Tag Archives: europe

How to be Granted Asylum: Just be a white celebrity

The always insightful Flavia Dzodan (if you don’t follow her already, you should do so now) has pointed out on Facebook that while the whole world is concerned with one white dude’s asylum decision, hundreds and thousands of refugees are constantly dying trying to reach the EU, and no one pays attention. Their bodies remain mostly anonymous. Continue reading

Thoughts on Work

In order to counter the increasing unemployment rates in Europe, politicians and news media outlets seem to agree that the best solution to this problem is job creation.  Their statements generally imply that there aren’t enough things for people to do, so that they need to be artificially created. What a strange idea.

In early utopian socialist ideology a society was conceived of, in which technological advancements will have made work so much easier and more effective, that people would have to do less and less of it, could enjoy more free time and benefit from an improved lifestyle. Well, that technological progress has happened and continues to accelerate; people are being made redundant in factories, public service jobs and even supermarkets. Yet many people are still pulling 40 hour weeks or more, unless they are unemployed, socially stigmatized and dependent on benefits. How did we end up here? Continue reading

A Cushion Against Reality: girls-only and boys-only schools

Ever since I’ve moved to London, I have encountered a very interesting phenomenon that I’ve never really thought about before: girls-only and boys-only schools. They may exist in the countries I’ve lived before, but are so rare that it’s not at all astonishing to believe that this phenomenon had died out in the fifties. Well, not in the UK apparently, where it seems perfectly normal to send your children to schools that segregate the sexes.

I don’t know if that’s just my foreigner bias talking, but I am veeery sceptical of this model. In my opinion there are only two main reasons why parents would want to send their children to this kind of school, both of which I find highly problematic:

1. The essentialist approach: They want their children to be educated specifically in relation to their gender. We all know where that would lead: boys will have more sports lessons, build models, have IT classes; girls get to paint and sing and write stories, because that’s what they like to do/are better at, because SCIENCE! I don’t know if this is in fact being done in those schools – I certainly hope not – but I wouldn’t be surprised…

2. The evolutionary approach: Parents may think their children will concentrate and learn better, if they’re not constantly surrounded by the opposite sex. That idea implies that kids are always and exclusively attracted to the opposite sex, and that perfectly normal and healthy desires are somehow problematic in general.

Don’t get me wrong. Boys can be distracting at school, in the good and the bad way; I know what I’m talking about. But the thing is, they never stop being distracting, so you might as well learn what that feels like from like the beginning. Most of us, fortunately, don’t live in a bubble where we will never ever encounter people of the opposite sex in our daily lives, on the street, at work, in our free time. So why bother shielding kids from that?

And I’m not just talking about possible flirtation, crushes, unrequited (or requited) feelings. I’m talking about every form of daily interaction, which includes politeness, respect, generosity, but also rudeness, arrogance and ignorance. I think children can only be properly socialized if they get to experience all kinds of behaviour from all genders, and learn to appreciate or to deal with it. And it is the role of parents and teachers to make sure they don’t get discouraged along the way, but not to shield them from it.

A school environment is what will eventually prepare young people for a work or university environment, and I could imagine that it would be very hard to be confronted with the other sex for the first time way past puberty in that type of setting – a setting where they will have to respect each other opinions, listen and learn from each other, and become a team.

Segregated schools are robbing children of that fundamental and influential experience.

didn’t particularly benefit from a girls-only environment: “mädchen in uniform” (1931)
via manchesterfilm.coop

Why We Fight: The War on Women and the continuing attacks on our reproductive rights

I don’t always comment on every major event that’s happening in relation to women’s rights – I simply don’t have the time – but it still surprises me how long I have managed to stay silent about the current “War on Women” that is being waged by the GOP in the United States. The main reason has certainly not been ignorance, as I have been following the developments in detail. Rather, I have been speechless in light of the severity and magnitude of the political attacks on women’s rights and freedom. My initial reaction has been sheer incredulity.

