Blogbox | Femicide

Albanian masculinity is making men weak

By - 08.09.2021

And it’s killing women.

Too many Albanian women spend their lives with one constant: fear. Some grow up afraid of their fathers, then live in fear of their husbands and finally their sons. In Albanian society, regardless of age and family roles, the male figure has more power than the female.

The negative consequences of this power differential are many. One of them is femicide, as in the latest case with poor Marigona. And if the killing of this 18-year-old girl — so violent as to make it almost impossible for her relatives to recognize her — is the most brutal and evident consequence, there are others that occur in everyday life and that are now considered normal.

It is considered normal that a girl spends her life being first the property of her father only to later become the property of her husband. 

Normal that the birth of a girl brings less happiness to a family than the birth of a boy.

Normal that an indescribable practice such as selective abortions occur.

Normal that a girl grows up being taught to do the housework to be ready for the time she goes to her husband. 

We live in a society that regards women as objects, nothing more.

Photo: Arrita Katona / K2.0.

The main fault lies with us men. We are failing as sons, brothers, boyfriends, husbands and grandfathers. If this is the norm in 2021 it is because we are allowing it to happen and, even worse, we accept it and are not interested in changing it. 

For the average Albanian man, power over a woman is the first proof of being a burrë, that is, a man. Burrë is a word that is supposed to reflect the perfect male figure, but in actuality means nothing. For the average Albanian man this word is aspirational or self-descriptive, but with it he only hides his own weaknesses.

A man who needs to kill a woman is weak. A man who desperately needs to show his power over women is weak. A man who is unable to take care of household chores is weak. A man who constantly needs his mother or wife at home is weak. 

That is because one’s strength is not demonstrated by doing manual labour, being violent, driving powerful cars or being dictatorial towards female family members. We know very well how different it is when a household loses a woman rather than a man. The house with a woman on her own will go on as usual, while in the other case, well, good luck.

Photo: Arrita Katona / K2.0.

When we talk and discuss how to solve this problem, it would seem that women are the only ones who should and can do something. We men forget that it is we who kill, rape and restrict women’s freedom.

It is too easy to put all the responsibility for this situation on women. It is too easy to tell them to go out and protest, to break up with the boys who beat them, to not accept their father’s orders. This just shows, once again, our weakness and our irresponsibility.

But it is also true that this situation is maintained in part by women who do nothing but give more power to men — women of my mother’s and grandmother’s generation who raise their sons as if they were gods, who react differently if their grandchild is a boy or a girl, women who raise their daughters solely to ready them to be passed from one owner to another. 

Fortunately, this generation is counterbalanced by the generation of girls who take to the streets to protest, who study and achieve wonderful results and are able to go about their daily lives alone — women who bring Olympic medals to Kosovo and make us proud. 

Poto: Arrita Katona / K2.0.

If these girls have been able to build a different future for themselves than the one envisaged by society, the credit is obviously theirs, but it also indicates a different upbringing. I like to think that the figure of the father is also different in these families.

So we cannot ask more from women; it is us, men, who must change. Because in the street protests we hear and read phrases like “not one more,” and yet after a few months we find ourselves at the same point, that one more has been killed or assaulted. 

Actions like protests are useful, new laws are necessary, but the change has to start from everyday life. It is the need to have power over women that makes us weak, because in doing so we prove to be nothing — a nothingness that is hidden behind the word burrë. 

Perhaps we will never become proper men, but it is time we start treating our women properly. Because without them we are nothing, and will never be.

Feature image: Arrita Katona / K2.0.

  • 26 Mar 2024 - 22:10 | G:

    Përshëndetje I know this is an old article but I need some advice. I have been dating an albanian guy for 8 months, both in UK but different cities but are planning for him to move to where I live. He has been here for four years (from Northern Albania). Friends/family know about me, I have been introduced to his mother. He is Catholic not muslim (I was raised strict catholic too which i think has helped, I also speak Albanian (although not fluent but ok, and have immersed myself in learning about albanian culture as much as i can). I also really want to make her son's life as good as I possibly can. Yes I know I could be getting used for letre but it is a chance I was willing to take. Its also very hard to get papers for an albanian here in UK now and he knows it will probably never happen but says he does not care. When we first met, I obviously found him to be very different but very caring and sweet. I dated an albanian guy before who was very westernised and although hot headed and possessive he was pretty laid back, he was a really nice guy. My current partner is more traditional I think. He comes and stays at my place a few weekends each month, and calls/texts constantly every day. I actually really trust him, he doesn't go out at weekends, doesn't drink, stays in a shared house and works so hard. Recently he has been a bit different, quite controlling, telling me what to do, how to do my hair, says I disrespect him if I answer back and that I piss him off if I don't do as he says. When he stays with me he sits and shouts orders at me, all I hear repeatedly is Zemer can you do this, get me that, go to the shop ten times because he wants something, is always hungry, and won't take no for an answer. He also thinks I'm there to be used as a sex toy whenever he wants. He is rough and I'm always covered in bruises. He is really really strong and I'm tiny compared to him im 60 inches tall and about 110 lbs in weight. He has slapped me (not hard) a couple of times which really took me by surprise so I slapped him back. I told him not to do it again. He knows himself that he has to be careful, he even said he knows he can't do it hard as I could call the police and he would be deported (which I wouldn't do, especially after risking his life to get here). He also doesn't listen to what I say, my opinion on anything at all but at other times he is really caring, he puts my shoes on, fastens my jacket, brushes my hair, makes sure I'm eating enough, he even helps tidy up and washes dishes, and would protect me against everything but when I saw him recently I felt afraid of him and I couldn't wait for him to go home. What I really want to know (even though I already do) is should I finish with him, is this the start of his true personality showing and he has just been acting really sweet to fool me into a relationship? I already know the answer, just need someone else's viewpoint. He hasn't had an easy time of it here in UK, he came in a lorry, was homeless for months and works hard to send money home (which I think is admirable). I really just wanted us to have as good a life as possible together but I don't want to live in fear, or be expected to do everything I'm told to do while he sits here like a king shouting orders at me. Advice would be appreciated. Faleminderit, shumë

  • 22 Nov 2023 - 04:28 | 8023:

    This post does not reflect reality in any way and is exaggerated. The only thing that makes sense based on the text and the description of Albanian men is that the author did not grow up or live in Albania/Kosovo

  • 16 Oct 2022 - 20:13 | Genc:

    It’s shows how much Middle Ages we are compare to for example Norway or Canada. So I hope it will change one day, because of we can’t still have it like this. That the women are the slaves at home, and not a teammate that gets help from her father, brothers and her husband as well. Who is doing the same as well.

  • 09 Sep 2021 - 04:55 | Valerie Brophy:

    Very refreshing read, I have been in a relationship with an albanian man he was younger than me but really wanted to be in charge of me and as a woman who has been standing on my own two feet since I was nineteen it was oppressive, could not deal with it.