Friday, December 15, 2006


It’s what we have been discussing for a long time now – my friends and I. Just recently I learned that there has been waives of women’s movements for over hundred years. Probably earlier as well considering what happened at Knossos way before Jesus was born. Where ever I am, there is always someone who will tell me that they have started thinking about this. Wondering what they can do to help women to obtain equality to men. We are not talking about men and women being the same, but being worth the same, given the same opportunities, strengths from both being valued.

For a group of my friends it’s so important to have this equality, that not being equals is used to offend someone. Kind of like when we where kids and would say “my cousin can beat-up your cousin” (oh if the cousins only knew what we promised they could do!). Now you can hear “I guess equality is more important to me than it is to you” if someone wants to win an argument without valid reasons.

Some things are a non issue to me that seam extremely important to others. We are talking about sharing the cleaning, doing dishes and laundry burden here. I’ve met people who can go on and on how important it is for them that the man does half of everything at home, like they want us to give standing ovations for their contribution to equality because they refuse to do more household chores that their man. What’s the fuss? Why date men who want a maid or are messy in the first place? I’ve never had to give this a thought before. All men in my life (including dad) has seen the benefit of a clean house, dishes and clothes as have I. Granted we have all had different opinions how things should be done or even when, but that’s not a big issue. I’m starting to think that men who are looking to find a maid or don’t know how to clean are not attracted to me. Or/and I don’t get attracted to them. A long time ago I read a book called Women who love too much. I got it from an accounting client who said the book helped him a lot, so the title “women” is not all correct: it’s for everybody who give more than they get. That was a parenthesis. The thing I remember most from that book is how it described all the signals we send out in a first meeting with a new person. Subconsciously. I guess my signals are pretty strong since I haven’t had to deal with the cleaning issue. Lots of other stuff of course! But not cleaning. Or it’s just that I have a higher tolerance level of filth then the guys I date.

The non equality issues I encounter are mostly in the work-environment. I’ve written a post about it as well. Today I got an old article (May 2004) from the Harvard Business Review about Coaching the Alpha Male. They have a section called “What about Alpha Females?” and proceed to tell us that the researchers haven’t found a single woman with all the Alpha Male traits. They conclude this by saying “the corporate environment – and society as a whole – is much less tolerant of these characteristics in women than in men. So, far fewer women with these tendencies ever reach executive positions.” Did I get this correctly: we have built a society where traits generally seen in men are what will bring in the big dough and also what is getting high status? And women are told that they can achieve all this if they just buy into the predominate male way of being. And when they do: the society and the corporate environment do not accept this and will not promote these women into top executives anyway. We have to start thinking “outside of the box” here. Just because it’s been this way for a very long time doesn’t make it right.

What can we do to make a change so that everybody can benefit?

Over a couple of beers with my fellow theatre-students, we where discussing the base-camp metaphor. How in order to climb Mount Everest you need a good base-camp or you’ll never get there. Executives in large corporations have a wife who will make sure the base-camp is working, or they wouldn’t make it to the top. Even one of the Nobel-price winners talked about him benefiting from having a wife while it was harder for her to be a scientist since she didn’t have a wife. Well she was a scientist and worked along side with him, but because she didn’t have a “wife” she did not get the award. Here wife = base camp. The idea is that you do what is best for the unit. There are many examples of switched roles as well, where the woman brings in the dough and the man makes sure the base-camp is working. The CEO of a large Swedish bank is a woman who is married to a younger man from the analytics department in the bank. For them it was more feasible that he stayed home with the kids during the 9months of paid *) parental leave we are entitled to in Sweden. One of my favourite blogers: Mal, speaks about a similar situation. It is a great comfort to me that we have reached this level. We see more and more of this where families make choices which benefit the entire unit and it’s not always the man who has to sacrifice his time with his children. It would of course be nicer if everybody where able to spend more time with their children. What families loose in income, they might gain in not having to pay psychotherapists later on. Penelope Trunk has some thoughts about this as well.

So one of the single guys from the theatre class leans forward and asks me - with hope in his voice - if I’m looking for someone to take care of my base-camp. And
actually: no. I want someone to climb along side with me. I know it’s not possible to reach Mount Everest that way, but that’s ok. With the right person I’d be happy with just a small hill.

If you’ve read all above you realise that I still haven’t been able to tie everything together. What is it that I’m saying? Some things sound contradictory. My thoughts are not in order yet. I do know that we need to work on getting a better place for everybody. More healthy and more productive. Other things than what you see today have to be valued. How do we get there?

*) you only get paid up to a certain level which is far less than she makes as a CEO.


Blogger ~Deb said...

Hmmmmmm…. Now this was very interesting, and yes it tied together well, however I can see how your thoughts flickered to one scenario to the next. This is why I liked the post so much.