I want to emphasize something I keep mentioning on this blog: feminism to me is fighting for women’s rights to ensure equality, but that doesn’t simply mean looking for new means to get there. More and more, feminism means preserving the rights that we already have, because even though they may seem common sense to us, it doesn’t mean there aren’t forces out there ready to take these rights away if given the chance.

The US-American War on Women is simply the most blatant and extreme example of how this plays out: the GOP race for the presidential candidate started out with confirmations of its anti-abortion stance (very sad indeed, but not at all surprising), and culminated in the demonization of all forms of birth control, the violation and criminalization of the woman’s body and the reduction of women’s lives to that of breeding cattle. I see no better way to phrase this and I don’t have the nerve for euphemisms. Women’s lives as we know them today? In the U.S. they are at risk, and if I lived over there I would seriously consider emigrating before I got into a situation where I would have to hand over my own bodily autonomy to the state.

But make no mistake: If you’re European and tend to dismiss the Republicans, the Tea Party and their supporters as crazy extremists, you’re fooling yourself. Because even Western Europe is slowly seizing to be a safe-haven when it comes to women’s reproductive rights. The attacks come mainly from the political right. In France, the National Front’s Marine Le Pen stated her plans for restructuring Planning Familial centers (the French equivalent to Planned Parenthood), claiming that abortion had become too comfortable. Nicolas Sarkozy, who’s been trying to pander to the FN voters for a long time, recently suggested that minors need to obtain parental consent before being able to get on the pill.  In England, anti-abortion voices (I refuse to call them pro-life; that’s simply false advertising) have grown stronger and more influential, and they are not falling on deaf ears either. In Germany, a medical insurance company offered financial benefits to those who are members of the anti-abortion organisation Pro Life Deutschland and pledge that they would never have an abortion.

To be fair, all of these examples pale in comparison to  what is happening in the U.S. right now, but they are a reminder that women cannot rest on the laurels of second wave feminism, when these same achievements continue to be under attack. It is very easy to argue that these anti-abortion advances are based on moral and ethical values – and I am the last person to deny that these issues are something we need to negotiate as a society – but as the developments in the U.S. have shown, the underlying motives have little to do with progressive ethics and life choices, and everything to do with religious fundamentalism and reactionary views on family and the role on women.

Fact is, there is a generation of men and women out there that still believes that women should not be allowed to make decisions for themselves or for others. Because abortion and birth control isn’t just about children; it is about women’s ability to participate in society. And it is on our generation to reject this backlash and to prove that there are kinder, more sustainable alternatives that include a women’s right to her physical autonomy. To be clear: fighting for women’s reproductive rights is key, but we should never forget to emphasize the economic and social dimensions as well. Many attempts towards the restriction of abortion are justified with accusations of racism and eugenics without including the bigger picture. We cannot allow for these false accusations to take over the public debate. We need to reject the tampering with symptoms and continue to stress the causes: poverty, precarious labor, structural discrimination, societies hostile towards children and working mothers, austerity and the dismantling of the welfare state, an uncertain future…

On a lighter note: here is a hilarious response to former U.S. presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s anti-abortion campaign, and the termination of said campaign…

Funny or Die: Rick Santorum Aborts Presidential Campaign

“The immigrant body is a gendered body” – The full interview with Flavia Dzodan

Flavia Dzodan is a business developer, writer and public speaker, currently residing in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her writing has been featured in The Guardian’s CIF, xoJane and on Gender Across Borders. She also frequently blogs at Tiger Beatdown and on her own blog Red Light Politics. Her main interest lies in the intersections of race, class and gender in a European context. Flavia was born in Argentina and came to the Netherlands in her twenties, where she has lived ever since. I spoke to her about immigration in Europe, the role of the political parties, and her own experiences and projects. An edited version of this interview was previously published on Gender Across Borders for a series on women and migration.

Henrike Dessaules: How did your own experience of coming to Europe influence your writing and activism?

