• Sweden's news in English
 

'Feminism is about competition'

Published: 08 Aug 2014 08:30 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 Aug 2014 08:45 GMT+02:00

Sweden is the most gender-equal country in the EU - but with elections just five weeks away, feminism and gender equality keep popping up in debates, at political events, and on parties' election posters.

But as a torch-bearer of gender equality, why hasn't feminism become a non-issue in Sweden?

"I think one reason is precisely because Sweden is so equal," Christina Bergqvist, political scientist specializing in gender equality at Uppsala University, told The Local. "There are so many women in powerful positions now that they can raise these issues."

In Sweden 45 percent of parliament members are women - one of the highest numbers in the world - although only about 27 percent of floor leaders are female. 

"Even though Sweden is from a comparative perspective very gender-equal, there are still differences between men and women," Bergqvist explained.

"There are still inequalities when it comes to wages, and women do more unpaid work and take more parental leave... But once women get into politics they can bring these issues up."

Although all of the Nordic nations place highly in the ranks of gender equality, Sweden's neighbours have not seemed as focused on feminism lately. Berqvist said that perfectionist Sweden's preoccupation with the issue may simply be due to a different discourse and cultural traditions.

"Political discourse in the Nordic nations look very different, even though the policies are quite similar," she said.

"I don't think that feminism is more accepted in other nations, but there is a different rhetoric. In Denmark for instance there seems to be some resistance to talking about feminism, although the gender equality is quite similar to that of Sweden."

Sweden's feminist party, the Feminist Initiative (Feministiskt initiativ, Fi), has quickly gained support from young voters, increasing its supporters fivefold over the past few years and winning a place in the European Parliament earlier this summer.

However, as the party has no seats in Swedish parliament, it didn't even get to stand on the stage during Almedalen, Sweden's largest political event. But party leader Gudrun Schyman was there anyway, giving a speech from a tiny basement cafe - and people stood outside on the street waiting to get in. 

Nearly all of the other party leaders brought up feminism and gender equality at their speeches.

"It is clear that equality is needed not just on the agenda, but in everything we do, from the state budget to the kitchen table," Center Party leader Annie Lööf said in her speech. 

Meanwhile, Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) leader Jan Björklund wanted to take back the word feminism from the Fi party, saying that "the liberals have been taking feminist initiatives for over one hundred years."

Indeed, the party's autumn campaign slogan is "Feminism without socialism".

Moderate Party leader Fredrik Reinfeldt did not mention feminism - but the trend continued as his speech was interrupted by bare-breasted Femen protesters. 

Bergqvist said she suspected the sudden flood of feminism was spurred by Schyman and Fi.

"Now that the Fi party is gaining support, the other parties have to bring up feminism as well," Bergqvist told The Local. "It's kind of a competition. They have to compete now because gender equality and feminism is clearly an important issue for many voters."

But Berqvist said that a gendered agenda may not be enough to get the party into parliament during elections. Winning a spot in the EU parliament doesn't promise success on the home front, she warned.

"It's one matter when a voter decides who to vote for on the national parliament, and another for the European parliament," Berqvist explained.

"It's easier to vote for something a bit more risky when it's not right at home, when it's in the EU. When voting on the national level most voters go for the safe route, not wanting to waste a vote."

If Fi does get into parliament, Berqvist said, the path may be much smoother from there. Once in, it's generally easier to stay in. 

"It is possible that they will get a seat in parliament," Bergqvist speculated after some thought.

"Schyman is quite a popular person and she's very good at explaining things in simple ways, and people appreciate that. And Fi includes men as well. It's not a women's party, it's a feminist party."

For more stories about Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Solveig Rundquist (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Video
Swedes buys Soviet tank for winter fun
Jesper Lysell with his new tank. Photo: Private

Swedes buys Soviet tank for winter fun

You’ve got 100,000 Swedish kronor to blow on something extravagant. Do you buy a low-end sports car? Not if you live in southern Norrland, you don’t. You buy a tank. READ  

Sweden braced for fresh barrage of thick snow
A typical drive in Luleå on Friday. Photo: Facebook

Sweden braced for fresh barrage of thick snow

Large swathes of northern and eastern Sweden were preparing for a further dump of snow on Sunday, with the country’s national forecaster warning that as much as 30cm could drop on parts of the country. READ  

'The perfect workout': gym clears snow for free
Aerobic snow-shovelling on Saturday morning: Crossfit Holistics webpage

'The perfect workout': gym clears snow for free

A gym in northern Sweden has turned this week’s monster snowfall into “the perfect workout”, sending its members out for an hour on Saturday to shovel snow around the city for free. READ  

Pirate Bay back online seven weeks after raid
The Pirate Bay's homepage on Saturday. Photo: Screen grab

Pirate Bay back online seven weeks after raid

Sweden’s seeming unquashable file-sharing site The Pirate Bay is back online, seven weeks after police seized servers hosted at a data centre in a nuclear-proof bunker deep in a mountain outside Stockholm. READ  

