Friday, April 08, 2005

Late Night Thoughts Recapitulated

With the recent news that Sweden is (most probably) going to have a feminist political party (that is , a political party with feminism as its political platform - is this a world first?) in the 2006 elections, a lot of murky debate issues have begun bubbling to the surface. For some reason, this seems to call out to the worst parts of some people - at least those that write to newspapers and call to radio stations. I've yet to see a good reason why we should not have a feminist party in this the debate, but I've seen several stupid, sexist or plainly willfully uninformed ones. (Like "we can not have a democracy if people vote with their bodies", "flee Sweden before the man-haters come after you" and similar bouts of blazing intelligence). Nor have I seen very much (independent) analysis on why we do need one - most seem to be along the lines of "having a feminist party is alright but I'm not going to vote for them since feminism has nothing to do with most parts of politics". And in my still rather uninformed state, I'm not going to decide yet what I think - besides that we do need new viewpoints in the debate and I am bound to agree that having a feminist party is a good way.

If someone had asked me a few years ago, I'd probably have said that it was unnecessary. In retrospect, I think I should have realised a bit sooner that men and women are treated differently in a myriad of small ways that definitely add upp to huge consequences in many people's lives. I've had a lot of occasions:

When I was five years old and irritated that people (relatives, for instance) tried to give me pink things all the time, although I despised pink.

When I as a kid got dolls, play stoves and play sewing machines (which I cannot remember having ever put on a wish list) but not the Lego spaceships and complicated Technic Lego models I fervently wished for.

When I had to wait until close to closing time at day nursery to be able to play with one of my best friends who happened to be a boy (the view among the other children was that the girls should play with the girls and the boys should play with the boys)

When I to the question "Miss, I am finished with my math exercises, can I have some more?" always got the answer "no, go and help the other kids".

When it was never, ever questioned that the girls got picked last for soccer and any other ball game you can think of.

When I for the thousandth time encountered the opinion that I could not possibly like math since I was a girl. Or physics.

When the "nice girls" in my class were placed beside the "unruly boys" to keep them quiet.

Based on that, and a hundred other petty examples, one would think that I should have drawn the conclusion at the age of ten, at the latest.

Or when me and my classmates became teenagers and collided headfirst with the "whore"/"madonna" clich├ęs. Enough to wake me up? No.

Or when most girls in my class started complaining about how "fat" they were and were irritated when I, quite truly, told them "You're thinner than me, and I am thin, so you cannot possibly be fat". I was merely astounded that they could not see the logic of it...

Or when it turned out that my first real boyfriend was going to inherit a quite substantial amount of money from older relatives and some people started telling me - and my mother - that now I had my future worked out, *wink wink nudge nudge*.

I am getting bored of this, but there are many more available examples. To make a long story short, I think I had to move away from home (small town) and meet other people (much bigger city) with other ingrained sets of norms to see that this, to a large extent, was part of a bigger picture. Hopefully, if this debate gets going, enough stupidity is going to turn up that people recognize it for what it is a lot sooner.

If Sweden is the most equal there is (as the opinion seems to be, internationally), than the rest of the world is in a sorry state indeed.


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