Since I moved to London I’ve become more of a feminist. Yes, being brought up in equal rights Sweden studying a female heavy course at University and having loads of male friends I never really thought about it.
I mean, I always proclaimed to be a feminist, I started the group FIMP (foreningen iskvinnorna mot pojkar (in Swedish this basically mean the ice women against boys, great name my 20 year old self thought back then and mostly sat in a window and smoked)) and used to discuss endlessly with my immature 20 year old something male friends about women rights and yes, Simone de Beauvoir was something of a house god. But i never really saw it as that much of a problem, in my mind my generation were pretty much equal and every guy I dated did as much house work as i (if not more, Im lazy), listened to me with respect and I earned the money I expected after my (fairly useless) education in literature.
However, moving to London have changed that. England is miles behind Sweden, both in attitude and in the laws. In some ways its way more progressive and the discussions around the dinner tables always very interesting in this subject but in society as a whole its CRAP.
For starters, there are few women managers and role models in the work space and I would dare say the salary gap is pretty scary. Due to the shitty maternity leave and crazy cost of day care women end up quitting their jobs and becoming house wives to make it go round (mind you, anyone has the all the right in the world to become a house wife if that is what they want, I just dont think that should be your only option to make the economy work). The time when most people get promoted is mid 30’s when women are thinking about families and since men only get 10 days paternity leave its the women that needs to sacrifice their careers or families. Since moving here Ive had a couple of female managers and none of them have chosen family therefore getting to where they are.
This leaks out into the culture and I see way more rich, successful men acting in that old ‘men club’ way sticking together and excluding women from business discussions than i was used to. There are also a sexist way about some of it that makes me choke, its far away from how men in Sweden have been taught to behave by their mums, most having worked all through their upbringing. Most men I know here are as equal and aware as their counterparts in Sweden, its just the big, societal discussion that haven’t kept up. In Sweden we have a feminist party, here they barely speak about it.
This said, I love London and all the different people living here and I meet as many ways of dealing with this as there are people and the discussion is definitely happening in this huge and crazy city. London has made me more aware but also given me the tools, ammunition and strength to keep raising my voice and discuss this very important issue.