Violence in words and deeds: All-pervasive cultural trait in Hungary

It was a week ago that a middle-aged Fidesz MP, István Varga, made quite a splash across the country. Here was a very talkative member of parliament who in the course of the last year rose sixty-four times in the House, yet no one knew his name. Well, by now thousands if not millions do.

Varga began his political career in 1994 as a member of MDF (Magyar Demokrata Fórum), but by 2000 it looked as if his political career was over. Then, all of the sudden, Viktor Orbán discovered him and handpicked him to help shape the revolutionary future of the country.

Well, one might say that Varga is a stupid man or that his remarks were just an unfortunate slip and that the whole incident is unimportant. Unfortunately, although it is possible that Varga isn’t among the best and the brightest, let’s not forget that Varga was chosen by his party to be the keynote speaker for the debate on the issue of domestic violence. And let’s not forget that the parliamentary committee on constitutional and legal matters almost unanimously voted against the inclusion of a separate section in the Criminal Code on domestic violence. Moreover, in the ensuing debate Varga was not the only one who made outrageous remarks about women’s place in society. There were others from the same side of the aisle, including  Jobbik.

It took four days for Viktor Orbán and Antal Rogán to realize that the party’s decision to ignore the popular demand for inclusion was a political mistake. By September 14 Rogán announced the party’s change of heart but accompanied it with these words: “I bow to the wishes of the ladies.” I think that says a lot about the mindset of the political leaders of the right. They simply don’t get it.

Even during the debate, although the question before the House dealt with domestic violence, the speakers veered off in a direction that had little to do with the topic at hand. The Fidesz and Christian Democratic speakers expressed their true feelings, which put women in their place.

National Coalition against Domestic Violence / flckr

Today Zoltán Balog, a political heavyweight, added his voice to the already disgraceful performance of Fidesz. A few minutes into the debate, answering Katalin Ertsey (LMP), Balog declared that he is not ashamed of the party’s initial decision to block the proposal for a separate statute on domestic violence. Moreover, he will not be a partner to turning against his own government. He admitted that domestic violence does exist, but he expressed his total dismay that women always talk about violence against women while men are often being terrorized by women. He refused to treat the problem as a sex issue. The opposing forces exhibit a bluestockings attitude. And, he added, one mustn’t talk about “violence within the family” because the family is sacred. Instead of family, the government insists on “violence within the confines of partnership or relations.” And this insensitive fellow is a Protestant minister who is supposed to offer solace to those in need.

A bluestocking attitude. Now here is a word one doesn’t often hear nowadays. A bluestocking is an educated, intellectual woman but the word also has negative implications: such women are often stereotyped as “frumpy”–that is, plain or unfashionable. So, if I understand the Reverend correctly, only intellectual women object to be beaten up. Or ones who are unattractive. If these women didn’t stir up so much trouble everything could go on as usual. Widespread domestic violence would continue unpunished. So much for the Fidesz revolution; it doesn’t seem to extend to women’s issues.

Zoltán Balog is one of the most insensitive men in a bunch of insensitives. And he is the spiritual adviser to Viktor Orbán who found God after almost three decades of irreligiosity. As for the bluestockings’ claim, according to a U.S. survey 95% of the victims of domestic violence are indeed women, contrary what the good Calvinist minister says.

As for “bowing before the wishes of the ladies,” someone who comes up with such an idiotic explanation doesn’t understand the whole question and its importance. The recognition of women as equal members of society is not some kind of gift given by the gentlemen who are chivalrous enough to listen to their spouses. After all, Rogán jokingly announced that if Fidesz doesn’t change its stance on the issue his wife is going to join the “bluestockings.”

As Ildikó Lendvai (MSZP) pointed out in an editorial in today’s Népszava, these guys really don’t understand the issue. The only thing they see is that “the women are raising a racket again.” In fact, the two or three Fidesz and Christian Democratic MPs are symbols of a culture of aggression that is spreading in all facets of Hungarian life. Public life and family life cannot be separate, and when “the first man of the state” can say that “collaboration is not a question of resolve but of force” and when the same man boasts about the slaps in the face of the European Union that his government delivered in Brussels, we mustn’t be surprised about the spreading verbal and physical violence.

