Claiming space: Inconsiderate drunk men in public places

While writing this I am on a train ride home from attending a PhD seminar in Stockholm. Exhausted both physically and mentally. The seminar has been really great, but I am not used to being around 40ish people daily, constantly, while also paying attention and trying to understand what is presented and told, as well as articulate what ever the hell it is that I am doing. But anyway, this is not what I wanted to write about. No, the reason for this post is the fact that I just got to switch my seat because of a man sitting opposite of me, drunk off his arse. So here’s to you, Mr Shitfaced Man:

Cheers for getting on a 3+h train ride after drinking what must have been half a bar,  thus reeking of booze and polluting the air that we are supposed to share in this enclosed metal tube (space claiming: You 1 – Me 0). Cheers for cracking open yet another beer that you so cleverly brought with you on this journey where consuming alcohol is prohibited, seeing as how the 1000 you drank before getting on weren’t enough (You 2 – Me 0). Cheers for burping out loud (You 3 – Me 0). Cheers for scaring away the guy sitting next to me so that I was left alone in your unwanted company (You 4 – Me 0). Cheers for trying to make contact with me for one straight hour, when I had my headphones on, gaze on everything else but you, clearly not in the mood for any interaction (You 5 – Me 0). Cheers for being persistent! Cheers for assuming that I in any way had any desire what so freaking ever to speak to you. Cheers for imposing yourself on my personal space, and taking up more than your share of the table that we, again, are supposed to be sharing (You 6 – Me 0). Cheers for being so darn considerate. Cheers for taking up both seats on your side and falling asleep (You 7 – Me 0), finally not harassing me anymore. Cheers for falling down on the floor right when the train staff came to check tickets, so that I could tell them how uncomfortable I was in your presence and finally get to move way the hell away from you (You 8 – Me accepting defeat). I hope to never see you again, truly. Cheers.

It’s not that I am some sort of moralist who always looks down on people enjoying some alcohol, I would be a hypocrite not acknowledging my own alcohol consumption in public spaces. However, I have never in my life acted like that man was acting just now. Not even remotely close. Never. Sure, at times I have been a bit rowdy on bus or tram rides with friends while going from one bar to another, but those rides lasted around 10-20 minutes on vehicles that constantly (i.e. every 1-2 minutes) are stopping at various stations. Those were rides where the people on them are not stuck with one another for 3+ hours. Where fresh air gets in at every stop. Moreover, I (or my friends and I as a group) have never in a drunk state persistently tried to make contact with another person who ignored every one of my/our attempts. Not once. And what’s perhaps even more interesting: I have never myself experienced this type of behavior from a drunk woman (but surely, it happens too…right?). This was however, not my first encounter with a wasted man trying his darnedest to make contact with me without me wanting to or asking for that kind of harassing behavior. Of course, some might say, everything is not about gender so why even go there? Well, basically, everything is about gender. So that is why I am going there.

Now I know that there are countless studies about alcohol consumption and that men in general consume more alcohol than women (as far as I know), for various reasons. However, I do not really care about the consumption per se, but rather this ignorant, belligerent, inconsiderate, persistent, space claiming, harassing behavior that some men seem to develop as soon as they’ve reached a certain level of drunkenness. I do not want to hear any stupid excuses about alcohol making people dumb or behaving differently, cause guess what: 1. I know, 2. If you become an ass when you drink too much, what about drinking less or not at all? How is it everyone else’s fault that you cannot handle your own alcohol consumption? How about taking some responsibility over the way you act and being considerate of the people around you?

Uh geez, sorry, but this is getting ridiculous. Now another man who I saw in the train bistro drinking a beer a while ago, sitting on the other side of the aisle in the seat behind me has started talking out really crazy loud on his phone while making himself comfortable by taking off his shoes and placing his feet on the empty seat in front of him which happens to be directly to my right. I was wondering what that smell was, and now I know. Cheers for that Mr One of Way Too Many Men With The Same Pattern Of Inconsiderate Rude Space-Claiming Behavior.

I might just take off my boots that I have been wearing all damn day and stick my feet out towards him from my seat. The only problem is that there are people directly behind me who I do not wish to disturb in this inconsiderate way. Should I really have to sink to their levels in order for things to change? In order for them to understand what they are doing? I hope not.

