year. Until 2013 46 names were recorded and published, and young female designers design the cover of the Femixeta CD every year. In 2013 Femix created a campaign called “Add your note”, where female musicians shared their photos on social networks with the slogan “Add your note” in different places, inviting and encouraging other girls to play music. During the summer of 2015 Femix also organized drumming workshops for young girls.

The Femix projects, created in 2010, have three main focus points: Femikseta, the annual compilation of local girl bands, the annual Femix fest, where the bands who recorded for Femikseta are able to perform, and the Femix info site where culture news is published and female artists from various fields – music, film, and literature, are promoted.

Maša Peruničić, assistant coordinator at Femix

Maša Peruničić, assistant coordinator of the Femix projects, describes the organization’s work as part of an “Organization for the promotion of activism”, and one which promotes female artistic creation and gender equality: “Our goal is to support the unknown artists, to get them to the public scene and create a network of young artists who will later cooperate… I am proud to say that since it was created five years ago, Femix organized forty-five events where the works of young female artists were presented – concerts, workshops, poetry evenings, movie nights and so on. The number of female musicians on Femikseta and within the music scene itself is rising every year.”

Femix also started cooperating with similar Swedish initiatives, and one of the important projects was a workshop organized in 2013 for high school students with the title “Gender and media from the point of view of high school students”, focusing on creating gender roles and identity in popular culture and media. At the end of the workshop students made their own pamphlets and analyzed newspaper articles and Maša concluded with satisfaction that “it’s possible to teach young people to apply critical thinking towards the process of creating gender roles through media, so they can one day, while questioning stereotypes contribute to the creation of better cultural scene in our country.”

This past summer Femix also organized drum workshops for little girls in different Serbian cities and towns, with the goal to give young girls a chance to get to know the instrument – the response was overwhelming. As Maša put it, “at first we planned to host ten girls, then the number augmented to twelve, thirteen, and finally we had fifty, sixty applications left. Those girls were invited to attend workshops that were organized from October 22-25, so this project was also a huge success.”

Selena Simić, drummer

Selena Simić, a young Serbian drummer who is a member of two bands and also cooperates with Femix, describes how the national rock/punk/metal scene has changed over the years:

“I started playing drums when I was fourteen, and now I play in two girl bands – one of them is the alternative punk/rock band Vibrator u rikverc (Vibrator in Reverse), a very active group which was created seven years ago. The other band is Nemesis, which was founded one and a half years ago and plays melodic death metal. As it is for women in alternative music in general, compared to a few years ago, there are definitely more women playing in mixed bands, which is great. However, when it comes to all girl bands, there are only five active bands in Belgrade and places nearby that play rock/punk/metal – the two I am part of are among them.“

Selena explains that three years ago there were twice as many, but that girl bands have a tendency of quickly splitting up: “On one hand, the reason why this happens is that they usually start as cover bands, and if they do not offer some original work the audience gets bored, so they get harshly criticized and hence discouraged. On the other hand, there is quite often a lot of vanity and egocentrism involved, especially because women are in the minority and therefore feel that they need to individually prove themselves and stand out in a sphere that’s mainly masculine and very competitive. This affects the quality of cooperation.“ For that very reason, Selena wants to create a platform for girl bands where they can create music together and claim their own space. Hence she organised the concert “Women play everything“ in May 2015, where five bands performed: Plump (rock), Violent Dolls (grunge), Vibrator u rikverc (punk/rock), Jenner (trash metal) and Nemesis (melodic death metal). As it went very well and was well-covered by the media, she is planning to turn the event in a festival which would promote and affirm girl bands exclusively.