Flavia Dzodan: For me the biggest shock was to go from being totally unaware of how certain immigration issues play out in Europe, and then to be here and to be labeled by the state as the “Other”. That was my starting point: to try to understand what was going on. A lot of what I write stems from that need to understand and unpack that structure that we see in place across the entire EU. What I’m interested in is unpacking a system where we have one group of dominant culture, which is white (for all intents and purposes, this is a system of whiteness), and you have a system of “Other”, which is the immigrant, the foreigner, the alien. What is happening in the EU since 2001 is that this “Other” is almost always invariably coded as Muslim. This is nonsense, because immigration is not just Muslim, but in order to actually get away without accusations of racism, they use this code word of immigrant, when actually what they mean is Muslim.

HD: Have you noticed a particular change in that over the most recent years?

FD: Very much so. I see it escalating. Every election cycle in Europe this escalates and gets worse, with more aggressive rhetoric, with more outlandish ideas of how immigrants should be treated, and there’s also this obscuring of what really goes on. You probably saw what I wrote about the internment camps where immigrants are kept. Well, all of this is obscured in the media. You don’t get to hear that there are these blatant human rights abuses. So, on the one hand the rhetoric increases, and that is the visible aspect, but in the background the policies that make these human rights abuses legitimate are enacted and passed as legislation. Of course, there is an increase. I would say it started around 2001, but it has only gotten progressively worse. And these people have more legitimacy as well. More mainstream legitimacy. What in the nineties would have been unthinkable, for someone like Jean Marie Le Pen, say, or Geert Wilders, now is a matter of daily occurrence in the media.

HD: How do you think it plays out in particular in the Netherlands?

FD: Well, in the Netherlands we have Geert Wilders. He was one of the pioneers of this movement. He has a genealogy of politicians that came before him, that also peddled his ideas since the late nineties, but he’s the most visible and he was the first across the EU to come up with this rhetoric of hatred and racialized politics. It would be absurd to call him names or to call his supporters names. People usually are very simplistic; they say: ‘These people are dumb and that’s why they follow him.’ That, I’m afraid to say, is very simplistic and not a nuanced analysis. These people have legitimate reasons to feel disenfranchised and to feel left out, and to feel that the system has failed them. Wilders exploits this very legitimate anger by giving them lies. But people are not stupid. It’s not that they believe him because they’re uneducated or they don’t know better. They believe him because for years they haven’t been addressed. Nobody has actually taken the time to listen to what are very legitimate complaints against globalization, against the growth of capitalism, in every sphere of our lives. And how they feel left behind because they cannot consume at the pace that society tells us; that in order to be a full subject, you need to consume: fashion, culture, etc. And his supporters come in general from areas with legitimate poverty indexes, with struggles to find jobs, and that with a model of every-day social life that is no longer what it used to be twenty years ago.

HD: Ironically, I’ve read that the supporters of Marine Le Pen, for example, are primarily from the areas that are further outside of the cities, so where actually there are not that many immigrants at all.

FD: It’s the same with Wilders, exactly the same.

HD: And one argument that always comes up in the immigration debate is this sort of the-boat-is-full rhetoric, that we just can’t have everyone coming. What would you reply to that?

FD: I’d say that it’s a very historically flawed way of looking at what has happened between Europe and the global South for the past 500 years. I mean, let’s not forget the very long, painful and brutal history of colonization of Europe in the countries where all these immigrants come from. So you have a continent that, with very few exceptions, went to these countries and ravaged resources, created a system of dependency, created a system of oppression for entire populations, and these have been perpetrated until not so long ago. In the last 50 to 100 years Europe has decolonized. And now they have these populations who have no access to resources, who have no access to funds, and Europe does not take any responsibility in the creation of these systems, so yes, sure, Europe is full. I’m not going to debate that because I’m not a demographer. […] So let’s grant these arguments some validity. Even if that was true, how do we address this system of inequalities that Europe created in the countries where these people come from? We created a welfare system in the EU across the entire continent on the back of the colonized countries. And now, when these people 50 or 100 years later say “Hey, we also deserve a portion of this pie”, we tell them “Oh, but it’s full”.