Oh, and now he is drunkenly singing by himself and tapping on the table. How nice of him to share that with the rest of us, even though we never asked him to.

Empowerment – the long winding road

Happy women’s day to us all!

For me, today is a day that inspires me to keep fighting, keep moving forward, keep striving for empowerment and equality. Today is also a day with sad and frustrating undertones since it reminds us that we still have such a long way to go. The road ahead is never ending, or so it seems..

For the last months I have been working with several papers for my doctoral thesis, mostly I have been gathering empirical material in the form of interviews and focus group discussions for a particular paper that will be about female sexual agency in contemporary advertising. I will not go into too much detail, but needless to say there is an ambivalence towards this shift in advertising where the idea, the message is that women + sex = power. As always, women’s bodies, their appearance, is at the core of this subject, and sadly it is still and will still be up for many discussions in years, decades to come, I’m afraid. Personally, I am a bit torn between thinking: “women should be able to display themselves any which way they want”, and “hm, yes sure that does sound lovely, but we cannot ignore the fact that the social construction of women and their bodies/appearance is not the same as for men, and women are unfortunately much more sexualized, still, so trying to gain power by being sexy is kind of another side of the male-gaze coin. Is this really the way to empowerment?”. I do not really think there is a correct answer or solution to this conundrum, but getting to study what other women  think about it has provided me with different perspectives and inspirations. This work is for me so thrilling, frustrating, eye-opening and tough, I am truly blessed to have gotten this opportunity to delve into such issues that I am so passionate about.

On another note.. in a couple of days it will be the 20th anniversary of one of the best tv-shows ever: Buffy, the vampire slayer, first airing on the 10th of March 1997. For me, growing up in the 90’s/00’s, Buffy was such an inspirational, kick-arse feminist character that inspired in so many different ways to be yourself, to be strong, to take place and claim space, to be brave, to be ok with being sad, afraid, thinking that you may not be good enough, but realizing that you are. I feel a bit sad for generations that have come after me, who instead got to grow up with Twilight or whatnot instead of Buffy, because Buffy is a fighter, not a push-over, she is not obsessed with guys all the time, since she is a bit too damn busy saving the world.

In her own words:
buffy
Truer words were never spoken..

So happy 20th anniversary Buffy, and thank you for inspiring me and other young girls to be empowered.

So what else is new, well, I recently got the lovely news that one of my papers was accepted to the Macromarketing conference held in New Zealand, yay me! And today, of all days, I also got the news that another short paper was accepted for another conference, in Paris. So double-yay for me, on this wonderful, women’s day.

The boys club, or: How women have been, and still are, kept out of history

As I am writing this, I have just finished my first day at a seminar abroad, and I must say, the seminar started off on a frustrating and infuriating note for me. As we were listening to the first lecture this morning, which was supposed to be about Ricoeur, the lecturer, a male Professor from France, began with a brief sort of history slash back story of philosophers and great thinkers, among which Ricoeur was one (along with Derrida, Husserl, Foucault etc.). After talking about this and that philosopher he showed us a slide of all he had touched upon with their names and pictures, dates and such, and I couldn’t help thinking: There’s something wrong with this picture.
All the faces looking back at me from the screen, were Men. My anger and frustration was instant, I felt my pulse rising as the question boiled in my head; Why is there not a single woman pictured there?

Alas, I bit my tongue and let him continue on uninterrupted. I figured, maybe he will mention more, maybe he will say something. Or, maybe I am overreacting. But no, I am not, and I hate myself for even thinking that for a second, for going there, for almost forgiving yet again the erasure of women. Fuck that.

As the day went on, my frustration grew, but as a sign from the universe, it so happened that in the last section of the day, the group discussions, I was placed in the same group as the lecturer. I kept going back and forth for most of the discussion on whether or not I should now take the opportunity to ask him what he was thinking, why he decided to ignore female philosophers completely, and at the end of the discussion I raised my hand and spoke out. I said that I noticed that there were only men included in his presentation, that he didn’t mention a single woman, that while talking about this and that collaboration or link to Ricoeur he did not make a single connection to, say, Simone de Beauvoir, who, one could say, had similar thoughts on identity as did Ricoeur. Why was she left out?

