Monday, April 30, 2007

Feminine rebellions: the Viking princess

Sweden has taken feminism much further than most other countries. Although I've criticised the theory behind this feminism at length, I've done so from a distance. So I was very interested to discover the Viking princess website, written by a Swedish woman now living in London. When the Viking princess criticises Swedish style feminism she does so with first-hand knowledge of its effects on her as a woman.

Amongst the more revealing articles are:

Femininity and womanhood today? In this article the Viking princess notes that she is effectively living the lifestyle of a man. This is what Swedish feminism aims at: it identifies autonomy as the key good in life and the male role as the autonomous one. Therefore, it insists that men and women are similar in nature and that women should pursue the "superior" male role in equal numbers to men.

If the Swedish feminists were right, then the Viking princess should be happy with her autonomous lot. But she's not. She feels as if she's lost something central to her own self, namely her femininity. She writes:

I can do most things that a man can do; I am independent, competent and earn a high salary. All this might make me think: What do I need a man for?

Yet, what do I crave more than anything? To be a real, old-fashioned woman. To have a man who cares for me and to have a home to manage (as opposed to managing stupid IT projects.)

She adds:

I get very little satisfaction from my ‘high-powered’ job. Why is this?

I think it is because what I am doing is against nature!

Everything I wanted to prove to myself and others about my competence or career, I have already proven. And to be honest, I wasn’t that fussed to start with. I just needed the money and happened to like IT.

But now I need to prove that I can be a real woman! I don’t even know where to start! I spent most of my life trying to emulate men and male behaviour!

I am sick of being so independent, of often being cleverer than men who fancy me (which is a turn-off). I am sick of wearing the trousers, metaphorically and in practice.


Another problem is that the more time I spend emulating male behaviour at work, the less feminine (and more masculine) I become. I have learnt military leadership techniques for goodness sake! I can push my guys as if I was a drill sergeant… And every time I do, it kills of another bit of my female soul.…

All my feminine qualities are undesirable at work. Being caring, giggly, pretty, emotional etc, are all negative things to a greater or lesser extent. In my reviews at work I have had negative feedback involving all of these qualities, believe it or not.

What all this suggests is that for women like the Viking princess independence through careerism is not the most important good in life. What she finds more important is to fulfil deeper aspects of her own given nature; it is most significant to her to reconnect to her feminine soul, something she feels she can't accomplish adequately whilst living a masculine lifestyle.

Growing up a unisex girl. This article describes the experience of growing up in a country in which gender difference was suppressed rather than celebrated. Even at nursery school feminist gender politics was drilled into the young children:

There was constant talk even in nursery school about how traditional split of work between the genders must stop. There certainly was no question of having pretty dolls for girls to play with; we all played with nice but very gender-neutral toys. I suppose there was a slight bias towards the kinds of toys you’d traditionally give to a boy actually.

It's interesting to note here a contradiction in modernist politics. Autonomy, in the sense of being unimpeded in selecting who we are or what we do, is the ruling principle. The Swedish government follows this ideal of autonomy. The end result, though, is a greater state intrusiveness into what people would normally choose to do or be compared to more traditional societies. Autonomy theory doesn't result in people being left alone to make their own way, as most people if left alone would choose things considered illegitimate under the terms of autonomy theory (most people would follow their natural instincts and adopt a pattern of gender behaviour; they would also choose to sacrifice some part of their autonomy in order to fulfil other aims, such as marriage and parenthood).

Our Viking princess accepted the unisex ideology until she became old enough to choose to read some classic girl's books:

Gradually I started to notice that the heroines of these books generally put a big emphasis on being girls and on taking pride in that. It was something I had never done. I started having a feeling I was somehow missing out on the experience of being a girl.

When going abroad to Southern Europe, I noticed that little girls there usually wore skirts and frequently even pretty dresses. I and my friends very rarely did. In fact I very rarely wore traditionally girly clothes at all. My parents told me that the Southern Europeans wore such clothes because they were old-fashioned, religious and couldn’t afford much clothes anyway. They made all these things sound very bad, which I as a child of course latched on to.

I also dreamed of wearing pink, or perhaps yellow clothes. But looking at photos, it would appear I was mainly in brown corduroy or navy cotton! ... I remember fantasizing about being asked to be a bridesmaid so I could wear a frilly dress and carry a bouquet of pretty cut flowers!

I was aware though that I was not supposed to want such things.

