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Feminism

Grad school is fabulous but busy busy busy. I have so many things I want to write and think about but I haven’t got the time.

I was at a CEMS mingle tonight and I met some very interesting people and had some great conversations. I’m not a fan of mingles, introvert that I am, but as far as those things go, this was a good one.

I’m very ashamed of something though.

During a conversation with a man whose passion was Borneo and orangutangs and the environment, I mentioned that I’m really interested in feminism.

Except I didn’t say that.

I said that I was really interested in gender equality.

Because I wanted to be taken seriously and not face all the crap that feminism gets. All the crap you get when you say you’re a feminist.

The crap I want to fight and that I’m playing right into by not allowing myself to use the word feminism.

It was a conscious/unconscious decision on my part, I did it on purpose, but too quickly for my brain to analyze the implications of why I wasn’t using the word feminism.

I also think part of it was that I was talking to a man, and it’s incredibly rare that a man takes you seriously if you mention the word feminism.

Well. Fuck you patriarchy. From now on I’m always gonna say I’m a feminist. Not more dilly-dallying.

I hadn’t intended to write anything about the International Women’s Day, mostly because I’m still catching up on my work after being sick for a week.

But then I read so many great pieces that I wanted to say something, just a little.

My only request for today is:

Remember those who came before us.
Fantastic women like Mary Wollstonecraft, Josephine Butler, Emeline Pankhurst, Florence Nightingale, Susan B Anthony and so many others who are rarely remembered.

Women who made it possible for me to sit here, 23 years old, with short hair and trousers, expressing my opinion, knowing that I have a place at a university, that I can get a job and earn my own money, that I don’t have to have a male guardian, that I can vote or even become prime minister.

These women, who fought against such oppression, don’t you think that they had to hear how “unwomanlike” they were?
That wasn’t it enough now?
Hadn’t they considered what would happen to the families?
That no man was safe from women like them?
That really, there is a difference between men and women and they should simply accept that?
That their unnatural inclinations and opinions probably were due to a “celibate lifestyle”?
That they were loud, annoying and destroyed things for normal women?

If they had meekly accepted all that and said “Well, I suppose it’s enough now.” and just stopped fighting?
Change is terrifying. It doesn’t happen if you sit quietly in a corner and accept things. If you’re quiet because frankly, you’re annoying people?

Should I tell Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head because she said she wanted to go to school, to be quiet?

Or Astrid Johannson, who was bullied by her own principal because she protested against a sexist painting in her school? Should I tell her to shut up and find something bigger and better to do?

So don’t be quiet.

Don’t let yourself be silenced.

Remembered those who came before, and what they did and really think about whether or not you should stay quiet.

And give a woman you admire some love.

More Steubenville and more rape culture.

This is an especially great video from a man about what we as a society need to teach young men.Because blame should always be placed where it belongs, with the rapist, not the victim. But we can’t act like all rapists are gun-wielding mad men who assault women in parks, because almost none of them are. But boys and men today aren’t taught that it’s unacceptable to touch, have sex with or shout at someone just because you feel like it. They’re taught it’s ok and what they should be doing to be “manly”.  And however hard it is for me to admit this, we cannot teach young men that they’re entitled to women’s bodies and then start yelling loudly when they act on that, because they simply didn’t know better. We need to act much, much earlier than that by teaching everyone, boys and girls, about their right to their own bodies, and the fact that you never, ever have a right to someone else’s body, unless they consent.

This is why sex ed is so important, y’all.

Now go watch the video:

Technically, I’m writing an essay that’s due tonight, which is the exact reason why I’m blogging so much today.

I just wanted to share this “lovely” example of sexism for kids. This is a dance costume, obviously aimed at younger kids. Cute, a pair of overalls and a striped sweater in different colors, very suitable for a mixed group of kids.

Except the makers obviously saw the need to make two versions of the costume, one for girls and one for boys. The boys has trouser legs to below his knees, a real shirt while the girls have very short trouser legs and some sort of leotard with attachable sweater arms (I don’t even know what to call them…)

If ANYONE can tell me a single reason why there should be a boy and a girl version of this costume, a real reason, I’m listening.

(…I would also like to point out the heavy makeup and sexualized poses…)

In light of the Steubenville rape case and the brutal gang rape in New Dehli, Washington Post published the following picture:

rapist_visualization_01

Source: Washington Post

As usual when one tries to discuss rape, there is always a large cry of “won’t somebody think of the poor men, falsely accused by witchy women?”
Can we end that myth now, please?

Edit: The graph is originally from The Enliven Project.

(On a completely different note: the title quotes will from now on (or last post, I think) be the first tag in each post.)

I read a great blog post (in Swedish) by Elisabeth Björk and I just had to interrupt my studying to blog.

