A Room With a View

When I was at the local library last week, I happened to see a book called “Halva makten hela lönen” (=Half the Power The Whole Salary) by Agneta Stark. I only had time to browse through it and although it was published already in 1994, it still contained some interesting perspectives on gender and equality. One of her comparisons struck me as especially good. She argued that to stop working for equality just because we have a legislation regulating this is similar to saying that since 'drinking and driving' was forbidden in the 1950’s we do not need to address that topic.

I then remembered a very interesting lecture I went to at Gunnebo Slott in March this year. Professor Ebba Bratt-Wittström talked about “From Jane Austen to Doris Lessing. The bright and warm room was filled with 40+ women, a few younger women and two brave men. Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors and last year I went to see the film “Becoming Jane” when I was in London. I think the film illustrates some of Austen’s most important themes: How to balance romantic love and passion, how to do what is morally right and at the same time handle the pressure from society, how to combine personal freedom with economical realities. Maybe Austen would have benefited from reading Robert Fritz’ work, helping her to decide what was most important to her?
You could not shock her more than she shocks me;
Beside her Joyce seems innocent as grass.
It makes me most uncomfortable to see
An English spinster of the middle class
Describe the amorous effects of "brass,"
Reveal so frankly and with such sobriety
The economic basis of society.
W. H. Auden, Letter to Lord Byron
(1936), lines 113–119

Professor Bratt-Wittström pointed out that when the whole world congratulated Doris Lessing on winning the Nobel Prize, in Sweden this sparked a discussion concerning whether such a thing as “female experience” even existed.

"that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny" (the Swedish Academy’s motivation for choosing Doris Lessing)
Many younger Swedish women claimed that there is only universal human experience and that feminism is no longer needed. Of course, certainly things move in the right direction. Of the eleven women to win the prize in its 106-year history, five have been awarded since 1990... By the way, a very good reflection on the works of Doris Lessing and its impact can be found at Joyce Carol Oats' website.

I have been appointed ambassadors for Women´s Enterprise by the Swedish government. At the kick-off, the minister of Industry Maud Olofsson of who initiated the program received lots of questions regarding regulating the ration of women and men in company boards, like Norway has done. One of the proponents for this step towards equality was Pontus Schultz from the magazine “Veckans Affärer”, who described his experience from the event as “magical” and after entering a room with 800 women said that he now knows how women in business feel.

The website supporting the initiative is called “The Embassy” and is rather nifty with some Web 2.0 features. A good place to develop and distribute female experience!

“What matters most is that we learn from living.” Doris Lessing

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