Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Things I used to believe

I used to believe that in Sweden no land was stolen from aboriginal/native people, as it was in e.g. the US, Canada or Australia.

Then I learned about what we did to the Sami - stealing their children, killing off anyone practicing their religion, building houses on the lands they'd roamed with their reindeer...

No. My own ancestors didn't do this - but the society in which I live still needs to deal with it, and it seems far to many of us southerners don't even think about the fact that many of our countrymen live on stolen land. It's so much easier to let the local authorities up in northern Sweden fight it out with the Sami Council, while we blithely go about our city lives.

(Hat tip to Sudy for the link above).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Recently Amanda Marcotte wrote a post at Alternet, about how immigrant women are at greater risk for sexual abuse.

It's not a new topic. One of my favourite bloggers, brownfemipower, has written extensively about it. A lot of what Amanda wrote was basically the same things that brownfemipower, amongst others, have written - for years. If you read the comments to the post linked in the title, you'll find any number of view on whether Amanda appropriated or (to any degree) plagiarised bfp's work.

What I've learned from that particular trainwreck is this:
I am not the best judge of whether my actions are disrespectful of others. In fact, I'm probably the single worst judge of that. For me to say "but I didn't mean to be dismissive" is the moral equivalent of a man's saying "but I didn't mean to harass you". In both cases, the intention of the action isn't relevant - the experience of the person subjected to the action is.

When I'm in a privileged position over someone else, I don't need to feel guilty about it, but I do need to be aware of it. At that point my actions will have ramifications I simply haven't thought about, because part of privilege is not having to think as much.

When I tell a man that his actions are affecting me negatively, I expect him to take my words seriously - because, after all, I know how his words affect me as a woman, and he doesn't. If a woman of colour speaks the same words to me, it behooves me to take her just as seriously as I want that man to do to me. Because she knows things I don't, she experiences things I don't, she has lived a life I don't.

Also, self-justification is a bad basis for mutual understanding. Which I may or may not write more about another day.