Sweden’s feminists want a man

The board of Sweden's fledgling feminist party, the Feminist Initiative (FI), have declared that they want to see a man sitting alongside them as part of a shared leadership group. But the man FI most desires has said that he is not interested.

Ebba Witt-Brattström, one of the founders of FI, said that they are looking for “a male feminist”.

“We have discussed this and I think a majority are for it,” she told Svenska Dagbladet.

“It’s extremely important to make clear that Sweden is a long way ahead when it comes to this sort of thing – I don’t think it would be so easy in Germany.”

The Feminist Initiative is a hot topic in the Swedish media at the moment since it looks increasingly likely that the new party will compete at the next election. FI has already put forward a list of ‘key demands’, which include a six hour work day and completely individualised parental benefits.

But it will differ from most of Sweden’s parties in that it will not have a single leader.

“We are trying to build an anti-patriarchal organisation,” said Witt-Brattström.

“So you have to reflect that high up. But this isn’t just symbolic; rather, we are saying that power is shared.”

At the FI annual general meeting in September, members are expected to vote for two or three individuals to act as the spokesmen for the organisation – in effect, its leaders. One of those will almost certainly be the former Left Party leader Gudrun Schyman.

She has said that she would be happy to take on the role if chosen by the members.

It now seems that she could have a man beside her – if FI can find one. Ebba Witt-Brattström told SvD that she had her eye on Claes Borgström, currently Sweden’s equality ombudsman.

“He’s the kind of serious and engaged and clever person it should be,” she said.

“He is a person that people recognise. He has a lot of credibility and people would understand how we see ourselves if he came in with us as part of the Feminist Initiative leadership.”

Unfortunately Claes Borgström rejected her advances.

“Clearly on a purely personal level it’s nice that the work I do as equality ombudsman is appreciated in this way,” he told news agency TT.

“But it’s not going to happen.”

Borgström made clear that he still has at least a year left on his current contract and refused to comment on whether he would be interested after that. Nevertheless, he seemed to approve of FI’s decision.

“Men must participate in the work of change, so from that perspective there is a strong symbolic value to have a man involved,” he said.

Sources: Svenska Dagbladet, SR