We have arrived in Uppsala!
Actually, we took a bus up here yesterday. So far, we have attended a workshop about the Pussypedia and Dicktionary by RFSU Uppsala, the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education. We have also visited Uppsala University for a lecture by Ann-Sofie Lönngren, PH.D., participated in a presentation by Antidiskrimineringsbyrån, the Anti-Discrimination Bureau in Uppsala, gone Icelandic horseback riding at Agersta Islandshästcenter. Since this post is kind of an amalgamation of everything we have done so far, I’ve decided to elaborate more on each one below so you can read about the events that sound interesting.
Founded in 1933, this non-profit strives to “overcome prejudices, bridge the knowledge gap and improve sexual health, both in Sweden and internationally […t]hrough sex information, education and advocacy” (RFSU.se). We attended a workshop with RFSU about sex education. The pretty awesome thing about sex ed in Sweden is that 1) it’s mandatory 2) RFSU approaches sex not from a biological POV but from an experiential/lifestyle POV 3) RFSU included transsexuality 4) the presenters used as many gender-neutral terms as possible. Needless to say, the workshop was incredibly informative and comprehensive. The one takeaway I will share is that I learned there are different levels of female circumcision relative to how much of the female genitalia is cut away. They really made the space safe for everyone without giving a feeling of “coddling,” which is a very common critique of “safe spaces” and I enjoyed that a lot.
Lecture with Ann-Sofie Lönngren, Ph.D
The content of this lecture included the history of gender studies in Sweden/Scandinavia. I wished there was more of a discussion component (I think I’ve been spoiled by my tiny liberal arts school with discussion-heavy classes), however, a really interesting part though was how literature also played a part in shaping the history of gender studies and norms. Overall, it’s fascinating to hear about how much gender and sexuality studies have evolved over time; there are so many twists and turns that have gotten us here today, and we are still on that journey to “figure it out.”
Anti-Discrimination Bureau in Uppsala
Okay, this has probably been my most favorite event by far. Even though I loved talking about sex and everything related to it with the RFSU group, Anna, the workshop leader at the Bureau, was such a cool human being and they really revealed a part of Sweden I hadn’t been aware of. They outlined the different grounds for discrimination, how discrimination can take place in different settings, and how the Bureau protects undocumented or refugee immigrants while helping fight discrimination. Anna and the Bureau also lead workshops at various workspaces that span a year or more; they strongly stand by the fact that it takes a long-term process to fight discrimination, so a couple one-hour sessions just won’t cut it. The one takeaway I would most share is that discrimination is systemic, meaning we might be instilled with certain perceptions of the world that lead to discriminatory acts. The world might be going through some crazy times right now, but it warms my heart to see such hardworking organizations fight for rights of equal quality for all.
Icelandic Horseback Riding
WOW. Where do I begin? First of all, I have never been horseback riding before so this was terrifying and exciting. The only qualm I have is that they didn’t really walk us through the whole process at the get-go, so I had no idea what to prepare for. Icelandic horses are a lot shorter and sturdier than regular horses so I didn’t feel like I would get an immediate concussion if I fell off my horse. We went on a very long ride through the woods and trotted at certain points, with an instructor at the head of the pack and another at the back. DIS was great with providing each core course a fun activity to do (although I’m sure ours was the coolest). Horseback riding was a nice break from all the events we had and also a good time to unwind/stress out with each other.
Tomorrow, we will be visiting RFSL Uppsala, the LGBTQ+ activist group. We will meet with an alum of DIS to talk about trans life in Uppsala and the Pride Parade put on last fall. These past few weeks have by far been the most unique and I would like to give a quick shout-out to DIS for planning such a diverse curriculum for its students.