Sunday, April 5, 2009

Gudrun Schyman and Feminist Initiative in Sweden

There has been some clarification of discussion themes over at this March 15,2009 ECD blog post, Illegal Aliens and Housing Foreclosures: The Historical Connection, and I wanted to add the following addendum to that blogpost, due to not being able to HTLM code a portion of a comment submitted there by a new A.R.P. visitor, Together into the Abyss. This commenter just offered us a link to a speech by white feminist Gudrun Schyman, the former leader of the Left Party in Sweden, and co-founder of Feminist Initiative there.

For those of us who prefer to listen and watch short dispatches than to read longer pieces, just below are two short portions of a speech she makes in English, on becoming a feminist, and how that focus required her to step outside of Party Politics.

I recommend reading Sexual Textual Politics, by Toril Moi, to assist in understanding the politics of language translation, particularly across ethnicities and political ideologies.

Having noted that there are, necessarily, political and cultural (and legibility) problems with language translation, here is the link to that speech,, for our Swedish speakers and readers. For those of us whose Swedish isn't quite up to par, there is a very "imprecise" English translation which follows.

There is certainly no doubt that the online (non-human) translator didn't know what to do with certain terms, and that there are a host of grammatical problems when translating through an Internet program from one language to another, as you shall see. But Moi's point--one among many--is that there are many of the same problems, and others, when the translator is human. What emphasis is chosen in translating a sentence? How best to translate idiomatic expressions: literally, or figuratively? How, and to what extent, does the political mindset of the translator impact the politics of the translated text?

For decades, I have seen U.S. anglo/white "academically educated" men--you know, the ones who are supposed to be "the smartest", be utterly incapable of reading and understanding basic concepts and principles in radical feminist writings. This is the case even when all involved speaking and writing U.S. American English as a first language. We have to wonder how many additional comprehension and communication problems there are when we move into the realm of translations of different languages. This raises the question: do men who are not familiar with radical feminist and Womanist writings--whether non-fiction prose, poetry, or fiction--even know what feminists are saying?

Here, then, is the speech by Gudrun Schyman, woefully inadequately translated by an Internet service:

Speech by Schyman

The Left Party Congress in 2002
The spoken word applies!

Congress Participants,

To live together, in a society, is not conflict-free. Each
days will be new conflicts and old cultivation. Between men and
women, between capitalism cynicism and our own requirements
influence between the West's economic interests and
Third World increasingly desperate needs, between
industrial overexploitation and natural conditions.

Conflict in itself is not evil. They are necessary for our
common development. By policy, we can make visible
conflict and take a position.

It is the change in power as a political party in their
best moments can be an expression of.

Congress slogan is MISSION JUSTICE. In any situation where
people oppressed grows a large force for change. And it is
requirements changes that give us the mandate. That is what
is the very purpose of a political party: to be a tool for
the force grows as we come together around common
problems and ideas. Party to express a living will and
creative lust. If we are unable to be party meaningless and

What change forces can we see in our society today?

Over one billion people today live in absolute poverty, the
ie with less than $ a day. This is a
repression of major proportions. And it creates a terrible
powerful force for change among those who see what pågår.Men the
is not always the force takes the positive expression.
The attacks on New York September 11 last year was
heinous crimes that do not for one second can be legitimized by a
never so much oppression and western superpower dominance. Neither
U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, which probably affected
more innocent, can be justified by the grief and anger from the
September 11.

It was good that the Taliban lost power. And given
It would be nice if those responsible for terroratackerna could be
to justice. But I am convinced that with the massive support
that existed, it would have been possible to achieve
change in a peaceful manner, although it had little

The need to hold a debate on the UN Charter and
international law is clear. And now can hardly U.S.
self-defense law apply anymore. Bombs can never be any
sustainable solution in the fight against terrorism. And than
clearer, it would be if the war extended to new countries, which
Iraq and Somalia. The main road they have chosen to fight
terrorism is counter-productive. The gap between the
Western world and Islam threatens to increase. What is now
needed is peace support operations, policy dialogue and justice
terms. That is to say the opposite of military courts and
yielding countries posthaste to abandon the most basic
requirements of legal certainty, in a blind hunt for terrorists.

The Swedish government wants to uphold international law. It then requires
is to ensure that the whole issue back to the UN
Security Council, for discussion and decision. Then the UN's role
strengthened and the fight against international terrorism would
be kept with unquestioned legitimacy.

