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Last week, the Swedish radio show “All my friends” featured a popular Swedish comedian by the name of Kristoffer Svensson. Mr Svensson and the four other men headlining the show are a part of the intellectual establishment in Sweden and are employed by the infamous left-wing newspaper Aftonbladet, a publication on the frontlines of the last few year’s fervent identity-politics beat.
The radio show in question is, like many media outlets these days, a show about the people doing it, rather than the world around them, and this week’s installment was no exception. An audibly angered Kristoffer Svensson immediately went on a tirade about a bad book review he had received recently, and while the rant was par for the course, the message was all the more shocking.
For a good 20 minutes, the popular comedian lashed out against the “female establishment.” He described in gruesome detail how he wants to rape his female employer to death and chop up her genitalia. It is a loud, disgustingly descriptive fantasy of sexual violence and murder, and as it unfolds, the four men sitting next to him either laugh and cheer, or stay silent.
Out of consideration for the Ricochet audience, I have chosen not to use the exact explicit language Mr. Svensson used, but I think you can infer for yourself.
As the episode aired, the scandal erupted and Mr. Svensson lost his job along with his sponsors. But what was missing in the aftermath was an analysis of why, in the most progressive feminist country in the world, five young men belonging to the PC-generation went above and beyond the worst of what they’ve spent their short lives claiming to fight. Personally, I believe the answer lies within the question itself.
Over the last few months I have followed the debate surrounding rape culture and mattress girls and campus assaults, and I am becoming more and more worried about the toll this is taking on the young men and women coming into adulthood in the era of identity politics. I worry not only out of principle, but also for deeply personal reasons. I am raising two boys, and I am raising them to be men, something that is increasingly difficult in a world that keeps telling them that to be a man is to be guilty until proven innocent. I tell my boys that to be a man is to be a protector, a provider, and a leader, and that masculinity is a beautiful thing. But what I see happening in the political debate is not slut-shaming so much as man-shaming, where a predatory scarlet letter is placed on anyone daring not to denounce his sex. And we must ask ourselves: What happens to a boy who grows up to feel shame about his masculinity? How will he view himself and how will he view sex, an expression of manhood and an expression of self?
What I heard on that show, the rage and sexual aggression, is a function or rather a dysfunction of the faulty mould young boys and men are being pushed into. Modern society is constantly slapping them on the wrist, condemning their need to be men and their instinct to follow the tradition of manhood. They are being quite publicly emasculated, and the shame of being constantly inadequate will find an outlet; the anger will take its toll.
It is ironic, but not surprising, that it is a young man of the feminist era who expresses these views and has such a complete and utter meltdown. This is the generation who dances to an anthem called “Born this Way,” yet they are being told, day in and day out, that the way they were born just isn’t cutting it. Men are taught to be less of what they are, and the result is confusing at best and destructive at worst.
As for us, the women, it is equally limiting to be marked as victims from birth, and it is demeaning in every way to assume that I, as a woman, am to side with other women for no other reason than our shared basic anatomy. How is this the feminist view, how is this freedom, how is this progress in any way?
In my teens, I went all-out on feminism, thinking it meant being able to be anything I want. That I, a strong and independent woman, should be able to fulfill my dreams and live the life of my choosing. I was wrong. Because the life I wanted to lead was never right and never good enough for the cause.
The feminism I was trying so hard to belong to told me that I was a victim. Me? I never saw myself as a victim. Ever. Not once did it occur to me that there was something I could not do because of my gender. That is, until feminism told me that I was a slave to the patriarchy and that the men I saw as equals, fathers, brothers, and friends, were always one false move away from being predators. The feminism I saw came with a built-in political ideology, and while chanting that I had to liberate myself and be free, the so-called sisterhood took it upon itself to define what a “good woman” was. A politically conservative, religious prude like me did not make the cut.
To me, that seemed like less of a women’s movement, and more of a political movement, profiting off women. Real political issues were being called women’s issues, thus making them untouchable and unfit for review or critique. Making it so that if I was pro-life, I automatically became anti-women, and suddenly the entire political conversation became infantilized and intellectually dishonest.
In the current debate, I see women slaying other women in the name of feminism, for not fitting into the mold, and for not being “team-players,” thus displaying every patriarchal behavior they themselves are so eager to condemn. And when they are not doing that, they are chastising men for not being women, while simultaneously despising them for conforming to that very idea.
Kristoffer Svensson exploded, and while his public meltdown was horrible, it pointed to something very important. When we create a culture of shame surrounding sexuality and gender, we heighten and magnify the thing we attempt to disperse, and the one we mark as a beast becomes one, at the hands of an unforgiving mob. This is worse than one young man’s rant, this is Backlash, 2.0.
The people participating in modern gender discourse say they want to create equality, but instead I see them forming a hyper-sexualized society where every flirtatious glance is a rape waiting to happen and every compliment is a trigger. The fact that we have two genders (yes, I said it, two) is not what I see as the dominant cultural problem. Instead, I see a generation of men and women standing further from each other than ever before, divided by gender politics, assigning victimhood, and handing out blame. This hurts all of us, men and women alike, and it is perpetuating a dangerous idea that men can never be victims and women can never be perpetrators, and that the roles are cast before the script is even written. This looks nothing like feminism to me, but resembles a dogma like any other, as limiting as it is absolute.
The thing about identity politics is that it is standing in the way of young men and women developing their identities, being seen as individuals rather than symbols of someone else’s idea. I hear cries for freedom, but what these rallies and slogans are doing is streamlining ideas by group, until we reach one audible yet incoherent voice, drowning out what could be an actual conversation.