At the beginning of this month, Danish public television launched a show about “Blachman”, who is a jazz musician and a judge on the Danish X-factor (imagine a bald Simon Cowell). The show goes like this: Blachman and another male celebrity sit down on a leather couch in a dark lighted room. Then a woman, who is not allowed to talk, walks into the room and stands in from of them. She drops all of her clothes, and the idea of the show is that the two men now comment on her body.
It’s best interpreted as art. The introduction basically says that it’s about “poetry” about the female body, but what they mostly talk about is the diminishing masculine role in modern society. I think most MRA’s would definitely enjoy the discussion, because what they talk about is not only really relatable, but also quite interesting in terms of male gender identity.
This is a huge difference between Europe and North America. In most countries of Europe (including Denmark), people are traditionally very free spirited when it comes to sexuality. Consequently, in countries like Portugal, Denmark, Poland, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Latvia, the Netherlands or even Germany, this kind of show seems significantly less odd than it does for people in the US, the UK or… Sweden.
Long story short, by Swedish standards, this show is “significantly demeaning to women” at best and “OMG! Pure objectification and oppression and patriarchy and rape-apologetic and fucking scum!!!!” at worst. By the aforementioned countries’ standards, on the other hand, this show is “meh” at worst and “might be interesting” at best.
But since Sweden and Denmark are significantly closer to one another culturally, the Swedish feminists thought that it is in their right to mock the entire Danish culture and announced that they don’t “tolerate the Danish sexism” (as if anyone outside of Sweden really cared what the Swedish feminists thought about that). The debate became heated and it culminated with an exchange of articles between a Danish anthropologist and a Swedish feminist – the exchange being published in the pages of the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
In the following lines, we will present a translation of the Danish anthropologist’s letter, Dennis Nørmark, a letter called Kære svenskere (Dear Swedes). We won’t bother with the feminist response, as there is little to no doubt that anyone reading this site can compile a feminist response for the Kære svenskere letter. (a translation of the feminist response title Vi tolerar inte dansk sexism (We don’t tolerate Danish sexism) can be listened starting from the 97th minute of this episode of The Voice of Europe) The letter in itself is not necessarily impressive, but it is important because it has been published in a Swedish mainstream media venue – a place where non-feminist points of view get little to no exposure thanks to the Swedish government’s authoritarian way of controlling the press.
So the letter goes like this:
At this moment, we regard you with amazement. We regard you as if you are no longer our culturally close related sister country, but rather a country that finds itself on another planet. And you obviously do the same.
“The Danes see themselves as European anarchists, and much of the culture celebrates norm looseness” claimed the “half Dane” Expressen’s deputy cultural editor Jens Liljestrand, when half of the Swedes were apparently furious over the musician Thomas Blachman’s latest invention: a talk show where two men sit on a couch for over 30 minutes and offer their thoughts in the presence of an undressed woman.
This is a program that, according to Tom Jensen from Berlingske Tidende, basically brings two rather hopeless men hanging out who, in the face of the naked female body, are groping in their uncertainty, their giggling and their tribal instinct. Also, according to him, the “Blachman” stands out as a program that is made “to gloss over the hysterical surface of sexism against women. Once you see it, it is however the man who has been made the “paralyzed victim” to the extent that he is lost. He is portrayed as if he is on the receiving end of the woman’s violence, albeit she must constantly blow him up, or otherwise he falls altogether.”
Dear Swedes, how is it that this analysis has not occurred to you? Why aren’t you offering angry resistance to the remarkable remake of the program on Swedish TV 4 where two women comment on naked men? You work with the assumption that two wrongs make a right and sell it as a bitter battle of the sexes – but it does not have to be a battle of the sexes. The battle of the sexes, which I will illustrate, is the gender debate, the pestilence, and the basis for Sweden’s superficial and “progressive” New Feminism, and are both unsympathetic and doomed to fail. Denmark’s softer variant has, however, a future.
In Denmark we watch your outlandish reactions and hateful posts in the gender debate and we shake our heads. The reaction to Blachman is just one example. But when we are told the following week that Systembolaget prohibits a beer because the label is adorned with a busty girl, we shake our heads again. Or why not earlier in the year, when a story with half-naked women and fish in the Danish journal “Fisk & Fri” (which is generally not published in Sweden) gave rise to protests, including threats to hack the journal’s website.
