En kaffe med Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide

Hva slags rolle vil Norge spille i FNs Sikkerhetsråd? Hvem er utenriksdepartementets drømmeansatt? Og hva gjør utenriksministeren på fritiden? Samfunnsviter’n tok en kaffe med Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide for å få svar på disse spørsmålene.  Tekst: Louisa Boulaziz, statsvitenskap Foto: Caisa Linnea Hagfors, journalistikk  Vi møter Søreide på et møterom i Utenriksdepartementet. På veggen henger det bilder av de tidligere … Les mer

Female State Leaders: Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Finland recently made headlines for inaugurating a government consisting of five female party leaders. Female state leaders are however still relatively uncommon despite growing evidence that female leadership improves political decision-making processes.1 The following is a brief look into the world’s female heads of state and government and an outline of some central aspects affecting women’s rise to leadership.   By: Sunniva Mowatt Storm, Internasjonale studier Illustration: Victoria Hamre  Female leadership and gender … Les mer

Challenge and Opportunity: A Commentary on Uncertainty Through a Contemporary Lens

When we talk about the future, we transform into a superhuman being, where the belief that we can predict what will happen – let’s say – in twenty years, prevails. The human need for security and certainty is broken when we realize that we have no idea what will happen. Since I began … Les mer

Det store skiftet: leder

Da redaksjonen skulle diskutere forslag til hovedtema for den første utgaven i 2020, var fellesnevnerne «noe litt stort», «noe med ettertrykk» og «ikkeno altfor deprimerende, a!» Så etter en livlig runde med idémyldring og drodling rundt det nylige tiårsskiftet, landet redaksjonen på temaet «Det store skiftet». Her er det definitivt rom for … Les mer

“Hey fellow males, be critical of your gender!”

We are still all affected by gender inequality and the negative behavior that is a result of it. Even if you claim to be in favor of gender equality and women*1 liberation in a pro feminist sphere, you are still affected. Therefore, it is important to recognize the images of genders constructed by society! You just can’t ignore the effects of the social construction and norms of gender, the images connected to them and the resulting internalization of sexism.  

By: Joel Hankiewicz, Political Science  

You’re not safe from sexist behavior 

Strg_F (a journalistic team from Germany) found out that a man had installed cameras in the toilets of a festival called “Monis Rache” and uploaded the videos of women* on a porn page, so they published an article on that topic. A scandal arose as he was also part of the team organizing the event, which explicitly calls itself left-wing and pro feminist. But how did they react and how should they have reacted? The identity of the person was known even before the report, and they reacted months later, after it was published. They didn’t go to the police and didn’t ask the victims if they needed support. Some say they protected the sexual predator and thus reproduced the sexist behavior of the patriarchy. A male person (in a left-wing, feminist context) can film women* without the organizing team taking any action or being self-critical. 

There was also another similar scandal, but with a different behavior from the organizing team. Last year at the Fusion festival (the biggest left-wing and pro feminist festival in Germany), a camera was installed in the showers and the videos where uploaded to a porn page. The Fusion festival’s organizing committee only found out due to an anonymous e-mail. They went directly to the police to file a lawsuit and created an e-mail domain to which affected people and victims could write to. Furthermore, they deleted all the videos and want to create a support meeting where they try to help the victims. Also, they tried everything to stop this toxic behavior and the sexual assaults. It is not yet known if the offender of both incidents is the same person.  

But it shows that sexual assault and toxic masculinity take place everywhere and can be perpetrated by anyone, and that is why we should support the feminist movement and be critical of our own masculinity and behavior! 

