IL FAUT RÉSISTER

Years ago, I spent a year in the United States of America. Two things kept me from even considering the idea of extending my stay there, let alone settling. The first was that the socially appeased part of me was put off by the fact that everybody was saving for the future, for the unexpected (a car accident, a serious illness) and expected (old age) 'life accidents'. The second thing was that the part of me - not excessive -- that -liked to party didn't want to accept that none of my friends would ever come to visit unannounced; the academic system forced them to plan their work and their 'leisure time' months in advance. The image presented by Oakland, California, where most people, obviously unemployed, seemed to spend their days sitting despondently on the sidewalk, was something strange and exotic for me. No, I wasn't familiar with this kind of life; yugoslav socialism had never been a society of great risk.
After I returned from the United States socialism came to an end; Europe and, it seemed, the whole world was becoming 'America' (or 'AMERICACA', as someone wrote in the rest room at the Caffe Trieste in San Francisco - is it still there, I wonder?). Liberal capitalism became a worldwide system, and the world became globalised, as, ready or not, it accepted the West's offer: Western values, lifestyles and 'democracy'. Transitional countries, moving from a socialist planned economy toward a market economy, have had to pay a high price. An entire region of the world has, for the first time, had to deal with unemployment; class differences have intensified, and social rights have diminished.
What is the price women are paying during this transition? In the countries of the former Eastern Bloc, this price is dreadfully high, though it is somewhat lower in Slovenia, where 'reorganisation' and bankruptcies first struck businesses with predominantly male employees. But now, it is the women's turn, with the 'reorganisation' of the textile and shoe industries. Poverty is increasing. According to the Report on Human Development for Slovenia in 2002/2003, in comparison with wealthier households, poor families (if I may simplify) spend double the percentage of their income on food (mainly starches and fats). At the same time, the amount of their income spent on health is two and a half times less that of well-to-do families. In Slovenia, there are 265,000 male and female residents now living below the poverty line, and the number of those hovering at or living just above the threshold of poverty is constantly on the rise. We can only imagine the kind of tricks women living in such conditions must come up with for themselves and their families to survive.
That is why now is no time for inventing utopias - a fertile ground for illusion and disappointment. Now is the time for utopistics (Wallerstein), for 'a sober, rational and realistic evaluation of society's systems, their limitations and the areas open to human creativity'. It is time to take a look at alternatives that are possible, even if not guaranteed.

A protagonist in the film Une Part du ciel / A Piece of Sky, also featured in this year's Festival, makes the statement, 'Il faut juste résister' -'You just have to resist'. On days when we are doing OK and feel strong, we can take the liberty of leaving out the word 'juste'. Then the sentence could be translated: 'We must defy, we must resist' - and maybe sing along with Dame Darcy's murder ballads.
Zoja Skušek
President of the Association for the Promotion of Women in Culture - City of Women