Vibrator u rikverc

In Selena’s opinion the reason for the lack of women in the music scene is the prejudice that women aren’t as talented as men playing instruments: “A woman who plays drums/bass/the guitar must be better than all men in order to be valued. If she is average, she’s automatically labeled as bad and talentless, whilst men who are equally average are never vilified and mocked. In rock/metal a woman needs some nerve and courage in order to feel good on stage and claim the it for herself, as this same stage is traditionally considered a men’s public space.“

Women face a cruel sabotage from both the audience and their male colleagues. “When I started playing drums, I usually received comments that I’m a tomboy, a lesbian etc. Once a bass player who wanted to insult me said: ‘If she can play the drums, then I can play the violin…today I still play the drums and he works in a post office.“ Men are however still seen as the role model and the example to follow: “When someone wants to compliment me, they usually say that I ‘play like a man’, ‘hit those drums like a man’, and that I ‘don’t have a typically-female body positioning’. They always compare me to a man as an ideal standard.“

Moreover, unlike men, women’s physical appearance is the first thing which is commented upon when they get on stage: “Whether they’re ‘hot’ or not is seen as an important factor in estimating the quality of the music and the band, whilst for men that’s never something that’s relevant.“

Another problem is that club owners often try to con girl bands into renouncing their payment, or try to somehow infringe the agreement – they generally do that to everyone, but girls are a much easier target – which is why Selena prefers a male band manager: “This is a very unfortunate situation, but men are simply taken more seriously, they attain bigger authority and under male protection it is less likely that we might be cheated upon.“

Despite the difficulties, Selena will continue her fight for a more equal access of women to rock/metal music and to traditionally “male“ instruments. This year she also led a drum workshop for 7 to 12-13 year old girls organized by Femix, and was overwhelmed by the reaction: “At the end of the workshop we made a public performance and parents later asked for telephone numbers of drum teachers. I think we have eliminated some prejudices with these young girls before they got the chance to manifest themselves.“ Selena hopes that the girls she met will continue to engage in music and might one day form their own bands: “Until then we will break the barriers for them so they can, when they grow up, take part in a much more pleasant and women-welcoming music scene, compared to how it is now“.

Srbija nudi vrlo živopisnu i dinamičnu domaću muzičku scenu. Međutim, muzičarke se suočavaju sa brojnim preprekama…jedan broj mladih devojaka želi ovo da promeni.

Srbija nudi vrlo živopisnu i dinamičnu domaću muzičku scenu obojenu međunarodno poznatim festivalima, klupskim svirkama i koncertima na kojima je moguće čuti izvođaće raznih muzičkih pravaca-od klasične muzike, džeza, preko alternativne sve do domaće zabavne i folk muzike. Entuzijazam koji mladi muzičari pokazuju je izuzetno inspirativan, s obzirom na to da je nažalost, karijera muzičara u Srbiji zbog dugotrajne ekonomske krize vrlo neizvesna, nestabilna i nedovoljno podržana.

Ono što je često predmet rasprave je manjak devojaka na srpskoj muzičkoj sceni . Već je poznato da u Srbiji mnogo devojaka pohađa muzičke škole, kasnije predaje u školama i na muzičkim akademijama, a kada su u pitanju bendovi različitih žanrova i domaća folk scena, uglavnom su angažovane kao pevačice ili prateći vokali, pa onda u manjoj meri kao instrumentalistkinje. Sa druge strane, momci se daleko češće odlučuju za upuštanje u samostalno muzičko stvaralaštvo i angažuju u muzičkoj produkciji, pa samim tim brojčano dominiraju u pretežno ili potpuno muškim bendovima na festivalima, koncertima i u klubovima kao instrumentalisti a i frontmeni svojih grupa.


