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  1. #1
    whiteman's Avatar
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    Is slouching actually a normalized expression of power?

    Sweden has a reputation as having the most equal relations between the sexes in the world—it’s a place where male politicians are voted "woman of the year" by feminists, where young dads on paternity leave take toddlers for play dates while their wives work, where a preschool can casually ban gendered pronouns. A recent World Economic Forum report claimed Sweden is the most gender equal country in the world. Yet some Swedish women apparently think that the image of the Nordic country as a feminist's paradise is just a veneer hiding deep-seated misogyny. Their evidence? Men slouching and taking up more than one seat on buses, trains, and subways.
    To counter this "normalized expression of power" (that’s what they call slouching), a group of firebrand feminists have set up a blog called "Macho i Kollektivtrafiken" ("Macho in Public Transport"), encouraging readers to send in sneaky snaps of men in relaxed poses. The aim is to spread awareness of a "symbolic and active recreation not just of power, but of a stereotypical form of masculinity."

    Do Swedish women really feel threatened by men who slouch on the subway? Can this seriously be construed as a feminist issue? Do feminists today really view women as weaklings who are traumatized by straddle-legged passengers and who don't have the guts to tell men to scooch over? It's tempting to suggest that the women posting pictures of slouching men online should grow a pair, and point out that feminists have fought hard to shake the image of women as thin-skinned victims off and to prove that women have agency, gumption, and power.
    The blog's founder, 27-year-old My Vingren, assures me that Macho i Kollektivtrafiken isn’t a spoof, and that its modest goal is to change the world.
    VICE: Your blog claims that men who take up more space than they physically need when using public transport are practicing an "invisible and unconscious expression of power in an everyday, public space." Can men oppress women without even knowing it?
    My Vingren: Absolutely. I think one of the most problematic aspects of having such an extensive power structure is that a lot of people aren't even aware that how they act affects others. The fact that men get more space in classrooms, at board meetings, and so on, is part of a structural oppression that not everyone knows they're taking part in.
    What kinds of reasons do men tend to give for taking up more space than women on subways, buses, and trains?
    It's everything from "scrotum sweat is unpleasant," to "I have the right to sit comfortably," and "it's physically impossible for me to sit differently because I have a penis."
    What would you say to those claiming that, in the grand scheme of things, this issue is a "luxury problem"?
    My point is that this is part and parcel of the kind of oppression that leads to women being raped, getting lower salaries, and being exposed to violence in relationships.
    How does your campaign fit into the history of the feminist struggle for equality?
    To talk about space, about who takes and who gives space, I think is a big part of feminism.
    Sweden has a reputation abroad as an egalitarian society, almost a feminist paradise. Isn't that true?
    No, it's not. I work with rape victims so I often see the dark underbelly of our country. Of course, we have reached many goals and women have more choice today than they did 30 years ago, but we are far from equal.
    Do you think women can stand up for themselves?
    Yes, I'm convinced they can. But I think it's more effective for girls to work together for change rather than every individual girl having to resolve power-structural issues.
    Don't women have the guts to confront men and tell them to move over, please?
    I don't think women and girls can cope with that. They choose not to take on that battle.
    What do you think would happen if a woman told a man to move over? Have you or anyone you know tried?
    It's hard to say how men in general would react. In order for any change to happen I think men need to realize themselves that change is needed.
    It seems like many people think your blog is a joke. Why is that?
    I really don't know.
    Will the blog make a difference?
    Of course, we're going to change the world.
    Nathalie Rothschild is an international correspondent for spiked and a Huffington Post blogger.
    By Nathalie Rothschild1 year agoLike · Comment · ShareTags: Sweden, Nathalie Rothschild, women haters, Swedish chauvinists, learn how to sit, macho in public
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    whiteman's Avatar
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    Is men slouching part and parcel of the kind of oppression that leads to women being raped, getting lower salaries, and being exposed to violence in relationships???
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    whiteman's Avatar
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    I have to admitt I've slouched. In fact, I slouch almost everyday. I had no idea I was oppressing women leading to them being raped, getting lower saleries, and exposing them to violence in relationships.

    I'll try to have better posture in the future. However, I'm slouching right now because I have a bad disk in my back. So I can't help it. I'm sorry. If I could sit correctly and not oppress women believe me I would.
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    Well, since I don't use public transportation I'm not sure if this is really that big of an issue to me. I'm sure there are rude people everywhere. Once when I was a teenager my friend and Irode a super-full bus to the mall, we gave up our seats to some older people and when some would get off we get a seat and then some older person would get on and we give them up and some other teenagers began doing it as well.

    I really wouldn't want to see some old lady fall and break her hip and we didn't even consider not doing this. I'm kind of from a rural area where people know you.

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    Otherside's Avatar
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    Huh? I've never felt threatened by a guy slouching on the Underground. And the part where they refuse to move is just rude people, you get em everywhere, men and woman.

    And I slouch sometimes and I'm a woman. It's just comfy.

    I swear, some people just take offence at the most ridiculous things.

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    If they are that rude, Do you really want to sit next to them?

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    Quote Otherside View Post
    Huh? I've never felt threatened by a guy slouching on the Underground. And the part where they refuse to move is just rude people, you get em everywhere, men and woman.

    And I slouch sometimes and I'm a woman. It's just comfy.

    I swear, some people just take offence at the most ridiculous things
    .
    Sweden, "The most gender equal country in the world," is also the country where women make men pee sitting down, as peeing standing up oppresses women.
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    Quote whiteman View Post
    Sweden, "The most gender equal country in the world," is also the country where women make men pee sitting down, as peeing standing up oppresses women.
    Whaaaaatttt??? That makes no sense.

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    Antidote's Avatar Rude & Shouty
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    Women like that gave feminism a bad name.

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    Wait...what?

    How do you assume that slouching is a form of femininity? It really is a form of laziness. Happy people have good posture.

    I'd actually argue the opposite, that slouching is a form of low self esteem and depression. As well as having a lack of exercise and poor health habits.

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    whiteman's Avatar
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    Well I have a bad back so sitting in general is painful. I've never meant to oppress anyone, and usually I pee alone or sometimes around other men in a public bathroom, but if I'm ever in the company of women while peeing, I'll sit down.
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    Quote WintersTale View Post
    Wait...what?

    How do you assume that slouching is a form of femininity? It really is a form of laziness. Happy people have good posture.

    I'd actually argue the opposite, that slouching is a form of low self esteem and depression. As well as having a lack of exercise and poor health habits.
    I agree. Slouching is also a bad habit. I take a shuttle to work everyday, and because I'm anti-social and I don't like people sitting next to me, I would place my purse in the seat next to me. When someone attempts to sit down, I would take my purse back. It is probably an expression of reclusiveness and SA, which is probably oppressing other riders for wanting to intrude into my space.

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    Quote kc1895 View Post
    I agree. Slouching is also a bad habit. I take a shuttle to work everyday, and because I'm anti-social and I don't like people sitting next to me, I would place my purse in the seat next to me. When someone attempts to sit down, I would take my purse back. It is probably an expression of reclusiveness and SA, which is probably oppressing other riders for wanting to intrude into my space.
    It's actually rude if they are doing that, unless there were no other seats available (in which case, it would be rude to take up the one remaining seat.)

    I do the same when I ride the bus. I've taken the laptop on the bus before, and god knows they could steal that. It's not an Apple product, so not 3 thousand dollars, but a laptop is a laptop.

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