Nov 26, 2017

Me too/part 3/the Swedish landslide

Some call it a revolution. That’s yet to be seen. But it is certainly a landslide.

It’s about 1,5 month now since the actor Alyssa Milano started the #metoo campaign. In 24 hours 4,7 million women had signed the hashtag in 12 million Facebook postings.

I don’t know much of how the campaign has proceeded around the world. I know some about the US. I am quite familiar about the situation in Sweden though, and it is  extraordinary, choking and frightening. But there is also hope and will power.

This last month professionals from different industries have formed their own campaigns under clever hash tags which would be lost in translations if I tried, so I won’t. Coming out as victims for sexual harassments and assaults, as well as letting the country know the dark and silent secrets going on in their businesses.

* First out, here as well in the US, were the actors. 465 women in the theatre and film industry came out with their names and stories. Followed by 653 singers within the opera- and classical scene. 

* The day after 4445 legal professionals testify about assaults and discrimination within the judicial system, they are backed by the Courts Administration. 

* 1300 women in politics signs a petition against sexual harassments and assaults taking place among the elite of Swedish politicians. 

* 1993 women in the Swedish music industry bear witness about sexual harassments and rapes within the industry. 

* November 19, 1139 women in the tech industry speak up.

* The same week 1501 women in the trade unions sign the hashtag #notnegotiable.

* A few days later 4084 journalists had enough of sexism and assaults among the editorial staffs and in newsroom. #deadline.

* The day after 620 dancers join the movement and 1700 students follow.

* #timeout is the hashtag for 2290 athletes, trainers, sports journalists and supporters.

 *November 24, 2400 academics point out sexual harassments and assaults within the strict hierarchy at the universities. And the same day 1382 women within the Swedish Church join the Me too movement under the hashtag #lettherebelight.

This has all happened within a month and I still might have missed some. I am sure more will follow. Some might not though. It is awfully quiet in the business world for example, still a bastion for men. Is it possible for the women on that scene to come forward and tell their stories? I hope it will be, eventually.

So, what will come out of this? Will these thousands of brave women change anything at all?

They must. The insight that sexism, sexual harassments and assaults towards women goes on most everywhere in our society now sits like a hard fist in the Swedish collective stomach. A number of measures are on the table. Like instituting whistle blower functions in work places and organizations. Allowing women filing anonymous complaints. Educating first responders to look for signs and ask the right questions.

The Swedish government looks very seriously on the hard facts coming up and has summoned a number of institutions. Especially incriminating is the 4445 legal professionals testifying about assaults and discrimination within the judicial system, the government is actually chocked from that information. The foundation of trust for the rule of law is at risk if sexual crime is not taken seriously. And, I am thinking, if the judicial system itself is infected and sick by sexism and harassment, how can we trust women as plaintiffs being met and treated with respect and dignity?

The other day I browsed an Australian article picking up the Me too events in Sweden. How was it possible this is happening in one of the most gender equal countries in the world?

My guess is this is happening in most every country in the world. And by this I mean the sexual harassments going on everywhere in the society. The fact that women this fall in industry by industry, organization by organization, institution by institution in Sweden come forward telling the ugly truth might have something to do with equality. 

These patterns have been here for centuries. So has the silence surrounding them. The women wrongfully carrying the heavy weight of shame. The fact that they are finally lifting the shame off, putting it where it belongs might be because it actually is possible after all. I am thinking in many countries it is not.

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