An open letter to men who discuss Feminism

Posted on

feminist-symbol-keylaThere’s nothing wrong in not knowing much about feminism. Everyone isn’t interested, I get that. But if you’re trying to come off as interested and/or knowing, and discuss feminism with other people, then not knowing what feminism is about becomes a problem.

Discussing with/against feminists with the result that these women have to explain feminism for you is just another way in which you exert your male privilege. Instead of learning more about feminism from the countless sources that are available to you, you just lean back and expect a woman to do the work for you.

And I’m tired of hearing how we as feminists are condescending and angry when discussing with you. We’re not here to make the world even softer for you. Being a feminist sadly means being called different derogatory words, having people trying to silence us, being threatened with rape and murder. So when one of you comes along with your preconceived notions about what feminism is, when you try to tell us how to do feminism, when you expect to have everything served or talk about how hard it is for you as men, how you are discriminated against because of being men – then we get really tired. And some of us (myself included) get condescending when you don’t think we see through your condescending attitude and acting as victims of discrimination.  Because part of our awakening as feminists mean we won’t take any more shit.

“But I’m genuinely interested and want to learn!” you say. Pick up a book, search the Internet, take a course. But Making_History_pink-300x246stop asking us to explain it for you – again. In doing so you’re asking us to give you of our time, our knowledge and our energy – totally free of charge! Because of your male prvilege (google it, but be critical of your sources), you’re expecting to have everything served. You’re expecting your voice to be worth more than mine.

“See, you won’t let us join in!” Sure we do. We think it’s great when men show an interest in feminism or proudly proclaim to be feminists. The more people who learn and enjoy feminism, the better a world this will be. But you won’t get applauded for joining simply because you’re a man. You won’t get special treatment or privileges because of it. You left all of that on the patriarchal side when you stepped trough our door.

You see, feminism is for you too. But it means that you have to give up the privileges you’ve enjoyed on the expense of women, non-white and queer people. There’s no fun in acknowledging our privileges, we know. We who enjoy them constantly have to work at being consious of and challenging them. But if  you’re not willing to get your hands dirty and get the job done, please don’t stand in the way of us who do.

Det är synd om Marcus Birro

Posted on Updated on

 Det är synd om Marcus Birro. Nej, jag är inte ironisk. Jag menar verkligen att det är synd om honom. Han beskriver i sin senaste krönika hur han känner sig attackerad, anklagad och hopklumpad med våldtäktsmän. Och det är ju inte alls kul. Men det är inte därför det är synd om honom. Låt mig börja från början…

Marcus Birro är, enligt honom själv, en jämställdhetskämpe. Han och flera andra män som han känner, alla goda Marcus Birrofäder, blir attackerade och diskriminerade av feminister. ”Rasismen mot män tar inte hänsyn till verkligheten”, menar Birro, och fortsätter med att säga att: ”Den värsta sortens människa är en vit, medelålders heterosexuell man.”

 Eftersom Birro själv inte förstått detta, så känner jag att det är min plikt som medmänniska att knacka på hans dörr med en bukett blommor, à la Postkodmiljonären, och glatt utbrista: DU HAR VUNNIT PÅ LIVETS LOTTERI! medan Birros ögon glittrar av lyckotårar och en orkester hoppar fram bakom bilar och vita husknutar för att spela fanfarer. Som vit, medelålders man, heterosexuell och – gissar jag – medelklass, är Birro den BÄSTA sortens människa i hela världen! Jo det är sant! Vart Birro än väljer att gå i denna värld så kommer han att vara välkomnad och anses vara på toppen av den mänskliga hierarkin.

 Ingen kommer misstänka honom för att vara terrorist p.g.a. hans utseende eller religion.

 Ingen kommer att förutsätta att de har rätt till hans kropp för att han är man. Ingen kommer att sexuellt utnyttja eller förnedra honom för att han anses vara ett sexuellt objekt som finns till för andras njutning.

 Ingen kommer att tysta honom, misshandla honom, förfölja honom eller försöka fängsla honom p.g.a. hans hudfärg, etnicitet, kön, tro, sexuella läggning eller sexuella identitet.