You see, all my life, since i was very little. I’ve known that I’m fat. And that this was a BAD THING. And while not as fat as many others, still, it’s noticable and different.

And that was, in a way, what defined me. When I was teased in school, that was the one thing they focused on. When I bought clothes, same thing. When I started exercising, it was all about becoming thin(ner). When I got to puberty, it wasn’t about growing up, but that I might lose weight.

If I would only lose some weight…
If I just lost some weight…
I could…
I would…!

If only…

This is what I’ve heard, all my life, from magazines, school, my parents, my relatives…
If you just lose weight, everything will be fine. If you’re thin, you won’t be different anymore.

Got any problems? Headache, stomach ache, depression? I’m sure it’s just because you’re fat.

Any wonder that I thought this was the only thing worth noticing about me. Fat. As in something negative, a burden on me. A Swedish journalist once wrote: “In every fat girl, there’s a thin woman longing to get out.”

My very existance, my entire life, was defined by the fact that I’m not as thin as someone else.

23 years on this earth, and that was it. My eulogy: “She wasn’t as thin as the others.”

My life was, I felt, essentially on hold because I was fat. I won’t get a boyfriend as long as I’m fat. There’s no point in even trying. I can’t dance, because I’m fat. I can’t wear short skirts because I’m fat. I will though, once I’m thin. Later. Some other time. Just not now, because I don’t deserve to right now.

It is insane. Insane, do you hear me? How much time did I waste waiting for that one day where it would be OK for me to live my life? How insane is it that I’ve been taught my entire life that that is just something I have to accept. Second-rate citizen. 

And it’s my fault, because I’m fat and that’s because I have no self-control and I’m disgusting. Read any magazine, that is the bottom line.

In a way, this is what I’m most grateful to feminism about. The realization that I can life my life and I’m about so much more than just being fat.

That being fat is OK. I don’t have to wait.

I’m so many things worth noticing. I’m so much more than just fat.

Dear Lord…
I’m sorry, but there are a lot of idiots in the world.

Like Thomas Pascoe who blogs for the Telegraph.

He wrote a post today called “Sweden’s insane anti-discrimination laws have created a generation of lost women” so I’m sure you can tell what kind of man he is… (*cough* sexist bastard *cough*) and in the post he gives us lovely lines such as:

the result of stripping women of their social roles as mothers has not been the development of a new balance in society which still respects women, but rather a sexual nihilism with which most women are instinctively uncomfortable

and

we see a rise of a tits-and-ass culture that emphasises the physical because there is nothing else left

and my personal favorite:

No boy grows up dreaming of being a princess. I find it hard to believe many little girls grow up wanting to shoot people.

And why, you ask, did he write this blogpost?

Because he’s upset that Toys R Us’ Christmas catalouge is gender-netural this year. In it, little boys occasionally push stollers and little girls play with toolkits. Gasp, sigh and the world is obviously ending.
Not only does Pascoe seem to lack any sort of analysis capabilities or abilities to look at broader social movements, he is also abysmally bad at statistics.

He claims, for example:

Women face the highest rate of rape in Europe and a high rate of domestic violence

But he doesn’t stop to think about what he’s actually saying. In fact,  Sweden has a much broader definition of rape than most countries, since a law change in 2005. Immediately afterwards, rape statistics increased.

He also seems unaware of the fact that 75-95% of rapes are not reported to the police, either due to fear of reprisal or because of shame. One reason that more rapes are reported in Sweden might simply be because of those “insane discrimination laws” making it easier for women to escape the social stigma of rape, and actually daring to report the rapist.

But apparently, women in Thomas Pascoe’s world are empty, meaningless shells because society has taken the mother role from them and little boys grow up wanting to shoot people.

I think I’ll stay in my world, thanks.

 

There is no such thing as a hymen.

When a girl has sex for the first time, it hurts. She might even bleed a little. That’s because the hymen, the barrier blocking the vagina, breaks when she has sex. It can be broken earlier by tampons, or horseback riding or biking.
Right?

No. It’s a lie.

IT DOESN’T EXIST.

I hope that this is common knowledge today, but I’ve realized that maybe it isn’t. Time and again, I see books that have scenes with girl losing their virginity, and the hymen almost always features in some way. Pain, blood and so on.

The hymen was “created” as a way to control women’s sexuality. There’s no way to tell if a girl has had penetrative sex or not, just as there’s no way to tell if a guy has. If sex hurts the first time, it’s usually because the girl isn’t wet enough, or because you’re going too fast.

Please, please, don’t spread this lie to people anymore.

More information: In Swedish: Ungdomsmottagningarna, RFSU In English: ScarletTeen, Huffington Post

(Disclaimer: I don’t think I’ll write a lot about sex on this blog, simply because I’m a bit of a prude. But this is important enough that I don’t care about anyone’s sensibilities.)