International Women’s Day

Everyone thinks Scandinavia has equality taped. Everyone thinks that because women are not excluded from the job market in Denmark, then feminism must have achieved all its aims and everyone can stand down.

We could talk about pay and violence, and the progress still to be made in Denmark. There is plenty of mileage in those topics, believe.

But I’d like to concentrate on this news story:- Parents looking to shrink their ‘tall’ daughters.

When healthy human beings need to be operated on or medicated in childhood to keep them from displaying traits from the ‘wrong’ set of humans there is something badly wrong and equality has not been achieved.

Healthy boys who are made to be taller and healthy girls who are made to be shorter, in order to fit in with society’s ideals around masculinity and femininity, are being betrayed by their community.

International Women’s Day

Seems like the women’s movement is still in need of shoulders to the wheel.

Here’s are some ways you can take action in the local community:-

Support LOKK network and Danner crisis centres with money or time

Do some background reading at KVINFO

 

Support Reden International with money or time

Find out about human trafficking in Denmark

Volunteer for a Girls’ Club

Support Danish Women’s Society with time or money

Protest lower wages for women

Share your story and read the stories of others of Everyday Sexism

 

 

 

 

Violence against women

The European Agency for Fundamental Rights has run a survey about sexual violence in European countries.

Denmark is top of the poll with 52% of women surveyed experiencing physical or sexual violence from a partner or a non-partner since the age of 15. The average in the EU is 33%.

If you look at the reports in the UK press, where the UK’s stats are also higher than the average at 44%, it is a straight report of the press release. They report: there is a major problem with violence against women and true figures may be much higher because women may not have considered some of their experiences to have been assault.

The Danish press spin this line in another way. There is no way that backwards bloody European countries treat their women better than Denmark, they say. The women in Denmark are empowered to report, so the figures are skewed.

Ok, let’s just say that is right. Then the European average proportion of women who have been attacked is much higher than 50%, surely? Because the average women being attacked in Denmark IS 52%. That is fucking shocking, even if another country has a bigger problem. This is the problem with ranking countries like this. If Denmark came at the bottom of the table at 52%, they would be able to be complacent about being better than Greece (or wherever) and if Denmark comes at the top of the table at 52%, they are able to be complacent because the survey did not get the real answer because women in other countries are so much more oppressed.

No action needed? Come on guys, we can’t just ‘other countries are worse’ our way out of everything!

The Equality Minister of Denmark and the author of the report have suggested that Danish women are experiencing these high levels of violence because Danish men are jealous of women’s success in the workplace.

My understanding is that greater independence of women leads to less violence, not more. Abusers like their victims isolated and dependent.

The issue with blaming the women’s movement on greater levels of violence against women is that the women’s movement was conceived as a method of reducing violence against women.

Without a women’s movement: women are attacked (with no recourse to help or justice) because they are vulnerable. With a women’s movement: women are attacked (with some recourse to help and justice), because they have recourse to help and justice.

Really? Sounds incredibly weak, sorry. What I am left with is that men feel like they can attack women. It is a structural problem not a problem with what women are or are not doing. 

Men feel like they can do it. So they do it.*

Other countries with high levels of reported violence also have bigger drinking cultures. Maybe it could be that Danish men are getting more sexually aggressive because they are drunk? Except, a recent study has gone some way to debunking that.

The study is an interesting read. 90% of sexual violence in bars is male on female. This is worth repeating because I find that whenever someone talks about violence against women, someone will say that women attack men sexually too. They may even have a personal experience. And it is bad, I’m not denying it. It’s really bad. But we’re going to talk about the 90% of cases right now. This isn’t a case of ‘both as bad as each other’, it really is not. (Similarly, the FRA study suggests that in 80% of physical or sexual attacks on women by non-partners, men are involved.)

The rest of the report about behaviour in bars found no correlation between level of inebriation and level of instigation. Alcohol does not make men more sexually aggressive. What they found was that men are going to bars to target inebriated women because they are more vulnerable to attack. These men are predators. They are not confused or led on, they are deliberately going to places where their marks are less able to prevent them from attacking.

So, if greater alcohol culture is to blame for the high levels of sexual violence in Denmark, that says something quite disturbing about Danish men. They are not helpless victims of the demon drink, they are going after incapacitated women because they are easier to attack.

Only quite recently did the Danish government change the law that it was not ‘rape’ to rape your drunk wife. It was only sexual assault. With that sort of prevailing cultural attitude, you can see how that might translate into behaviour.

I looked in more detail at the figures from the FRA.

Physical and/or sexual violence at the hand of a partner or non-partner since age 15: 52%

Physical and/or sexual violence from a partner since age 15: 32%

Physical and/or sexual violence from a non-partner since age 15: 40%

Suggesting that it is not domestic violence at the heart of this matter (although, that is obviously a big problem).

Physical violence from a partner or non-partner since age 15: 48%

Physical violence from a partner since age 15: 29%

Physical violence from a non-partner since age 15: 36%

Women are being more often attacked by men who are not their partners. (Remember, the stats say that 80% of the non-partners involved in these attacks were male)

Sexual violence from a partner or non-partner since age 15: 19%

Sexual violence from a partner since age 15: 11%

Sexual violence from a non-partner since age 15: 11%

Suggesting Denmark has a much bigger problem with physical violence than sexual violence. 

