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A new generation of feminists take on Denmark


The notoriously titled feminist anthology Fittstim (Cunt Cascade) first took Sweden by storm, and created a media uproar. Sexual equality was on the agenda again, in a way that hadn't been seen for years. Less than six months later a Norwegian version of the book Råtekst (Rough Draught) with original Norwegian contributions hit the bookstands, inspiring a heated feminist debate in Norway. A new and vocal generation of uncompromising feminists had emerged – at least in Sweden and Norway.

FORUM/6.12.99 The webmagazine FORUM for gender and culture was the first Danish magazine to snap up the news about Fittstim and Råtekst. A couple of months later the story was picked up by the dailies Information, Politiken and Berlinske Tidende. Everybody wondered what was going on in Denmark – or rather, what wasn't going on. Where was the new generation of feminists? Why was the debate about sexual equality so limp and uninspired?

Things may yet change.

In November 99 the daily newspaper Information published a Danish translation of Fittstim. (The expressen fittstim was coined by a Swedish union-boss, who used it to describe some of his female colleagues. He was forced to stand down from office when it became known to the public). The journalist Christine Grøntved has written an introduction to the Danish edition and Stina Willumsen, a student at the University of Copenhagen, has written the single Danish contribution. Information hosted a debate night on "the problems young women have with their self-worth in a so-called 'equal-status' society". The book has been reviewed by all major newspapers to general right-on-chicks applause.

The book is published to appeal to a younger set of feminists – the daughters of 70s feminists. The editors of the Swedish publication Linda Norrman Skugge and Belinda Olsson said to FORUM for gender and culture:
- Feminism is about equality between the sexes – if you don't approve of that, you're not even a humanist. We aren't tired of the feminists of the 70s. We honour them!.

The Danish editor Christine Grøntved, however, denounces those feminists as "man-hating and bitter", likens them to "men with lipstick" and concludes: "I am not a feminist. I am a Fittstim-feminist."

This garble illustrates one of the problems in the Danish debate on equality. While a number of younger women want to embrace a feminist ideal or vision, they jump through hoops to distance themselves from the feminists and the feminism of the 70s. Preferring in some cases to idealize the "honest and stalwart suffragettes" from way back. Clear thinking gets completely clouded over by mythological memorabilia of the 70s women's movement.

Several recent publications in Denmark, however, testify to the fact, that there is something going on – also among the "younger set". Just to mention a few: 4 young writers and opionion-makes have come clean as feminists in the debate book Borgerlig ord efter revolution (Civil observations after the revolution) – although they of course aren't "70s feminists". A group of younger women from the University of Copenhagen Feministisk Forum(Feminist Forum) have started a series of debate meetings on women in academia, Kvinfo's support group Kvindeligt Selskab (The Company of Women) have staged a series of popular cultural and political debates and events that attract a wide audience; KVINFO is currently holding a series of lectures on Girl Power; two books on " why it's such of hell of problem to be a woman" have just come out - Jette Hansen's Det bløde punkt (The Soft Spot) and Hanne Vibeke Holst's Min mosters migræne (My Aunt's Migraine); the literary journal Kultur og klasse (Culture and Class) has published a theme on Feminism and Comparative Literature, the art journal Periskop has published one of two issues on feminism and art theory, etc. etc.

On top of that, women's issues make good copy and the newspapers are full of it.

Lacking is political backing, funding and direction. Successive governments seem to think that equal opportunity is a problem that will take care of itself … given time rather than given political impetus, prestige and resources. A Minister of Equal Status has been appointed and The Danish Council on Equal Status is undergoing radical restructuring – but we've heard from neither for quite a while. Women and gender research lacks funding and prestige, university centres in the field of gender research are slowly dying of exhaustion, few universities have any kind of policies in place to secure women equal employment and research opportunity at university level.

In Sweden feminists in the 90s stated their simple aim: A fifty percent share of power and equal pay.

The debate goes on.

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