America, I was told, is very different from Sweden. “How?” I would ask and as a response I would usually get “I don’t know exactly, but it is.” Back then, several months before I made the move to the United States, I found that terribly annoying. If it is different, obviously there are specific things that are different… right? Well, as I have now lived on the Princeton campus for three months, I very much understand the struggle that is explaining the US. When I am there, I communicate differently, meet strange customs and experience things I never would have in Europe. That is all well, but now that I actually sit down to write what exactly is different, how exactly I behave differently and what these strange customs are – I find it terribly hard. Of course, I will still give it an earnest attempt. That is why I will be writing a few posts this semester about the culture here at Princeton, but also America in a broader sense; this first post will be about one of the most specific things I can think of: namely, religion.
I know what you are thinking. Yet another white guy hoping aboard the feminism train to look good. Well, be that as it may, I take a firm stance as a feminist and in this post, I will detail the story of how I came to consider myself a feminist. Most of it concerns my great friend Erik and how he convinced me in a conversation we had just shy of a year ago.
Growing up in Sweden I have always had very liberal opinions, especially when it comes to all types of social issues. Naturally, I have always held equality as a core value in all of its shapes and sizes. To me, it is preposterous to think that people should be treated differently because of their stature, gender, beliefs or ethnicity. Although I have always thought of myself as an egalitarian, for the longest time I failed to identify as a feminist because of semantics, fear and non-understanding.
This all changed as a result of a single, somewhat heated, argument with my friend Erik, and two other friends of mine, in last year’s spring. As we tackled a different problem entirely, we made the age-old mistake of shifting focus in the middle of an argument to something only tangentially related. Generally, I try not to do this since I believe it facilitates the transfer of animosity from one issue to another; instead I find it better to solve one conflict first before going on to discuss the next. That tangent aside though, I am eternally grateful that we did go into the issue of feminism that afternoon, Erik, a feminist, and I, everything but just that.