Looking at the stats of where these assaults are taking place:-

20% at school or workplace, 18% in someone else’s home, 18% in a cafe or bar, 17% outside in a public place and 15% in own home.

Those 20% of attacks at school or work will not have been alcohol fuelled, presumably. (Unless of course, they only interviewed women who work with drunks like police officers and emergency room doctors.)

My take on it is that our culture says that women should be and act a certain way and men should have certain privileges and violence is used to enforce this. No amount of saying women’s rights have won is going to change the essential truth that they really have not.

When Danes get up on their high horse about how Muslims treat ‘their’ women, it is irritating. These Danes do not have any Muslim friends, male or female. They are going on prejudice and ignorance. But when you realise that whatever the problems ‘The Other’ have, Danish women do not have it that much better,  it makes the prejudice so much harder to bear.

Women in Denmark are attacked, mostly by men, in large numbers. It is mostly regular violence but sexual violence is also an issue. It is mostly non-partners but abuse from partners is also a major problem.

Complacency is rife, along with trying to find out what these women were doing that gets them into harm’s way.

Let’s look at it another way. What is making men think that they can attack others? What is making men feel like a woman is fair game for sexual violence? Why aren’t the courts full to bursting with these cases of violence?

* Obviously not all men. If it’s not about you, it’s not about you.

High Heels in DK

Last night, I went out with my colleagues who come from all over the world. There was only one person wearing heels. One of the group remarked on it and I looked around and I couldn’t see any heels around me in the streets.

Århus Festuge, stiletto warning sign
© Karin Holt

This would have been highly unusual back home in London. The number of times I have seen women tottering and stumbling behind their male colleagues in the tunnels of the tube was extraordinary. (Admittedly, I didn’t notice the ones who are keeping up). Many of my colleagues wore heels to work. On a night out, a woman looks out of place without heels on.

Meanwhile, in London, women are shouted and beeped at daily by men. Sexual harassment occurs if you are too sexy, not sexy enough or anything in between. Very few human females are invisible: those under the age of around 10 and those over the age of 35, the visibly disabled etc. Though if some men, the sort of men who are into this, find women from outside those ranges especially sexually attractive/disgusting, they will make that clear.

I think there is a link. Where a society requires a certain level of femininity, females are openly harassed to enforce these requirements. Women who are too sexy are harassed to make it clear that they are still beneath those who ride around in unmarked vans feeling shit about their lives, even if they look good enough to fuck. Women who are not sexy enough are harassed to make it clear that they need to look attractive enough to fuck. That is all we are in the minds of those men. Potential fucktoys.

Where on earth would they get that idea?

Look at countries that go the opposite way, where femininity includes covering up, doing what you are told and staying silent. Women are harassed for not being ‘modest’ enough (and forcing men to want to fuck them), whatever they do. Because all we are measured on are the boners we generate.

In Denmark, the markers of femininity are different and the pressure to be the right amount of sexy is more subtle. There is still plenty of sexual objectification but less harassment. There are enforced standards of dress but they are different depending on age.

At my age, there are a set of clear standards. Heels are optional, very high heels are commented upon to put social pressure on the woman to stop wearing them. Make up is optional. Revealing clothing is frowned upon but tight clothing is fine whatever your body shape.

I do not miss heels. I have some but I do not do well on them. I trip, I get blisters, I get knee and back pain. Every now and then, I get a kick out of wearing a nice pair but I must be able to walk in them. I must be able to run in them. Women are more at risk from people they know but the risk from strangers is still there. Along with the very small risk of disasters that necessitate running. Along with the reasonably significant risk of needing to suddenly get out of the way of a vehicle when crossing the road.

I will only wear heels to things where I will mostly be sitting and I actually cannot remember the last time I wore any. Well over a year ago. The thing about heels is that they infantilise you. Your movement is restricted and you need a lot of help and support to go about your daily business. A lot of people like the way they make their body feel and look and a lot of people like seeing them on others. Who am I to criticise?

The lovely Emily McClean likes being taken care of. She likes being damselled and rescued. Each to their own.

But she goes further in her column to say that Danish women are rejecting men by acting as full adults, that they swarm, that they wear grey androgynous sacks and suggests that they have a duty to wear shoes they cannot walk in so that men have a chance to shepherd their dates.

She describes these swarms of people ‘feminists’ as if that says it all. As if ‘feminist’ means a shapeless grey woman who wants to kill every boner.

Let’s all take a moment to listen to Caitlin Moran

“We need to reclaim the word ‘feminism’. We need the word ‘feminism’ back real bad. When statistics come in saying only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42% of Brisbane women – I used to think, what do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit get on your nerves? Or were you drunk at the time of the survey?”

As far as I know, Caitlin Moran wears colourful clothes and heels. Lots of feminists, even in Denmark, do. Feminism isn’t about killing boners, it is about being more than simply sexually alluring at all times.

