Student Blogger Sophie just returned from three days in Gothenburg, Sweden, diving into discussions within her Gender & Sexuality Studies course. Read on for the most memorable moments of her trip!
After spending three days of my Core Course Week in Gothenburg, I can definitely see why people say that Sweden is one of the best places to study gender and sexuality studies. We had several academic visits that revolved around this topic in a Scandinavian perspective, and two visits stuck out in my mind that left me wanting to dive into the subject even further.
Our professor described Sweden as a “feminist and LGBTQ Utopia,” and that the way they established this was through their political activism. We were able to see this first-hand when we met with the Feministickt Initiativ, a feminist political party of Sweden. The party was formed in 2005, and since then has elected officials in government and developed their own institution. The forces of the Feministickt Initiativ party were at work long before the party formed, however, existing before 2005 as a pressure group that worked to get their initiatives pushed through into law by other parties and politicians and through certain institutions and unions. The Feministickt Initiativ worked to change systems from within, as opposed to working in opposition of said systems, and for this reason, they have been able to maintain the rights and equalities of women and LGBTQ individuals in Sweden through those institutionalized methods.
SFQ Göteborg is an example of an organization we met with in Sweden, and one that the Feministickt Initiativ worked with. This organization primarily works with transgender women as well as lesbian, bisexual, and queer young women. The really interesting thing about this organization however, is its national presence — with executive boards throughout the country and over 60 full time staff members — which are all supported by the national government of Sweden. This organization is a perfect example of the way in which the feminist and political activism that took place in Sweden in the 70s and 80s not only affected the past, but is still institutionalized in the present. This enables an organization that supports LGBTQ youth to be government funded and prosperous through that funding.
It was amazing to not only be able to study gender and sexuality in Sweden, but to see and learn the ways in which gender and sexuality were manifested and institutionalized around me while I was there.