On the connotation of feminism

This is a topic that has long plagued my mind. I feel like it’s something all of my male peers will have to consider and reflect about. I’m talking about gender equality and the taboo of identifying as a feminist. This is also a post about how I was wrong about something, how I realised that and changed my opinion. This isn’t shameful – I believe it’s admirable, without trying to praise myself. I still understand people who feel like I felt, though I hope they will read this and reflect on their opinions.

When I first came to MUWCI I had a very strong idea of who I was, what I believed in and how I was right about everything. I soon found out that I don’t know who I am, I don’t know what I believe in and how I most certainly aren’t right about anything. That’s an exaggeration, but it describes my feelings.

There didn’t pass many days before I found myself in one of the fabled UWC late night discussions. This one about the role of gender equality in the 21st century, if feminism had succeeded and if you had to call yourself a feminist to help the feminist movement. The conclusion was no, feminism had not succeeded, but it gotten significantly far and no you don’t have to identify as a feminist, but it surely only helps and hey, why wouldn’t you? I went into this debate proclaiming myself as not being a feminist, though I was strongly in favour of all the elements of the movement. My argument for not identifying as a feminist was that I would not like to be put into the same box as what’s known as feminist extremists. I argued that feminism had gotten a negative connotation in recent years and that we, at least in Denmark, had reached a point of significant equality, not enough, but significant and that we could achieve absolute equality without screaming and shouting. Therefor I didn’t call myself a feminist, even though I supported the movement.

Here’s how I was wrong.

Not wanting to identify as something out of fearing to be misinterpreted is a shameful and cowardly practice. I am glad to be pointing at my own mistakes and hope that this could become a general trend (hah).

First of all, feminism is about equality. Feminism isn’t about women achieving the role men had in world history until around mid 20th century, it’s about achieving equality for both genders (and whoever might lie in between).

Secondly, if you support something to the fullest extent, be vocal about it. If you are so privileged to have a voice in a public debate and you believe in something, you should be ashamed of yourself for remaining quiet. There is no such thing as a quiet protest, if you even suck at being quiet. What seems to be the issue is that we say we support something, though we prefer not to think about it. Obviously, gender inequality is uncomfortable to think about if you’re a man; you feel guilty. Some also feel like this about racism if their white; they feel guilty. Because of this, they refuse to reflect on it and stays in their comfort zone acting like they always did before. When they then refuse to analyse their own behaviour, they continue to commit the same mistakes over and over again without realising what they are doing, even without negative intentions. Before I came to MUWCI I said that I acted in the interests of feminists, yey “Bitch” and “Cunt” was my go to english swear words. Until I thought about what I was doing, I didn’t realise why it was wrong. So to all you guilty feeling white, privileged men: Don’t feel guilty, if you’re actually trying, reflecting and doing. However, you should feel guilty if you proclaim you support gender equality or racial equality, but actively act against it out of laziness. If you insist on being quiet, then do it right.

My third and final point is perhaps the most difficult one to talk about. For me, identifying as a feminist still feels odd and as something I was very certain I never would. However, when you do support a movement and when you have reflected on your actions and you’re actively trying to change your behaviour for the better, then I just think it’s a shame that you let strangers wrongful opinion about you determine what you identify as. Man up (Pun intended). Because being a man is the same as being a woman and you should act like you believe in that. We all deserve the same opportunities in life and defining as a feminist certainly won’t accomplish this, but it certainly won’t make the world worse either.

If you don’t want to identify as a feminist, then don’t. But please consider my points above and try to justify your reasoning by it. At least act out of the interests of gender equality and if you don’t believe in gender equality, it’s because you’ve watched to much Mad Men. Male chauvinism isn’t sexy, it’s shameful. 

In the end, the term feminism is contorted by the lack of us guys adopting to it. It will always continue to be the girls’ fight for equality, until we make it a shared fight for decency.

I would like to quote the newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when asked why he appointed a gender, religous and recial equal and representative cabinet for his government:

“Because it’s 2015”

Keep that in mind.

Love 4 all

Reklamer

How is India?

“How is India?”

Large.

What “India” are you talking about?

India houses 1.2 billion people, hosts the largest election on earth, stretches from desert to jungle to snow covered mountains. India is a country of 28 states that speaks 200 languages and is responsible for an uncountable amount of gods and religions. I live on an international school in the state of Maharashtra, I have as much to do with Kashmir as a teenager from Tennessee.

In contrast to Denmark however, the food is spicy, the weather is odd, the people are short, the roads are the worst thing on earth alright and the nature is beautiful. Being met by the cultural shock of showering with a cascade of animals ranging from venomous snakes, toads, beetles, frogs and dragonflies, you learn how to push your boundaries. The culture is distinctly different from anything even remotely Danish. In Copenhagen couture you do not talk to people you don’t know, you would never smile at a stranger and if you don’t give money to a beggar you’re a horrible person. India is reversed.