HD: So what do you think would need to happen in the near future? What do you think are the most pressing issues at the moment?

FD: I think that the racism in the EU must be addressed. Unless it’s tackled and actually fixed from the root, it’s only going to lead to more problems. I’m not even talking about a comprehensive immigration policy that contemplates all of these issues, which is another necessity. But even before that, I’m talking about something that is urgent and immediate, and that is to address the system of institutionalized racism. I give you another example from the Netherlands: When you look at the statistics of unemployment rates for under 25-year-olds in the Netherlands, for Dutch white natives the rate is at something like 5%. For Moroccan natives under 25 years old, the unemployment rate is at 25%. And for males under 25 of Surinamese origin, which is a former Dutch colony, and it’s mostly an Afro-Caribbean population of mixed heritage, the unemployment rate is at 27%. So when we look at these inequalities, I’m sorry, the only possible explanation is that system of institutionalized racist practices. Unless we address this, unless we tackle the mentality that makes these unemployment statistics possible, I don’t see us fixing anything in the near future.

HD: That’s really interesting, that you mention the unemployment rates for young men. I think, usually migrant women tend to suffer less from unemployment, but they are also in more precarious jobs. Do you think that immigration affects women differently from men?

FD: Of course I do. Especially in Europe there is this sexualization of the immigrant. The immigrant body is a gendered body. The immigrant woman in her visible difference becomes a threat. And of course, because she is the child-bearer, she’s also the one that’s going to bear the brunt of the racist hatred. She gives birth to these children that are taking over “our” society. She is the one that wears the markers of difference, and that is most visible in the case of the Muslim immigrant woman. She obviously doesn’t look like us, and she doesn’t speak like us. So she becomes this embodied threat that the system presents as someone that needs to be saved constantly. And how do European governments treat the immigrant woman? As someone that needs to be rescued from the perils of her own culture. You have the burka debate, you have the birth rates around immigrant families… There is a whole set of coded “issues”, and I say “issues” with huge quotation marks, that are ascribed to immigrant women specifically. They do have another whole set of real issues, of course, I’m not denying that. But, you know, it’s always the woman who carries the burden, because we have to deal with a white savior complex as well. The burka debate is all code to save these women from themselves.

HD: Yes, definitely, and I think that these kinds of arguments are also used more and more these days by the so-called political left, by pandering to ideas about women’s rights and the rights of homosexuals, and by saying that certain immigrant groups reject the ideals of our Western society. Do you think that there is a swing to the left as well with anti-immigrant sentiments?

FD: I want to be completely honest with you: My biggest disappointment in European politics comes from the left. My biggest disappointment. Because from the right I come to expect nothing different. I don’t expect them to change the tune of what they have been saying for the past 60 years, you know. […] But the left, I blame the left collectively. And I put myself in this as well. I’m not pointing fingers, as if I’m not part of the system. We all are. We all live in this society. At the beginning, in the late nineties and early 2000s, especially after the World Trade Center debacle, what the left did was at first not pay attention, so as not to legitimate this racist xenophobia, so they dismissed it as a fad, as something that would eventually go away. That silence actually was counter-productive, because they didn’t resist with the emphasis that is required to oppose these ideologies. These ideologies were left to grow and develop and become more nuanced and more legitimate, and eventually when the left reacted to this, it was too late. So now what do we do? The left  jumps on that bandwagon, to try to steal voters from the right. We don’t have an emphatic and clear opposition from the left, to people like Wilders, to people like Le Pen, or to the variety of xenophobes. The left opposes in principle the very caricature-like expressions of racism, like the neo-Nazis. They are like cartoon characters. It’s easy to oppose them. Who wouldn’t oppose them? And they are also for me the least dangerous threat, because they are so obvious and so blatant, that we can see them coming. And the left opposes that. I’m sorry, that serves little purpose for a structural change in those unemployment rates, in the mentality, in the institutionalized practices of hiring and human resources. And the left does nothing to oppose all of that with a clear and very strict rhetoric of standing against it. And I’m very, very disappointed. I vote here in the Netherlands, of course, and I struggle every election to find a party that represents me.

