© Zak Keith, 2010 (updated: Jan 2013 and Jan 2018)
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ADDENDUM Feb 2018:
I’m pro-feminism, but despise political Swedish Feminism. I have nothing personal against most individual feminists, just the ugly side of the political machine, which has run over some people and brushed aside others. However, adherence to the Feminist identity in Sweden, has become cult-like. It is held above and beyond scrutiny or reproach.
Yes, it’s possible to be pro-feminist and disagree with Gudrun Schyman’s politics. It’s actually possible to support the feminist cause while calling into question the F!’s very questionable moves.
The famous environmentalist Jacques Cousteau once said it was a major disaster for the world when the Greens became a political party. Before they did so, they were outsiders who consulted all humankind, across the political spectrum. Even the political right took advice from them. Once they became politicized, they were aligned with the left, and correctly accused of being too naïve to actually run a country, having no leadership skills to handle state affairs and being excessively pro-tax. Every piece of sound environmentalist strategy they had was simply voted down.
I feel the same – no, much stronger – about politicized feminism. Feminism is something that all humans across the political spectrum should support. Instead, it has become a left party. In Sweden, it is seen as the last hope, the only thing standing between us and a takeover by xenophobic racist parties. They have marketed themselves as holding the torch, spearheading antiracism, being pro-immigration etc. But have they caused any collateral damage or overstepped their mandate? You decide.
I question the sacrifice of a few for the good of many, as is the case with marginalizing the voice of Muslim women who’ve spoken up against male Islamic culture and honor killings, because the priority is not to offend Muslims.
We don’t live in a black-and-white world and there can only be rational nuanced discussions about these matters.
Gudrun Schyman, the former Swedish Member of Parliament, once proposed a special sexual harassment tax—a tax on all males to compensate for gender-based inequalities and the sufferings of all women in general.
In 2002, the Swedish Marxist Member of Parliament, Gudrun Schyman, suggested a bill to collectively tax all Swedish men for violence against women. In a speech that followed, she posited that Sweden’s structure of discrimination is inherently identical to that of the Taliban:
“The discrimination and the violations appear in different forms depending on where we find ourselves, but it is the same norm, the same structure, the same pattern, that is repeated in the Taliban’s Afghanistan, as well as here in Sweden.”
Male columnists from newspapers such as Dagens Nyheter and Aftonbladet and even the Swedish Ombudsman for Equal Opportunities, Claes Borgström, chimed in, saying that Schyman was right: all men are indeed like the Taliban.
Schyman—feminist leader and now former Swedish Left Party leader—wrote the motion, which reads in part:
“When the costs of this aspect of socially-destructive male behavior are added up, it becomes clear how much money men’s violence costs society—money which could be used to increase women’s income, for healthcare, improved working environments and so on. It’s then only natural to ask how men collectively should take economic responsibility for men’s violence against women...”
Consequently, Schyman was accused of promoting a culture of Victimhood for Economic Gain. In Schyman’s convenient black-and-white worldview, all men are perpetrators and misogynists, while all women are victims. The Left Party put itself solidly behind her, stating that the idea of men collectively paying for the social costs of violence towards women is similar to the principle of imposing higher taxes on the rich.
While I’m all for collective social responsibility, this, to me, is collectivism gone awry. A philosophy of Victim Entitlement dictates that the more victimized one is, the higher one belongs in the entitlement hierarchy. Furthermore, assigning people to groups and dealing with them collectively, is what we used to call such ugly names as racism and sexism.
Whether left-leaning or right, a surprising number of Swedes subscribe to the concept of collective rather than individual responsibility. Although the collective mindset is widely attributed to decades of mind shaping by the left-of-center Social Democrats, Swedes across the political spectrum, including those vehemently opposed to the Social Democrats, tend to deal with people in collective terms. Collective responsibility may not be a bad thing in certain contexts, but if the ideals of group conformity, as outlined in the ironic Jantelag, were to run their full course, the need for or the right to express any individualism would be removed entirely.
