I have an interesting reader who often poses interest questions. A bit of a welcome break from Covid-19, I think,
Thank you for your post Bjorn, (on the previous blog) there is much to digest there, particularly with applying the feminist perspective to everything, which I think probably applies to most western countries, not just Sweden. I should perhaps explain to readers that students of literature when deconstructing a text will examine the text from a Feminist, Marxist, Psychological etc, perspective. For example, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein from a Feminist perspective; The creature had no name - neither did women, male obsession, 'workshop of filthy creation'. From a Marxist perspective - the creature was made up of many parts and more powerful than it knew. From a psychological perspective, obsession, narcissism, batshit crazy. Applying a feminist perspective (thinking) when reading a text means actively seeking anything that highlights womens' subjugation and male patriarchal dominance. Of course, quite rightly, 19th century literature is littered with it, even to the point where talented female authors had to use male pseudonyms to get published. As Virginia Woolf pointed out, history is HIS-story, all the records of our past were recorded by men. Even up until the last century, women (working class) were only educated enough for a life in domestic service. Shakespeare's sister Judith (imaginary) would never have earned a living as a playwright, more likely she would have ended up in prostitution and penury.
I have always described myself as a feminist, simply for the fact that I have never considered myself in any way inferior to any man. Not since, I was 5 year old and learned to fight twice as hard! But I have never felt inferior, I have never felt I didn't get a job or indeed anything I went after because I wasn't a man. That of course may all be down to attitude, I had a crazy mother who didn't accept any of society's rules, so it was probably nature and nurture. That's not say I don't acknowledge blatant inequality and that societies still exist who treat women as second class citizens. But my answer to every question along those lines is education, education, education.
So what is feminism now? It's used by the right to promote corsets, high heels, botox and looking good on a man's elbow - see entry requirements for WH female staff. The Left embrace all forms of victimhood and nothing makes you a victim more than being born the wrong sex. I wish they would stop telling young girls that they are disadvantaged, or somehow weaker than their male peers, but that is the dialogue that has been established. How about telling girls how great they are, and how they can change the world?
Real feminists for me, are women who celebrate and embrace their gender, women who achieve their goals without whining about the opposition and asking for concessions because they are women. It's like trying to get an advantage by claiming you have a physical handicap, and it irritates me intensely. I don't know how any woman can claim a victory if they didn't compete on a level playing field. I think it is heart breaking that talented young men (geniuses waiting to be discovered?) who are discarded from opportunities because of their gender. How can we find the best among us unless opportunity is truly equal?
When I think of feminism, I think of the most prominent 'Feminists' of today. Those who have attached the label to themselves, or had it attached to them by the media. Ivanka Trump, desperately in need of a 'cause' when she entered the Whitehouse, thought I'm a woman, in a cabinet predominantly made up of rich old white men, I'll be the representative of women, the successful ones. To be honest I have a big problem with Ivanka's female entrepreneur schemes. She is going into extremely poor societies who's cultures she does not understand and is offering cash only to women. What about the men? What about the husbands and fathers, the traditional breadwinners? How does her brand of philanthropy work in patriarchal societies? Does she think she can change their culture with cash? I really don't think you should fight gender discrimination by creating a new brand of it by discriminating against men.
On this side of the pond, we have Labour MP Jess Phillips, not nearly so glamorous or interesting, who thinks women should be more man like. Or, perhaps that should be more lad like in their speech and behaviour, louder and more offensive but ready to cry 'anti women' the minute she starts losing. To be honest I don't know what her feminist causes are, other than the right for middle aged, middle class, middle income, foghorns like herself not to be offended or chatted up (as if!). I've always had a problem with many of the prominent women who pitch and campaign on behalf of women everywhere, because when you start to dig a little deeper, you find that their pitching and campaigning relates only to issues that affect themselves. How many of us, for example need a panic room? You don't see them p&c ing for working class mothers, women who can't for love nor money, get the feckless fathers of their children to pay child support. When young, frightened mothers were being fitted with ankle tags for not handing their kids over to potentially dangerous dads, Janet Street-Porter was writing about leg room on luxury airlines.
Feminism won't reach down into the masses until it applies to the majority of women in the form of equal pay, equal opportunity, free childcare, free school dinners for all, those very real, very basic, practical obstacles that make the playing field unequal for women. But they are not headline grabbing issues like 'Lesbian MP has brick thrown at campaign office window', or 'Labour MP threatened by trolls on twitter wants a panic room'. I think of those suffragettes who stood on orange boxes and chained themselves to railings, who went before her and sigh.
The majority of working class women, and the majority of women are working class, do not like, or indeed take any notice of ardent feminists, mostly because, they have never, in any way, been relatable to their lives. For the two parties, the distain is mutual. Unfortunately for radical members of any cause, whilst they are able to get themselves all worked up into a frenzy over something trivial, passing that frenzy on is not so easy. Especially as we love, with all their faults, the enemy we are supposed to hate. Most women don't hate men. they have fathers, husbands and sons that they love. They have never been on board with making men the enemy. They actually like men, the non PC ones, the confused ones (the majority) and even the cheeky chappies.
Given the long or is it short, history of Feminism (200 years?), we have probably made a giant leap to about half way there. That is, within just a few generations, most of the wrongs have been put right, but there is still a long way to go. In my opinion there is still a debate/argument to be had as to which path we take. The problem the most radical feminists have, is that the women they are trying to influence, Do we carry on much the same as we ever did, especially as it was probably being non PC that got most couples together, or do we veer towards the sensitive feelings of those who just can't make their minds up? I have no problem with anyone being whatever gender they choose, indeed I always celebrate those brave enough to embrace their uniqueness.
Those who upset me are the androgynous, 'how dare you gender assign me' ones, who I fear want us all sporting short, back and sides and sporting grey onesies. No pink toothbrush and blue toothbrush, let alone miniature kitchens and baby dolls for the girls or plastic grenades and A47's for the sons. Now you can buy my little ponies for your sons and tanks for daughters, a giant step for mankind. Parenting must be hell these days, but my heart especially goes out to those with 'woke' parents. But the gender assigning deserves a whole blog of it's own, so I will put it aside for now.
Returning to the points you raise Bjorn, because as you say, Sweden is known for it's freedom and egalitarian ways, I don't think anyone seriously thinks Swedish women are oppressed in any way. I personally think it is a good thing that men and women are so different, vive la difference (wish I knew how to do symbols), it's what makes the world go around, ultimately, how can any government legislate against human nature? Misogyny still exists, as it always will, but a wise woman knows how to turn that misogyny back on the man enough to make him squirm. She teaches her daughter how to do it too. Like most of the unpleasant beliefs and practices from the past, open misogyny will simply become socially unacceptable.
I don't stand by, with, or anywhere near the so called Feminists of today. I think the 'Me Too' movement is a huge step backwards. Those turning trivial, instantly forgettable instances of inappropriate touching as life changing traumas are the weakest among us, not role models. Their sensitive, fragile, natures, I would imagine, have taken all of the fun out of the workplace. The young and flirty and even the old and flirty were always the most fun to work with. When you take all that away from an office environment, what's left? What makes you go in every day at 9.00am? A love of typing and filing?
Feminist thinking I fear Bjorn, accompanies a clampdown on our language, our Anglo Saxon vernacular (the swear words), our innate humour, our lawful right to laugh out loud at situations we find funny. If we go by Orwell's vision of the future, we have a dark and gloomy world ahead, one in which we all wear androgynous grey suits and sport 'back and sides'. Who on earth wants that?