The answer I got was, what I would call: a generic-non-reply-excuse. Basically, he said that he was not that familiar with her work (! How about reading up on it then?), that women at that time were not that encouraged to take part of the discourse (! Sure, but what about those who did?), that in France, Simone de Beauvoir is not that “popular” (! Ok, but we are not IN France, and you just gave a lecture about Ricoeur and how he was not that popular in France and had to go to America..), that the university at that time was very misogynist (! Obviously, still does not explain why you insist on keeping it that way..), and then another male lecturer chimed in trying to save the situation by saying: That was still not that long ago, and surely in a hundred years it will look different and more women will be included in the seminar then. And my honest response to that is: Well. No. Actually, things will in fact NOT look different then, unless we MAKE it different. If we keep excluding women, they will never be a part of the discourse. If we keep ignoring women, overlooking them, they will remain in the periphery.

Women have been written out of history for too long, it is not always that noticeable, it is not always complete or permanent, but it has happened, and still is happening. As Rebecca Solnit writes in one of the best books I’ve read this year, or probably my entire life, Men Explain Things to Me:

“Some women get erased a little at a time, some all at once. Some reappear. Every woman who appears wrestles with the forces that would have her disappear. She struggles with the forces that would tell her story for her, or write her out of the story, the genealogy, the rights of man, the rule of law. The ability to tell your own story, in words or images, is already a victory, already a revolt.”

By say, not including female philosophers at a lecture where you mention a dozen male philosophers, you are, whether consciously or not, keeping women out of the discourse. You are showing your students that great thinkers equals men. You are holding on to the misogynist rules that have kept women on the outside for centuries. The fact that you have not read up on any female philosophers is of course also part of the problem, in fact, I can almost be certain that when your teachers presented their lectures on great philosophers, they most likely also did not mention women. And so the story goes. So it spins. Round and round. And if we keep spinning like this, we will forever be too damn dizzy to notice what is wrong with the bloody picture.

Enough is enough, is enough. It’s time to write a new history.

Not all men

I recently came across this article (in Swedish), in regards to the “not all men” debate, about how men, ordinary Swedish (or other..) men, help themselves to women’s bodies. Somehow, the “right” that men (think they) have to put their hands on women, surpasses the woman’s own rights to her own body. How is that normal? How can anyone think that this is ok, truly, really, ever?

The author of the article, an ordinary Swedish man, talks about this skewed, unjust problem, and tells stories about how this all started in middle school, where boys, ordinary boys, chased girls, put their hands on them, looked down their pants. How it then morphed in adulthood and was translated into more violent sexual assaults and rape. The author saw his friends, co-workers, acquaintances, all ordinary men, help themselves in different ways to women’s bodies, and he thought, foolishly, that he would never, could never, do something like that. Until he did. Cause the problem here is not that the rapists, assailants, grabbers are all monsters that hide during the day and come creeping out of the bushes at night. No, it’s that they are ordinary men, who take a step, or two, or a hundred, too far, who help themselves to something that they have been brought up to think, is rightfully theirs.