Istraživanje na ovu temu je 2013. godine obavio Femix, projekat osnovan 2010. koji se bavi promocijom i afirmacijom ženskog stvaralaštva i rodne ravnopravnosti u različitim umetničkim oblastima. U radu pod nazivom „Ima dobar groove, a žensko! – Mlade žene na alternativnoj muzičkoj sceni Srbije“ , izvršilo se kvantifikovanje zastupljenosti „muških“ i „ženskih“ bendova na domaćoj sceni, ispitivanje razloga zbog kojih su devojke manje aktivne u muzici kao i rodno uslovljenih prepreka na koje one u svojoj karijeri nailaze. To se sprovelo merenjem programske ponude muzičkih festivala i utvrđivanjem procenta učešća žena na njima, ispitivanjem učešća autorki koje se piratizuju na određenim sajtovima, kao i razgovorom sa muzičarkama koje su govorile o svojim ličnim iskustvima. Zaključak istraživanja je ovakav: U Srbiji ima u proseku 8 puta više muškaraca nego žena među autorskim imenima, dok u Evropi taj broj iznosi 7, a u SAD 5-6. Procentualno, petogodišnji prosek ženskog učešća od 2009. do 2013. godine na muzičkim festivalima u Srbiji je 11.6%, u Evropi 12,9%, dok je u SAD 14,3%. Srpski festivali o kojima su se prikupljali podaci bili su EXIT u Novom Sadu, Beer fest u Beogradu, Šabački letnji festival, Trenchtown na Palićkom jezeru i Supernatural u Beogradu. Takođe, žensko muzičko autorstvo je prisutno u 10-15% novih naslova koji se piratizuju.

Femix je takođe sproveo i istraživanje na uzorku od 1733 maturanta iz Srbije i ono je pokazalo da za aktivno sviranje postoji dvostruko veća zainteresovanost kod momaka nego devojaka. Posle intervjuisanja mladih muzičarki došlo se do zaključka da razlozi za ovu disproporciju leže u činjenici da pre svega postoji određena muška tradicija u pop-rok produkciji koja u nedostatku ženskih uzora obeshrabruje devojke. Zatim, ne treba izostaviti viziju žene kao prvenstveno dekorativnog elementa na bini, predrasude o ženskim kapacitetima i talentima kad je u pitanju „grublja“ muzika i potcenjivanje muzičarki na rodnoj osnovi koje ih primorava da se posebno dokazuju da bi uopšte bile vrednovane.

Javni nastup nakon bubnjarske radionice za devojčice

Međutim, ovakva slika se polako menja i u poslednjih nekoliko godina se povećao broj devojaka koje sviraju i zauzimaju svoje mesto na muzičkoj sceni. Da bi se izvršilo osnaživanje devojaka u muzici i da bi se one podstakle na autorstvo i samostalni rad Femix je osnovao projekat Femikseta koji od 2010. na kraju svake kalendarske godine pravi godišnji presek ženskog muzičkog stvaralaštva u Srbiji, pa je do 2013. godine objavljeno ukupno 46 imena, a omot Femiksete svake godine dizajniraju mlade umetnice. Takođe je 2013. pokrenuta kampanja „Dodaj svoju notu“ u kojoj su muzičarke delile svoje fotografije na društvenim mrežama kako drže slogan „Dodaj svoju notu“ na raznim mestima i time pozivaju druge devojke da se ohrabre na bavljenje muzikom. Tokom leta 2015. organizovale su se i bubnjarske radionice za devojčice.

Maša Peruničić, asistentkinja koordinatorke projekata Femix-a ovako opisuje dosadašnji rad organizacije:

Maša Peruničić, Asistentkinja koordinatorke projekata u Femix-u

„Naš cilj je da podržimo neafirmisane umetnice, poguramo ih na javnu scenu i stvorimo mrežu mladih umetnica koje će u budućnosti ostvariti saradnju. Rad se fokusira na 3 glavne stvari – Femiksetu kao godišnju kompilaciju domaćih ženskih bendova, Femix fest koji se organizuje svake godine i na kom nastupaju bendovi koji su snimali za Femiksetu i Femix info sajt preko kog objavljujemo vesti iz kulture i promovišemo umetnice iz raznih oblasti-muzike, filma, književnosti. Ja sam aktivna članica Femixa od 2013. i drago mi je što mogu da kažem da je Femix tokom svojih 5 godina postojanja organizovao preko 45 događaja-koncerata, radionica, večeri poezije, filmskih večeri na kojima se prezentovao rad naših mladih umetnica, i da se, na naše veliko zadovoljstvo, broj muzičarki na Femikseti i na muzičkoj sceni uopšte povećava iz godine u godinu.“