However, for a large number of Swedes the world appears quite different. Jens Liljestrand’s analysis of Danish sexism from Expressen reads as follows: “There is a kind of Danish sex or porn liberalism that makes that place seem to have no limits in the name of freedom.”
But there is also another analysis. Namely that Sweden has moved away from sexual liberalism and openness to what Julian Assange – polemically but also rightly – called the “feminist response to Saudi Arabia.” And then his sexual intercourse with two Swedish women suddenly became rape in a deal that sounds to me like the culmination of a persecution complex and an environment that is aggressive and hostile to men, an attitude that Swedish feminism has inculcated in huge numbers of the nation’s women. I’m talking about the way in which women are taught to think that their sexuality is characterized by a special and vulnerable “chastity” as opposed to men’s destructive and primitive libido.
In this sense, Assange’s comparison with the culturally undeveloped Saudi Arabia is actually fitting. There is something fundamentally strange about the Swedish New Feminism–as it is also expressed in Lilje Strands reactionary “norm looseness” in the Danish culture–and the Swedish feminists in the 1800s whom expressed total adherence to the idea that women are sexual victims only.
Here in Denmark, many will ask if this is a constructive way to deal with the necessary and relevant gender debate.
Gender roles may very well seem more traditional in Denmark, and in many ways this may be the case. But maybe it’s because the Danes are more comfortable with the gender gap and do not have the absolute regimentation as a goal. Here we see the carefree humorous television program about the “little difference” because we enjoy watching and relate it to our own lives. Here at home, the Swedish experiment in pre-schools with gender-neutral terms has largely been met with derisive laughter and disgust, and often with the addition that the gender differences are actually something we should value. The Danes are not trying to suppress them either linguistically or in other ways.
It is possible that we are more relaxed in Denmark, but there is also the clear advantage that the Danes have, and which I think means that in the long run will prevail, in getting a far more constructive access to equality than you have.
The difference is that there are more of us who do not perceive that there is a war between the sexes and do not want to declare war. Therefore most of us do not want a zero-sum game, where men should be deprived of their lawfully obtained rights and privileges and they instead be handed over to women. And we do not generally compete for title of which sex that is felt most sorry for. We know that men are overrepresented in terms of alcohol and drug abuse and that women are a minority in high positions. These problems are social problems, not an isolated problem in the queue.
In Denmark it’s okay to think that there is a fundamental gender difference and that it benefits both sexes.
I perceive that most people here think that you should talk to people about equality, not an annoyed, angry and not understanding how the other party works rant – and a worldview containing understanding and sympathy for plurality and diversity and that it means, amongst other things, having two different sexes.
I believe that we, in Denmark, are on our way there to affirmation of difference and a constructive dialogue about it. I think that’s why we got a female prime minister before you. We did not make a big deal out of it, it just happened. In Sweden, however, where the tone is aggressive, where you are missing out a lot of good things by using “positive discrimination” and where you hunt men based on their sexuality, well, that will keep leaving you with a half-bald male prime minister.
I would actually argue that we are a little ahead of you in gender equality since you have gone the opposite way and gradually created a society on women’s premises and not men’s. That way, you have just given the oppression a female voice instead of a male.
When the Dutch sociologist Geert Hofstede in the 1980s, measured the global differences between the values that people hold – he discovered that men, no matter where in the world, exhibited more extreme behavior than women and that they generally ranged far more than women’s behaviors. From this, he created a metric that also held the extreme, the competitive and dominant in high regards. He called this the value of “masculinity” and found that nations that placed high on this index put value on dignity, honor, the ability to provide for themselves and have the courage to dominate and take charge.
The place in the world as measured lowest on this scale was Sweden. Sweden has five points, where Denmark has 16. The scale goes up to Japan, which peaks with 95. Based on Hofstede’s studies, one might conclude that these figures only underscore Sweden’s leading position as the most equal country in the world. But you could also draw a different conclusion. Namely that Sweden simply has chosen the other extreme and introduced feminine values such as cultural norms and actively suppressed men’s values.
Because of the Scandinavian tradition of consensus–which is the strongest in Sweden–in which domination had been deemed as the enemy, both Danish and Swedish men and boys have been suffocated by squabbling, emotional detritus and leveling. The mischievous boys in kindergarten learn that they must sit down and do as they are told, just like the girls. Climb down from the tree and do something civilized and sensible!
The Scandinavian society is also lost in many ways. Public security, supportive educational activities and victim mentality devalues individual pride and declares pride to be something you should ignore – for there is no reason to be ashamed to be last.