The stories he told all sound familiar to me, and I am sure, to all of my female friends, however my, our, point of view is from the other side. I too remember how the ordinary boys in middle school all of a sudden started to grab us girls, how they sometimes playfully, sometimes violently, put their hands on our bodies. How we were just supposed to deal with it, to feel flattered by it, how “boys will be boys” was an ever present echo in the air. I cannot possibly recall all the numerous times that my ass was grabbed by an ordinary boy in school, but I do remember a specific instant: a regular day when I was sitting on a table outside the lunch room, waiting for my friends, and this ordinary boy, one of the cute older boys, came sitting next to me, how we talked, joked, and how he suddenly slipped his hand on my butt, like it was inevitable, normal, something that I should feel good about. And the problem was, that I in one sense did feel good since that was what I was supposed to feel; if the cute boy at school put his hands on you, you were supposed to feel proud, flattered, happy. The question of whether or not you wanted his hands on your body at that particular moment, was not even a question at all. Obviously, whenever he felt that some ass-grabbing was due, that was always the appropriate time. So while I sat there, feeling his hand on my butt, I felt nervously happy, but at the same time, very, very uncomfortable. In my head, I tried to convince myself that it was ok, that it was something good, that I should just shut up and be glad about it, about getting this sort of attention. Cause if I told him off, surely, I would be the biggest dork ever. Right? He would then probably tease me, or even worse: never pay attention to me again. And since my “worth”, my raison d’être was (I was taught) linked to the amount of attention received from the cute ordinary boys at school, I could never say no. Looking back now, I wish I had done something, but while thinking this, I get angry, because no; it was not my responsibility to not get grabbed by him. It was his responsibility to not put his hands on me. It was not my fault then, and it was not my fault years later when snorkeling in Egypt, where a guide decided to conduct me away from the group and put his hands on my breasts inside my bikini. It was not my fault any of the numerous times while out dancing with my friends when  someone came and touched me from behind. It was not my fault when I was grabbed on the tram. It was never my fault when some ordinary man put his hands on me without my consent. It’s their fault, always.

And like the author in the article argued: this is such a regular, normal, ordinary thing that happens to everyone, and if you cannot count at least 10 women who have been sexually assaulted in some way, and 10 men who have assaulted a woman, that is because they have not told you about it. It is not because it does not exist in your immediate circle of friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, it is not because the ones who do that are monsters in hiding, or because “not all men” do that. All men, ordinary men, are capable of doing that, even the nicest ones, even the ones who “would never”. That is why the “not all men” argument has to die out. It has to be buried and forgotten so we can move forward and deal with the issue at hand, the norms that teaches ordinary men that they have the right to women’s bodies, that they may put their hands wherever they want, whenever they want.

This is a man’s issue, a woman’s issue, a human issue, everyone is involved, in some way or another, even those who de facto do not put their hands where they do not belong, if you are silently letting that happen around you, it makes you culpable too.

All men, ordinary men; it’s time to take a stand.

Banning sexist ads

Things are starting to happen, more and more debates are stirring up regarding the sexist misrepresentations we have been force fed for decades by ads, institutional and systemic activities are blossoming in the form of bans. If things continue to progress in this order, we might, might, be able to overcome the daily litany of sexism we are exposed to each and every day. I do not think that we will ever be rid of sexism altogether, that would be too much to ask, right? But if we could at least not portray ourselves in demeaning ways, then that would surely affect the way we see and act towards each other as well.

There are and have been many different projects dealing with these issues for the last couple of years, to name a few: The Representation Project with social media campaigns like #NotBuyingIt and #MediaWeLike, the ad agency Badger & Winters’ campaing #WomenNotObjects, the underwear brand Aerie with their #AerieREAL campaign. Not to mention the many scholars and authors who have been discussing the way we portray women and men in ads, art and film since the 60’s and 70’s (for instance: Laura Mulvey, Jean Kilbourne, John Berger, Erving Goffman, Sut Jhally, Denice A. Yanni, Debra Merskin, and many, many more). Nonetheless, real change takes time, and effort, and endurance. Since advertising as we know it is a social institution, changing it is not just a matter of flicking a switch, as Warlaumont wrote:

Advertising images have a special importance to scholars of popular culture because of the “reality” they construct for the viewer, especially in terms of gender portrayals. Because they are ubiquitous, these portrayals often become our established visual grammars of gender. Since these images are driven, in part, by economic conditions – which often encourage the exploitation of women and others in order to sell products – change has been met with some resistance.

Needless to say, the images we are given have become established, we have breathed them in throughout our lives, they are a part of our norms and value system, therefore, not all see or understand that this is in fact an issue, that this is not the way it has to be, that such images are socially constructed, and thus, they can be re-structured. Thankfully, there are those who do and who have brought this up time and time again, who fight for all of us, even the ones who do not want to see or admit that this affects them as well.

Lately, other larger organizations and institutions have also started to understand the problem, and taken a stand towards it. Some weeks ago the city of Trondheim in Norway declared that ads conveying negative body image will be banned and no longer displayed in public spaces.