I enjoy the crazy life I live on a hilltop in the Western Ghats, yet it is somewhat distinctly different to everything I thought I knew about life.

In “The Road Less Traveled” Psychologist M. Scott Peck described life as being about drawing your map. Your victories and your mistakes was on your map and affected how you made decisions and where you went in life. I feel like my map’s never been this modified for every day that passes and if India is one thing, it’s a place where Westeners goes to “find themselves”. Although I dislike the stereotype, I feel like India is a place that forces you to reflect.

Because it is so surreally different from your home and what you know, you feel alone. To drag yourself out of the depression and loneliness, you will have to redefine who you are. Not necessarily to a point where you fit in, rather to a point where you appreciate the times you are and learn to be alone. You are a foreigner in their eyes, you will always be one, learn to accept it.

Every day in our life we’re taught not to be alone. We are pressured into becoming flock animals and to surrender to the community. At MUWCI you’re surrounded by an incredibly diverse group of students, yet these students never make you feel at home until you recreate your concept of what it is. When you learn how, the world becomes a better place for you. A place where you have room to be together with your friends and new family, but also a place where you have to be alone. In my culture we have given the term “alone” a negative connotation. We assign it negative attributes and expect that only the depressed, dysfunctional and socially awkward are alone. It is not until you find yourself being alone, that you learn who you really are.

India is not necessarily a spiritual place, although many associate the two, it’s not a particularly incredible place, there’s so many other amazing places on the globe. What India is, is different. You are forced to be critical towards yourself and how you live. You’re alone. And until you learn how to be alone, you won’t know how to be together.

*Wiggles head*

On time and sunsets

I know this will sound like a huge cliché, especially if you have ever read another UWC blog, but I simply don’t have time. I realise this as today is Monday and today is the only day where I have a relatively easy schedule. For today I have classes from 7:30 to 14:10, then I have a stream meeting (coordinating individual tasks in your extracurriculars (some that I should definitely highlight in a later post)) from 14:45-16:00 and that’s it. Any other day of the week is usually plastered with commitments until after dinner; and then I didn’t even count my homework. All that is left for today is to eat, study and go to the gym sometime tonight. With this surplus of spare time I found myself restless this afternoon. Most of my time was spent in my courtyard watching John Oliver’s rants and do.. Nothing? Have I become so foreign to what used to be my favourite activity? It is truly incredible how much your everyday can change and how quickly you grow accustomed to it. What I tried to say was: I have done nothing today and that is why I’m writing this post.

I dug through my photo archive from this year after I realised that I had shared little to no pictures on this blog. Given that I am not the lucky owner of a SD card reader, my picture uploads seem to be more of a random impulse than of actual planning. I chose a picture from a sunset over the valley in which I live. You tend to get so caught up in deadlines and criticism towards everything, that you forget to appreciate the beauty of what you are doing. No matter how much we can argue over the administration or if UWC is too philanthropic, we forget that what we are doing and where we are is amazing.

Pictures down below.

Also I’m experimenting with a new layout, if you so have noticed.

Hugs

DSCF8184

Project week and procrastination

I must admit. It is harder than one would think to write a blog when your audience consists of 10 weekly readers. However, to you 10 people, of whom I’m related to 6, I love you all and appreciate you listening to my rambles.

I recently went on a week long wondrous adventure to a hill top in the Himalayas (pronounced Hi-mah-li-jas in Hindi) and as I’m in the process of transferring the photos to my computer I wanted to do some slight reflecting on how it is to survive with no running water, bathrooms or showers for 9 days.

We experienced summer, autumn, winter and spring flash before our eye on fewer than three days. We sweated in summer and froze in the winter hail. I loved every moment and hated every pain and twitch in my leg. We saw Indian airlines and a train journey home that took us 55 hours. India is wast, magnificent and frightening. I’m grateful for what I have and one starts to understand the influence of what we take for granted. I now this is cliché, but one can’t appreciate the small pleasures until he/she has been without them.

That is all for now. I’m tired, it’s 1 AM and I have an essay due yesterday.

Fuzzy feelings

On states, stereotypes and sleep deprivation

“I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”

This was said by President Barack Obama. It has been a great source of thought for me throughout the last few nights. The

story of a sorry kid, getting arrested and attacked for bringing a clock to school. Being at a school with so many religions and

cultures, this kind of stereotypical situation seems sort of surreal to me. Indeed, we might not have achieved perfect diversity at

UWC, yet we do represent different religions, nations and cultures. I feel sort of inclined to refer to our mission statement.

Perhaps the most repeated line at a UWC school, that every single student will have memorised by now. However, because I

feel like we tend to be to excited about ourselves, I won’t.