If you are having a deep and loving relationship with someone who likes that in a partner, why not indulge them once in a while? Or if you like that sort of thing, find someone who will indulge you. Even better, get together with someone who shares your interest and go nuts.

But to suggest that all women should offer this kink to every single man? Jesus. Let alone that many people would find it massively offputting and ridiculous that their date has deliberately reduced their mobility to appear more attractive. Can’t we all just agree to do things we are into (and negotiate with loving partners, the sorts of things they like)? Can’t we all just do that from now on?

Danish Women’s Bodies

One of those news stories that makes scandy-philes scratch their heads made it out of Denmark a while back.

On DR2 (the state broadcaster), there is a show where some bloke comments on the bodies of some nude women. A bit like X-Factor but where the only talent the woman is judged on, is having secondary sexual characteristics? I am not going to pretend I have seen it.

So, the left-wing international press asked “People of the world! We thought Denmark was a Scandinavian feminist paradise!” and Danish feminists tried to explain the situation to them in ways they might understand.

What no one is saying is that feminism has not won in Denmark. What has happened is that the Danish people have realised you cannot run a welfare state with this number of dependents, without full-employment of those able to work.

Women work outside of the home because the country would be royally bolloxed if they did not. Not because of sisterhood or the sincere belief that women are equal to men.

Women are not equal to men in Danish society.

.
. (Photo credit: ЯAFIK ♋ BERLIN)

For example. The rape laws only just got changed this month, where being the husband of the woman you raped got you a smaller sentence (and a lighter charge).

The role of “mother” has been abolished and converted into the role of “parental guardian”, in the same way the role of “father” was in the last hundred years or so. This isn’t to free the people from domestic drudgery, this is the work of capitalism. Paid work is the only thing that counts. Both parents are expected to outsource the raising of their children to “professionals”. Human relationships not based on exchange of monies and services are not valued.

Danish women’s bodies are a thorny issue. Danish girls wear very revealing clothing, which goes unremarked in schools but at some point in their twenties a switch is thrown and they cover up. Most Danish women wear layers out of necessity (the weather turns around so much, that you need to be able to remove or add clothing to keep up), but they cover their cleavage with massive scarves. Uncovered cleavage is a grave faux pas. They might wear skin tight leggings but bare legs are greeted with “aren’t you cold?” by every Dane in a 2-km radius. Meanwhile, women who cover their hair or their bodies more loosely, are also subject to the reverse pressure. They are told they are being oppressed by their men and must uncover their bodies immediately because we said so.

The naked female body is everywhere. There is an advert for breast augmentation which features a pair of nude “new breasts” on most buses in the towns and cities. Hardcore pornography is sold in newsagents and petrol stations, the covers are not obscured and the titles are not always on the top shelf.

Let me break this down for you: I have entered a newsagents and been confronted with a row of images of naked (except for sex toys, restraints or other accoutrements), females stood next to clothed men. Given the more violent trends in porn these days, many of these women looked unhappy, in pain or distressed. This was on the middle shelf, so in full view of any one over 1m high.

Some men (and women), like to view pornographic images and films and the law of the land says that they can. But showing pornography to children is sexual abuse. Having these images visible is sexually abusive. We are not talking about a happy lady (or lad), with their tuppenny bits hanging out joyously, these images are confusing and worrying for children and adolescents.

And wouldn’t you know, it is all so that someone can make money.

Advertisements in general show women in a particular way, they are often objectified or associated with sex, even if they are selling something unrelated to sexuality. Men are not often put in this position. When it is, it is to be ironic or to make a point. The female body is used to sell things and it is only valuable so long as it makes men think about sex.

Given that Danish beaches are often clothing-optional and single-sex changing rooms rarely have cubicles, you might get the impression that non-sexual nudity is acceptable in this culture. Every year at Roskilde, for example, there is a nude race, which is just happy-good-times for young people with bouncy ballsacks and boobs.

However, the government of Denmark has ruled that women who are breastfeeding in public may be asked to stop or leave the premises because this behaviour might offend others.

This may seem at odds with the happy-go-lucky attitude to human-female flesh in Denmark but it seems perfectly consistent to me.

For as long as a woman’s body can be used to make money or arouse sexual interest, it is valuable in Denmark. The show about a couple of fat old nobcheeses commenting on how attractive they found a nude woman showcases the attitude. Women’s bodies can be used to sell pornography, they can be airbrushed and used to make women want to pay for cosmetic surgery, they can be used to sell non-sexual products, they can be decoration but they cannot be used for other purposes.

Danish women’s bodies are for public consumption, they are to be displayed when they are young and firm and covered up when adolescence ends. The use of a breast to feed an infant makes people feel intensely uncomfortable. The advice to breastfeed for six months has been taken on board by many but to breastfeed for any longer is seen as an aberration, dangerous even. Breastfeeding must take place in secret, in toilets or designated rooms, but airbrushed sexualised imagery may be displayed anywhere at all.

For feminists to think that Denmark has made greater strides against sexism because so many mothers have full-time jobs is to entirely misunderstand how the patriarchy oppresses us all.

The State of Feminism in the State of Denmark

Many British feminists have watched Danish Sunday night drama serials and decided that Denmark is the place for them.