Listan är lång över vilka former av diskriminering som Marcus Birro aldrig kommer att behöva utstå p.g.a. de kategorier han själv erkänt sig tillhöra. Birro som vit, medelålders, heterosexuell man har givetvis tolkningsföreträde när det gäller hur han uppfattar sin vardag och sitt liv. Precis som han själv säger i sin krönika. Men han har inte tolkningsföreträde vad gäller någon annan grupp; de grupper som dagligen utstår faktisk diskriminering.

Det är synd om Marcus Birro, för att han vill kämpa för jämställdhet, men vet varken vad rasism eller feminism är. ”Väldigt många uttalar sig tvärsäkert och argsint om något de vet rätt lite om” har Birro sagt i en artikel i Expressen i juli år. Ändå slänger han sig med uttryck som ”Rasism mot män”.

 Det är synd om Marcus Birro, för han vill vara en hjälte, men istället tystar de som förtjänar att få sina historier hörda, som förtjänar vår empati, som förtjänar att vi kämpar för dem.

 Det är synd om Marcus Birro, för han har inte förstått vilken makt han har att faktiskt göra skillnad. Att han som vit, medelålders, heterosexuell man har alla chanser att vara en grym allierad och kämpa sida vid sida med dem som ständigt blir diskriminerade. Som krönikör har han chansen att skriva om de där svåra historierna, de där svåra kamperna som han själv säger blir bortglömda. Det skulle Marcus Birro kunna göra istället för att skriva en artikel där han attackerar och trycker ned dem som dagligen kämpar emot orättvisor.

 Det är synd om Marcus Birro, för han förstår inte hur bra han har det. 

The Swedish Latin Kings

Posted on

This post was originally written for the Being Latino Online Magazine (under my “maiden” name)

I often wonder if Americans* know how much the United States has influenced European youth culture.  Growing up, we all wanted to be rappers, break-dancers, graffitti-artists.  There were plenty of wannabees and copy cats – we all wanted to look like the Latinos we saw on t.v.   My friends and I would spend who knows how much time in front of the mirror trying to make sure we looked the part; a group of 14-16 year olds trying to find some kind of identity. I’m pretty sure that we looked completely out of place with our baggy jeans and charcoaled eyes, walking through our Swedish pueblitos!   But those were almost exclusively the only Latino role models we had at that time: rappers and movie-thugs.

Of course it felt weird to call each other chula or hear the guys call each other pana and so on – it really wasn’t part of our culture (that we still hadn’t defined). Some of us didn’t speak Spanish that well; most of us hadn’t been to Latin America in years, if ever. Our curse words were mostly made up of words our parents had used in the early 70’s; there was really nothing cool about us.

But during the early 90’s a group of young Swedish-Latino guys from Botkyrka, a district outside of Stockholm known for its large concentration of immigrants, formed the group The Latin Kings (not to be confused with the gang that originated in Chicago). Dogge, Salla and Chepe were amongst the first to rap in Swedish – or what is often labeled as New-Swedish: essentially Swedish mixed with words from Spanish, Arabic, Turkish, and so on – a sociolekt, some call it.

Everybody talked about them – at home, in school, in the media. So many who hadn’t had anyone to identify with before, suddenly had these three guys who rapped about racism, inequality, love and lust – everything that had to do with being young in Sweden; suddenly it was pretty cool being a “blackhead,”as some would call us.

Although they’ve often been targets of ridicule, as many of their lyrics were often exaggerated truths- sometimes just pure fiction, –about life in their district,  most of us remembers this group as the ones who stood up and spoke their minds about discrimination and racism and actually tried to make a difference. We all knew that some of their image was just that, but we didn’t care, because they made a space for us, made us feel like we belonged. They didn’t just represent the Latino culture; they represented all immigrants – first and second generation – living in Sweden.   That was the greatest thing about the Latin Kings.  As Douglas “Dogge” Leon, the group’s most prominent figure, said “Hip-hop was what made our poor upbringing rich.  All you needed was paper and a pen and anyone could join, there was no discrimination …”

Book: Portafolio: den sanna berättelsen om Chepe, Dogge och Salla. (Portafolio: the true story about Chepe, Dogge and Salla).
by Jennifer Turano


*This was written before I stopped using the word “Americans” to refer to people in the US. 