UWC does bring along some funny moments through education though. Having Global Politics in a classroom filled with what

makes the class interesting – people. People from different nations, cultures, socio economical backgrounds and religions.

Education really takes a different shape at MUWCI and it’s so much more than “just” the IB. Don’t get me wrong, the IB really is

a great tool for education and when it was invented, more than fifty years ago, it was revolutionising as well. However, it isn’t a

force as much now, as it was intended to be. An increasing amount of international schools around the world uses the IB, but

to give an internationally recognised education rather than changing the world. That’s where UWC might be the place that will

unite through the IB. I am definitely not saying that UWC is perfect, I’m definitely not saying that, also I feel like we, as the

people we are, tries to hard to promote ourselves. We are not the bringers of light, the saviours on the dawn of doomsday,

nations of prosperity, we are actually somewhat the opposite, if we don’t watch where we are going. Service as a tool to unite

and empower cultures is not effective, unless we are critical towards what service we do. It isn’t service if you do it for CAS not

cultures. Be critical towards what you are told, and if any potential UWC candidate is sitting out there, know what you are in

for, it’s not a no brainer. At UWC you will be forced to think about your actions and not believe, that everything you do brings

peace. You are not necessarily an angle sent from the skies and you are not supposed to be. It’s alright for you to be just you

and you only. Remember that one of the biggest battles of a UWC student is sleep deprivation  (this  is  written  completely  in

a deserted common room at 02:21 at night) and the biggest catalyst for the lack of sleep is fear of under performing, this isn’t

sustainable, and not something you can do for an extended period of time. Given that so much consideration is put into our

future, having an unsustainable sleeping habit is not the place to start.

Also, if you don’t know the mission statement, read the first word in every line in the above paragraph.

Be well,

Vilhelm

A moment of non reflection

I realised that my blog tends to be towards the philosophical side (Which is funny, because I don’t do Philosophy) and I want to dedicate this post to be excruciatingly boring and practical.

I live in Wada 1 (Wada’s are the house groups on campus, like small communities) uptown (Separated into uptown and downtown, boys and girls) house 5R (There are three houses in both uptown and downtown and two rooms in each house. To summarise, 5 Wada’s, two townships in each wada, three houses in each township, two rooms in each house and four people in each room. My roommates are from Cambodia, Cameroon and India. Nice guys, though I don’t spend a lot of time in my room.

The days seems to get a certain structure by now. We have first block at 7:30 and then the day goes from there. Academics from 7:30 to 14:00, then Triveni’s (What other IB schools call CAS (-ish)), then physical activity, then homework and then whatever the night brings (Mostly sleep or movie watching, sometimes simultaneously).

The Triveni’s are differentiated into different categories. There’s the Stream’s, those are sort of like your overall Triveni’s, I’m in Outdoor and Adventure. Then there’s recreation Triveni’s, which are more casual, simple, but sometimes those are the ones you like the most. And I, as I tend to do, have taken on way too many. I have already been double booked several times, leading to awkward conversations with coordinators and there’s no way I’ll be able to keep this level up. As of right now I do FRS (Fire and Rescue Service), Kriya (Empowering local women through exercise and hiking), Handball (‘Cause I’m a Scandi), Basketball (‘Cause I’m a tall Scandi) and Chess Club (‘Cause I’m a smart, tall Scandi (lol))

So that’s about it. I promise to return to my reflective self next post, no worries (to my 10 daily readers, of whom I guess I’m related to half of them)

A moment of reflection.

Time passes. That’s an inevitable fact. Yet somehow, time seems to be a more fluid constellation at MUWCI, than the time I am used to from home. At MUWCI, time is neither linear nor circular (as internet hoaxes and pop-science culture has made it believed), it is more diverse, interesting and hard to put your finger on. Time does move in different paces.

When you are sleeping time moves rapidly. When you are having classes, you forget about time. When you sit at 02:30 in the treehouse, overlooking what the fog makes you mistake for an infinite horizon, time stops. Completely.

It’s interesting to feel, and hard to describe, yet it’s like I’ve known several Hill Dwellers (Term for faculty, staff and alumni at MUWCI, i.e. the hill) for more than “just” two weeks. There are two possible explanations for this as I see it. Either time does move in another pace at MUWCI, which would be both frightening and exciting, or the time we spend with each other, is somehow different from the time we spend at home. Either way, the answer surrounds time. It’s hard to argue for either of the arguments, because both imply that I know more about time than both scientists and poets, which I don’t believe I do.

On the last note, I would like to quote one of my second-years, who’s poem really gets to the point.

“And as the scientists figured out, we all descended from stardust, and that time is not a linear concept.

It had taken them two thousand years to figure out, what the poets had known all along.” 

Love.