HD: And after all these years, do you feel like you’re a bit Dutch now, or do you still feel Argentinian?

FD: First and foremost, I’m Hispanic and Latina, and my struggle in terms of my immigration status, in terms of my status as “Other”, is the same as everyone’s from Latin America. We have to bear this burden of a racialized system, where we are constantly “Othered”. I am Argentinian, of course I am. That goes without saying, but I also look at what that means pan-regionally. I write about politics, about policies of immigration, and for me the interesting thing is how the EU creates patterns to racialize and to “Other” groups of people. This is not something I have any hand in, but I am coded as Latin American. And I’m fine with that, I mean, that’s what I am, after all. Am I Dutch? No, no. I love this place; this is home, and this where I live. But I’m never going to be Dutch. This has nothing to do with how I feel. When the state hands me my documents, I am a special category. Even if I acquire the Dutch citizenship, I am coded as foreigner and my children, if they are born, they are also foreigners. And this is a state category. This is not something that I choose. I don’t “Other” myself. The state does that for me. It doesn’t matter how I feel. The state tells me I’m not Dutch. So how I feel is irrelevant here.
[…]

HD: What’s your next big project going to be?

FD: Actually, I’m writing a book about anger. Political anger, to be more precise. Because as women and as feminists, especially when you’re not white in a very white environment, anger is a very scary emotion. You are constantly told that anger is not the way to engage politically. I believe this is counter-productive. There is a whole set of women who have come before me, who have written about this, like Audre Lorde or Sara Ahmed, people who are way more knowledgeable than me on this. I’m not pretending that I am original here. What I’m trying to do, is to write about it in a European context. Because a lot of the things that we have are very much American-centric. And I’m fine with that. I believe that this work that all these women have done before us is very useful as a reference, but we don’t have a history of racialized Europeans within feminism. […] European feminism presents itself as pretty much white. Let me rephrase that: non-racialized. Which, you know, means that it’s white by default. That’s a disservice, because that’s not the reality of what we live or what’s going on. And my approach in the book is to write about anger, and anger in relation to this European way of looking at politics and the politics of engagement.

[…]
HD: Thank you so much.

Debate in Deadlock? – Thoughts on Prostitution

As a woman, and a feminist woman at that, you cannot but take a stance over the issue of prostitution in society. Even though attitudes have shifted over the years, the topic is as current and explosive as it was over a hundred years ago, when feminist associations first started addressing the issue of prostitution.

Prohibition, abolition or regulation?

Today, most European countries reject the American model of prohibition, which criminalizes all forms of sex work, usually to the disadvantage of sex workers, who risk their safety working underground and have no right to social services or benefits.

Many European countries, such as France, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, have all found different legislative approaches to dealing with prostitution through governmental control. They either follow the model of abolitionism, which criminalizes clients (Sweden) or only the third parties benefitting from sex work,  such as pimps and traffickers (France), or they enforce strict regulation through decriminalization (Germany and the Netherlands), which allows for brothels and independent prostitutes to operate as long as they are legally allowed to work and are registered.

While prohibition can be rejected as the least desirable form of legislating prostitution, both abolitionism and regulation have not been able to reach their ultimate goals: to eliminate human trafficking as part of the sex industry and/or to decrease the demand for prostitution in general. I am going to refrain from referring to any particular numbers here, as any study on this topic must be taken with a grain of salt, since getting accurate statistics dealing with borderline illegal subjects is nearly impossible.

Feminists have sometimes aligned themselves with one movement, sometimes with the other, and there has yet to be an established consensus. As feminists, can we allow for the symbolic meaning of making sex work a legitimate business in our society, or should we stop and listen to those directly concerned?

orlan "le baiser de l'artiste" (1977)

Can the subaltern speak?

