They rail against patriarchy and racism, while pushing a platform that includes open immigration, a six-hour work day, and scrapping national defence.
Their rivals dismiss them as radical left-wingers with unrealistic goals and no economic platform. Yet their frontwoman, Gudrun Schyman is a candid, charismatic political veteran whom one columnist calls “totally unbeatable”.
Using the stylised acronym “F!”, the Feminist Initiative rode the slogan “Racists out, Feminists in” to a hard-won seat in the European Parliament in May. The party now hopes to crash the Riksdag, Sweden’s parliament, and be a feminist thorn in the side of any governing coalition formed after the polls.
Schyman, 66, is one of Sweden’s most iconic politicians. She led the Left Party for ten years and fanned outrage by comparing Sweden’s social structures to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan in a 2002 speech. Prior to becoming an MP, she worked as a social worker and often draws examples from her own life into political debates.
During her first round as spokeswoman for F!, she pulled off Sweden’s possibly greatest-ever political PR stunt, burning nearly 100,000 kronor ($15,000) on a barbecue to highlight the income gap between men and women.
This time it appears Schyman is all in on F! and she is clear about its goal. Stating that feminists have traditionally organised themselves in lobby groups to affect those in power, she said: “We don’t want that. We want to enter the rooms of power and take power ourselves.”
But F! and its estimated 18,000 members are still a long way from “taking” anything.
In a July survey by Aftonbladet/United Minds, four percent of respondents said they would vote for F! in Sweden’s general elections - exactly the threshold needed to win seats. However, an August poll by SvD/SIFO gave the party only 2.6 percent.
idk anything about swedish polling orgs but i’d bet the lower number is the more legit one. i do know that aftonbladet is a tabloid.
Nils Holmstrom, a 53-year-old administrator who marched in F!’s May Day demonstration, is among the 17 percent of F! members who are male. In fact, 15 percent of the party’s candidates for parliament are men.
Helene Bergman is a 68-year-old Swedish journalist who has been advocating for women’s rights since the 1970s, when the fight was for a woman’s right to work and access to public child care.
“I’ve lived in Turkey, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh; I’ve seen how far Sweden has come. You can always fight for more, but this should not be done through gender racism,” said Bergman.
F!’s greatest achievement, so far, has been to redirect Sweden’s political dialogue ahead of next month’s vote. It is no exaggeration that hardly any political speech since spring has been made without the mention of gender equality.
Parties already in parliament have jumped on the feminist bandwagon, making competing pledges to improve Sweden’s record.
Liberal Party leader Jan Bjorklund poses on posters that pronounce “Feminism without socialism”. His party is promising to increase financial incentives for a more equal share of parental leave.
The Social Democrats have proposed a ban on sexualised advertising, while the Greens are pushing for free contraceptives for women under 26. The Moderate party presented a five-point economic programme for greater equality.
gender racism and feminism without socialism are two of the funniest things i’ve heard in a while