Lund goes around fighting crime in flat shoes and thick knitwear, she never says “Ooooh, I shouldn’t,” in response to being offered a biscuit, men never repeat her jokes to greater laughter. Nyborg is prime minister of an entire country and no one says “Are you sure that is your colour?”, she never turns to her female colleagues and calls them ‘good’ for riding their bike.

The thing to bear in mind about these shows are they are fiction, British feminists. You already knew that. I am not trying to she-mansplain or anything. But they really are fiction. They are a cross between aspirational fiction and the sort of fiction we tell about the way things are right now that is coloured by our delusions. West Wing is a good example of that genre of fiction. What the fans back home would love to be true and almost is.

Lund is a cautionary tale. Meyer’s kids do not hate him for being a policeman at the top of the first season. Lund’s kid sort of does. Meyer’s wife is very much in love with him until the bitter end. Lund’s boyfriend chucks her in.

But let’s talk Borgen. When the first season of Borgen came out the prime minister was a guy called Lars Løkke Rasmussen. This is a video of him disgracing himself at the Conference of Parties December 2009 for climate change. (Connie Hedegaard (a lady), had been running ting in a very efficient and admirable way. He replaced her half way through the conference to everyone’s shock and dismay. And he did not know what he was doing.)  

This is a picture of his cabinet before the election.

Is yours a white person?
Is yours a white person?

Seven ladies and eleven chaps. Today it stands at 11 ladies, 12 chaps. So maybe aspiration works? What you need to know is that this has been a bit controversial.

Some Danish people will talk about how men are just naturally better at being in power and taking decisions and that having a gender balance just for shits and giggles can be harmful because you won’t get the right person for the job if you employ someone just so you have an equal number of men and women on board. (As opposed to the situation where only men are appointed just because. Obviously, the best person for the position is secured in that model*)

The current prime minister is a woman. Her name is Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Her father in law is Neil Kinnock, no joke. What you need to know about Helle is that there is a dirty tricks campaign to oust her from power. The campaign is working, she will not last long. The rumour is that she and her husband have been cheating on their taxes. This is because her husband works abroad and does not pay tax in Denmark (or only some tax in Denmark or something like that, not clear on the details. The rumours say they are liable to pay more tax, anyway) He was smeared in the press recently for being a gay. The rumour is that he is a gay, she is a beard and they have a marriage of convenience so he can look straight and she can look loveable. These rumours look like they will work and she will lose power.

Meanwhile, the rumours about Lars Løkke, that he is a drunk, never came to anything. Where, to my mind, having a drunk as a prime minister is hundreds of times worse than being a beard to a tax dodger. And these bloody rumours are probably not even true. In my opinion, Løkke was a crap prime minister, he staggered from incompetent situation to mismanaged scandal for several years. Thorning-Schmidt is doing a swell job, nothing special or amazing but still nothing terrible. She is someone I would not have a problem having a cup of tea with. She seems quite nice, in a way Løkke never did. (I don’t agree with either of their politics)

The guy before Løkke, Anders Føgh Rasmussen, his rumours were about cross dressing and rightly that was not a scandal because it does not matter at all. Completely inconsequential. But being married to a gay apparently is across the line? How are they even different accusations?

And the guy before him, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen just admitted to doping on cycling races.* Is anything sacred?

Let’s forget about politics for a minute and turn to day-to-day life for women. If you are a teenaged girl, you are likely to be called a “luder” (whore), at some point. That is the go-to cuss for girls. The go-to cuss for boys is “røvhul” (asshole) Girls have a lot of pressure on them to be smart and also hot. If they are too hot, they get called sluts. If you are a little girl, you will be encouraged to be pink obsessed. Barbies, make up dolls, pink toys, princess dresses… It is the same shit you get back in the UK.

Sexual violence is pretty high here, prosecutions low, punishments weak and Amnesty Goddamned International has criticised Denmark for its poor treatment of sex crime victims.

Prostitution is legal, pimping is illegal but unlike the Norwegians (and I think the Swedes??), being a john is legal. This means there are a lot of abused, trafficked, exploited sex workers out there. In Norway, where it is not illegal to sell sex but it is illegal to buy sex, serious violent crime has gone down. In Denmark, it is still a problem. The Danish police did an advertising campaign to warn johns that there was a high chance that the prostitute they were visiting was trafficked and the employment of prostitutes went up. Because that’s the point of employing a sex worker for the majority who do that sort of thing.

The age of consent is 15 and there is no protection for girls of that age with “boyfriends” in their late 30s. (nor the rarer converse)

Domestic violence is quite common. (though, I am not sure how it compares with other similar countries)

 

Daycare is well funded by taxes. Daycare workers are well trained, well respected and reasonably well paid. And yet, being a Stay At Home mum or dad is frowned upon. The vast majority of people put their infants in daycare. Even if they are not employed. It is difficult practically to be a stay at home parent because no one else is doing it, so you do not get any adult company. Health care visitors, mother in laws and busybodies will tell you that you are doing it wrong.

Now, if you want to work after having children, all the more power to your elbow, you go girl (etc etc). But if you do not, how is it a “choice” to have to because everyone else does? This goes equally for men as it does women.

