Some last minute Christmas shopping had to be done, and the vivid heart of my small hometown was the obvious place to go. So I went there. Every corner was crowded with people, but a few stood out to me. The beggars. Romanians, migrants that thanks to the EU now are a common sight in most European cities. People, for whom a paper cup to feed them, a cold, wintery, Swedish street for a home, is the best option. And I saw them, and I realized how unfair the world is. And I realized that they won’t make it home in time for Christmas. And I realized that when I stuff myself with vegan pies and open presents by the tree, they will be out on the cold, harsh, snowy roads. And I thought of this song.
Merry Christmas folks!
many A couple weeks ago, Swedish PM Löfven announced a re-election, leaving my country in chaos. His government has been a failure from start to finish. A coalition of Social democrats and Green party, it never had a majority in the parliament, thus couldn’t pass their budget.
Who’s fault was it? Everyones of course! Read: it was the fault of the new “political climate”. Read: it’s because Sweden democrats became a weigher, so that no established bloc was in majority.
30 years ago it was a neo-nazi party (though in recent years some of the most extreme members have been excluded and the opinions that are expressed in public are not as extreme as Hitler’s). Their slogan is “Safety and tradition”, their goal to reduce asylum immigration by 90%. Their leader recently spent 60 000 € on gambling. Three members attacked a popular comedian with iron pipes. Another couple of top-cats made the following statements: “Art should not provoke”, “Rape is a deeply rooted part of Islam”, “homosexuality is unnatural”, “Jews and sami can have a swedish citizenship, but they are not Swedes”. The list goes on.
They are bullied and ostracized by all mainstream parties. Which is to be expected, nobody with any ounce of intelligence would want anything to do with them. But, that has enabled them to play the role of the victim. It has – worse – enabled them to play the role of the only real opposition. Because that’s what they have become. That, and 13% in September’s Parliament election. And that scares me.
Nazi or not, do they have a point? Is immigration harmful? To answer that question you have to look beyond the why question, because reducing the number of refugees we take in will of course ruin thousands of lives. People will be forced to stay in war torn Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, et.c.
No, the question is wether immigration is beneficial for US. Unfortunately, many mainstream politicians are afraid of discussing this. Immigration does mean that more homes will have to be build. Education in Swedish will cost money, and without it employing them anywhere will be nearly impossible. There is a risk that extremist islamists will be among the newly arrived. But, they will also contribute workforce to a community with an aging population. They will also enrich the culture of a falafel-loving people. They will also – hopefully – be given the chance of a better life.
And yes, our beloved Swedish culture will change. Of course it will change. Would you rather that we froze time? That we got stuck in a specific period, a specific culture, a specific degree of development? Sweden would change any way.
Note (to any non-swedish reader): The Swedish democracy is based on three levels: commune, county and Riksdag. The Riksdag is our parliament, formed in accordance to percentage of votes. A government in then formed by the bloc which received the most votes. Right now, eight parties are represented (on the national level). That gives a nuanced debate, but also difficulties. As for the current situation, the government didn’t manage to get a serious cooperation with the center-right bloc, something which would have made a passable budget.
The modern feminism is a multifaceted movement, where many wills and opinions come to express themselves. What they all share, the lowest common denominator if you so will, is the ideal for equality: the strife for women and men to have the same rights, responsibilities and possibilities. Therefore it’s time to let men into the feminist debate. Equality is beneficial for men and women, we can all get hurt when laws and norms put gender first.
Feminism begun as women’s lib for women’s rights, but just as society it has changed a lot since the late 1800-hundreds. In a way it might be a misguiding name; Emma Watson launched the #HeforShe campaign for just that reason. In her speech (link here, in case you haven’t seen it) she deals with a – unfortunately very common – misconception: feminism is not man hating. Feminists think that men and women have the same worth, and ought to have the same rights in theory as well as practice.
That doesn’t mean we have to erase all differences, because some of them actually exist. For example the average woman is better at memorizing faces, whereas men tend to orient themselves better. The thing is, these are averages. Individual differences are usually bigger. Besides, many prominent gender differences aren’t in any way connected with our biology. What “is” male or female has changed a lot through the history, and of course it will continue to change. But from birth we are indoctrinated into these, and we are forced into templates that do not fit everyone. To create a society where everyone feels respected and participating, we must respect masculinity as well as femininity – and above all let the worth or value of an individual be completely set apart from his or her sex.
Beauty ideals are one of the areas where gender differences are still obvious. In part, of course, because of our different physique – but expectations and ideals play a huge role as well. Girls want to loose weight, boys want to build muscle.
It’s starting to resemble an epidemic, where people in general are unsatisfied with their looks, and girls in particular get eating disorders. Is it really so strange? Sweets and escalators are available everywhere, and the population in general is getting fatter. Thus, ideals become skinnier – simply because skinniness nowadays is harder to achieve. This is usually considered a problem that only affect girls, when in fact 10% of those seeking help are boys (underreporting is to be expected). On top of that, many boys and men feel bad for looking feeble and weak. Sales of steroids are going up – quickly – despite their destructive side effects.