But maybe it’s good to be ashamed of being unable to support yourself or your family, perhaps honor and shame are not just primitive macho notions. Could it be that the premise of strong individuals that face the world being proud and having self-respect is better instead of looking for a victim category that they fit into and which one can generate more government grants?
So the desire for competition and ambitions are more male than female, and the same is true in rationality. Fewer men than women believe in astrology and astral healing or put faith in tarot cards to guess their future. Generally, there are fewer religious men because they prefer a logical argument over arguments based on emotion.
Generally, also more men than women are oriented toward sexual quantity rather than quality, and react more strongly to visual stimuli than women. This also confirms anthropological studies and experiments worldwide. So the new feminist chastity, the New Puritanism and the “image ban” is also in favor of women, not men.
One can also look for the research made by Hofstede, who concluded that the Scandinavian people, and the Swedes in particular, have learned to downgrade the values that are typically dominant in men, whilst doing nothing or championing the ones in women. If these differences are of biological or cultural origin is meaningless as it only serves to shift the focus from the facts: namely, that there are values that are more male than female.
I believe that the future of gender equality will be about accepting those differences and understanding how a balance can benefit society as a whole. Today we know through research that diversity leads to innovation, progress and results. But it also requires that we affirm those differences and make room for them.
If men are to waive privilege, status and positions, it is the condition that they may see it as an advantage for themselves. Otherwise, they will see it as a conflict of interest and a struggle for resources and power. Here I think that the Danes have an advantage because we both structurally and legally support equality while recognizing differences and not attempting to deconstruct them in any way.
If one can see the advantage of diversification, then one can also refrain from disdain and ridicule of cultures, communities and genders that do not match with what a dominant group in society has managed to install as the norm.
In Sweden you have installed a standard to suit women and you initiated an active subjugation of what does not fit into this standard. This way you will never be able to achieve equality. Unfortunately, you are obviously far from being able to detect it and instead you direct your self-contemplation and project your intolerant and narrow logic against Denmark. It is sad to see. But it’s mostly sad for yourselves.
Dear Swedish women, you’ve won and today it is you who are the oppressors. You have managed to define men’s sexuality as dangerous, poorer and more primitive than women by reducing men to the prehistoric Neanderthal – and to the point that you yourself believe in it. We do this also here in Denmark, and Blachman’s program is an excellent example of this: the man who follows the dominant discourse is basically the primitive barbarian, he plays the role to perfection, and thus undermines his own authority. It’s an act! And it’s a good one!
Unfortunately, you have lost the ability to act, to analyze the program, because you see, you are blinded by a pair of naked breasts and forget about everything else.
You have started a war against men by promoting women and thereby discriminating against men much more than we do in Denmark. Take for example the recent gimmickry to impose a higher tax for men. (He is talking about the Umeå Municipality’s proposal to have a gender tax) Of course, those men are cursed because it is a lowercase thievery. It only creates new victims, even if you believe in the idea that men arguably have such a great moral debt that they indeed should tolerate being disadvantaged in this.
In addition, if men had behaved in the same way as they are now being attacked through the discriminations and oppressions through behavior and language in the public debate to this point, it would have immediately been perceived and called out as sexist.
By doing all this, you have begun a bitter, vicious and unjust war against the other sex. Aside from the fact that you have nothing to gain from it, then it will also lead to a total setback. For sooner or later, the men will no longer want to be part of a so-called gender war, which means that they are a priori doomed. They are now being ridiculed, and their values and sexuality is being dumped down. Therefore, they will eventually turn against you – and all will lose. The pendulum will just swing back again.
We have chosen a slightly different path in Denmark, and I think we’re going to do it better. Here we are going step by step to understand that we all, men and women, have something to gain from equality. Because if you put the war in the equation and punish men because they are men you will never achieve the one thing that can create equality – namely – that men may see it as an advantage for themselves.
Dear Swedes. This is why not only the women will lose this gender war. No! All Swedes will lose.
And this is why Denmark has come further in the issue of gender than you – whatever you have imagined by that.
 http://youtu.be/k6lgCSNEPXk – A teaser of the show in question
 http://www.dn.se/kultur-noje/kulturdebatt/kare-svenskere/ – The Danish anthropologist’s speech
 http://www.dn.se/kultur-noje/kulturdebatt/vi-tolererar-inte-dansk-sexism/ – The Swedish feminist’s response
Image © 2013 TyphonBlue