Name: Linnea Dunne
Occupation: Freelance writer
How do you define feminism?
Feminism is about promoting equal rights from a gender perspective. Being a feminist is as natural a thing to me as opposing racism or any other form of oppressive system or ideology, and I believe that everyone in society – as well as society itself – wins when we’re born and treated as equals.
When did you first identify as a feminist?
Having been brought up in a very liberal home in Sweden, I can’t remember when I first identified as a feminist. What I do know is that I always empathised with the underdog, no matter what the situation, and that Swedish media paid a lot of attention to gender-related issues at the time. It was never a case of any sort of epiphany; ideologically I was always a feminist, even before I started using the word.
Has your (definition of) feminism changed over time? How?
Like with everything in life, I think your perception of something changes as your outlook on life and experience of it does. When I was a teenager, feminism for me revolved a lot around straight-forward sexism and the beauty industry and its unobtainable ideals, while I now think a lot about the reality of being a married woman and wanting to have a rewarding job as well as a family.
Moreover, every ideology has to adapt to the changing times, but the core values will always remain the same. In the western world we’re no longer fighting for women’s suffrage, but a few decades ago, I doubt anyone would have been thinking about banning veils in public places (which is not necessarily a feminist stance, but a debate which would probably never have taken place if it wasn’t for feminism). As society changes, so do the debates we have, but it’s still all about equality.
Have you ever experienced resistance to identifying as a feminist? If so, why do you think that is and how do you handle it?
It happens all the time. Most commonly, it’s not actually feminism as an ideology that seems to rub people up the wrong way, but rather the word itself and its bad reputation. People have a lot of strange ideas about what it means to be a feminist.
Some people – both men and women – seem threatened by feminism, as if living in an equal society would be more demanding than living in a patriarchal world. Others lazily accept the whole concept of feminism as a monster, and will say that “I’m all for equality, but feminism is a bit extreme”. I have yet to find out what the extreme bit they’re referring to is.
I really don’t think feminism is anywhere near as radical as some people might think, and sometimes it feels a bit like we’re stuck in a rut that we’ll never get out of unless people care to stop and listen open-mindedly for a while. There are social democrats and liberals with extremely offensive opinions, but no one disregards their whole ideology because of it. Let’s admit that the same goes for feminism, and then let’s work on the nuances.
What do you see as the future of feminism?
We’re all prejudiced, and we’ve all got preconceptions, and these things don’t change overnight. Fundamental change doesn’t happen through legislation – it takes time. People must grow up with a different set of values, and I think that’s already happening. In the long-term, I’d like to see more gender awareness in schools and nurseries: as much as it’s a cliché, the children are our future.
Right now, feminism’s greatest challenge is to normalise feminist ideas and talk about them openly. That’s why I love the idea of the ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ series. If people are prejudiced about what it means to be a feminist, let’s prove them wrong. What’s the solution to inequality? We’ve all got different answers to that, just like the various political parties all have different answers to the question of climate change – but at least the environment is on the political agenda. Until gender equality is, we’ve got a long way to go.
If you would like to participate in this series, please contact me for more details!