This debate about prostitution has always generated a lot of hypocrisy and ignorance on all sides, making it a very sensitive topic to discuss, not unlike the ongoing pornography and burqa/veil debates. With delicate issues such as these, which involve legislative and moral decision-making, choosing one positition over another always carries the risk of eventually forming certain alliances with groups one would otherwise consider antagonistic.

As with the burqa debate, I usually feel hesitant to discuss these subjects at all and want to leave it to the ones who are directly affected by this issue – in this case the sex-workers themselves. But as with the burqa debate it is difficult to simply leave it at that, because even those directly involved with the issues may fail to see the greater picture, the wider social implications of their decisions.

Naturally, sex-workers as well as anyone else, will most likely argue their case in a way that is most beneficial to their immediate needs. In the case of prostitution, which is considered a profession, this need is often economic. Why would sex workers argue in favor of the Swedish model, the punishment of their clients, which would inevitably lead to less business? The major demands of sex workers are clear: total decriminalization and the acceptance of sex work as legitimate employment.

sex workers protesting in brussels, 2005

However, it cannot be denied that the voices we hear from sex-workers (in the media, in blogs, at demonstrations) generally represent only a small percentage of all men and women offering sex for money. After all, the voices of most victims of human trafficking remain silent and unheard, as they have to fear violence, loss of anonymity and expulsion. Again, numbers for how many prostitutes work involuntarily are hard to find, and they also force us to define what we mean by “voluntary”.

Prostitution: a job like any other? 

Imagine this scenario: If you could work in an office job or as a sex worker for the same hourly rate, which job would you choose? I am fairly certain, the majority of women would choose the former. I have no data to support this claim; it just seems like common sense, and this is coming from a sex-positive woman who has never found it particularly difficult to engage in sexual acts with men I was only little acquainted to.

However, the decision may get a little more complicated when presented with the choice between scrubbing toilets all day for 6 Euros an hour and having sex with a man for twenty minutes for 50 Euros (that is not a random figure but apparently the established rate for the average Amsterdam sex-worker). The percentage might increase in favor of the latter but only slightly. The problem arises when you look at how a day’s work having sex with strangers pays the rent and even a little more, while offering you flexible working hours, whereas the cleaning job will force you to do another less exciting job on the side, just so you can get by. For many single mothers and migrant women, who come to Western Europe untrained and without speaking the language, this is the only “choice” they have. So much for “voluntary” prostitutes.

After all, prostitution is not a job like any other, regardless of how one feels about sex. The risk of unwanted pregnancies, STIs and physical and emotional violence is immensely high in this type of work, and no governmental regulation, regardless of how scrutinizing it is, will be able to prevent this.

Conclusion

As I have suggested before, economic reasons play almost always a role for why women decide to work as prostitutes. Whether or not Marxist feminists are right in arguing that prostitution is a direct consequence of capitalism may be debatable (and no, I am not opening that can of worms here), but we cannot deny that social measures are the first means to address when talking about eliminating prostitution. To prevent disadvantaged women from exercising the only profession they are able to obtain, seems like a cruel thing to do, especially when other government measures force them into this position. This, however, does not necessarily speak in favor of the regulation model, which still classifies prostitutes as legal and illegal. Therefore I would argue that before we look at prostitution legislation, we need to look at immigration legislation and our social welfare models and ask whether they provide adequate alternatives.

ad campaign by COYOTE, via Sociological Images

However, I am doubtful as to whether there will ever be an ideal solution, for as long as there is a demand for prostitution. I am a strong believer that everyone has a right to sex, but not to have sex with anyone other than oneself. Potential clients of prostitutes, almost exclusively male, will have to ask themselves why they should have the right to buy sex and whether they feel comfortable to do so with women who may or may not be doing it “voluntarily”. Because you can never be 100% sure that you aren’t in fact perpetuating an industry which is inherently violent and exploitative.

As feminists, we can do all sorts of handwringing about what may be the best way to address this issue; in the end it is the men who purchase these services who could have the most impact. We should not let them off the hook by resorting to biological essentialism. There are alternatives to prostitution, because there are alternatives to patriarchy and poverty, but these need to be explored first and foremost before resorting to the curing of symptoms.