Childcare is undervalued, paid work is the only thing that is respected.

Meanwhile, and hardly anyone talks about this, meanwhile the daycare centres are understaffed, the childminders are depressed and children become neglected emotionally. Intimacy is not encouraged. I have heard Danish people remark that it is good for their infant to be brought up by someone that does not love them.

You see, women’s rights haven’t won this battle. Mothering is still despised, is still regarded as shameful. They just obliterated the role. Everyone is a “dad” now. As in a 1950s, behind his newspaper, gets you a bag of sweets at the weekend because he didn’t get to see you all week, sort of dad. If women’s rights had “won”, you would see a lot more part time work for both genders or government stipends for staying home.

Childcare is seen as something that needs to be done in large batches so that everyone can pay full tax. And not an important part of society that is critical to get right. Why else are there such high child-staff ratios in institutions? Why are two year old left to get attacked by four year olds by these well qualified, well respected, reasonably well paid experts? It’s a “women’s” issue, that’s why. Anyone can do it! You can raise six infants simultaneously no problems because it is easy. You don’t need that many daycare workers, for heaven’s sakes. Women’s work is just as undervalued as it is in Britain, it has just been outsourced as the solution, rather than its profile being deliberately raised.

Why else is the reality show Young Mothers not called Young Parents?

Women are not afforded full rights to religious expression. If they wear hijab, they are not allowed to work in certain shops, be spokespeople, have jobs other than cleaner. And then the Danes have the balls the wall brass necks to claim that these women cannot work because they are downtrodden by “their” men.

Ugh.

 

Let’s talk about the positive for a bloody change.

On the positive side, casual sexual harassment is low. I have been catcalled twice in the four years I have been here. Compare/contrast with the four times a week back home. I am not required to appear feminine. I can wear what I want without any comment. I rarely put on makeup and that is fine because no one else seems to either. I can wear flat shoes, no problems. The opposite can be a problem, if you wear revealing clothes and high heels, people will talk about you behind your back and say you work as a prostitute. That is interesting, isn’t it!

My body is not public property, no one tells me what to eat or that I am “good” for the amount of exercise I do.

Compliments are rare but always heartfelt.

Work life balance is pretty good. People finish work earlier in Denmark than elsewhere in Europe. Presenteeism is not a thing. People do their job and go home. Holidays are plentiful and well respected. So, it is a pretty good quality of life. If you do not want to be a stay-at-home mother or are thinking about you and your partner going part-time after the kids. Or if you do not want children at all.

As long as you don’t get raped or trafficked, your life as a woman in Denmark can be pretty good*. BUT. This only goes for Danish women.

If you are a foreign woman, all bets are off. I have been readily patronised and dismissed out of hand just because I speak Danish with an accent. I dread to think what will become of me if I have children here. If I had to deal with the borough, maybe because I needed support during unemployment or because I had a baby, I might find that I get a completely different experience than a Danish woman. As my friends have.

Bear in mind, British feminists dreaming of Denmark, I have been here for nearly five years. I have started to think like a Dane. At work, I am almost constantly on the brink of saying “Yes but here in Denmark we do it like this.”* I have got used to living a certain way. A man tried to get past me in a shop by saying something to me and I completely ignored him because I did not realise he was talking to me, I thought he was on his phone (In Denmark, you sort of push past or get really close until the person moves, it’s not “rude” as such here). When I go back to the UK, I find it incredibly hard to make small talk. I am starting to think of Denmark as home. I care about my town and making it better.

And yet. For every four people who are fine with me thinking like a Dane, one person will come and give me a metaphorical Cleveland Steamer for having the temerity of being permanently foreign in Denmark. I am never going to be accepted. I could do, as others before me have done, the whole “get fluent” thing but I will never be accepted in the way my friends in the UK from other countries were accepted. I will always be marked by my origins. People will always ask me where I am from, even if I live here for decades more than I have lived in the UK.

If you go to Danish class, you will find that women are encouraged into SOSU (like a care worker position but with none of the prestige) and men are encouraged to become manual workers. It is not me being paranoid, it’s the stated aim of Danish integration politics. Get immigrant women into careworker support roles. Immigrant men are filtered into other roles. It doesn’t matter what your specialism was back in the old country or where your natural talents lie. You are a pigeon and you must fill a hole.

My first Danish textbook was about Familien Jensen and their day-to-day lives. You will NEVER GUESS who out of Lise and Jan did the housework and cooking. Even though both of them have jobs and work the same hours. One of the government videos you may be forced to view as part of your integration process informs you that “feminism is completely irrelevant” in Denmark today!

Even if women’s rights had won here in Socialist Paradise Denmark, which they haven’t, you will find you are not considered a full woman with the same rights as the real women who live here. You will still be a second class citizen but because you are foreign, not because you are a woman. I am really not sure if that is any better.

(Unless you are rich, then you can do what you want. (But that is true in Britain too.))

I hear it is better in Sweden.*

*This is a use of “Danish humour”, I hope you enjoyed it.

One from the Vaults: Subscribing to Feminism

I wrote this four years ago and I still believe it! I guess that means I’m a grown up now, that I’m not overwhelmed with embarrassment at the shit I wrote in the past.