Let me finish with a story I read today on Index. A young woman, a college student, along with a friend of hers visited a festival in Szeged. At one point she and her friend ended up at a stand where they were selling wine; there one of the customers called her “a liberal whore.” The two got into a verbal argument and the girl inadvertently pushed the man’s glass, spilling some wine on his jacket. The next move: the fellow slapped her in the face. The girl went to the policeman who refused to do anything, claiming that finding a balding man with glasses in the crowd is an impossibility. The girl, however, found him on her own. He turned out to be the chief-of-staff of the mayor of Hódmezővásárhely. A close associate of János Lázár who today is the chief-of-staff of Viktor Orbán.

Verbal and physical violence in Fidesz circles are part and parcel of everyday life. After all, this is a macho old boys network whose members haven’t managed to grow up in the last 25-30 years.

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Visitor
Guest

Domestic violence runs in all cultures, nations, religions and even political affiliations.

Member

Visitor :
Domestic violence runs in all cultures, nations, religions and even political affiliations.

You guys should do this ahead. Like “whatever Professor Balogh will write in the future about the Hungarian government runs in all cultures, nations, religions and even political affiliations.” This way you don’t even have to read her posts …

Member

Just to let the Google search engine know the fine gentleman who called the lady a liberal whore and later hit her for spilling wine on his shirt is Csaba Marko. FIDESZ politician of course.

http://www.hodmezovasarhely.hu/oldal-kabinet_iroda-136

Julie
Guest

“Bow to the wishes of the ladies”??? Disgusting. Hungarian women need to organize and demonstrate their political power–and this goes beyond party affiliation. If the term “feminist” has such negative connotations, why not adopt “bluestocking”?

Member

Visitor :
Domestic violence runs in all cultures, nations, religions and even political affiliations.

It is true but it does not glorified, dismissed, swept aside. In civilized countries, civilized people make people in high positions fall from grace and from their jobs for violence against woman. So, which one are you Visitor a Hungarian uncivilized man in high position, an uncivilized Hungarian who want to keep the abusers in power or the abused/battered wife who deals with post-traumatic stress disorder?

Guest
Visitor : Domestic violence runs in all cultures, nations, religions and even political affiliations. London Calling! Visitor: So that’s ok then? Yea right….. You need to understand that it’s not its existence in all cultures that’s the issue… But how it is dealt with. The attitudes of the dinosaur Varga just demonstrate how the ,male chauvinist pig (MCP) is still alive and well in Hungarian society – right to the zenith of the ruling class. (István Varga looks like a thug too btw – more suited to Jobbik?) As long as the little woman knows her place; gets the dinner for her man; does all the housework; doesn’t bother her little head with politics – and runs a nice house….. …….while he reads those 10,000 tomes – then all will be right with the world. Any politician who uses the phrase “I bow to the wishes of the ladies …..” is an MCP showing his colours – patronising and sexist. (Battered women in Hungary have a lot more suffering to do before they get a decent network of safe houses to protect them from violent men.) Goodness – Hungarian man has a long way to go – before he becomes… Read more »
Cherry17
Guest

Let us not forget that 44 women died because of domestic violence last year only,in Hungary. What about the children in these families.
To speak about bluestockings and other nonsense mumbo jumbo reflects total stupidity and insensitivity of Fidesz polticians.
This utmost cynicism is unbearable , shame on these so called ‘politicians’. I would rather call them jerks .

cheshire cat
Guest

Visitor :
Domestic violence runs in all cultures, nations, religions and even political affiliations.

True, but – as others have pointed out – in civilized countries the law deals with it properly: the police will come out and will help, the violent person will be ordered to keep away from the abused and the family home. In Hungary, women are lucky if they can run away in their bloody nighty with the baby in their arms, because that means the bastard hasn’t locked them up in the house.
Society has asked the parliament to create similar laws, and they replied “no”, because it is “the woman’s fault anyway” for not having 3-5 children and for going out to work, and there is “no violence in families because a family is sacred”.
Unbelievable.

Compare: I once saw a police video, in which a man called the police at about midnight because the wife kept on taking loudly and he couldn’t get to sleep. The police came out immediately and politely escorted the woman away. In Finland. Maybe Hungarian gvmnt MPs would support the domestic violence law if they knew it would work against such scenarios as well? 🙂

cheshire cat
Guest

wife kept on TALKING loudly, sorry

petofi
Guest

“He found god after thirty years of irreligosity…:

Really? I think he ‘found’, or was told, the political benefits of allying with the Roman Catholic church; after all, how else can you get your picture taken with a former member of the nazi youth otherwise known as the Pope?

petofi
Guest

Cherry17 :
Let us not forget that 44 women died because of domestic violence last year only,in Hungary. What about the children in these families.
To speak about bluestockings and other nonsense mumbo jumbo reflects total stupidity and insensitivity of Fidesz polticians.
This utmost cynicism is unbearable , shame on these so called ‘politicians’. I would rather call them jerks .