In my relationship, the base camp is always kept. Women really messed us up- didn’t they? “Woman’s Rights” and such. This is okay, because women wanted to be more independent and seen as an ‘equal’. But what’s not equal about holding down the fort? Think about it- there is a lot of work in being a wife, mother and keeping the house up. It’s tons of work. I mean, I’ve worked in offices where all I did was sit on my duff and type away. I did nothing. At home, I clean, cook, do laundry, make sure my partner (even though she’s a woman) is fed, made comfortable and basically have her needs met after a hard day’s work.

I work from home part time, so I could do all these things as far as ‘base camp’ goes. And it really depends on the two people involved and the incomes that they earn. I know that in New York, where I live, it’s very difficult to make it on one income, if you want to live comfortably. And then again, you have people who feel the need to have that base comfort. Nothing wrong with it. It can be done.

Anyway, just wanted to put my two cents in this post! I thought it was fascinating- as all your posts are and very thought provoking.

Also, you are the winner for the application & resume that you submitted on my blog. Can you email me which picture you would prefer me to use, and if you still want to be the winning candidate!

I would love to title my next post, "THE SWEDISH NURSE"... :)


8:25 AM  
Blogger ~Deb said...

You can email me at by the way!

8:26 AM  
Anonymous CreoleInDC said...

I'm from the South in the U.S. so I was raised with a mother at home as was my husband. I stayed home for 2.5 years when we first started trying to have a family and when it didn't work out as we wished I went to work part time. Now I'm working more hours and I can honestly say my "base camp" is suffering. I like to take care of the home front and my husband likes it as well...but we'll reach a goal we've set for ourselves quicker if I work outside the home. So now...we live in minor chaos...stacks of mail, dust bunnies under sofas...lots of bulk cooking. LOL. You do what you have to do to survive and have the quality of life you want for your family.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Åsa said...

Deb! What an honor! And how appropriate after this post to be selected the one who will walk around in a sexy nurses outfit…

As for the comments on the post: I’ll answer you Deb and CreoleInDC tomorrow after a good nights rest :-) Thanks for reading!

1:34 PM  
Blogger ~Deb said...

Asa, your congratulatory post is up on my blog! I told everyone what you did when you took care of me...and healed me!

Thanks for being such a wonderful nurse!


8:09 AM  
Blogger Åsa said...

HA HA HA!!! You are so funny Deb! Thanks back at ya!

9:05 AM  
Blogger Steff said...

Hi! I'm stopping by on the advice of Deb. By the way...I LOVE your background :)

I really like what you said about women and men being worth the same. I guess I tend to think of women's lib as women trying to be the same as men. We're not.

I think men and women both bring things to the table. You have to respect and value it all or everyone suffers!

2:41 PM  
Blogger samuru999 said...

Hi Asa
I came over from Deb's place to visit you...congratulations on getting the nurse job!
I was a runner I was quite happy to know Deb considered me for the job!
I know you will take good care of our friend Deb!
She said you brought along a bunch of beautiful Sweedish women...
I could see how that would make Deb's eyes light up!
I had plans to sing her one of my
poems if I had gotten the job!
Maybe she might pick me next time she needs a nurse!
I hope so anyway!

You have a great blog Asa!
I shall visit you again!


3:34 PM  
Anonymous Penelope Trunk said...

Asa, I just love this post. I write about these topics all the time -- for the Boston Globe and in my blog -- but never as poetically as you have done here.

I was supposed to be the one to earn the money in my marriage, and my husband was supposed to stay home with the kids. But what we realized was that it's really sad for one person to only be the money earner and not see the kids. And it's really hard emotionally and socially to stay home with kids all day and not go out in the world and work with adults as well.

So we are still trying to work things out. Still experimenting with roles. And sometimes it's hard, but your post really inspires me to keep going at it.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

There's a lot of stuff here.

I think what we as a society have is a very long hangover from the hunter/gatherer days.

Men are more aggressive. Women are more nurturing. Yes, those are pretty broad assumptions, but it's pretty much true.

And yes, there have been societies where women were the dominant gender. But once humans gained the ability to travel great distances, the more aggressive male-dominated societies won out.

Because, in the battle of the sexes, women have an inherent disadvantage: they are the ones who bear children. It's hard to give battle while nursing.
How could any valkyrie give serious attention to an upcoming battle when there's a runny-nosed toddler tugging at her loincloth?
Oh, not now, honey; mommy's got to vanquish foes.

So men took power and consolidated power. I doubt it was done maliciously; it was just the way things were done.

But now (and by 'now' I mean the last eighty years or so), women have begun to speak up. Advances in medicine and technology have made the woman's job of staying home and making enough babies to keep the family (and the family farm) going another generation obsolete. World War II saw a whole bunch of women enter the workforce, showing that women could do the same job as men. Education made young women wonder why they couldn't be a manager, a CEO, a President.