As a politician, Schyman ought to know better. Although what she had in mind may not have been value-added tax but rather sin tax,, unless we are still living in the Dark Ages, there can be no taxation without representation. According to the Benefit Principle: taxation<=>rights.
If men were to pay taxes for violence against women, they would also, theoretically, as taxpayers, be entitled to claim the right to commit acts of violence against women. The absurd-yet-legitimate scenarios that would have followed if such a bill had been passed include:
Excuse me while I play the fool, but if wholesale generalizations about gender and groups are to be the order of the day, may we return the favor and postulate that Schyman, like some all Swedish feminists, is into emasculating men? The assertion that Swedish society supports the suppression of men might not be that far from the truth—the central theme of Swedish TV commercials is that all men are fools and the joke is usually always on the men. Should men be entitled to tax deductions for Emasculation caused by such portrayals? Or, dare we upset Schyman’s applecart with politically incorrect debates about how some individual all women are addicted to victimhood and how some individual all women are enablers of violent men?
Why bother to take Gudrun Schyman seriously?
I am baffled by the fact that so many Swedes continue to revere her as “a genius.” Schyman’s political career should have ended years ago, when she urinated in a public theater and then and tossed her urine-soaked panties at the audience. In the ensuing media storm, she took refuge in the “I’m a victim of alcoholism” excuse and Sweden bought into it, and she lingered on as a credible politician. The question begs to be asked: is victimhood vogue in Sweden?
Schyman, like many politicians, talks out of both sides of her mouth.
Following her Man Tax proposal of 2002, the pro-tax Schyman had to resign the very next year as leader of the Swedish Left Party on charges of tax fraud. Schyman then conveniently announced that she was leaving (instead of “ousted” from) membership in the Left Party, because she had more important things to do, such as focusing on feminist issues, and launched the Feminist Initiative Party.
And so Schyman lingered on...
In 2010, Schyman exposed her callous mercenary heart by burning SEK 100,000 in small bills (an illegal act) as a protest against unequal pay for women. In the ensuing uproar, she tried to silence her critics who said the money could have been put to better use—such as purchasing 69,930 polio vaccinations—by retorting, “we are not a charity, we are a political party!”
As a very vocal opponent of tax deductions for outsourced work carried out in Swedish households (RUT deductions), Schyman, of all people, should not be one to partake of its benefits. However, it was revealed by the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) that she was in fact among those who claimed tax relief through the RUT-deduction system in 2010. Her subsequent reply to critics was that she saw absolutely “nothing contradictory” about utilizing such tax deductions.
Would it be reasonable to speculate that Schyman considers herself quite the victim, high up in the victimhood hierarchy and as such, should not be liable for taxes? There is no mistaking it: Schyman likes to have it both ways.
In 2013, a pregnant woman wearing a niqab was hospitalized with a concussion after being harassed and assaulted in a Stockholm suburb. Schyman, who had earlier decried the traditional Muslim headdress as oppressive and stemming from a Taliban culture, donned a hijab in support of the woman. “Here we are, fighting against male oppression and dying in our fight not to wear the hijab. How convenient that Schyman, as a non-Muslim, gets to co-opt the culture for a few photo ops and gets take it off at will,” Muslim women protested.
In September that year, Schyman sent the Swedish Parliament a SEK 3,304 (US$500) bill for a 330-km (205-mile) taxi ride, which she justified as being due to floods and canceled bus services. An investigation revealed that she was never actually in the taxi, but had sent for a sports-bag-sized bag that she had “accidentally” left behind (not a deductible expense according to the rules). Yet further queries revealed that she had in fact left the bag behind because it was just “too much for her carry.”
I consider myself a feminist, if feminism means furthering women’s rights and fighting for equality. But with sensationalist, piss-tossing, money-burning, hypocritical, tax-fraudster “feminists” such as Schyman, who needs feminazis?