Still a male dominated world 

We live in a male dominated society, also known as patriarchy. In a world where hegemonic power is based on masculinity and the representation of it. There are many examples to prove it, like women* often still earning less money than their male coworkers (gender pay gap) or the dominance of males working in executive positions. But it is not just about the public sphere: it starts with men not taking women* seriously in discussion, because they think they’re “hysterical”. Furthermore, men often feel entitled to judge a woman* by her* looks. What about a night out? I have never been harassed in a club and I party a lot, but if I go out with female* friends, there is always at least one creep trying to approach them in an uncomfortable way, either by touching her or with sexist remarks. And what happens after a woman* has been sexually assaulted? Many voices in society blame her and not the predator! “The personal is political” is a common phrase from second-wave feminist groups to differentiate themselves from a liberal understanding of feminism, where equality is achieved only in the public sphere. If you understand gender as a social construct, it is important to understand the interdependence between the public sphere, the private sphere and the impact on your daily life. We are all socialized in our gender roles and thus internalize some attributes connected to them. However, these attributes are not natural or unchangeable! The term “doing gender” by Candace West and Don Zimmermann describes gender not as an attribute you have, but as an act you do daily. The dichotomous differentiation between male and female* is everywhere and influences every aspect of life. 

Why you shouldn’t claim feminism while being male 

One big paradox that should not be underestimated is the feminist discourse for itself. Male domination is seen by society as something “neutral” and “objective” that doesn’t need any explanation. Therefore, we subconsciously connote gender with certain attributes. Those “male attributes” are for example to be strong, powerful and justified. On the other hand, “female* attributes” are submissive. When I’m talking about masculinity and “male attributes” I’m not talking about the accumulation of all men, I’m talking about the idealization and an image of what it means to be a man and what you need to be seen as “manly”. The power shift constructs itself in the social relation between the genders. These relations have led to the fact that society values the opinion of the male over the female*, even in feminist discourse. 

There is a big need to support alternative perceptions on masculinity and to reduce sexist behavior. 

If a male considers himself as a “feminist” or “pro feminist” he is most likely more accepted or even applauded by society, than if a woman* does it, thus a sexist way of thinking is reproduced. Even though it isn’t their fault, this is the reason why males shouldn’t claim feminism for themselves. Also, males tend to talk themselves out of their toxic behavior by claiming to be feminists. There are other ways to be supportive: help women* articulate their interests, support their needs, but don’t try to speak for them or be in the frontline if not asked to do so. Equality in history meant seeing the man as a norm, but I think this is unfair. So, we should all be critical about our own gender and about our own behavior and the privileges that come with being male. 

Critical masculinity to support Feminism 

To start off, we must understand what it “means to be a man”. There is a strict definition of this and the images of it as described in the previous paragraph. Of course, these “attributes” differ from context to context, but they share one important similarity: the “guidelines” on how to be a man. Therefore, they naturalize these ways of behaving, which in turn harm men as well as other genders! Masculinity creates a form of hierarchy to differentiate itself from other genders, but also within a group of men. This structure creates the phenomenon called toxic masculinity. Because of this, men are not allowed to share their weaknesses and they must compensate with violence against themselves, or towards other men and women*.  

Therefore, we need a critical approach to this topic which is called “critical masculinity”. First, it is important to make those images of masculinity, those instructions and the resulting toxic behavior visible. There is a big need to support alternative perceptions on masculinity and to reduce sexist behavior. To achieve that, we have to be critical of ourselves, our friends and of male behavior in general, because every male has toxic aspects. But this isn’t about guilt! It is about recognition, and the learning process reduces sexist behavior. As I already said, there is no power free space in our society, because we’re all socialized by social norms and thus it is even more important to start in one’s own environment. This could mean calling out a friend if he is doing something wrong, criticizing your group of friends or another association if you have the feeling it is toxic or just talking to a person if you see they have a problematic behavior. But the most important part is to protect the victim and not the predator of a sexual assault! It can happen everywhere at any time – we’re all affected by toxic masculinity. 

Further readings: 

Bourdieu, Pierre (2005): Die männliche Herrschaft. Suhrkamp. Frankfurt am Main. 

Moser, A. (2010). Kampfzone Geschlechterwissen: Kritische Analyse populärwissenschaftlicher Konzepte von Männlichkeit und Weiblichkeit. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften / GWV Fachverlage GmbH, Wiesbaden. 

Lindahl, Björn (2019): Norway: Gender pay gap remains, but influence is slightly up, 12.04.2019. in Nordic Labour Journal. Verfügbar unter: http://www.nordiclabourjournal.org/nyheter/news-2019/article.2019-04-11.3066164563 [14.02.2020].  

o.V.: Was ist kritische Männlichkeit? Verfügbar unter:https://kritische-maennlichkeit.de/was-ist-kritische-maennlichkeit/ [14.02.2020]. 

