I've been trying to get this right for a while, but I'm still not convinced that I got it. The idea for this post was born from my frustration over being represented in a way that's not me. As a woman I am represented by feminism as being scared by men and expecting rape, abuse and miosgyny round every corner. At least that's what it looks like on the surface. That's the loudest words of feminism today. And I know that's not all there is to feminism. I am a feminist. And just like the men of today cry "not all men", I want to stand on my tip-toes and yell from the top of my lungs "not all women"! Because not all women feel that way. That has to be true. Either that's true, or I'm not a woman.
I am not discrediting your truth. I know it's true that a lot of women have experienced rape and abuse and misogyny several times in their lifetimes. But I must also be allowed to express that this is not the ultimate universal truth. There are other truths, that are just as true as the one mentioned above.
And this is my truth.
My truth is that I had passed 20 before I even realised that men and women were sometimes treated differently in Sweden. Until that point I had been convinced that it only happened in other countries. I was convinced that inequality between the sexes had been completely eradicated in earlier decades in Sweden. How could I not see anything earlier, you may ask. Because I never experienced it. Not in Sweden. When I did experience it I was abroad or alcohol was involved. So naturally I blamed the alcohol and the differences in culture/society.
I've been told about a time from before I can remember that when before I went to bed every night I wanted to sit on my dad's motorcycle. Every night. Because of that my parents gave me my own motorcycle: a playmobile one. I was always daddy's girl and no on seemed to think it was weird that it was me, a little girl, who loved camping or being in the woods or having snowball fights with her dad, or rather played with Lego with her dad than played with dolls with her sister. I was the girl who fought against wearing skirts and dresses, while her sister fought against wearing trousers. I was the girl who always preferred to play with boys, and even now I have more guy friends that I meet on a regular basis than I have girl friends. And they don't seem the least perturbed by the fact that I'm not a guy. I can't percieve ever having been treated differently by my guy friends. Ever.
I was the one who started helping out at my dad's work when I was 10 and then started working summers there after 13, and no one even batted an eye when my dad said he wanted me to take over when he was old. He still says that. I'm still refusing.
I grew up with a mother who worked part-time, took care of two small children, and at the same time studied for a Bachelor degree in Economics. She got it and for a time earned more money than my dad, and no one even thought it was weird.
And that's how I was lulled into thinking it didn't exist in Sweden.
I was 12 years old the first time I got cat-called. To be fair my body was mature and I looked at least 15 and the guy saw me from a distance. And this was in Spain. But I remember not being sure whether to be grossed out or happy. I think I chose happy in the end, because already at that time I had pretty much convinced myself that I was ugly and no one would ever look twice at me. And yes, women are more than their bodies, but you're fooling yourselves if you think looks don't matter. It's the first anyone sees and that creates the first impression. First impressions are important.
But I digress...
The first time I was groped I was 19 years old and I was in Japan. Admittedly, Japan has a view of women that is about 60 years out-of-fashion in Sweden, so this time I blamed it on culture and promised myself to never go alone with a random Japanese guy again. But I still wasn't afraid to be out alone in the streets. I didn't look over my shoulder all the time and I didn't grab my house keys in-between my knuckles as a weapon against potential attackers. Why would I? Most men are decent.
The other times I've been groped have been at bars and there's been a lot of alcohol involved. Naturally, I blame the alcohol. I've met some of the groping guys afterwards when they were sober and they were completely horrified by what they had done and apologised profusely. I'm ok with that. Some people can't control their impulses when they're drunk. Note that I said people, not men. Because the same goes for women.
I may have been blind to the sexism in Sweden. But I still can't pretend that I notice it. Because I don't. At all. Even at 25 I don't notice it. You'd think if the sexism was so widespread people would start telling me to have children and get married. No one does. You'd think if the sexism was so widespread people would tell me that I'd look prettier if I only tried a little. No one does. You'd think if the sexism was so widespread guys would stare until their eyes fell out when I go to the bar in a lowcut, short dress. But they don't. Because most guys are decent and nice.
I can't help but wonder where you girls hang out, if this happens to you so many times that you actually start to expect it from every guy you meet.
I'm not sure if I managed to say everything I've been thinking about. But this is my truth. My truth is that I'm misrepresented by feminism. I don't fear men. I don't hate men. I don't fear misogyny. If it even happens to me I ignore it until it dies. Because what kills a flame faster than no kindle?
So what does it mean that I haven't been subjected to these things that apparantly "all men" do? That I'm undesireable? That my body isn't hot enough for guys to want to touch it or comment it or rape it? Or does it mean that I'm lucky? Lucky to have escaped it. Or does it mean that this thing is blown completely out of proportion, at least in Sweden?
All I know is that I am a person.
Every woman is a person.
Just like every man is a person.
If we are going to become equal, this is what we need to realise.
Stop differentiating between men and women.
Know that everything you fear about men, women do too.
But when women do it, it doesn't get politicised.
This is my truth. And I just want to say: not all women.