Norwegian Psycho? – Anders Behring Breivik as Everyman

I doubt that I need to repeat here the details of the events that happened in Oslo and Utøya last week, when within a couple of hours a car bomb exploded in front of a government building and an assassin shot into a crowd of people participating in a political youth camp on a nearby island. Almost eighty people were killed, many more were injured or pronounced missing.
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During the immediate aftermath, bloggers and activists were quick to point out the premature judgment of some of the biggest news sources in the world, who hastily concluded that Muslim terrorists must have been responsible for these heinous attacks, even though no evidence whatsoever had been released by the police or witnesses. Turns out the perpetrator was a man who goes by the name of Anders Behring Breivik, and whom the New York Times chose to describe as “an ethnic Norwegian, a blond, blue-eyed man” (the statement has since been redacted).
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So, like, the exact opposite of a Muslim, right? Who could have guessed?
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And this aftermath, the media response, is part of the whole tragedy for me: the shock, the disbelief and the defensive demeanor at the fact that a white middle-class European could have done something that we normally attribute to those barbaric, medieval Islamist extremists. Which is why the media tends to describe him as a killer, a mass murderer and a homicidal maniac, but not a terrorist. If we can agree on a basic definition of a terrorist as a radical who commits violent acts for political, ideological or religious reasons in order to provoke fear (terror) in the general public, then Breivik can easily identified as such.
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Thanks to his extensive “legacy” in the shape of a ca. 1500 pages long essay and Youtube videos, we can all find out exactly what his motivations were, just as he intended to, and learn that this man has some very strong convictions and opinions, and he knows how to justify them, too. How strange, then, that the public was quick to condemn him as a sick freak, a lunatic, in short: a social aberration. As though what he believes in, supports and, eventually, killed for was completely ridiculous, crazy, unheard of. Sure, he may not be an historian or political scientist, but he’s no Jared Lee Loughner either. He read his news, some Marx, some Spengler probably, some political commentators and he voiced his opinion on Facebook, on blogs and in forums… In short: He is one of us!
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We may or may not agree with his views (I know I certainly don’t) but we have to understand that this person cannot be dismissed as a crazy obsessive, a social accident. To do so would be dangerous. After all, his views on society are not the product of a madman, they are very common these days, especially in Europe, and they have become perfectly socially acceptable.
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narcissism, megalomania, aggression...

Breivik is in many ways the everyman of today’s Western society, a society in turmoil. Being a white, middle-class heterosexual male he is at the pinnacle of privilege and power, or at least he should be, right? But all he can see are violent and criminal immigrants, reducing the notion of being Norwegian to having a passport, Muslims imposing their habits, even their laws, on him and his nation, and women being STD-carrying sluts when they should be having blond babies. Losing privilege hurts those the most who have the most. Which is why it is mainly those with privilege who can call Breivik’s concerns legitimate, proving once again how “normal” he really is:
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His views regarding immigration and the loss of a nation’s identity are perfectly compatible with a lot of conservative parties in Europe, in fact, with the new far-right movements and political pundits, which have been gaining momentum for a while now. Of course, the owners of the names Breivik drops in his so-called manifest are trying to distance themselves; they have to. It would be outrageous if they didn’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that they share a system of beliefs, one that is inherently racist, often classist and sexist.
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Breivik is also a classic antifeminist, alarmed by society’s “moral decline” and “ladies” who don’t know their place anymore (at home, making babies). He can thus be easily related to the chauvinism and misogyny of Men’s Rights Activists, another fairly recent but increasingly popular “backlash” in Western societies. Add to that some homophobia, the fear of political correctness and anti-progressivism and you have a European version of a Tea-Partier.
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This is not too say that any of these people who share Breivik’s beliefs will end up going on a shooting rampage and bombing government buildings, but fear-mongering can lead to hate which can lead to violence. It doesn’t take a psychopath to do the math, and if it does, we are all potential psychopaths.
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the white male in crisis?