Some of the trouble with feminism is what it is called.
It sounds a lot like “hey, we’re the women and we’ve come here to install a matriarchal society! pip pip!”
The first women’s movement in my culture was called “Universal Suffrage” if my history lessons serve. The name is a lot more “equal ops” because it does not promote women over men, just says “hey, equal rights!”
But when universal suffrage was ticked off the “how women are worse off than men” score card, there was still more to do.

Feminists could be called anything and maybe it would be better if they were called something more inclusive but they aren’t and I don’t think a rebrand at this stage is a good idea.

If they changed it to “humanist” even though that’s, like, already taken… people would say “hey, what makes you different from feminists” and they would be like “nothing, we just rebranded because we like men”
(or more accurately “we just rebranded because we were sick of men saying ‘but what about the men!'”)

Even though feminism is about human rights, it is about how females have fewer human rights and would like some more. It is not really about the human rights of men because usually they have them unless they are really unlucky, disabled, old, poor or dark skinned. And then we’re onto different equality movements.
Sexism against men does happen and the movement against that is called feminism. Or it is when I do it.

Essentially, I don’t like semantics. I think it is a waste of time. I would quite like people to quit killing women for wanting to choose a husband and also I would like to have hairy legs and to feel comfortable within myself at the same time. If we are going to call these aims “feminism” or “nazism” or “capitalism” I am on board. I am not really thinking about the headline.

Maybe instead of having Privilege Olympics when people try to work out who is the most disenfranchised out of black people, women, disabled people, poor people, fat people and the gays; someone (me?) should suggest a movement called Equalitists. Where crack teams of the middle classes go around enforcing equality by running badly attended marches, forming committees which fall out within three meetings and making buttons/signs/tshirts.
Oh and blogging about it.

Once the Women’s Group at my uni released balloons to remember important women. You got to take a balloon and write the name of your heroine onto the label.
They made a big thing of women writing “MY MUM”. But what they should have made a big thing out of was how essentially crap that gesture was.
Great, so we have polluted South Wales, used up irreplaceable helium and made women feel guilty for not knowing any famous women heroes.
Meanwhile, where the fuck is the rest of my pay?

I am so getting kicked out of feminism.

News Translation: Mads Christensen Interview

Now the English speaking world has started to become aware of what Mads Christensen said. Great.

The point wasn’t that his stupid “jokes” were damaging or offensive or injurious. Just that Dell were stupid as hell for booking him and mega-cowardly for not turning off the mike when he started his schtick.

Unfortunately, people have come out in support of him with “He’s just the Danish Stephen Colbert!” OMG, I fucking wish. He is more like the Danish… who was the last American to say “some black people do look like monkeys” again? He’s the Danish version of that. Omar Marzouk is Denmark’s closest equivalent to Colbert, in that he says edgy things to get people to think.

Christensen is not even Denmark’s equivalent of Sasha Baron Cohen. My boy Sasha is MOCKING the people who humour him. He is making fun of narrow minded and priggish attitudes. Mads Christensen is glorifying them. If you take a look at this interview, you can see where he manages to dig himself a lot deeper in an attempt to apologise. No one was in any doubt that he was trying to joke, it’s just that what he said wasn’t that funny and didn’t work on any level.

This was written in the tech magazine Comon, and as far as I know, is the only public comment Christensen has given (though it’s possible he gave more interviews). More to come, eh, Mads! Eh? Eh?

Women have to shut up. Children should have weapons. And we should screw unconscious bitches. 

“Blaggard” Mads Christensen apologised for his controversial contribution to the Dell conference. “It is satire and humour, don’t take me seriously.”

By Kasper Villum Jensen

 18th April 2012

Mads Christen has cast the computer company Dell in an unfortunate light by recommending that the branch’s men teach their little boys to say “shut your face, bitch” at a conference yesterday.

At the same occasion, the 800 male (and 40 female), participants were urged to keep the IT-industry free of women because according to Mads Christensen, it’s the last bastion that his gender has left.

The words stood in very poor contrast to the growing work done to encourage more women to choose the IT-industry. Both Mads Christensen and Dell are apologising now for how his show was received.

“I’m awfully sorry if anyone took my words too seriously. I bear no ill will for anyone and especially not women. So, I’m sorry if Dell is going to get badwill because of this. These were not their words.”

He is also annoyed that the sentence has been translated to “shut the fuck up, bitch,” in an English post which made the sentence “shut your face, bitch” seem a lot sharper than it was intended.

Give weapons to 10 year olds

“If someone is looking for a fight and takes one sentence out of  15 minutes without looking at the context or the mood of the room, you could imagine that I am a psychopath.”

“When I use the expression “shut your face, bitch”, it came out of a piece that, in my opinion, is dripping with satire and humour. In my opinion, this is a piece of standup comedy,” said Mads Christensen and added that he also got a lot of positive feedback on his presentation and never has before received criticism for similar shows.

“I used some very caricatured and massively overdriven images. I started talking about Cro-Magnon man. About how things were in the right order in those days and that men could bash their woman in the head and screw her while she was unconscious. I really hope no one takes that seriously. It’s a caricature.

