Monday, 27 October 2008

Paris vs Stockholm - episode III (fashion, culture, and gender)

I admit that the title to this last part of Paris vs Stockholm sounds very pretentious. Even if I wrote hundreds of pages on these issues - at least the latter two - I would never be able to treat them half as well as they deserve. But hey, this is just a simple blog and then you can write whatever you want without claiming that it's neither complete, nor correct (whatever "correct" is). Though I feel obliged to raise a little warning flag for the presence of the so dangerous prejudices...

The catwalk
It is a fact, and it is known even in Paris - admittedly, it’s among people who have been in Sweden (other French people most probably dont even have an opinion), but still - Stockholm is a catwalk. People are so well dressed, men or women, no exception. Everybody cares. In some ways I like it, in some ways I find it exaggerated ; there must be such a strain to always be just right. In Paris it is not always seen with gentle eyes to be different, in Stockholm that is what everyone strives for - still within the subtle fashion rules – which makes it even harder to be different. At the same time, Stockholm is more forgiving and those who do not fit in are not necessarily considered as extra-terrestrials but just people who seek to expresses themselves.

Then there is the Nordic side of Stockholm. Stockholm isn’t Oslo but it is a town where you can where your Gore Tex-boots with grace on the paved streets, or stuff your things into a Haglöfs Tight and it looks completely right to your tailored jacket. Me like.

We went on cinema a Monday evening; my brother, the previously mentioned friend, and I. We choose a movie that we’d probably not be able to see in San Francisco or Paris. I guess we were right but it is a shame cause I think Paris would need a bit more of Rallybrudar. Anyway, before we chose the movie we thought about a last minute ticket to the opera or a theatre. It all ended up with the statement “in this country you can’t get culture on a Monday evening”.

Women vs woman
This is a vaste subject, I could go on forever (I promise I won’t, it is all another story). Let’s just say that in Sweden I feel like Erika, a woman; a fact about which there have never been any doubts, regardless of the chosen definition of a woman (who wants to mention one?). In France I’m a woman who’s name is Erika.

As a matter of fact, Sweden is known to be a country with a high equality between the sexes, France less so. Erroneously, I thus thought that the French women don't gain their deserved respect. I was wrong, they certainly do, but in a way a Swedish woman would not appreciate. The observant reader has already seen the difference; the French women get respect that the Swedish woman wouldn’t like. A Swedish woman, as far as my experience reaches, seeks to be respected for the person she is, regardless what she's got between her legs (an expression you would not hear a woman say in Paris). To be honoured thanks to our sex would be to be dishonoured as individuals.

Certainly, the Swedish woman declines several advantages when she claims her right to be this individual, and I would actually believe that a French woman coming to Sweden could be somewhat confused facing this situation; maybe even to the point to believe that the Swedes don't honour their women.

Most of my (Swedish) friends with whom I've discussed are happy to refuse the compliments on their appearance in favour of objective respect in the business meeting. I am not saying that the Swedes have already arrived to the point where a woman can turn up in skirt, high heels and perfect make up to such a meeting and have all the attention drawn to her words and not her lookings (and I am tempted to believe that some women use this as a weapon). But at least she can go to this meeting wearing jeans and t-shirt and not being considered less as a woman. "One little baby step at a time, Donkey!"


christina said...

du skriver extremt bra om detta. klarsynt och objektivt och fascinerande.

all min värme,

e said...

nu blir jag nästan generad..lite röd om örsnibben allt. Du är ju proffs, nästan.