a tired feminist.

a tired feminist.

Every year on March 9th, I experience something similar to a hangover. Although it's not from drinking alcohol and it does not involve partying. Quite the opposite, actually. 

I liken it with the days and weeks after Me Too; the feeling of complete hopelessness and despair. The rude awakening of how bad it really is. 

While International Women's Day is acknowledged lately in especially social media, with millions of posts of 'you can do it'-chants, positive facts of progressive and successful stats, it is also full of ads with special offers on lip fillers and lash extensions, all in the name of the empowered and free female

But how empowered and free are we? 

When I lived in the US, I was a semi-involved feminist in the terms that I donated money to different causes and often took part of discussions where I could use my Swedish or Scandinavian perspective on things, which in comparison is very progressive. The fact that I am also an atheist usually stirred up some feelings.
I even signed up and trained to be an escort volunteer at Planned Parenthood, an organization I have always supported, but especially after they discovered pre-cancerous cells in my cervix and later helped me terminate a (much wanted) pregnancy.

The escorts are the people who literally walk with the patients from their cars to the front door, protecting them from hateful and gross insults hurdled at them by people who seem to have nothing better to do with their lives. This is hard for a Swede to grasp but these kinds of people exist outside almost all Planned Parenthood centers in the US. They many times build fake "pregnancy crisis centers" just next door, where they literally talk women out of having an abortion that they had already planned. But my goal was to walk next to a teenage girl or grown woman and maybe hold her tight while some angry old man yells baby killer at her. 

But I didn't. I chickened out because the constant potential threat of these health centers didn't weigh heavier than my own two small kids at home. I just couldn't justify putting myself in danger while my own two kids needed me. Which in hindsight seems kinda... lame. 

But that's the thing. Hindsight. 
Feminism in the US and feminism in Sweden differ in many many ways. In the US, feminists fight for the most basic things, things that are already established by laws in Sweden. Abortion rights and maternity leave are two things that come to mind. Since my two kids are born in the US, I have never had maternity leave. I have never bonded with other mothers in a maternity group, nor has my husband ever been home with the kids on one single day of paternity leave. When our twins were born, he got all of 2 days off. Myself, who at the time worked for one of the biggest companies in the US, got 6 weeks off at 55% pay, and then another 12 weeks off with no pay at all. But hey! At least I didn't lose my job and I could come back when my kids were 5 months and sit in a closet and breast pump milk between meetings. Milk, that I had to store in a little cooler until I could go home for the day, just like all the other new moms did. Oh, the gratitude. This, in turn, creates an entire breastmilk pumping business in the US that doesn't exist in Sweden. Some breast pumps are covered by insurance, some are super expensive, some even come with rhinestones! There are many many different kinds of pumping bras that vary in price and some even attach the pump, so you can use both hands to type on the keyboard while pumping! And pumping milk, you've got to do! Because how else is your nanny or day care supposed to feed your infant while you are at work... making money so you can pay your nanny or day care. 

Not only do most American women choose between going back to work after the standard 6 weeks of maternity leave or quitting her career altogether to become a stay at home mom - the pregnancy also incurs HUGE medical costs. 
We had a pretty good insurance through my company, but we still ended up paying thousands and thousands of dollars for my pregnancy and ultimately for the c-section of our twin babies. Some friends of mine suggested we should try to have kids at the end of the year, so that we had already met the deductible by the time we came to the grand finale; the most expensive moment of the year: the birth, but we completely failed that and had our kids in August. And with twins, many times you have to pay double. An ultrasound? Well, the doctor is looking at two babies, so you get two bills. 

These are all issues that are so so damning to women in the US workforce and something that the Swedish feminists don't really have to worry about. Yes, there are discrepancies in the Swedish system as well. We all know that women are paid less than their male counterpart and all in all, we should really all just clock out at 16.12 every day and let the men work till 17. AND then get the groceries and the kids (but do we? No.) 

I find the feminist "agenda" in Sweden to be much more progressive (no surprise here) with ideas and points that the US are decades away from. But at the same time, what is so so sad, and what has created this sense of angry and tired hangover in me, is that it is still so fucking basic

Men kill around 20 women in Sweden every year. 

Twenty women are murdered at the hands of a man. 

In Sweden. 

Every year. 

Thousands of women are raped by men every year and around 5% of those rapists are serving time. Five percent. 

In recent years, women who out their rapists and abusers, even in closed groups on social media, have been taken to court BY THEIR RAPISTS and sued for slander and now they have to pay THEIR RAPISTS a fine. 

So. This is where we are at. One country held back from its religious and archaic views on women, one country progressive and very forward thinking even with a self proclaimed "feminist" government, but still. Here we are. 

Another March 8th, this time 2021, full of social media posts screaming out despair, unfairness and stats of inequality. Just like the Me Too movement was a rude awakening of this harsh reality we already knew we lived but kinda still were shocked to discover, is the International Women's Day - every year. A rude awakening of how fucking bad it really is. 

Today I am hungover. Not from a party, but from once again realizing that we have a long long way to go. Regardless of what corner of the world we live in.

1 comment

  • Erika

    Så jävla bra skrivet om den skeva samtid vi lever i. Gillar din stil, ditt (form)språk och din blogg. Nyttigt och kul! med en hemvändande svensk som kan sätta vissa saker i sitt rätta perspektiv.
    Och nog kan man bli ganska trött. Över segheten och långsamheten när det gäller jämställdhet..
    Ville bara säga hej helt enkelt. På insta finns jag som @live_yourlifeincolor där jag hankar mig fram på nån slags gammal skolengelska, influerad av amerikanska tv-serier och amerikansk musik, haha!
    Ha det fint. Kram, Erika

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