Nor in Palestine and Israel legitmerar one of the violence it
others. The vile terrorist attacks against innocent Israelis is not justified by
to Israel for decades illegally occupying Palestinian
land and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced
permanent refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel
tanks against stone-throwing children and shelling of
Palestinian authorities, not raises the dead and dries not
disregarding the tears. Nor does it prevent the new
suicide bombers than forward.

In the debate on the terror attacks September 11 has
said that the terror is blind and incomprehensible. Attempts to explain
have even equated with the defense. But it is not
until we understand why people choose to kill themselves
and others that we can stop it.

The unequal distribution of power and resources between
West and the Third World is an important statement.
U.S. history of power games, abuse and acts of war in
Middle East is another. Behind the terror, the feeling of
to be fatal violated, not to have their human rights

Oppression and the violation can be a breeding ground for terrorism --
but they are not sufficient causes. In the world there is much
more women than men who are poor. Women who are daily becoming
abused and at times it becomes vulnerable to disrespectful abuse.
Despite this, female terrorists are extremely rare. I mean
cause is also in the manlighetsmyt that still

It is almost only men who can get on to the through terror
and violence can restore their dignity. For those men
The aim is to regain the lost respect by
be feared and to give again. Retaliation raised to the norm.

Proper safety and security, we must not in the world until
male society abandoning standards of confrontation and victory,
dominance, control and strength.

In Göteborg, in the summer, during the EU summit demonstrated several
tens of thousands of people for a different Europe from the
superpower construction now under way. We demonstrated a
world where democracy, solidarity and sustainable
development is the government instead of the transnational corporations
globalized cynicism.

But a few hundred activists managed to move the focus from
protest the political content, to the senseless stone ning
and indiscriminate destruction, which only raised legitimate
horror among the public.

Meanwhile, the Swedish police and the judiciary ----
as well as their Italian counterparts in Genoa - in several
points acted as the basic democratic rights
and legal principles, been eliminated.

The Left Party has a dual strategic role to play: as
one of the strongest organized forces within the Left, the
globalization-critical movement and EU opposition, we
completely away from and discourage all violence from
demonstrators and activists. At the same time, we must constantly
be vigilant against the tendency to limitations of the
democratic rights and freedoms. The police must do their
work without having to commit offense. People who want to
protest peacefully against an unfair värlsdordning Never
fear of being threatened, proposed, or mocked by the police.

It is therefore with great surprise that we now can see that
not a single police officer, has made a single mistake that may lead to prosecution.

Now, I have included three examples where the social contradictions
taken the form of violence, terror and war. It requires
not much to see that violence is not the solution. Bomber
neither create security, peace or democracy. Motto eye for
eye of risks making a whole world blind.

But to renounce violence means never being without opinion.

We are clear in the criticism of the unjust world order and
U.S. superpower dominance. We are clear in the criticism of Israel
occupation of Palestinian land. And we are clear in the criticism of
European superpower construction in the capital owners' terms.

When a small global power elite owns and controls large parts of the
economic life, many of us can not be involved in
decisions concerning our lives. Privatization, deregulation and
clearance means that power is shifted from labor to capital and
democracy opportunities limited. Few may be more and more may

But the injustice created new change forces. A global
protest movement is emerging. A movement that claims that another
world is possible. A movement of ordinary people, with
workshops and banners, to the CEO with
meetings and quarterly reports.

Power and ownership is one of many important issues that we
will discuss in the next Congress days.
Others are in the puppy lattanti form: unemployment,
working seduces card no, equitable distribution, fair
environmental space, regional and global justice. Missions are

The requirement for changes and improvements are, therefore, in many
areas. But right now I will dwell a moment on
the requirement for change that grows out of the most universal
oppression of all. The repression that goes deeper into the body
and identity than anything else, it is older than
class and which consisted of class societies
convulsions, the format and repression that characterized each
class society and adapted it to their conditions:
women's oppression.

It takes many forms. The discrimination and violations
look different depending on where we are. But it is
same standard, same structure, same design, which
repeated as well in Afghanistan under the Taliban here in Sweden.

I say "Woman in Afghanistan" - we see all the picture above

She is a light blue tent whose eyes we can not respond, trapped
behind a grid of the fabric. Osynliggör of her and her
rights are even physically. During the past
autumn, the invisible made Afghan woman used as
an argument for bombing the country where she lives.