Why the Women in the Middle Discussion still matters…

Posted on

Mikki Kendall‘s #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen hash tag sparked a great deal of controversy. I’m sure many in the feminist movement didn’t get why the hash tag was needed, and most who aren’t in the feminist and/or anti-racist movement def. didn’t . And they have some catching up to do,to say the least…

But what it also sparked was a discussion about the position of those in the middle – those  who don’t fit into the White Women or Women of Color-box. I thought it was great, that now we could also discuss what a narrow category whiteness is in the world, and how few people that get a membership into that club.

One of my paintings from 2011 - Frida.
One of my paintings from 2011 – Frida.

A video chat about that, mostly featuring white Latinas, showed how so many people just don’t fit into either group. But it also sparked another discussion about yet again excluding and silencing WoC (Women of Color).

I’m not a US citizen, have never lived there and don’t know enough about the country to talk about how Whiteness works there. And so I shouldn’t have opened my mouth, not even to try to explain how it works in Sweden, which is what I tried to do. And I apologize for that. I never want to silence anyone, it hurts me so whenever someone does that to me, especially when it’s something that happens over and over again – which is what is constantly happening to WoC. I thought (still do) that the chat was a result of the many blog posts about being a “White Latina” (check the bottom of this post for links) and being in the middle that started a short time after Kendall’s hash tag. A separate discussion springing from the first.

The #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen discussion is such an important one and I hope it sparks more discussions, more understanding, and more actions. I dont join in on those conversations because I have the privilege of my skin that means I need to listen, not talk.

But I also don’t join in on the White Women discussions because my voice isn’t heard there. I don’t fit in.

And that’s hard to say without it sounding like a white girl whining about not always being white. But I think that’s exactly why this discussion is needed. Not to take away from an important discussion, but to have an entirely different one. Because I think there are a few perspectives in Intersectional Feminism that are lacking (well, several actually, but their not mine to voice). That Whiteness is both fluid and narrow, much more so than what we are talking about now. And it’s also lacking a global perspective; are we truly intersectional if we’re only talking about US feminism, North European feminism, Latin American feminism, in different corners of the world?

I have heard several light-skinned Latinas say they don’t face “blatant racism” in the US, and several who say they do. Whatever perspective is true – or if they all are – they do face exotification. They do face discrimination. They do face sexism that cannot be separated from their supposed otherness. Thing is, whiteness can’t always be measured by how it works in the US (if there really is even only one fixed way to do it).

I didn’t grow up watching women like me on tv, in government positions, as

One of my paintings from 2011 - Volver
One of my paintings from 2011 – Volver

educators, as professionals. Neither did most of the girls like me, those with backgrounds more colorful than the stereotypical Swedish one. We’re mostly lumped together into one group, as political correct as “women of another background than entirely Swedish” – isn’t that a tongue twister? Many girls like me turned to movies from the US to get to watch other girls of latin background – however stereotypical and misinformed that representation was. But – I have a Swedish citizenship. And no matter what they think I am, no matter if they think I’m white or not, that gives me yet another privilege in the world. I can travel almost anywhere without any problems.  Very few countries, if any, will demand that someone vouch for me to be allowed to enter.  I will not be denied simply for being born in the wrong country. And neither will you. Your US citizenship allows you to move freely as well.

You have a bigger platform to discuss than most – I couldn’t find a platform in Sweden, it’s all too new and all too white. In a country with so many different cultures, a country that is considered the center of the world and gets to define others, isn’t it time to get in some more perspectives?


Women In the Middle/White Women of Color posts that inspired this one:

Juliana Britto – Solidarity Isn’t for women in the middle

Ana Cecilia Alvarez – I’m a White Woman of Color

Daniela Ramirez – What It’s Like to Be a White Woman of Color

Men who hate women…

Posted on

I often talk about Women’s Rights, violence against women and girls, the struggles of women of color. I read a lot about it, I try to learn a lot about it. I share the information with my friends (female and male), whether it’s information that can educate us further or that can empower us.

