Swedish Teenagers to be Given a Teaspoon of Feminism

Education Geek Culture
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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie author of ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ Image: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Late on Friday night I finished watching an episode from series three of The BridgeIf you haven’t watched any of this Scandinavian crime series, I wholeheartedly recommend you do. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever watched on television.

But this post is not about that. At the end of the episode I wanted to clarify a plot point from series two, and a quick internet search took me to a synopsis written for the UK’s Guardian newspaper. At the bottom of the article was a link to a more recent news-story: “Every 16-year-old in Sweden to receive copy of We Should All Be Feminists.”

This seemed to me like an amazing thing. An amazing and sensible thing. It was well past bedtime, but I read on, fascinated, following link after link.

All the thoughts written for this post came directly from rummaging around on the Guardian website, so many thanks to them for some excellent reporting.

We Should All Be Feminists was written in 2014 by award winning Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. (Her novel Half a Yellow Sun recently won a “best of the best” accolade from a prestigious UK literary prize). The essay was adapted from her award-winning TED talk, the video of which has been viewed over 2.3 million times.

I have only read an extract of the essay, but I have watched the entire TED talk. It ought to be required viewing. Adichie is precise and eloquent in her description of gender inequality and the detriment it causes to everybody. Not just women, but men as well.

Feminism is a word with many differing connotations, but in her talk, Adichie, whilst not redefining it, clarifies it into something everybody ought to be able to understand. There is nothing threatening or man-hating in it. She clearly defines the cultural benefits of a more equal society. “Feminism,” she says in her introduction to the Swedish initiative,” is about justice.”

I think all teenagers should be given opportunity to read and discuss this essay. I find it in every way laudable that a non-government operation have deemed it worth putting it into the hands of Sweden’s teenagers. Only good can come from it. If reading Adichie’s essay gives just one girl the confidence to be what she wants, rather than trying to conform to what she feels society wants her to be, the venture will have been a worthwhile enterprise.

The gender gap is, I hope, getting smaller, and by allowing our children to listen to or read the words of writers like Adichie we can close it further. If our children can view the world the way she views the world, then gender equality will become a tangible prospect.

It’s almost impossible to move in geek-world these days without rubbing up against gender issues. Whether it be Gamergate, Sad Puppies or a dearth of Black Widow toys, everyday it seems there’s something to highlight the gender gap. Closing the gap will be a gradual process; a series of small steps, or perhaps, putting out a fire with a teaspoon.

Part of the sponsorship of this project in Sweden comes from The Order of the Teaspoon. This is not an archaic coven of British tea-drinkers, but an organisation inspired by writer Amos Oz, the motto of which is “Together for diversity and tolerance”.

The idea that underpins the Order is that, whilst intolerance may be a raging fire, if enough people with enough teaspoons join together, that fire can be extinguished. Essentially, alone we are small but together we are mighty.

With the current state of the world it’s an ideology that I want to believe in. The fire of religious intolerance and fanaticism burns across the globe. The sale of high-powered assault weapons seems like an unstoppable inferno. Fighting fire with fire, rarely seems to work, but perhaps enough people with enough spoons might one day dampen the destruction.

Closing the gender gap by comparison to those above examples feels possible, especially in the hands of thinkers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Through funding this project The Order of The Teaspoon and its allies are giving teaspoons to teenagers. Maybe they can fashion them into a bridge with which they can breach the divide.

Whilst Swedish teenagers will be receiving their own copies of Adichie’s essay, it is possible to buy your own, or, if you prefer, watch the TED talk on YouTube, and do what I did; poke in and around the Guardian article. You’ll find plenty of food for thought and a teaspoon with which you might change the world.

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Weapons of Mass Persuasion? Image: Mathis Lohaus
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3 thoughts on “Swedish Teenagers to be Given a Teaspoon of Feminism

  1. Thats an idea. Give a book by a woman who comes from an actual oppressed background to a society where the worst oppression women face is criticism of their ideology. Talk about first world problems. I wonder if it would be considered thought-crime to toss the book in the garbage.

    She seems well intentioned but awfully naive as to how feminism in the first world operates. It is an entirely different beast than it is in the third world where women are second class citizens. In the US, a feminist by the name of Mary Koss successfully reworked the term “rape” in her time at the CDC to exclude male victims of women. This has had such far reaching consequences in both statistics and in the law that it can only be considered a crime against humanity. In the 2011 and 2012 reports by the CDC, it was found that the yearly rates of men forced to have sex with women against their will were equal to the numbers of women forced to have sex with men. These numbers were suppressed and kept out of the public sphere because they were not defined as “rape,” which Koss has gone on record and defended because she does not see it as being an equal crime.

    I could also bring up VAWA and the biased Duluth Model, which were feminist initiatives. This means that in any case in which the police are called by an abused man, he is equally as liked to be arrested himself as his abuser, if that abuser is female. This is despite the fact that men make up an equal number of victims of mutual violence (ie, when both parties abuse each other) and the *majority* of victims of unidirectional violence (ie, when one party abuses the other and the second party does not fight back). Remember that little analogy about “10% of M&M’s are poisoned” that was making the rounds in the femisphere awhile back? Well imagine if that number was 50%. This is even further underscored by the numbers that show lesbian couples as being the most prone to DV, and gay male couples as being the least.

    This isn’t even getting into the subject of how family court reform has been opposed, or the subject of erosion of due process rights.

    People need to realize that opposition to feminism is neither opposition to women or to equal rights. All the rhetoric in the world can’t trump a set facts, and the facts are that feminism in the western world stand to harm more than it helps.

  2. What right do these people have to try to indoctrinate everyone’s children with any kind of views? I wouldn’t want children to be indoctrinated even with my own views, because such attempts at indoctrination are wrong in principle.

    With this door opened, I suppose you can’t object when other groups start handing out Bibles to all the teens, or some other political/religious tract you personally find objectionable.

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