Traditional femininity has been discussed in endless pages of analysis, political text, blog posts, fiction, philosophical pieces and whatnot. For good reasons; how many times haven’t women been discriminated against? How many women are still suffering because of this femininity? However, I think there is a screaming lack for such a dissection of masculinity. Traditional maleness is harsh and strong, almost agressive. It can manifest as a need to dominate: I think this is a common reason for rape. It’s about hobbies: boys (especially younger ones, I think) will refrain from things they consider girly, such as horse riding and ballet. It’s about life style choices: male vegetarians and vegans are often harassed for being “unmanly” and “gutless pussies” for not brutally murder an innocent animal for no reason whatsoever. It’s about degrading fathers, motorcycle accidents, boys who never read a novel, forbidden and hidden tears, fashion, suspicions… It’s about men who can’t live life to the fullest.
Some may object that “narrow social norms” are trifles, in comparison to rapes, childhood marriages and sex-linked rights to education and voting; things that are still legal in many parts of the world. And yes, I’m aware that my life is a sheer privilege compared with those women’s. I intend to use this privilege, by supporting the ideas that made my life tolerable. By questioning patriarchal structures, the thought processes that create inequality. By showing that we are all, first and foremost, sentient and thinking beings.
Let’s question social norms, let go of prejudice, open up. Change won’t come if only half the world cares, men must engage. For their own sake, not just for the women’s. For the girl who is tired of being submissive when she feels strong, for the boy who is tired of being strong when he feels vulnerable. For the the girl tossing out her muffin tray, for the boy longing to find one. For the boy who is forced to compete, for the girl who isn’t allowed to. They exist.
Statistics and images:
It’s been a boring day, a tough week and a sad month. All I needed was chocolate and an inspirational word – don’t we all have those moments? – and I would like to pass on some insights. Not from the chocolate, but from the inspirational words that made me feel a little less of a failure. So Charlotte, I hope you don’t mind me borrowing this. Because I need it.
“You know when a baby is born and they grow up in to small humans and they have accidents? They might scrape their knee or bump their head or have something chucked at them by an irate sibling. Have you ever thought about why they cry so hard? We get confused because as adults, we’re like “Dude, chill, it’s just a graze” and they’re freaking out at a pitch only bats can hear. They freak out like that because to them, it’s the worst pain they have ever felt. We’ve had a lifetime to break bones and break our hearts. They haven’t. For them, it could seem like the end of everything.”
What this made me realize, is that pain is relative. It’s impossible to live a life entirely free from pain, and it’s equally impossible to know how someone else’s pain feels, or has been felt. You are not one to decide how much a person suffers from their heart brake. You can’t decide how much it’s worth, that it’s “nothing” to you doesn’t mean it cannot hurt them.
And it works the other way around.
I’ve often felt bad, complaining about the wrongs done against me or the lacks in my life. I’m so awfully privileged, in so many ways. Feeling sorry for myself is a waste of tears.
The truth is, my life isn’t such a fucking privilege. Not compared to those around me, they too have clean water and a fully functioning body and parents and money and a home and freedom of speech (although the limits on that one can be pretty harsh, at times) and the right to a decent education and free healthcare and sanitation systems and whatnot. This is ordinary life to us. I know it’s not like that for most of the world, but we don’t see most of the world. I’m still a boring bookworm. I’m still ugly and unathletic. I still haven’t figured out what happened with a no-longer-a-friend. I’ve still hurt people without any intention to do so. I still have social skills comparable to those of a mud puddle. I still miss my guinea pig. I still have someone to make decisions for me, including decisions about my own free time and life. There’s still that boy…
And I realized that I’ve never felt more pain than those things (and others, worse, that don’t fulfill my requirements for being publishable). Ever. And I’m not going to apologize for that.
“Personally, I rather look forward to a computer program winning the world championship. Humanity needs a lesson in humility”
– Richard Dawkins
“Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.”
I tend to let little things be the main focus of my life. Here are some I’ve been dwelling lately:
- I really shouldn’t’ve cut bangs. They took 5 minutes for my hair dresser to create, 2 weeks for me to regret and – months of trying to grow them back out has only resulted in an annoying fringe of hair that is too short to put up in any nice looking way but so long that I can’t see with it hanging loose.
- I have far too many half finished posts for this blog. A few of them would be nice, if I just pulled myself together to write them.
- It’s nearly impossible to detect spinach in smoothies. It just adds a nice green colour (or yucky brown, if the smoothie also contains raspberries) and good punch of iron.
- Spinach contains an impressive amount of protein. In fact, 10,5 kg spinach provides 2100 calories, which is 50 kcal more than my calculated daily requirement, and 315 g protein, which is a helluva lot more than my daily requirement. I can’t believe I just calculated that.
- After over a year of running this blog (when did that happen?) I still don’t know how to change text size.
- Always save drafts continuously while writing. Always.
- I get a few more followers every time I publish a new post. Most of them seem to be hunting followers themselves, or strange commercial accounts about earning money online, but there are also a number of real people of which most are great bloggers! What? How? THANK YOU!
- There is a board game called “Fifty shades of Grey: Release your inner goddess!” I just… No.
- Why do I still have in my drawer sports bras that are 1) grown out of, thus 2) uncomfortable and 3) look similar to convenient and well fitted underwear?
- Perhaps the world world wouldn’t be better if everyone thought the same way as I do, after all…
- All the dumb, annoying, mean people in the Youtube comment fields… What if they are normal people with brains, they just don’t know the English language well enough to express themselves as such?
- Why does the letter X exist? Why not just write KS?
- I can’t get enough of this song.
“Not to conform to any other colourIs the secret of being colorful”Henry Carlile
Why are some songs played to exhaustion, everywhere and always until everyone hate them? It’s not as if the world is deficit of talented musicians who dream of nothing but to be heard.