And men, entrenched in power, resisted. Has any one, any race, any gender, willingly ceded power? Damned few, if any.

But there's headway being made. There has to be. There's too many smart, capable women out there to ignore. Yes, there's still a boy's club, but it's shrinking. The competition's too fierce to care if the best person for a job has a penis or not.

Some time soon there's going to be a tipping point, and the gender of the person looking for a job will, for the most part, not matter at all.

And it will happen soon. Very soon.

We already saw one of the first signs this year, when the CEO of Hewlett Packard was forced to resign amid a scandal, and not one comment was made about her gender.

Yes, when women CEO can fuck something up as bad as a man--that's progress.


7:40 PM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Oh, and another thing...

I think I'm sick, Nurse Åsa.

kaff kaff

Could you put on your nurses uniform and bring me some wine?


7:42 PM  
Blogger Åsa said...

Deb: There is a lot of work involved in being a wife/husband, mother/father and responsible for a clean household. But it’s not paid work. In that aspect I don’t think it’s treated as equal in our culture. What I have seen are women who have been the household caretakers when the children where small, and when the kids grew up, some of these women felt no worth. They became bitter. Humans need stimulation, to solve problems and to feel significant. I don’t have an answer and I’m not saying that one way is wrong. I’m looking for a way where fathers understand their importance to be in their children’s lives, just as mothers more often do, and for women to be “allowed” to develop, use and make money off their skills and traits. Whether they are different or similar to men’s.

A thought: When you do everything to make sure the “fort” is kept, what does your woman bring to the table? Do you still have free time to do nothing on?

CreoleInDC: Dust bunnies! How cute! We call them dust rats in Sweden. I rather have bunnies then rats under my sofa.

A thought: you are an intelligent and ambitious woman. How come both your husband and you think it would be nice if YOU took care of the base camp and not him? Is his job so much more stimulating than the ones you could get?

Steff: Well thank you! I saw that you have great taste in backgrounds as well…
I can’t speak for anyone else, but to me it’s quite obvious that there are some differences between men and women. Some which I happen to enjoy very much come to think about it. The problem is that some things we think are differences are just taught behaviour and a way to control the female population (while we think it’s just how things are). If you visit a couple’s home and it’s quite messy, you probably more often think that SHE is messy than you think it’s his fault that it’s not clean. Or am I presumptuous here?
What can we do to obtain that value for what are our differences?

Margie: I’m sure Deb will pick you the next time. After the fact – she probably will appreciate you singing poems more than the hangover she got from my “nursing” :- )

Penelope Trunk: Thank you so much for reading my post! I read your blog all the time. I think you pinpointed the issue: “it's really sad for one person to only be the money earner and not see the kids. And it's really hard emotionally and socially to stay home with kids all day and not go out in the world and work with adults as well.“. There must be a way to change things so that both can be done. I think some of it comes down to what we as a society value as well.

7:04 AM  
Anonymous CreoleInDC said...

I like the dichotomy of our relationship. Love it actually. I'm an old fashioned kinda gal. I've done the Corporate America thing and to be honest...I was kinda high up on the ladder. But I always knew that once I got married...I'd be primarily a homemaker.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Åsa said...

Balloon Pirate: You said: And men, entrenched in power, resisted. Has any one, any race, any gender, willingly ceded power? Well isn’t this part of the problem though? That power as in physically stronger is what is most valued? In Economics you learn that if a lot of people maximise their marginal utility, it’s much better than if there is a monopoly for example. This goes for productivity as well as for peoples’ well being. So if “a few men” have monopoly of what is power and status, it is not as productive and creative as if basically all of us got to feel that worth. It shouldn’t have to be a power struggle; it should be about making it better for all. I’m not saying that everybody should be top executives, but I am saying that we can re-define what is highly valued. You do know that doing research on deceases that mostly women gets does not have as much status (or funding for that matter) and that most medicines are produced for the male-biology.

It’s tough to discuss this topic and to find solutions. Some will adjust itself as you said; some we will have to work actively on to get a change.

Hmmm… seams like I can get a lot of use out of that nurse’s uniform

Quasar9: Yepp – we had that show with the woman US president. I didn’t see it, but I heard it was good.

So: you want to stay at home with our kids hu? I’m thinking I want to share that responsibility though. But hey! Things could change. Thanks for the offer ;- )

Well Maggie Thatcher wasn’t a sweet old lady if I remember correctly. She was intelligent though. She must have lacked something else. Compassion maybe?

6:09 AM  
Blogger Åsa said...

Hmmm… Where did the comment from Quasar9 go?!

6:16 AM  
Blogger ~Deb said...

