reflections on the WLM event

At Birkbeck on Friday, there was an overview of the Norwegian Women’s Liberation Movement by Hilde Danielsen from Bergen University (Rokkan Centre of Social Research). Her work is part of a bind project that looks at intimacy and autonomy in the construction of the Norwegian feminist, gender roles and masculinity, everyday practices (clothing, interiors, photographs) and issues of private and public. During her presentation some issues of the 1970s magazine Sirene circulated- emphasis was put on the role of magazines and books (US origin mostly and local) for the construction og the Norwegian feminist. The NWLM worked through ‘intimacy’ for ‘autonomy’ and ‘authenticity’-these were the central concepts of the project. I noted down some interesting ‘paroles’ the movement used: “I will be Prime Minister” (it was mentioned that they actually had a woman PM some 6 years after this was first heard), “No to Forced Childbirths”, “No to Motherhood”, “We want to Be on Top”, “No to forced Fucking”. In Norwey the concept of the ‘housewife’ is unknown, instead they use the word ‘house-mother’ which Hilde defined as the woman who has ‘someone else than herself to look after’. At the time, Sirene and other publications called for women to leave the role of the housemother and this icon functioned as a class-unifier (though the class system is considerably different to the UK one). Paid work was the solution. The other idea central to the norwegian feminist identity was sexual pleasure- the sleeping beauty metaphor was used by magazines and groups. I jotted down this phrase from Kvinnenfront: “…clitorises in a Sleeping Beauty state of sleep due to lack oftouching and stimulus”. Publications like ‘OurBodies Ourselves’ were remade totally from scratch for the norwegian context. The talk ended with the thought that this unified collective identity of the 1970s norwegian feminist may have played a role in the individualization of the 80s movement.


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