Femix je započeo saradnju i sa sličnim švedskim institucijama a jedan od važnih projekata u 2013. bio je i radionica koja se organizovala za srednjoškolce na temu „Rod i mediji iz ugla srednjoškolaca“, čiji je fokus bio kreiranje rodnih uloga i identiteta u popularnoj kulturi i medijima. Na kraju radionice učenici su samostalno pravili pamflete i analizirali novinske članke i Maša zaključuje sa zadovoljstvom, „ Ustanovile smo da je moguće osvestiti mlade ljude da treba da neguju kritički stav prema procesu kreiranja rodnih uloga kroz medije i da preispitivanjem utemeljenih stereotipa oni jednog dana mogu doprineti stvaranju kvalitetnije kulturne scene u našoj zemlji.“

Ove godine Femix je tokom leta organizovao i bubnjarske radionice za devojčice u Beogradu, Smederevu i Pančevu sa ciljem da se pruži prilika malim devojčicama da se upoznaju sa ovim instrumentom, i odziv je bio ogroman. Kako Maša ističe, „Prvobitni plan bio je da se primi 10 devojčica od 7 do 12 godina, da bi taj broj porastao na 12-13 a na kraju je ostalo još 50-60 prijavljenih. Zato su ove druge devojčice bile na listi polaznica za sledeću radionicu koja se održala od 22. do 25. oktobra. Dakle, angažovanja Femix-a su raznovrsna i trudimo se da kroz ove projekte ohrabrimo naše mlade umetnice da ispolje sve svoje talente i kapacitete, izgrade sjajnu karijeru i inspirišu nove generacije.“

Selena Simić, Bubnjarka

Selena Simić, mlada srpska bubnjarka koja svira u dva benda i takođe sarađuje sa Femixom, opisuje kako se domaća rok/pank/metal scena promenila tokom godina:

„Počela sam da sviram bubnjeve sa 14 godina a trenutno sviram u dva ženska benda – Vibrator u rikverc koji postoji već 7 godina svira alternativni pank/rok, a Nemesis koji je osnovan pre godinu i po dana pripada žanru melodic death metala. Vibrator u rikverc iza sebe ima jedan snimljen album „Samo površno i komercijalno“,a trenutno se snima drugi album. Dosta je aktivan bend, često nastupamo i u regionu, najviše u BiH i Hrvatskoj. Nemesis je počeo sa obradama Arch enemy-a ali smo odlučile da pređemo na autorski rad, tako da već imamo nekoliko pesama koje čekaju da budu snimljene.

Što se tiče učešća žena u muzici, sada ima mnogo više žena koje sviraju po mešanim bendovima, i to je sjajno. Međutim, kada su u pitanju isključivo ženski bendovi, trenutno u Beogradu i okolini postoji ukupno njih 5 (među kojima su i ova dva) i koji sviraju rok/pank/metal.“ Selena objašnjava da ih je pre tri godine bilo duplo više, ali da ženski bendovi imaju tendenciju da se vrlo brzo raspadaju. „S jedne strane je uzrok to što oni najčešće počinju kao kaver bendovi, i ako ubrzo ne ponude neki autorski materijal postaju dosadni publici i onda se susreću sa oštrom kritikom i obeshrabruju. Sa druge strane, u njima često postoji dosta sujete i egocentrizma, posebno zato što su u pitanju muzičarke koje su malobrojne i koje su stimulisane da se individualno dokazuju i ističu u sferi koja je pretežno muška, a i sama po sebi vrlo kompetitivna i to utiče na kvalitet saradnje.“ Zato Selena pokušava da ličnom inicijativom okupi ženske bendove na jedno mesto jer smatra da žene treba da se proguraju zajedno bez podrške muškaraca da bi se izborile za svoje mesto na muzičkoj sceni i svoj deo kolača. Tako je uspela da organizuje koncert pod nazivom „Žene sviraju sve“ na kom je nastupilo svih 5 bendova: Plump (rok), Violent dolls (grandz), Vibrator u rikverc (pank/rok), Jenner (trash metal) i Nemesis (melodic death metal). “Bio je vrlo lepo odrađen i medijski propraćen, tako da planiram da naše zajedničke nastupe pretvorim i u neki festival koji bi promovisao i afirmisao ekskluzivno ženske bendove.“