“..total stupidity..Fidesz members..”

I’ve come to the conclusion that Orban has denuded the party of any intelligent, psychologically-balanced, men so that he could stand–not head-and-shoulders above–but let’s say a centimeter or two above the morbid average. Even then, I suspect Orban of wearing elevators…

Member
There was recently an interview in HVG with Ms. Kim Lane Scheppele. She has rightfully pointed out that it is not right to blame Orban for everything. It is not Orban, or more it is not only Orban. Allow me to quote Ms Scheppele from HVG: “I always find it interesting how many things attributed to Viktor Orbán’s personal decision. I talked to officials who knew that the decoration style of their own office was personally chosen by Viktor Orbán. He is obviously an intelligent, energetic, decisive man, but you can not believe that he alone makes decision on everything. What is even stranger to me that the opposition also feels the same way. Of course, it’s worth to them to tie every wrong decision directly to him, but wit this they are personalizing politics, which for me is always a worrying phenomenon. It is way to easy to say that “the problem is Viktor Orbán himself,” while there are very serious system errors in Hungary.” http://hvg.hu/itthon/20120916_Na_de_mi_lesz_ha_Orban_kimerul__A_Princet#utm_source=hirkereso&utm_medium=listing&utm_campaign=hirkereso_2012_9_16 I am only saying this because I do not want this issue to go at the direction that this is all Orban’s fault. I cannot recall a time in Hungary when women were… Read more »
Louis Kovach
Guest

Dr Balogh: “A bluestocking attitude. Now here is a word one doesn’t often hear nowadays. A bluestocking is an educated, intellectual woman but the word also has negative implications: such women are often stereotyped as “frumpy”–that is, plain or unfashionable.”

Absolutly NOT. It means anything but “frumpy”. If anything it means the exact reverse!

Member

Louis Kovach :
Dr Balogh: “A bluestocking attitude. Now here is a word one doesn’t often hear nowadays. A bluestocking is an educated, intellectual woman but the word also has negative implications: such women are often stereotyped as “frumpy”–that is, plain or unfashionable.”
Absolutly NOT. It means anything but “frumpy”. If anything it means the exact reverse!

I’m proud of you, Louis! You are a real gentleman! 🙂

Pete H.
Guest

Nők lázadása – Kováts Virág (Milla)

Member

Louis Kovach :
Dr Balogh: “A bluestocking attitude. Now here is a word one doesn’t often hear nowadays. A bluestocking is an educated, intellectual woman but the word also has negative implications: such women are often stereotyped as “frumpy”–that is, plain or unfashionable.”
Absolutly NOT. It means anything but “frumpy”. If anything it means the exact reverse!

Oh no Louise, I am afraid you are wrong. Blue stocking were worn with casual outfits while black stockings with formal wear. Wearing blue stockings with formal wear showed lack of taste or lack of money. THe members of the literary groups were not concerned with social or economical status and its “members” could care less about if they are properly dressed. We can say they may looked frumpy by the existing standards.

Kim Lane Scheppele
Guest

Back in 1994, the “Feminist Network” (of which I was a member) founded the domestic violence hotline NaNe, which still operates in Budapest (see http://www.nane.hu/english/index.html for their English language page). At the time, we had quite a lot of support from politicians across the political spectrum and from the Budapest police who came to our police training courses. We rarely heard the sort of language that has just been spoken in the Hungarian Parliament. How times have changed.

I might add that perhaps the most tenacious and dedicated proponent of the hotline, someone who worked tirelessly to get the hotline established, was none other than Krisztina Morvai. She founded NaNe after she left her job as a staff member at the European Court of Human Rights and before she was elected by the UN General Assembly as a member of the expert body monitoring compliance with the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. How times have changed indeed.