“No advertising that conveys a false image of the model/models’ appearance and contributes to a negative body image will be permitted.”

And in a similar manner, London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has recently banned body-shaming ads on the transit system.

“As the father of two teenage girls, I am extremely concerned about this kind of advertising which can demean people, particularly women, and make them ashamed of their bodies.”

Finally. Action is taken, for real, in a way that can actually bring about some change. Now, I must also express that I am not that particularly happy about the fact that such ads have to be banned, it would be so much better if companies and ad agencies just stopped producing them by their own free will. But since this has not occurred to many (or most..) of them, well, then I guess it’s better that they get stopped by any means necessary, such as bans. It is not enough to just have some advertising standards that companies should follow, without there also being repercussions when they refuse to follow them. In Sweden for instance, we have the Reklamombudsmannen, a foundation where consumers can for instance report ads that they do not find ethically acceptable. There are different types of reports that can be made and one of them concerns gender discriminatory ads, but even if you report an ad, and even if that ad gets condemned for sexism for instance, there are no repercussions what so ever for the company behind the ad. They can, if they want, take it down, or they can totally ignore it and keep spewing their sexist agenda. Such a system is a nice thought, really, it is nice to think that people would behave and if someone tells them they have done something bad, they apologize and try never doing it again. But, unfortunately for us all, people are not like that, not all the time, not everyone. So if they will not listen to reason or just have a general understanding of equality and not want to demean and exploit both women and men, well, fuck it, let’s ban them. In a Swedish newspaper today there was a debate article about just this: the leader of the feminist party in Sweden argued for a ban on sexist ads. On the flip side the chairman for the youth liberal party claimed that such a ban would invade on the freedom of speech, and sure, that may be true, but hey, what about the freedom of not feeling offended when walking out your door, what about the freedom of not having misogyny thrown in your face, what about the freedom of being seen as an equal, what about the freedom of not being brainwashed with in-human, perfectly flawless body and beauty standards that no living person can ever live up to? Of course, sexist ads are not the root of the problem, but they are a part of it. And if all sorts of different brands have not yet understood that they should perhaps try not creating sexist ads in order to sell their products, well then perhaps it is time to do something about it.

If ever there would be a vote or petition in Sweden for banning sexist ads, I’d be the first to sign it. Bring it on, I have my pen ready.

broadcity

Mansplaining

Ah patriarchy, the gift that keeps on giving..

There has been some recent buzz online regarding the concept of “Mansplaining”, which simply put is when a man (or woman) interrupts a person (often a woman)  in order to explain something to them as if they were a little child not having the slightest clue about anything. Lovely, isn’t it? If you have never heard this before, you might want to check this informative video:

Now, first of all, there are those that behave in this disrespectful way regardless of gender, however, the issue at stake here is that mansplaining happens a lot both in films, TV and advertising as well as in real life and also that it seems most often to concern men mansplaining things to women, thus women are and have been systematically silenced by men for a long time. This really should come as no surprise, right? Seeing as how history is written by men, how society was shaped by men and it’s barely been a hundred years, even less in some countries, since women got the right to vote, i.e. “speak” their mind regarding important societal matters. Mansplaining may be a fairly recent term, but the act itself is older than feminism. Women and minority groups have been shushed and silenced in all types of manners for centuries, so this should really not come as a shock to anyone, the only thing I find surprising is that it took this long before we formulated a word for this type of behaviour.

Of course, whenever such topics get talked about online one will soon find people going on about “yeah well women do that too” and thus not really getting the point. But hey, let me manspl..ehm, explain it then:

The point is not that all men mansplain things, or that women never mansplain things, the point is that mansplaining is a phenomenon that occurs relatively often, and in most or at least many cases that are depicted, that many of us are exposed to, it is a man explaining things to a woman in a patronizing way, thus assuming that she is incompetent, that he is superior and knows best without having any reason for this belief. The point is that such an occurrence should not be happening in the scale that is has been and is happening, the point is that it should not be taken for granted that a man will always know more than a woman, regardless of topic.

So, how about treating each other as individuals, hearing each other out instead of silencing each other? There are always more sides to a story than yours. And in the words of David Brent:

Don’t assume. It makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me”.