“I also talked yesterday about inventions, when I said all the good inventions were by men. For example, aquaducts, the alphabet, telegraphs, light bulbs, Sony Playstation and the anthracite-coloured alloy wheels. When I named the Playstation and anthracite-coloured alloy wheels in that connection, I thought it was very obvious it was a joke. I know well enough that it wasn’t the world’s best joke. I recognise that now.”

Q:Have you yourself taught your son to say “shut your face, bitch”?

“What I said yesterday was that you should do your son a favour and give him a moped for his 10th birthday. So, I continued to say that he should also get an indoor rifle when he’s 10. Obviously he shouldn’t. It speaks for itself.
“The third thing I said was that you should teach him to say “shut up bitch”. Of course he can’t run around the whole time saying that but only when it is necessary for him to stick his heels in and believe me, his future wife will thank me for that,” said Mads Christensen with regards to his favourite topic of current men that in his view have run themselves into a siding.   

I kick men in the pants

“It’s now been suggested that I am a male chauvinist, a sexist and that I want women back in the kitchen but if you hear the story to the end, you see it’s about a loser. This is a man who got a clip around the ear.”

He thinks that all the trends and signs point to women storming ahead and men being on the way to the coal cellar and he gives that development and its reasons a comic treatment.

Q: But you don’t think your sort of presentation negatively shapes the debate?

“I think that to a great degree, I break the stereotypes and try to illuminate them with a smile, so we can smile a little bit at them and smile a bit at each other. I think we need that. So, in my own light-hearted way, I believe I have done the debate a favour.

“I was hired by Dell to keep the momentum, after Michael Dell left the stage. They were perhaps afraid that the energy would leave the room, and so I was hired to come with a cheeky contribution. But if you’re not into my style, so I bring a lot of firewood to the bonfire. I know that. But it was also a humorous attempt to keep the momentum.

“I know that “Rytteriet” was there later in the evening and talked about that there should be more au pairs in the IT industry so there would be more to screw. That’s not anything anyone should take seriously either because we know it’s satire. Maybe it’s because I don’t wear a costume that people think I’m being serious.”

Dell and Sexism

A very stupid man (Mads Christensen), whose only real achievement to date seems to have been to upset some survivors of a massacre by suggesting that they should have fought back, was invited to speak at a tech conference for Dell the computer company.

This is bad publicity for Dell, they must be very happy that it “only” happened in Danish.

Why he should be invited to speak at a tech conference I am not sure because he has naff all to do with tech. He is just some wanker. I think he got invited so he could make some jokes. You know, because people who work in tech can’t make jokes, let’s just get any old wanker. And he’s cheap, is he? Great. Book him.

Anyway. The stupid wanker made some jokes. And the jokes were the following (as live tweeted by @christianevejlo):-

“Men have invented everything worthwhile. All we can thank women for is the rolling pin.”

“You are the last bastion in IT, boys. Hiss it through your teeth. Shut your fucking face, bitch”

Same report in English from Christiane.

As is usual in such “jokes”, the reason he was able to make them was total ignorance of the facts. The reason that wankers feel the need to tell everyone to “calm down, it was only a joke,” is because they believe he was making an edgy point grounded in at least a little reality. The reason that the 800 or so men in the audience laughed… well, I will come to that in a minute.

The facts: IT and invention (especially in tech), is not the last bastion of men at all. Of course women have been inventing things since prehistory. I am guessing if Stone Age women were in charge of “gathering” like everyone likes to tell me, then they probably had a lot to do with the invention of agriculture. You know, the invention that kickstarted the Neolithic Revolution. The history of recent tech started out with a lot of women initially but as it became seen as desirable, women got pushed out. How were they pushed out, you ask? The usual. Everyone saying that women cannot wrap their heads around science, maths and technology because of their biology and people “joking” around like this assclown. (Not to mention hissing at them to shut the fuck up and calling them bitches.)

Mads Christensen cannot have known that the inventor of programming, Ada Lovelace, was a woman. She invented COMPUTER PROGRAMMING. The stuff that stops Dell’s products from being a very large paperweight. He also cannot have know that the inventor of frequency-hopping spread-spectrum technology was Hedy Lamarr. Who was also a woman. The invention that makes wireless and mobile phone technology possible. He cannot have known that the original word “computer” meant a woman who worked in a computing department, doing all the computing. Before computing machines existed. He cannot have known any of these things because if he had, he would have instantly known that his joke does not work.

Also, as a purist, I like to insist that jokes are “funny”. Advising a room full of men to hiss “shut the fuck up, bitch” at imaginary women who work in IT because that is where BOYS work; that does not even work on one level. It is just bizarre. Don’t give me the “irony” defence, please. If it was irony, he would tell them off immediately for laughing and THAT would be the routine. Making them question their initial response to his awful joke would be pretty interesting comedically speaking (and also, you know, a use of irony).

My problem with the rolling pin joke isn’t so much the fact that John W. Reed (a man) invented it. And it’s not really so much that the history (and current affairs) of tech has so many important and amazing women in it.