Schwarz, Carolina (2020): (K)ein Ort für sexualisierte Gewalt, 04.02.2020. in TAZ. Verfügbar unter: https://taz.de/Spannervideos-bei-Fusion-Festival/!5658019/ [14.02.2020]. 

Samfunnsviter’n er en politisk uavhengig avis, og er derfor ikke ansvarlig for innhold i meningsartikler. Eventuelle henvendelser tas direkte med skribenten.

“My dream is to have an own hotel in Bali”: a fascinating talk of how to be a successful hostel manager and professional mentor with Jorge Lopez

Jorge is a manger of Rodamón Hostel in Lisbon and Budapest. He started at the company 5 years ago in his hometown Barcelona. 3 years ago Jorges started as an opening manager in Marakkesh. Last year he relocated to Lisbon to control all constraction works, hiring and training a team to open the doors of a new hostel in Portugal’s capital.  By: Alexandra PonomarevaPhotos: @rodamonhostels, Instagram Aleksandra: What does it mean to be an opening manager?  Jorge: Opening manager postitions require you to stay in a country for opening a new venue and manage all processes. For instance, I was here five months before opening. Only the building was here. It’s quite tricky for a person to relocate every six months or a year. I have only a work life, no personal life.   Aleksandra: I have a set of particular questions about the interview process and team. What are your criteria for team and managers?  Jorge: Here I have a one person who is the boss of the reception, but I don’t have any assistant manager for the reception, restaurant, cleaning, and kitchen. None for maintenance either.   Aleksandra:  How do you maintain interviews for the reception?   Jorge: For the reception, the most essential thing is that the person can be friendly. I can see it from the first minutes of the discussion. I don’t need that big CV to hire. I need to be with … Les mer

Trump: Et karikert tilfelle av en helt normal amerikansk president

20. januar 2017: BANG. Verden er endret for alltid. En president helt uten presedens sitter nå på makten i de forente amerikanske stater. Et stort og brått skifte. Tilsynelatende.  Tekst og illustrasjoner: Henrik Berger, Statsvitenskap.   USAs sittende president har ett og annet svin på skogen. Hele bingen ligger der ute, … Les mer

The Big Illusion

We try find our fulfilment in our workplace. It is not just a job anymore, your job is part of your identity, part of your self-expression Now it is time that we change the way we think about work. It’s time to start seeing our past illusions and into the future. 

Text: Zoé Volkmann, History
Illustration: Grace Wiegand

With the turn of the new century, Western society attributed a new meaning to work. When your job is part of your personality, you are ready to sacrifice your personal life for your job. Now, when we are approaching the potential „Roaring Twenties” of the 21st century, more and more people are struggling to find a job at all, never mind good working conditions. No vacation? Sure thing. Working overtime? Mandatory, after all you really care about this working project and want to come to see it to life. Very soon the job is not that much of self-fulfilment anymore. 

Nowadays we can find start-ups for everything, evermore young people try to become entrepreneurs and put their big dreams to practice. But can your work be the key to a happy life? And even if, should it really be this way?  

It is time that we change the way we think about work. It’s time to ditch our illusions and think radically different about our future – because only then we will be brave enough to fight for a better one. 

The Big Betrayal   

Agnoli once wrote in his essay on the transformation of democracy that freedom and equality is not secured in democratic states. In fact, in a capitalist world, democracies tend to „involute “, turn backwards. Instead of ever-growing liberty all over the world you will be able to observe states cutting liberties (which of course you only enjoyed in the first place when you had the according passport to be recognized as state citizen).  

As compensation for less political rights, people are seemingly getting a say in their working places – which means that employees aren’t actually given any real power in the direction of the companies or get a share of the surplus value that is being extracted from their work. But they feel like they are being listened to and identify with the company more strongly. You start to empathize because you feel more involved. But as soon as it gets rough and the company needs to cut staff or take other difficult choices the owners of the company will make the decisions without asking the people working for them first. 