Sexist Advertising Survey

Hello dear readers, time to stop reading and start writing; I would greatly appreciate if you could take 10-15 minutes of your precious time to participate in the following survey:

Sexist Advertising Survey

This survey is open for everyone, anyone, who would like to share some thoughts on the research topic of “Sexist advertising”. No previous knowledge necessary, all that matters are your own personal thoughts.

Cheers a lot!

March 8th

Here’s to all women and people subscribing to the female sex:

Happy International Women’s day!

Please: Keep fighting for equality, keep being strong, keep standing up for yourselves and others, keep being who you want to be and don’t take crap from anyone.
Today is a day to acknowledge yourselves and the injustices of a patriarchal power structure, today is a day to celebrate all women and their daily fight.

And for all you non-women out there, I hope you have or had a lovely day as well. I hope you took or will take the opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the women around you who make your lives worthwhile: your mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, partners, girlfriends, friends, colleagues and so forth. Why not support them, why not tell them that you are proud of them and happy to be a part of their lives? It shouldn’t be that difficult to celebrate others who may not necessarily be you.

While some may ask why this day is important or even needed, let me just say that, sadly, it is. I wish that we didn’t need it, but apparently, we do. It is important because it gives people an opportunity, a “reason” to at least once a year acknowledge the huge gaps that still exist between women and men. It is needed because women, and men, have for so long been trying to bridge the gaps and make them smaller, and to a degree, they have, but still, we have not yet reached equality. For all of you who feel that it is “unequal” to have a women’s day and not a men’s day, I can just say this: I would happily trade this day in order to get real equality in return, every day. But until that happens, no. Sorry, this day is reserved for women. So, women, let’s hear you roar.

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Be happy and proud to be a woman, but remember that you are so much more than your gender.

 

10 commandments for men

In a Swedish newspaper there was a debate article yesterday that made me happy and hopeful. It was written by a man who in his frustration regarding the recent writings in media about sexual assault towards women in different parts throughout the world, lead him to compose 10 commandments that he thought every man should read and follow.

Translated from Swedish, the commandments are as follows:

  1. Never let your sex drive compass over your respect for other people’s integrity.
  2. Learn to read other people’s signals, especially those that imply that what you are doing is not desirable behaviour.
  3. If someone sends out signals described in point 2, stop immediately whatever it was that you were doing.
  4. If it becomes more difficult to follow points 1-3 under the influence of alcohol, learn where to draw the line, or abstain completely from drinking.
  5. If other heterosexual men in your surroundings have problems following points 1-4, make it a habit to always reprehend them verbally.
  6. Make sure that you in depth understand the meaning of concepts like feminism, gender-power order and privileges.
  7. Help other heterosexual men to in depth understand the concepts in point 6.
  8. Understand that you in the reigning gender-power order are one of the most privileged people in society.
  9. Use your privileged position to lift someone who is less privileged.
  10. A gentleman is strong, brave, unselfish and puts others’ well-being before his own. Be a gentleman!

He wrote these because he felt and saw a need for drawing lines, since apparently, many do not know when they are crossing them. Because it is time for men to take their responsibilities and stop blaming women for their own assaults. Because these assaults are not “freak events”; they happen daily, regularly, to women all over the world.

I would like to make my own contribution in the spirit of his. But my attention is towards women instead. Here are 10 suggestions for women (I deliberately did not want to call them commandments, since women have in my opinion, been commanded to do this and that, be this and that, since the beginning of time, and who am I to command anyone to do anything?):