Even when I did work a full time job, it was basically paying for the house cleaners, buying take out dinners from restaurants and basically falling asleep before my partner and I could even say 'hi' to one another. I think if it's financially suitable and agreeable to both parties involved, "keeping the fort" is great thing for when your spouse comes home and finds the place sparkling with a great dinner in front of them... But I do think it's important to keep the mind sharp as well as seek things that's desirable in life. Each person's "goals" are much different than anothers. Some people are great at art- but sometimes art doesn't make money. This includes writing, painting or being a musician.

But that's just "me" and what I prefer. Not what I think should take place.

7:04 AM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Firstly, I'm neither condoning nor condemning the male-driven power drive; I'm merely stating it for what it is, and by way of an explanation for how things have gotten the way they are. And it's purely speculation on my part; I claim no insight or expertise on the subject. However, the reigning business model seems to be tailor-made to an alpha-male-centric structure.

Nor am I saying it's the best business model. The 'best' version of something may not be the one that dominates. Thirty years ago, there were two home video formats: VHS and Betamax. In every category, from picture quality, to machine reliability, Betamax was superior. Yet VHS was the dominant tape format. There's lots of factors besides efficiency and quality that come into play in evolution. And that's what we're talking about here, after all.

So, I heartily agree with your statement: It shouldn’t have to be a power struggle; it should be about making it better for all. It is by far the best option for doing buisness and living life.

However, in a battle between 'maknig it better for all,' and the Machiavellian 'make it better for me and mine,' guess which one wins?

And guess which viepoint most tribal, agressive alpha males take?

And as a race, we are genetically predisposed to aquiesce to physical power, and/or aggressive displays that simulate it. Hell, it's what got this asshole of a shitback legacy named Bush elected. Twice.

Until we, as a society, start thinking about what's best not only for us, but for our grandchildren's grandchildren, this will not change.

Now, to bring it all back to the original topic, that's a mighty tall order for anyone, let alone this current group of women who are now becoming CEOs.

But maybe if we make it past the next few generatons, things will change.


12:25 PM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Oh, and just because I'm completely ready to accept women as men's economic, political and social equals, does not in any way change my desire to see you in that nurses outfit.


12:27 PM  
Blogger QUASAR9 said...

Hi Asa, wasn't sure whether you appreciated the link to YouTube, so I thought I'd remove the comment

Glad you weren't offended, and I note above you did read the comment

Not so much that I want to stay at home with the kids, rather than be out Alpha maling it - but as I said if you can earn more than the two of us, or at least more than I - and since Sweden equally pays maternity or paternity pay - I'd be happy to do my bit.

After all if you are prepared to 'carry' them for the first nine months, it would only be fair that I should be be willing to care for them in the first nine months. Though of course I would not be able to breast feed them, but hey neither should you have to do so on 'demand' - lol!

However I understand from Angelina and Madonna that it is much more comfortable to 'adopt' them ready made - no need to go thru all that changing nappies and sleepless nights palava. How do you feel about adoption? - And does Sweden also offer maternity or paternity pasy to adoptees?

4:39 AM  
Blogger QUASAR9 said...

So one of the single guys from the theatre class leans forward and asks me - with hope in his voice - if I’m looking for someone to take care of my base-camp. And actually: no. I want someone to climb along side with me. I know it’s not possible to reach Mount Everest that way, but that’s ok. With the right person I’d be happy with just a small hill.

Hi Asa, Me too! -
And then another hill or two
But hey I'm an older guy, and
yep I like animals too

It was lovely to hear from you

2:54 PM  
Blogger Åsa said...

Deb: Everybody’s goals and basic conditions differ. And I’m not saying there is a right and a wrong way of living life either.

If you read more about the women at Knossos for example, their society valued art a lot. Not the artist per say, but the art (none was signed).

BalloonPirate: Sounds like this should be discussed further. I see a bottle of wine involved for starters... What can be done to help things change? There is a solution within reach – I know it!

Oh and about the nurses outfit: I had a feeling that was the case ;- )

Quasar9: Sweden do offer parental leave if you adopt. So that shouldn’t be a problem! I do like the thought of having my own biological children though. Not the whole nine months of being pregnant and giving birth and all that messy stuff, but to be able to recognise my relatives in another person. We do that all the time with my sister’s girls. They have so many things we recognise from our parents and stuff. (is that selfish?!). Some of the traits we see are probably not innate though, and the adopted child would become someone you recognise as well. (DUH!) Not well explained, but maybe you know what I mean?

Take care!
oh and how much older?...

8:11 AM  
Blogger QUASAR9 said...

Hi Asa,
having children is technically our most selfish act
it is only societies and nations or tribes fighting battles and losing people in wars thought it was selfish - not to have children

On the other hand it is the most natural thing, and boy can it be fun making them. Wanna have a go lol!

I'm a matured wine, not quite as old as Santa, nor Santa's son ...

3:18 PM  

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