LwiiH
Guest
Kim Lane Scheppele : Back in 1994, the “Feminist Network” (of which I was a member) founded the domestic violence hotline NaNe, which still operates in Budapest (see http://www.nane.hu/english/index.html for their English language page). At the time, we had quite a lot of support from politicians across the political spectrum and from the Budapest police who came to our police training courses. We rarely heard the sort of language that has just been spoken in the Hungarian Parliament. How times have changed. During the incident I described in a reply to post made a few days ago, I tried contacting a group in Budapest but they never responded. Given the lack of instruments such as restraining orders and some outrageous incidents…. Pauline Jewett, former member of the Canadian Parliament is quoted in a recent CBC Idea’s documentary called “Pondering the Repatriation”. In it she was very upset that the not-withstanding clause in the new constitutional agreement overrode the section on equality of women in Canadian society. Her comment was “i attended the cabinet meeting that followed the ceremony. Well without any preamble i express my shock and horror that fifty two percent of the canadian population had been left out… Read more »
Cherry17
Guest

Louis Kovach :
Dr Balogh: “A bluestocking attitude. Now here is a word one doesn’t often hear nowadays. A bluestocking is an educated, intellectual woman but the word also has negative implications: such women are often stereotyped as “frumpy”–that is, plain or unfashionable.”
Absolutly NOT. It means anything but “frumpy”. If anything it means the exact reverse!

Cherry17
Guest

Sorry I wanted tó include it in my previous comment.
Louis!
Why is it that you always feel the need to keep lecturing others including Eva with this hairsplitting attitude of yours.

petofi
Guest

Cherry17 :
Sorry I wanted tó include it in my previous comment.
Louis!
Why is it that you always feel the need to keep lecturing others including Eva with this hairsplitting attitude of yours.

Because: the never-ending inferiority complex of the truly Hungarian mind.

enufff
Guest

when a father treats the mother disrespectfully (either verbal or physical), the father is “teaching” his son(s) (..maybe x5) that women are just objects for them to push around.

I want to ask Varga, Balog and Rogan, imagine their mothers were being treated like sh*t , will they say the same?

Without women, these bunch of male chauvinist pig wouldn’t even exist!

Pista
Guest

petofi :

Cherry17 :
Sorry I wanted tó include it in my previous comment.
Louis!
Why is it that you always feel the need to keep lecturing others including Eva with this hairsplitting attitude of yours.

Because: the never-ending inferiority complex of the truly Hungarian mind.

pathetic

Bowen
Guest

Visitor :
Domestic violence runs in all cultures, nations, religions and even political affiliations.

This is a particularly ignorant and stupid comment. Yes, it does run across all countries. But in most, it is not implicitly encouraged, or made into a joke by sniggering men at the national level.

Bear in mind that violence against women begets violence against children.

And Hungary, I’m sorry to say, has a particularly high rate of child abuse. There is a culture in this particular country where children are too afraid to even report it, and even if they do, the authorities will turn a blind eye.

Studies on this subject can be found here:
http://pandorasbox.rs/hu/?page_id=7&lang=en

Ivan
Guest

Reading a Hungarian children’s story to our child … Of course, when reading such stories one should check them out first … But the story concludes with the ‘hero’ telling the villagers: “Now, I’m going to go home and beat up my wife, and I suggest you all do the same.” Cue much merriment. True.

Guest

London Calling!

From an Englishman – with an intimate knowledge of English English – relating to a word first coined in the 18th century in England – I can tell you Eva (not that you need me to!) that your use of ‘bluestocking’ is exactly right – particularly regarding its negative connotations.

In fact its use in England is not just frumpy – but has sexual undertones relating to lesbianism too!

This is entirely consistent with the ‘Reverends’ apparent misogyny – and consistent too with the perverted sexual repression of some Protestantism.

Regards

Charlie

Guest

London Calling!

Pete H – Thanks for the video – with subtitles. A very brave woman in Fideszbikkerland.

In England we have reached nowhere near her aims – but we are well on the way.

And I wonder how people know of Agnes Gareb’s plight? – Another brave woman standing up for what she believes in.

Her case has been well covered in England by the Guardian and the BBC (yes Nick Thorpe does some things right according to you expats!).

It is a scandal that she has been treated in the way she has – and we – the International community – should have pressured Orban more to release her. She should have never been prosecuted in the first place.

I believe it was a mechanism to ensure women give birth in hospital – for reasons not associated with free-choice in childbirth.

Regards

Charlie

Guest

….should read:

“I wonder how many people know of Agnes Gareb’s plight?”

Guest

…of course – we all have on here!

Eva covered it in 2010:

http://hungarianspectrum.org/?s=midwife

Lutra lutra
Guest

While a large part of male Hungary wallows in attitudes you’d associate with trailer trash, the UK is considering extending the definition of domestic abuse to cover mental and financial forms as well.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2204778/Domestic-violence-include-mental-torment-laws-applied-aged-18.html

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