At puberty it was even more difficult to accept the unisex view:

When I started getting breasts and boys started changing their voices I felt somehow cheated.. There wasn’t supposed to be any difference between boys and girls! But we all started changing to be more and more different. The boys were getting violent, always fighting each other. They seemed to enjoy watching and teasing us girls while we started becoming interested in fashion, make-up and pop music.

Eventually, the Viking princess rejected unisexism in principle:

It started becoming increasingly clear to me as if man and woman are two pieces of a puzzle that fit together because they are essentially differently shaped… That their physique and psyche complemented rather than duplicated each other. The idea that they are identical pieces seemed to me as a tremendous misconception and I was terribly irritated at having been fed an incorrect version of things all through my childhood. What I had been told simply wasn’t true. All my recent experiences showed that men and women were different and that men could no less be like women than women could be like men.

Since I wouldn’t want a man who behaves and looks like a woman, it makes sense that a man wouldn’t want a woman who behaves and looks like a man! True?

Why this ridiculous pretense that we are the same, when we very obviously are not? If I had been brought up more as a girl/woman instead of a gender-neutral being, I would have been stronger and more confident as a woman today! As it is, I had to discover the hard way that I was not the same as a man in a multitude of ways. I spent many years at work, trying to emulate an ‘alpha’ male in my behaviour…

I have no idea how the unisex ideal affected the boys around me. They too were brought up in a ‘unisex’ way.

I can tell you this though: In Sweden it is not common for men to help women with bags on public transport. Also, men expect women to regard sex in the same way as they do (i.e. casual unless expicitly stated otherwise…) They normally do not pay on dates, walk women home or pull out the chair for you etc.. Imagine my surprise when these things happened in England. I felt like a princess!

Until quite recently, every time I noticed a difference between me and men I kept thinking; this is wrong… I ought to be like the men… I felt like I was letting other women down unless I constantly strived towards the male ‘ideal’ that was set for Swedish women. I forced myself to carry heavy things (hurt my back badly when I moved!) to take work extremely seriously (with the result that I got very stressed out) and to never be scared or cry. These were girly, i.e. bad things. But let me tell you, it’s hard work hiding your true nature and pretending to be something you are not! (I still do it all the time, at work .)

Discovering that being feminine is not a ‘crime’ (in fact, it can be a positive thing) was a big revelation for me. I don’t actually want to be like a man!

I wish Northern European society would stop denying women the opportunity to be female! What good does it really bring? Who benefits?

This is nothing less than a feminine rebellion against liberal modernism and the Viking princess carries it through with a certain skill and style.


  1. Wow, what an eloquent summary of what I wrote! I am very honoured that you choose my posts for this article. Thank you!
    Cordelia a.k.a. Vikingprincess

  2. Cordelia's not the only Swedish woman reacting in this way. My cousin is an absolute bogan of an Aussie, a roofing contractor who likes his Jim Beam and Coke, his Ford ute, and his deplorable dress sense; and his wife is a Swedish researcher in epilepsy; smart as a tack, who is now happily married to him with a lovely kid.

    A more unlikely couple you are unlikely to meet.

  3. Is there room in the world for people who enjoy traditional gender roles and those who'd don't?

    I believe so.

  4. Looks like Cordelia endorses your assessment Mr. Richardson:

    More of these women are "coming out" (pun intended) more often.

    What a positive development.

    On a related matter, I hear There is a statist bastion of dissent from the homosexual paradigm in the European Union (of all places!); perhaps OzConservative may want to write something by way of a report about this:

    (I had to break up the URL into 4 bits; otherwise it doesn't show up in the preview...)

  5. Be encouraged and keep blogging!

  6. Cordelia's story and her web page are like a breath of fresh air! I was very happy to add her to my blog roll

  7. Well I don't think most men are any more satisfied with their careers than vikingprincess with hers. But men are just expected to accept it. That's their traditional role. So our little princess doesn't want that kind of responsibility. Whatever. I'm not impressed.

  8. Here's the quote of the article for me: "I get very little satisfaction from my ‘high-powered’ job. Why is this?"

    Vikingprincess concludes "I think it is because what I am doing is against nature!" and so, it seems does the author of this blog...

    What I read is the simple truth about "breadwinning"... It sucks. Both men and women get very little credit from anyone for what they go through to support a family.

    However, to conclude that disliking this truth is somehow part of a feminine nature is missing the point.

    What is "wrong", I think, is not feminism. It's western society's lack of a deeper appreciation for what both men and women who do it learn to be true about working hard. Family is more rewarding. If anyone appreciates this from their experience, I'd prefer to blame the nature of work, not feminism, for the revelation.