Vibrator u rikverc

Po njenom mišljenju, problem je u tome što postoji predrasuda da žene ne znaju i ne mogu da sviraju dobro. „Žena koja svira bubanj/bas/gitaru mora da bude bolja od svih muškaraca da bi uopšte bila cenjena. Ako je prosečna odmah se smatra da ne zna da svira i da nije talentovana, dok sa druge strane, one muškarce koji su takođe prosečni niko tako agresivno ne omalovažava.

U roku/metalu je potrebna određena doza hrabrosti i drskosti da bi se žena dobro osećala i dominirala na sceni koja se smatra muškim javnim prostorom, jer žene trpe surovu sabotažu i publike i muških kolega. Kada sam počela da sviram bubanj stalno sam dobijala komentare da sam lezbejka, muškarača i slično. Sećam se primera basiste koji je jednom pokušao da me uvredi rekavši: ’Ako ona svira bubanj, ja sviram violinu’. A igrom slučaja, ja i dan-danas sviram bubanj a on radi u pošti. Kada neko želi da me pohvali, najčešće kaže da ’sviram kao muško’, ’udaram kao muško’ i ’nemam žensko držanje tela dok sviram’. Uvek me porede sa muškarcem kao idealnim standardom.“ Osim toga, Selena smatra da je fizički izgled muzičarki takođe prvo što se komentariše kada izađu na scenu. „Bilo da su „zgodne“ ili ne, to je uvek važan faktor u proceni kvaliteta muzike i benda, dok se za muškarce, naravno, to nikad ne uzima kao važan kriterijum.“ Ono što je takođe problematično je to što vlasnici klubova često nastoje da prevare ženske bendove tako što im ne isplate honorar ili na neki način ne postupe po dogovoru – to generalno rade svima, ali su im devojke mnogo lakša meta. Zato ona za trenutno preferira kada muškarac zastupa njene bendove kao menadžer: „Nažalost, ovde se muškarci jednostavno ozbiljnije shvataju, zadržavaju veći autoritet i pod muškom zaštitom su manje šanse da će nas neko prevariti.“

Uprkos preprekama, Selena nastavlja svoju borbu za pristup žena rok/metal muzici i tradicionalno „muškim“ instrumentima. Ove godine je takođe vodila bubnjarske radionice za devojčice koje je organizovao Femix. „Bilo mi je vrlo simpatično kad su ih mame dovodile i raspitivale se da li će biti radionica i za njih. Bile su jako ozbiljne i revnosne, nijedno dete nije zaplakalo kada bi 20 bubnjeva odjednom zagrmelo. Na kraju radionice smo održale javni čas, a roditelji su se kasnije raspitivali za brojeve profesora. Nakon ovog iskustva, mogu reći da smo neke predrasude razbile pre nego što su i nastale. Nadam se da će nastaviti da se ozbiljno bave muzikom i da ćemo im mi prokrčiti put da bi, kada budu stasale, zatekle daleko prijatniju žensku muzičku scenu od one koja je postojala kada smo se mi pojavile.“[:]

Teodora Skrobonja is a regular contributor from Belgrade, Serbia. She graduated at the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade and at the moment she is attending a Master's program in Gender studies at the Faculty of political sciences.

Teodora Skrobonja
Teodora Skrobonja is a regular contributor from Belgrade, Serbia. She graduated at the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade and at the moment she is attending a Master's program in Gender studies at the Faculty of political sciences.

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