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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: jämställdist

Today’s word is part of the ongoing gender equality debate in Sweden.

Swedish word of the day: jämställdist
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Jämställdhet means ‘gender equality’ in Swedish. But the derived term jämställdist, confusingly enough, can mean either someone who is for gender equality or someone who is pretending to be for gender equality, depending on who you ask.

As you might now, the term ‘feminist’ encompasses quite a few different takes on what feminism or gender equality really means and how society should go about achieving that goal. Among them are a group who use jämställdist for people (generally men) who they say claim to be for gender equality, but really are not. Then there are those who call themselves jämställdist, who say that they are for gender equality, but that modern feminism does not mean ‘gender equality’, but rather ‘hatred of men’ or ‘female superiority’ or similar things. They say they call themselves jämställdister to distinguish themselves from ‘feminists’ and ‘masculinister’, which according to them is the male version of ‘feminist’. 

If you are not already aware, Sweden is a super progressive country. In the World Value Surveys cultural map, it is the country in the top right corner when sorting for “traditional values versus secular-rational values and survival values versus self-expression values”. That basically means it is very non-traditional and very individualistically oriented. Which usually equates to very progressive.

Sweden is in fact so progressively minded that people from its very progressive neighbours Denmark, Norway, and Finland make fun of Swedes when it comes to many social issues. They believe that Swedes have gone too far, and many Swedes express similar feelings. 

When it comes to feminism this push back can perhaps be seen in the rise and fall of the number of men calling themselves feminists in Sweden. In 2014 the Swedish election was won by the first Löfven government which styled itself as ‘Sweden’s first feminist government’, riding on a wave of pro-feminist sentiment in the country. That same year a survey was conducted by SvD/Sifo which among other things looked into how many men over 30 called themselves ‘feminist’. The figure was 50 percent. In 2018, the same survey revealed that the number had fallen to 25 percent.

Are fewer men in Sweden today in favour of gender equality, or are fewer able to identify with the recent developments in feminism? Are they jämställdister or jämställdister? Who can say?

What is clear is that jämställdist is not generally used as positive, so be mindful of using it to describe others, or even yourself, in polite company. A better way of using the word might be to start up a conversation about what your friends think is the difference between ‘feminist’ and ‘jämställdist’.

But again, be careful. The debate about gender equality in Sweden can be a minefield. Best of luck!

Example sentences:

Jag är inte ‘feminist’, jag är jämställdist, det finns en skillnad. 

I’m not a ‘feminist’, I’m a gender equalist, there is a difference.

Du är inte en sån där jämställdist väl?

You’re not one of those gender equalists, are you?

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.

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For members

SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

​​Swedish word of the day: möte

The word of the day is perhaps Sweden’s second favourite pastime, after 'fika', and they often go hand in hand.

​​Swedish word of the day: möte

In 2017 Swedish television published an article with the headline, Möteskulturen frodas i Sverige, “The Meeting Culture is Thriving in Sweden”. For a non-Swede that might seem like an interesting and perhaps bizarre headline, but to the initiated it is all too familiar. 

A möte is simply a meeting, but for Swedes möten are something you do at every opportunity. Need to decide anything at all? Let’s have a möte. This can seem like an awful waste of time to a non-Swede, but Swedes are all about consensus. The idea is that after you have consensus you can move forward more efficiently. And Swedish society seems to do that really well. And it does not hurt that a möte is the perfect time for fika, or more precisely mötesfika.

As a bit of history, the English ‘meeting’ and Swedish möte are related, and they are also related to ‘moot’ as in ‘moot court’ or a ‘moot point’, “an issue that is subject to, or open for discussion or debate; originally, one to be definitively determined by an assembly of the people.” That assembly of people was originally an old Germanic type of town hall, a ting, where people met to discuss communal matters and settle disputes.

Today we can find the word ting in the names of the Icelandic parliament, the Althing, the Danish parliament, the Folketing, and the Norwegian parliament, the Storting. In Sweden you still find it in the name of the lower courts, Tingsrätten

The point is, there is a very old tradition of möten in Scandinavian culture. The Icelandic parliament, for instance, claims to be the oldest in the world. Whether the Icelanders can beat the Swedes at the time spent in möten at work is unsure, no statistics seem to be readily available for a comparison. 

Malin Åkerström, the researcher who was interviewed in the piece by Swedish television, claims that the public sector are the primary champions of möten, but it is also very common in the private sector. And möten are on the rise in many workplaces. 

Here it might help to know that in Sweden a möte can also be between you and just one other co-worker to discuss almost anything, so the term is quite broad. Then there are so called arbetsplatsträffar, more commonly referred to as APT, a type of longer, more serious möte that many workplaces hold regularly (there you can almost always count on fika). 

As you can see, Swedes love their möten – so why not find an excuse to stämma tid för ett möte with one of your Swedish friends or maybe a coworker? You might just make their day.

Example sentences:

Bettan, kan vi stämma tid för ett möte?

Bettan, can we decide on a time for a meeting?

Jag blir galen med alla dessa konstanta möten, va fan är det för fel på svenskar?

I’m going insane with all these constant meetings, what the hell is wrong with these Swedes?

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Bokus or Adlibris.

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