My problem is that he, a failed comic, (for indeed you do not dream of working tech conferences when you first start out in the entertainment industry. “oh boy oh boy, I hope I get to warm up the Dell tech conference! Then I’ll KNOW I’ve made it.”), where was I? ahh yes. He, a failed comic, puts himself in the company of Leonardo, Edison, Bell et al by virtue of his peen.

And the 800 or so men who were entertained by the thought of stupid women inventing only a rolling pin in the couple of million years of all human history, those stupid bitches! What have those men invented?

A couple of elegant lines of code at best. Maybe a new way of arranging something that already exists like computer chips. And good luck to them, keep on keeping on, boys! But despite their lack of straight up inventor creds, they were also thinking in the same flawed way.

Leonardo had a peen. I have a peen. Therefore I am like Leonardo. Because of my peen.

Do me a favour, guys. Go and invent the helicopter and come back, you smug fucks. (Or computer programming, for that matter.)

So, why did they laugh? I have my ideas. Many of them will have been tickled by his jokes. Some of them will have found them amusing but hoped he was being ironic. But a hefty group will have been laughing because to not laugh, well, that is a bit dangerous in a room full of men. What might the man next to you think? You don’t think women are more than just for food and reproduction, do you? What are you, some sort of girl?

This is Tony Porter’s  speech at TED women. I think a lot of them laughed because, like Mads Christensen, they are trapped in the Man Box.

UPDATE-ARAMA 23/4/12

Hello everyone!

Firstly, Mads Christensen says that he actually said “Hold kæft, kælling” not “Hold din kæft, kælling” and that is more like “shut up, bitch”; so not at all like “shut the fuck up, bitch”. He also intended it to be said to the wives of men who work in IT, not to female co-workers.

Secondly, some people don’t think that Ada Lovelace exactly invented computer programming because she only wrote the first ever computer program (or “algorithm”), in the entire history of computer programming. Okay, fine.

Apparently Grace Hopper is a much better example. She invented the compiler and the idea of a machine independent computer programming language; and is now my newest hero, go Grace!

So, you know, we’re still cool. Women have a lot to do with the inception of computer programming.

I think also because Hedy Lamarr didn’t invent the frequency hopping jibjab alone, people are taking that away from her. Shit, son. Is nothing sacred? The guy who invented sellotape is revered in our culture and he didn’t act alone, ok?

Thirdly, Danes are desperately trying to claim it is “Danish humour” and “satire” and “irony” and “Danish culture”. They are claiming that only people who can’t get jokes are “offended”. Let’s be clear, fellas, I am not sure anyone IS offended.

Shocked and disappointed, maybe, like a favourite teacher when they catch you mocking someone for cheap laughs.  They make a sad face and they say

“Did you think that was funny, to be so mean? Wow.”

and you go: “Oh man, I should act like a human being in future.”

And you do. And everyone learns something.

Like that.

Another successful interaction with a man

Vejle bus station smells of desperation and the poops. Everyone is downcast, waiting for a bus to take them anywhere. Out. Away.
At 3pm I had settled myself, standing out of the main walkway, waiting for the Billund bus. Listening to what the kids call “an mp3 machine”, listening to my Pop Music.

A man shoved me to one side to get to the bin and then went back to standing to the side of me. I clocked him, mid twenties, not very bright, eating a sausage and a bread roll (but not together, he was not French or anything). I sighed at the ill use of my personal space. I caught a little satisfied grin from him and turned my back, stepping backwards again out of the way.

Another shove, this time much harder because I had positioned myself much closer to the wall. He moved back to where he was again. I took out my ear phones and gave him A Look. I think they taught me this look in teacher training college. It means
“WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?”

He looked back, the same facial expression as the man who pissed on me in the Kanye West concert “What do you mean this does not pass for flirting?” his look said.
Amused excitement to know a woman was looking at him.

“Why are you shoving me?”

Confusion. I have used English on purpose. If he cannot or will not answer me in English, I already know that I will give him a hard time about it.

“I had to get to the…” gestures to the bin.

His expression is hurt now, hurt and confused.

“You could have gone in front of me.”

He walks behind me but I move so he does not need to push again.

“What’s the fucking problem?”

A gift. A gift from him to me, like when a chess player does the wrong thing with the pawns at the start and the game is over before it begins.

I keep my voice soft and deceptively sweet, my eyes are cold and hard.

“Why are you swearing at me?”

I clasp my hands to my chest. Oh you brute! I am saying with my body language. He does not know what has hit him. I widen my eyes in fake surprise at his oafishness. There is no sign from me that I am upset or excited, everything is taken inwards. Cold and flinty. People around us have no idea this is a row.

“At least I didn’t ROB you.”

He wants gratitude that he only assaulted me, wanted props for not going further. He wants me to acknowledge that he, Bjarne Big Balls, *could* have taken my purse by force if he had wanted.

“Oh. Are you *drunk*?” My voice is light and dismissive, like I have already forgotten him. You can go now. “Is THAT what this is? You’re *drunk* at 3pm?”

He looks at the floor. Either he did not understand me and had no comeback or is indeed drunk. He shambles off to the toilet, muttering.

A few minutes later, he shambles back but this time avoiding eye contact and pretending to be on his mobile telephone.