This has nothing to do with neoliberalism 

The start-up culture and gradual cutting of social benefits and working rights all over the world is a phenomenon that started at the end of the 20th century and turned into a harsh reality in the 21st century – a period of time that is usually identified as the age of neoliberalism. After the end of the Cold War capitalist societies didn’t have a reason to pretend that capitalist economy is more humane than a socialist one. The role the welfare state played during the Cold War now became dispensable. But if neoliberal policies led us into this mess – does this mean we only have to embrace the politics of old, and Keynesian economic policies will bring us into a happier life? Unfortunately, the solution is not that easy. First of all, working conditions were bleak already in times of a roaring economy. Especially work without formal qualification which is often unhealthy and stressful. Such jobs are often so demanding that they leave the workers so exhausted, meaning that they will need their whole free time to recover again for work. But this is a pattern that you can find for every job, with varying intensity. Even if we implement more socially friendly policies the system that dictates of the way we produce will not change – and harsh working conditions and the coercion to work will stay. 

The purpose of a job 

As Marx explained, the vast majority is dependent to sell their workforce. Only when we work, we are getting paid a wage that allows us to cover the cost for our basic needs, and at best gives us access to „luxury” goods in a limited way. We, all the people needing to work, are offering our workforce as commodity to the companies on the labour market. Since everyone wants to enjoy decent living conditions everyone needs a job. Thus, we are all competing against each other involuntarily. To avoid being kicked out of companies or not being considered at a job interview we are ready to work for longer hours, being paid less, refrain from certain privileges (sick leave, vacations, …). At the same time, we think that getting a good job is wholly dependent on us as single persons, our creativity, our passion, our knowledge. This is what businesses and society suggest to you. Study hard as a kid in school, get top grades in university, do more unpaid internships than you can count, follow specific tips at job interviews etc. But this approach takes economic and social power hierarchies out of consideration. No, in this society you will hardly ever be able to escape the social class you have been born into. And this is the reason your chances to become an entrepreneur are relatively low if your parents are not rich. But having the mindset leads you to think that if you only work on yourself to gain money, status and a good life, lets you accept this reality as a seemingly good one. You submit yourself to living with hardly any say about the way you want to live, because maybe you will become one of the people exploiting their workers and living a luxury life (most likely not). 

It is time that we change the way we think about work. It’s time to ditch our illusions and think radically different about our future – because only then we will be brave enough to fight for a better one

In reality you will sell your workforce for a certain amount of time and the company rewards money for this time. Imagine you work for 8 hours and get 800kr, but in this time you created value for the company of 1600kr (by making toothbrushes or selling cake at a café). This difference between the value you created and the time you’ve been paid for working is the surplus value. This is essential, because it is this profit that the company derives from your and everyone else’s work. This phenomenon is the basis of capitalism. Every entrepreneur relies on creating profit whether they want to or not. This has nothing to do with bad character traits, the system requires them to take part in the game to gain profit or go bust very fast. And in the ever-changing market they are always required to adapt. Cut staff, cut wages, buy new machines that do more work in less time. The basis of capitalism is the basis of a shitty job we are all going to need. 

A brighter outlook? 

The present turns bleak when you realise that work is not going to bring you fulfilment but will only wear you down. You don’t have an actual say in the company you’re working in, but you are stuck competing for the rest of your life. And you always have to prove that you are stronger, smarter and better than everyone else. In the end it is a very lonely life. And what is your reward? If you are lucky you can hopefully afford a decent life, and if you are one of the few really lucky ones you can buy luxury goods on a more or less regular basis. Then why should we change the way we think about working conditions in the 21st century?  

We should change the way we think because our way of working is deeply ingrained in the system. If we do not want to affirm our own submission, we need to realize that this is not a society where everyone or even a fraction can live up to their full potential. All the side effects of the working conditions and the economic system cannot be fully explained here (even Marx wasn’t nearly finished after three thick books). There is not enough space to give a definite answer on a concrete solution. As Adorno once argued, theory doesn’t necessarily have to offer a step-by-step plan to utopia but state the negative conditions of life in a capitalist society.  A theory that rages against injustice is often countered by the question of the alternatives. It is a way to silence the critique by demanding positivity.  