 I have no idea what it is that provokes certain men so much about women who try to end gender violence and/or empower women, who try to make a space for ourselves and each other. But I can’t even count the times that I’ve been called sexist and anti-male. It’s always “masked” under the pretense that they are indeed for gender equality – the problem is that women have taken up such a big space that we are now oppressing the men (even though males, especially white males, are the least oppressed throughout history). It reminds me of Debra Leigh’s list of 28 common racist attitudes and behaviors, where she quotes Rush Limbaugh:

The civil rights movement, when it began, was appropriate, valuable, needed. But it’s gone to the extreme. The playing field is now level. Now the civil rights movement is no longer working for equality but for revenge.

Leigh explains that his comments “are loaded with white people’s fear of people of color and what would happen if they gained “control.” Embedded here is also the assumption that to be “pro-black” (or any other color) is to be anti-white. (A similar illogical accusation is directed at women who work for an end to violence against women and girls. Women who work to better the lives of women are regularly accused of being “anti-male.”).

 Limbaugh’s comment is very similar to what these guys are doing – they often say that the feminist movement was a good idea when it began, because of course women should be allowed to vote!, but that now it’s mostly just about teaching each other to withhold sex from their men, or being sexually promiscuous (do you see the logic here, because it keeps eluding me?) …

 That they present themselves as supportive of our cause, at the same time as they are bullying us and diminishing our efforts creeps me out.  Violence against women and girls is becoming worse every day – all over the world. If this, in itself, isn’t enough proof that women are still discriminated against, then I don’t know what is. If this, instead of making you want to join us in ending this injustice, makes you want to discriminate us further, then that’s on you. But you are wrong, and YOU are on the side of the oppressor you claim that you are working against.

sexual harasment is a form of violence -
sexual harasment is a form of violence –
  •  Gender-based violence both reflects and reinforces inequities between men and women and compromises the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims. It encompasses a wide range of human rights violations, including sexual abuse of children, rape, domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, trafficking of women and girls and several harmful traditional practices. Any one of these abuses can leave deep psychological scars, damage the health of women and girls in general, including their reproductive and sexual health, and in some instances, results in death.
  • Violence against women has been called “the most pervasive yet least recognized human rights abuse in the world.”
  • Gender-based violence also serves – by intention or effect – to perpetuate male power and control. It is sustained by a culture of silence and denial of the seriousness of the health consequences of abuse. In addition to the harm they exact on the individual level, these consequences also exact a social toll and place a heavy and unnecessary burden on health services.

You can read more information here and read about what you as a man could actually do to help

6 months anniversary, cheers to our tears!

Posted on

Six months have passed since our little A came into the world. Six months with very little sleep, a lot of tears and a lot of laughs. I know most new parents say this, but I never thought it would be this much work, or this much fun. I’ve cried myself to sleep more times than I can count, only to wake up 10 minutes later because little A is crying. I’ve laughed so loud and hard that I’ve scared our son, and made him laugh as well even though he might’ve been crying only seconds ago.

As I’m writing this our little wonder is sleeping in the baby carrier, his head close to my heart. He cries in his sleep because he has a bad cold with a horrible cough and fever. Our mostly sleepless nights are worse now that he is sick, and every day I’m surprised that I haven’t fallen asleep standing up. There have been nights, especially in the beginning, when I’ve said that I probably just wasnt cut out for motherhood, and felt an immense sadness that little A has me for a mom. But it’s amazing what just a few more hours of sleep can do, and then I realize that no one could be more of a kick ass mom to him, or love him as much as I do.

Being a new mom is definitely not a walk in the park, and required way more tears than I care to admit. But seeing how our little boy trusts in us to solve whatever little problem that might come in his way, and how his smile makes my heart skip a beat, I realize how lucky I am to be his mom.

So cheers to our tears and our laughs little A, there will be many more of them… I love you

– Momjen and little A




Posted on Updated on

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
– J. R. R. Tolkien

In Sto.Dgo 2010
In Sto.Dgo 2010