17 December 2015


Iceland is often considered to be "the most feminist country" in the world. And indeed, it has topped the Global Gender Gap Index for six years now, with the lowest gender gap regarding health and survival, political empowerment, educational attainment and economic participation and opportunity. This year, 100 years of women's suffrage are celebrated. Last year, a #freethennipple-campaign against double standards in censoring female breasts hit the headlines. Some weeks ago, I experienced how nearly everybody in a room of rather conservative students raised their hand to the question: "Do you consider yourself a feminist?"

However, there are several difficulties with this post. First of all, definitions and premises are left unclear (What shall be regarded as "feminism"? What is the relation between "feminism" and "gender equality"? How is "feminist" success to be measured? What, after all, is "gender equity"? And what about the fight for gender equity that refuses the label "feminism"?). Secondly, I write about this as a foreigner, lacking real, continuous insight. And thirdly, there are doubts from "the most feminist country" itself.

In many respects, the (partial) myth of "equal Iceland" seems to be another version of the "nordic paradise" narrative that ghosts many western (equality) debates. But what is true, is that there is an over-average sensibility for "feminist questions" in Iceland (compared to what I've experienced in Middle Europe at least). That relatively seen a lot of people get somehow involved in "feminist actions" and that the combination of this mentality for change with a certain "Icelandic creativity" I've experienced again and again, can do magic. I strongly recommend to watch this year's winning performance "Dear girls" at "Skrekkur", a secondary schools talent contest in Reykjavik.

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