  1. Do not be afraid to speak up; speak your mind. After all: you are woman, let’s hear you roar.
  2. Do not be afraid to say No; nobody should try to force or convince you to do anything that you do not wish to do. No still means no.
  3. Do not feel ashamed if you have ever experienced any form of sexual assault; try talking about it and of course report the incident if possible. Remember that these things happen to most women in some degree, and it is not something that you should feel ashamed of, it is a shame on the society in which you live and it’s the assailant who should feel shame. Not you.
  4. Dress however you feel like dressing, use make-up, or don’t, shave your legs/armpits/whatnot, or don’t. Just remember that the choice is supposed to be yours. Do not let anyone or anything (for instance advertising..) try to convince you that you are less of a woman or a person if you do not follow their standards. There is no such thing as “normal”, it’s just something people have made up.
  5. Remember Spice girls? Well, one thing they did very right was express the importance of “Girl Power”. Remember this concept, cherish it, live by it.
  6. Do not be afraid to call yourself a feminist: even though there are people with wild misconceptions about this term, the basis of feminism is equality. It is not about man-hating hairy women without bra’s wanting to abolish men and all their misogynist ways. No, it’s about fighting for each and every individual’s right in society = Women and Men.
  7. Stop being so judgemental towards other women. There are countless studies that have shown how men in organizations for instance, help other men reach the top (eg. see Kanter), while women on the other hand are fighting both other women and other men. But who helps women? We must help ourselves, let’s change that and help each other as well. We are sisters, not enemies.
  8. Remember that being a woman is a social construction: It is not something biological, it is not something stable, it is not something universal. Thus, be whatever woman you want to be, just be yourself.
  9. Learn more about concepts such as feminism, gender, power structures, institutionalization, norms, patriarchy and so on. They will help you understand what it means to be a “woman” in today’s world, and thus, help you to fight against old-fashioned notions that should just be put out of their misery already. For more information, read: The second sex, by Simone de Beauvoir. She explains it all so well.
  10. Encourage other women around you to follow suggestions 1-9.

 

Dear dad

Recently, a short film was made for the organisation Care.no that has now been circling the web, getting both appraisal and critique.

Let me make one thing clear before continuing in my writing: I am on the pro-side here, I really love this film and cried like an idiot when I first saw it because for me, this is highlighting such a crucial issue that concerns us all. Even if you do not want to call yourself a feminist, listen up: you probably still have someone you care about in your family, circle of friends or other who is a girl or a woman and has been, or will be, through some ridiculously hateful, harmful and unfair moments and events, just for being a girl or a woman. The least you can do is acknowledge this.

And take five minutes of your life to watch the whole film:

Now, the contents of this film may be upsetting, they may be disturbing, they may make you angry, sad, frustrated. But if you are one of those viewers who instead gets defensive about what you have just watched, then perhaps you should reconsider for a moment. This film is not intended to point the finger and blame men or dads, or you. The point they are trying to make is this: There is a big damn difference between growing up as a girl and growing up as a boy, and all of these differences are something that we have made up ourselves. They are socially constructed in the way we act towards girls and boys, in the way we speak to girls and boys, in the way we acknowledge girls and boys, in the way we encourage girls and boys, in the way we treat girls and boys and so on and so forth. Thus, it is each and everyones’ damn responsibility to make an effort and change this unjust system. If you happen to be a dad who raises a daughter and you feel offended by this film. Well, ask yourself then, why are you offended? Why does this film which is trying to make a difference for your daughter and the way others will treat her throughout her life, offend you? This is not intended to blame you as a father, but rather raise your awareness of issues that your daughter most likely will go through. And as a dad, as a parent, it is your responsibility, to make sure that you do all that is in your power to do in order to protect your daughters, and your sons.

Why should this offend anyone?

Well here is perhaps a short answer: I’ve noticed that every time you start a gender-discussion pointing out some of the unequal issues concerning women and men, there is always someone, somewhere, (often a man) who starts rampaging and going on and on saying: What about men? Well… what ABOUT men? Everything is not about you, you know. Being the norm for so long, I understand how this may be frustrating for you, but equality and “women’s issues” does in fact concern you as well. And when someone points out that for instance men rape more than women, or other such issues, instead of getting upset shouting that you are not a rapist even though you are a man, well, take it easy. If you are not a rapist, or whatever the issues is about, then obviously, the issue is not about you, per se. So why get offended? Listen up instead, listen carefully and try to understand that the issue does concern you as well, even though it may not specifically be about you. As people living in a society, all the issues that have to do with gender concerns each and every one of us. And therefor, each and every one of us have the power to make some change.

So, if you happen to be a dad, raising a girl, this film should inspire you. I hope it does. For all our sakes.