The debate has even failed to women's oppression is
a reason for bombs.

In view of how women's oppression is in the world would look like
perhaps we need to prepare ourselves for a world war?

World over is the same. Women are brutally murdered.
Female body becomes fiercely exploited in prostitution and
porn industry. Battered women fleeing their abusers.
Women are starving themselves, even to death. Women are discriminated against
in law, in employment and wage conditions. It is a question of
power, for power and powerlessness.

The bulk of the violence that women and children exposed to
takes place in the family. In the fall, I provoked a debate on
just this under the heading "Death to the family". The words "Death to
family "seems strange enough rouse more than the actual
death in the family. We know that it is statistically more dangerous for a
woman was at home, than at the pub, a Friday night. We
must have the courage to see and discuss all the violence there, in just the
traditional nuclear family as the bourgeois quarters so lecherously

Daily life continues to be based on women's subordination
and men of course. Responsibility for the home and children is in all
mainly on us women. It is we who carry out the absolute
Most of the unpaid housework. And the same order
characterizes the work. The pay gap is an expression of just

Still, women earn only 82 percent of men's wages. Or,
to not always let the men be everything yardstick: men
serves the corresponding 122 percent of the women's wages. And the gap
increases when compared to those in the early 1990s!

We have a Gender Equality Act. But the law can not reach
the paramount reason for pay gap: the difference
between the industries and sectors such as women and men
working in. Care for the people are low, while care
on machinery, goods, information and money is highly valued.

Approximately 80 percent of employees in schools, health care and
care are women. By the last ten years
tax cuts, combined with cuts, has
hundreds of thousands of women dismissed, wages have stood still and
stress has increased. Frustration at not being able to provide children,
students, the sick and the elderly need care creates a form
epidemic of burnout and long-term sick leave.

So caring responsibility - the paid and unpaid --
is on us women. And it is consistently devalued.
While we know that care and love is the base
the whole of society rests on. Where our business as
people. Yet it is said that the forest and mining industry is
basic industries and is known as the private sector

Also in the left's theoretical discussions steering the male

A basic idea of Marxism is the social analysis should
deleted from the material base, the production looks and
which class relations it creates. The problem is that the
known as the bass is just part of the base. Care, love and
sexuality is at least as basic as the production of things,
housing, tools and clothing.

The creation of ourselves, re-creation of man, lacks
in the political analysis. It is about the love of children,
care for the elderly, sick and each other as well as sexuality in
the broad sense. All this are vital social
actions which constitute a basis for ideology, culture and social
contradictions in the same way as production conditions.

Political scientist Anna G. Jónasdóttir as feminist theorists
and active at the Örebro University, calls all this for
love. She believes that just as the social
organization of work, is the material base for
class conflict, as is the organization of love, the
substantive basis for the gender conflict.

More specifically, it means therefore that men as a group systematically
exploit women's love power. Men may be more than they give.
Women give more than they receive. An interesting argument that can
help us understand women's oppression in the same dynamic
way that we already understand class conflict.

I will talk more about love. For the case to put into words
what is truly important in life and society.

The unequal distribution, and the poor valuation of
love and care is the basis for the current
gender maktordningen. We women should have the care of someone
other - and be in another - while men's role
contains an obvious egocentrering - to be for their own
sake. Do we want to, and dare we, so we see this everywhere: at work, in
home, in the bed chamber and deep in our sex-shaped identities.

As a feminist, I am convinced that this can be modified.
It is we ourselves who creates könsidentiter and
gender maktordning, therefore, we can also alter them - if we
want. I am not saying it's easy or that it will not
take time. But for a real change requires that we women
to revolt against the existing order. And you
men gives sacrificing your privileges and also rebelling against the
existing order by refusing the impoverished and
stereotyped gender, which the traditional society.

Feminism is a force for change not only spreading like
political concept but also grow with us, among us and
within us. It is not only the Left Party's policy that germinate in
force of change, but also ourselves. We see that women's
subordination and men's over does not only exist in
society at large, but we see that the same maktordning
of course, also exist within our party. Women are abused in
because of their gender, even among us.

I know that there are tensions in many parts of the country, both
on feminism and the status of women's demands for political
space. This, we should not ignore, but deal in a
wisely and responsibly. We will listen to women
experiences and to give voice to the force for change
they offer. We must recognize gender conflict and ensure that we all
are carriers of the maktordning we really want to abolish.
That is why it is so difficult. That is why we must equip ourselves
with both prudence and patience.