It is difficult to imagine a politician coming up with a man-tax proposal and being taken seriously anywhere else in the world. The Swedish approach to dealing with gender issues and the unbridled manner in which Swedish politicians suggest victimizing males, supposedly in the interest of protecting the welfare of women, may be uniquely Swedish phenomena.
Swedes are certainly entitled to be proud of their country and to think of it as one of the most progressive in the world. They have accomplished much for gender equality in terms of parental leave for fathers, female representation in government, etc. They have also taken on more than their fair share of refugees (although perhaps not done enough for integration), etc. I love Sweden, because it’s full of wonderful, sincere people called Swedes. However, sincerity and naiveté tend to go together as a set and Swedes are often as naïve as they are sincere.
Despite their ideals of självdistans (self-detachment), Swedes have some notable blind spots to their own nature. Paradoxically, while Swedes are advanced on the issues of race and gender, they also fall short in these very areas: race and gender:
- Racism unawares? While many Swedes may decry racism, in social interactions, they frequently categorize people as types rather than individuals; they think of nationality, ethnicity and culture as inseparable concepts. Ignorance is rife in Sweden. African Americans get asked repeatedly where they are really from because “USA” is not an acceptable answer and “Africa” is what Swedes are fishing for. The bull-in-a-china-shop reasoning goes that since “we should all be proud of our true heritage,” black Americans shouldn’t be ashamed of their origins—never mind about being socially inept and ignoring the fact that their ancestry may be a sensitive issue and impossible to trace due to the horrendous effects of the slave trade. NOTE: Caucasian Americans do not get interrogated in this manner, because Swedes evidently subscribe, albeit unawares, to the Manifest Destiny of Whites. (see Typical conversations with ignorant Swedes)
- Reverse sexism? While Swedes may decry sexism, they seem to have nothing against what some sociologists have gone as far as calling the “gender neutering” of males and the “suppression of maleness” in the population. That they are alarmed by Sweden having the highest percentage of metrosexuals in the world is really a nonissue — that is neither good nor bad. However, I do question the Utopian ideal of creating an entirely gender-neutral nation, one in which the gender-neutral pronoun “hen” is used to replace “he” and “she” in all schools and children’s books, official documents, etc. Or the claim that gender identity is a superfluous social construct that causes more harm than good. And the banning of school playground activities because it reinforces gender identity. And I question the Swedish media referring to sex tourism by 70-year-old Swedish women visiting Gambia as “holiday romances” and their marriage to 25-year-old Gambian men as “finding love,” whereas older Swedish men who marry younger Thai wives just 10 years younger are typically referred to as “loser pedophile types who can’t handle strong European women, and have resorted to importing prostitute brides.” I also question the practice of homosexual RFSU and RFSL representatives visiting schools to, not just suggest, but convince impressionable 11-year-olds that half of them were born gay, only they “just haven’t realized it yet.” The prevalent black-and-white-reductionist argument is that homosexuality is “100% genetic and 0% cultural”—despite evidence to support the contrary coming from studies of identical twins. (Again, this is not about approval/disapproval, etc., but about sweeping black-and-white statements and peer pressure to achieve a non-male non-hetero ideal.)
“Men are guilty by default” is not just limited to Schyman.
My use of the phrase, “across the political spectrum” and the term “Middle Ages” in the above article was apt.
In March 2010, the center-right Swedish Justice Minister, Beatrice Ask, suggested that bright color-coded envelopes be sent to suspected sex-buyers: “I could envisage having envelopes of a very garish color and sending them home to people suspected of this offence.”
Minister Ask’s idea was to publicly shame suspected — not convicted — buyers of sex, and to inform their family and friends about their suspected culpability. She referred to the practice of public humiliation in the Middle Ages as something positive, explaining that it would be “like being shamed in the town square.”
Minister Ask later had to perform a public U-turn in response to severe criticism of her disrespect for basic law—the principle of innocent until proven guilty.
That... was from the Minister of Justice?
Is there not some truth to the very distinctly Swedish phenomenon of politicians unabashedly calling for the victimization of males in the supposed interest of looking after the welfare of women?
©Zak Keith, 2010