Roma denied sleep complain of 'torture'
The banner erected by the Roma at Sorgenfri Folketshus. Photo: Solidarity with EU migrants

Roma denied sleep complain of 'torture'

A group of Roma immigrants have complained of “torture” and “terrorism” after security guards at a Malmö night café for homeless people refused to let them sleep on the premises. READ  

Israel 'not happy' at Abbas invite to Sweden
US Secretary of State meets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, in November 2014. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/TT

Israel 'not happy' at Abbas invite to Sweden

Israel’s ambassador has sharply criticised Sweden for inviting President Mahmoud Abbas to Stockholm next month, citing it as further evidence of the “energetic pro-Palestinian line” the country’s government has taken since coming to power after September's election. READ  

Beggars 'objectified' at Malmö exhibition
Roma migrants who have swapped the streets for an art gallery. Photo: Albin Balthasar

Beggars 'objectified' at Malmö exhibition

Two Roma beggars have been paid to take part in a controversial art installation that has seen them sitting and standing in silence with a paper cup in front of them in a Malmö art gallery. READ  

More open borders for Swedish nationals
An SAS plane taking off from Sweden. Photo: TT

More open borders for Swedish nationals

From this summer, Swedes may be be able to leave their passports at home when travelling to the UK and other non-Schengen countries within the EU. READ  

Thick snow set to cause further travel chaos
A sign warns about falling snow and ice in Stockholm. Photo: TT

Thick snow set to cause further travel chaos

UPDATED: Heavy snowfall has caused major traffic problems in parts of western and southern Sweden, with further bad weather set to sweep across the country this weekend. READ  

Presented by Verksamt.se
'Immigration is critical' for Stockholm’s future
The city of Stockholm. Photo: Björn Olin/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

'Immigration is critical' for Stockholm’s future

Stockholm’s business community gathered on Friday to discuss the future of the city’s labour market. While housing and education were mentioned, it was another theme that reigned supreme. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
What’s on in Sweden this week
Sponsored Article
Stockholm job fair helps immigrant entrepreneurs
Gallery
IN PICTURES: European Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm
National
The return of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Lifestyle
Top five trends from Stockholm Fashion Week
Blog updates

30 January

Editor’s blog, January 30th (The Local Sweden) »

"Greetings from Sweden where much of the country is heading for what could be the coldest..." READ »

 

26 January

The mysterious -s, part 1 (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! How is your Swedish coming along? A while ago I read on a forum on The..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
People-watching: January 28th
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
National
Does Sweden help returning Isis fighters more than Swedish veterans?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: January snow snaps
Society
Is Sweden's healthcare system a national embarassment?
Gallery
Property of the week: Skanör, Vellinge
Lifestyle
'Life as a Swedish candy-maker is sweet'
National
Why Sweden's Left party wants a European 'Red Spring'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's hottest new fashion designers for 2015
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Who travels on Stockholm's different subway lines?
Lifestyle
Why this Swedish baby is a US hit
Lifestyle
'Limousine' snowplough for sale
People-watching: January 24th - 25th
Gallery
People-watching: January 24th - 25th
Society
Meet the 'beggars' buttoning up immigration critics
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Madeleine through the years
Features
Learn Sweden's bizarre dating lingo
People-watching: January 21st - 22nd
Gallery
People-watching: January 21st - 22nd
Society
Why Sweden's viral 'genital' video is getting an English remake
National
Why does Sweden's Luleå have a giant ice beaver?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Who are Sweden's richest one percent?
Business & Money
How a classic Swedish snack got a revamp for 'busy' Stockholmers
Lifestyle
The Local's top Swedish acts for 2015
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Årets Bild photography prize winners
Business & Money
'I met my Swedish man in Tokyo's first Ikea store'
Gallery
Property of the week: A cozy apartment in Bromma, Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching: January 17th - 18th
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish gravad lax
Lifestyle
Four hot Swedish home design trends
National
How The Local's video on a strange Swedish sound went viral
Gallery
People-watching: January 14th
National
The Local's guide to Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Politics
Paris attacks: Knock-on effects in Sweden and across Europe
National
Swedish Muslims react to new Charlie Hebdo magazine
National
The Local talks to Sweden's Home Affairs Minister about Paris attacks
Business & Money
Will Spotify launch on stock market after users rocket?
Accelerated
Texans and Swedes to play ice instruments
Gallery
Property of the week: An 18th century mansion in Stockholm
Business & Money
'Snowboarding drew me to work in chilly Sweden'
National
Are Sweden's royals moving to London?
Sponsored Article
Everything you need to know about moving to Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

1,008
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se
Counselling and Psychotherapy in English
Sometimes living in another culture can cause stress, confusion and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Talking to a professional psychotherapist/counsellor might help you. I am a UKCP Reg. psychotherapist. My practice is in Södermalm, Stockholm.
Contact me to discuss your options