Sex is political! It is the policy we can change!

Here, as on many other points we distinguish ourselves from the right
which says that the elected representatives, politicians should not decide.
The right says that politics should not be put in. That you can
and that you will determine your path through life. As a customer
and consumer. Your task is to choose. And choosing the right!

It sounds tempting: You must decide! Sure, I would like it,
also, but within reasonable limits. I do not want to see choices
exclude other people from making their choices.

I do not want to be able to select a "good" school to my children if I
know that it means that other children may go into a worse. I
do not want my right to housing will bring with it that other
lack of shelter. There is a value for me, as
man, to know that I live in such a way that also
others have a good time. There is a value for me not to get
over corpses on the way to work. There is a value for me to
not see people who take root in bins or sleeping on
park benches. There is a value for me to know that people,
as far as I can grasp, live well.

Fairness is our mission and justice is possible. Filled by
confidence do we meet the people who believe that our
mission is impossible. We know that those who say that there
is impossible so often been wrong. We know that, inter alia through
the experience we have made in recent years.

We doubled our voting figures in the last election
- Who thought it was possible?

We were at least in parliament, we are now the third largest party
- Who thought it was possible?

Previously, we had little influence, now affecting our state budget each
- Who thought it was possible?

I thought it was possible, many of us thought it. The
was why it was so and we can do it again.

20 percent.

A government engaged in a socialist and feminist politics.

A fair world economic order.

I think that is possible. That we believe is possible.

And it is this conviction, we must build our election campaign for:

That the impossible is possible!

I declare the Left Party Congress in 2002 for

- - --

Deepen the debate on
gender maktordningen!

Are all men equally oppressive as the Taliban in Afghanistan?
Are women's fight more important than the class struggle?
Should politicians speak about how much love men and women
give and receive?

Reactions to the speech I gave at the Left Party's congress in
beginning of January have been strong, and the discussion waves have
been high in many places. I welcome the debate and are happy
if my speech can contribute to a further discussion of
power relations between men and women.

Many people - both men and women - have heard of the positive
comments. It is clear that there is a large and
accumulated need to discuss the issues I raised in the speech.

Others who responded were angry and felt violated by the
I said, or what they think I said. (The entire speech is
available in written form for those wishing to take part of it.) I
believe that a call on the power relations between the sexes with
necessity will be upset, because we are all affected. The
is not about "someone else" or "the other". It is
about us, each one participating in the call.

The core of what I said about the women's movement and
feminism simple, but shocking, claim: women are
systematically subordinates women. So it looks, in Sweden and
rest of the world.

Fadime Sahindal, who was murdered by her father because she demanded
to obtain power over his own life, was not a victim of the
Kurdish culture. She fell victim to a scheme in which men
oppresses women. The scheme is available in all existing
communities. The differences are of course enormous: the Taliban
Afghanistan women were executed in front of an audience if they had
extra-marital relations; in Sweden we have a
Gender Equality Act, but almost every other woman has been subjected to
violence by a man.

It is different, but equally in the sense that men are
superior women. We can choose to see the differences, and we can
choose to see the similarities. I believe that both perspectives are
necessary. But I am against the idea that we
Sweden live in an equal society, or that the injustice
found here should be accepted therefore that women have it worse
elsewhere. Even in Sweden, raped and murdered women,
also in Sweden, women are deprived of their dignity because of
that they are women.

To claim that men oppress women, does not mean that all men
oppress all women. No statement on the "men" may be
true for every man, but it must be possible to speak of
men and women groups. It starts to be an understanding
that men earn more than women (which does not mean that every
Monday earn more than every woman). Similarly, we have now
able to talk about that men have more power than women (which is not
means that every man has more power than any woman). To
see what needs to be done politically, we need to describe patterns
in society that are valid for most.

There are many wonderful exceptions to these claims.
The exceptions show that it is possible to change, that we are not
biologically or genetically doomed to the top and
subordination, which now dominates in society.

To speak of power relations between men and women are challenging the
old political dividing lines. Gender Maktordningen goes on across
with the tension between the right and left. But to say
that men oppress women is not to say that all other
power is irrelevant or that the class struggle has
ceased. All of the political conversation in 1800 - and
1900-centuries has been dominated by men and by the contradiction
between labor and capital. Feminism brings a new dimension to
the debate.