  9. Welcome to the human race! You should come to the US and experience a true American gentleman who will not only treat you like the lady that is blossoming, but also respect your strength and intellect.

  10. Yortuk & Bad Karma,

    It's true that breadwinning requires sacrifices from men as well as women.

    However Cordelia notes at her site that the men she works with seem more content with their lot than she does.

    There are reasons for this. The men are fulfilling a primary masculine provider role by going to work and earning an income.

    When I go out to work I know that by doing so I am keeping my family afloat. My efforts at work mean that I am creating a protected space in which my wife can raise our child. There is a particular kind of masculine satisfaction in succeeding in this role.

    Nor will a man's sense of masculine identity be sapped by a competitive work environment as a woman's feminine identity might be. Work can become an arena for a man's competitive instincts.

  11. America is not crawling with true gentlemen. So many here are crass materialists happy to put the wife in a job just so they can buy a big pickup truck, a boat, or other expensive toys.

  12. What I read is the simple truth about "breadwinning"... It sucks. Both men and women get very little credit from anyone for what they go through to support a family.

    Breadwinning doesn’t “suck”. I can’t think of anything more satisfying than providing for one’s family. Beyond respect, you’re not meant to get “credit” for it either. You’re doing a normal duty, not a favour.

  13. "What is 'wrong', I think, is not feminism. It's western society's lack of a deeper appreciation for what both men and women who do it learn to be true about working hard."

    This is terribly confused. The point is that feminism tells us that only the kinds of roles traditionally asociated with men in society have ever really been highly valued and respected. That's why it'sso important for women to assume those roles--so they can get all the respect and power that comes with slaving away to support yourself and your family.

    If that's not true--if, as you say, the problem has always been that nobody appreciates the work put in by people supporting their families by working a job--then the feminists are wrong at the most elementary level. If your assessment of society's values is correct, then it is really MEN's role in society, MEN's sacrifices, and the virtue of MEN's work that have been underappreciated all along.

  14. My point was never about whether men's contribution was valuable or not. OF COURSE IT IS - VERY MUCH SO!

    Additionally; What are these people talking about, saying that housekeeping is not as demanding and valuable as a lot of the work that men do?

    It is not the soft option at all, assuming the woman in question is doing housekeeping to a good standard.

    Having a good home is the foundation for success in many areas of life. And I wonder where the saying "Behind every strong man..." came from?

    Obviously, if the woman manages the house full time, then the man does not have to do any housekeeping at all, and does not need to feel in the least guilty about it.

    Instead he can relax in a comfortable, clean, inviting home, eating a healthy and home-cooked meal when he comes home from his 'bread-winning' job (which hopefully doesn't 'suck' too much.) In the morning he can get dressed from a clean, neat cupboard filled with well-ironed and maintained clothes.

    The woman will be relaxed enough to be happy, relaxed and fun to be with... As opposed to being exhausted, having rushed home from work to get cracking with some sub-standard, rushed microwave cooking, washing, ironing and cleaning.

    (All the while she is secretly extremely irritated at the unfairness of the situation, as (let's be honest) her husband probably isn't helping her out.)

    I won't bring the children into the picture.

    I guess people just have different tastes on this matter; just like on everything else...

    Personally I have come to the conclusion that the traditional split of labour makes the most sense.

  15. Oh, and one more thing; to those who consider women who desire a traditional role lazy... and who thinks that breadwinning 'sucks'

    Here's a female perspective;

    Being pregnant isn't a dance on roses... (to avoid using rude words)

    Having your period most certainly isn't either, although that varies from woman to woman.

    Constantly being regarded as a sex object... well, unless its with a man I really fancy, it is extremely derogatory and there is nothing I can do about it. I guess it's better than not being noticed at all, which is what happens to women who are ugly or old.

    Wanting to be able to do things that require more physical strength than I have is extremely irritating too. Particularly when a man comes along and does it with no effort.

    Get it?
    Both genders have their challenges to meet! We should support each other with our unique strengths and natrual gifts, instead of trying to compete in a race which 'the weaker sex' really isn't coping that well anyway.

    (As for what the current state of affairs it doing to men - I don't know, but I'd like to find out more. Not so convinced that it is really good for the men either. )

  16. When I go out to work I know that by doing so I am keeping my family afloat. My efforts at work mean that I am creating a protected space in which my wife can raise our child. There is a particular kind of masculine satisfaction in succeeding in this role.

    Well said, Mark. Observing my husband and my male friends, I'd say this is important for them too.