However, it has to be said, that it won’t be enough to organize together to fight for better working conditions. This is just a mere starting point to think radically different by pointing out oppression. We cannot stop there. Once Herbert Marcuse tried to sketch a utopian vision on a liberated society, he was clear that a concrete construction cannot be developed today but will evolve in the process of change. Yet he still states that freedom “would become the environment of an organism which is no longer capable of adapting to the competitive performances required for well-being under domination, no longer capable of tolerating the aggressiveness, brutality, and ugliness of the established way of life.” If we really want to shift from a bleak present to a bright future, where every single person can live a life worth living, we need to dismantle an economic mode of production that puts heavy strains on society. Only if we criticise the inherent injustice of the capitalist system, we can pave the way for a future where finally everyone is free. 

Illustration by Grace Wiegand.

Norge i den Store Spagaten

 Det har blitt omtalt som «det norske paradokset». Norge har et image som fremtidsrettet klima- og miljøforkjemper, samtidig som vi driver med massiv eksport av olje og gass.  Tekst: Sofie Sjaastad, StatsvitenskapIllustrasjon: Elisabeth Kjellin Norge har, via den utbredte bruken av vannkraft, en nesten utslippsfri elektrisitet. Takket være tung subsidiering har vi også den høyeste raten av … Les mer

Frihetens grunnlag

I Harald Eias serie «Sånn er Norge», konkluderer han i andre episode med at det er staten som danner grunnlaget for frihetsfølelsen i Norge. Jeg vil se nærmere på dette, og undersøke hva som gjør staten til grunnlag for frihet.  Victoria Bergundhaugen, Idéhistorie. Foto: Reno Laithienne, unsplash Først vil jeg påpeke at i … Les mer

We are one

By Helena Held: Master in Visual Anthropology and Environmental Studies   It seems like pure nature  But where is pure nature? The humans appropriate the world for themselves  There aren’t so many places „untouched“ There aren’t so many places where humans haven’t shaped nature And nature has always shaped humans But what is nature?  Is it the outside? Is it them? Is it something separate from us?  Aren’t we nature as well?  Yes, we are nature We are them, we are the outside  We are entities in … Les mer

EUs månelanding

Ved utgangen av forrige tiår la Europakommisjonens president, Ursula von der Leyen, frem sitt månelandingsprosjekt. Mange er nå spente på hva dette vil bety for fremtiden, og i Norge virker det som at «det grønne giv» feies under teppet.  Tekst: Amandine Toso Illustrasjon: Asbjørn Oddane Gundersen   Den 11. desember i 2019 kunne endelig Ursula von der Leyen, president i … Les mer

iPad i musikkundervising: Samspel mellom menneske og maskin

Ipad i skolen

Ti år etter iPad vart lansert held debatten fram om kva følgjer det har for læring og utvikling å nytte nettbrettet i skulen. Fortvilte foreldre og perplekse pedagogar etterlyser overtydande argument, meir forsking og gode undervisingsmetodar. Dette ville eg forsøke å gjere noko med, og skreiv difor masteravhandling om korleis lærarar nyttar iPad i musikkundervising.  Tekst: Yngve Farestveit Erstad, Historie Illustrasjon: Asbjørn Oddane … Les mer

Planet Earth Belongs in an Intensive Care Unit

A medicine student reflects on the effects that climate change will have on our health In 2018 the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that “Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year.” According to their calculations the direct costs that result from effects of climate change on our health are estimated to be between two to … Les mer

Det Store Skiftet

Av: Henrik Berger, Statsvitenskap. Illustrasjon: Elisabeth Kjellin. “The times they are a-changing”, sang Bob Dylan i 1964. Det fanget tidsånden i det gryende sekstitallet. Ungdomsopprør og frigjøring og alt det der. Men at tidene forandrer seg har folk sagt, sunget og forutsett siden ilden ble oppfunnet og har enda ikke sluttet med dette. Verden går fremover, noen ganger bakover, uansett er … Les mer