For me, it is clear that working women are the
which falls at the bottom on both scales, and a policy
looks at the group's interests must be both
socialist and feminist in order to succeed.

My statements that the men get more love than they give are
also generated debate. Left analysis is traditionally from the
conditions of work and production is crucial for policy. I
organizing the work arises class and
class struggle. This is a fruitful approach, but major
aspects of social life left behind in a misleading manner.
Care and love are vital social activities
which also constitutes a substantive basis for policy and ideology.

How is the love and care - what is known as
reproduction - organized? In the statistics on the economy and
work, it is clear that it is mainly women who have
work is to provide care, treatment and education for
other people: children, the sick and old as well as healthy
adults. For this, we paid, but rarely with a salary that
in the vicinity of the corresponding work is to
manage goods, information and money.

At the same time, a large part of the love and care which
performed unpaid. Women perform 82 per cent of all unpaid
housework, a figure that suggests that many women know
through lived experience: even in our personal relationships, it is
often we women who account for most of the care of children,
old, disabled and sick.

Even in the everyday interactions between men and women,
both in parrelationer and in the workplace, I believe it
most (but not only) the pattern is that women give more
care and love than they receive. Who call ill old
mother, who buys a coffee wreath to the coffee break at work,
who ensures that children have with them what they need for school
and day care, who are planning a family trip and unpacks

Overall: the uneven distribution and poor
valuation of the care and love is as important for the
who wants to understand women's subordination, as work and
production is, for those who want to understand class.

There is no reason to believe that these relationships are based on
any nature, or that our genes or hormones compel us
to this inequality. All women and men differ in
any way from the gender norms that dominate. Women have
no special ability to give care and love that are not men
possesses. In this lies a belief in change, because the
gender identities and gender maktordning are created by people
so can we as people also change them. My vision
is a society where a person's sex was not
plays no role in how he responds. Thus: a
society that, in practice, respecting each person's equal

The debate following my kongresstal clearly shows that many
still want to maintain a razor sharp boundary between the
personal and the political. The Women's Movement in the 1960s and
1970s, dismissed by the established policy of
argument that their demands about the personal, not
the political. From the debate was growing women's movement slogan:
"The personal is political!" Childcare and sexual violence
against women was in the women's movement of legitimate issues for political
debate and struggle, rather than in the past, consigned to
home and family domain.

My conclusion of the ongoing debate is that feminism
must continue to challenge the policy limits. Personal
power relations between men and women are part of the same
gender maktordning that women are disadvantaged in work
and economy. It also means that we are participating in the debate
themselves have to consider our own role in gender maktordningen.
Both men and women are involved in re-creating and
maintain order.

But the personal is political does not mean only that we
must be able to pursue a political debate on the personal
power. Perhaps the main conclusion of
reasoning about love and care is that wages in the
female-dominated health care professions need to be raised
radically. With a fair wage, we can eliminate the purely
economic exploitation that is currently underway by women. To the
should be required policy decisions on allocating more resources to
municipalities and counties, whose employees at 80 percent is

I am glad that even LO see the need for increased state aid to
municipalities and counties (DN Notebook 23 / 1) to increase
women's wages. LO provides a solid support for the Social Democrats in
election campaign in the form of large monetary contributions. At the same time,
Social Democrats also now decided to call themselves feminists,
which I welcome. It would therefore be a double betrayal of
Socialists do not delay joining the perception
the need for policy decisions on more resources to the municipalities
and counties to allow for fair pay for women.

Long feminist was a word that few of the established political
debate took in his mouth. The Left Party's decision in 1996 to
naming us as feminists now have several successors.
The debate after my speech in the Left Party congress shows however
that feminism just seems to be opportunistic and housetrained so
long as it does not irritate and challenge. It will become a celestial life so
soon you start to talk about feminism concrete content to
Men oppress women and what to do about it.


Original filename: Speech by Schyman

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  1. Hello.

    Nice site. Wish you had an e-mail or contact info. If it's there I can't find it.

    Anyway, I mostly wanted to ask you if you would post about an event related to one of your posts.

    I will be (the most humbler participant) on a panel that coincides with a showing of the movie "Feminist Initiative"

    The story is here:

  2. I'll post that event separately, from the link, to promote it.