The local election season is upon us in Denmark and – here’s the wild thing – I CAN VOTE. Here’s the other wild thing - there’s a new ‘feminist initiative’ party and I probably won’t vote for it. Being a feminist has been a long standing obvious piece of my political views and personal identity and yet here I am!
I could talk on and on about whether or not it’s important to vote, anarchism, choosing to not engage in broken systems. I respect people who feel this way and don’t vote because of it. I’ve met a lot of them in Denmark and also met a lot of people who hate them / that position with a fiery passion. Simply having the right to vote now means that NOT voting would also be an act. Everything is so much more empowering.
While in Denmark I’ve still voted in the US but democracy in the US and Denmark feels very very different to me. I don’t even really count voting in the US as an act of democracy. We’re too utterly removed from our representatives for me to feel that. In races where the parties are involved there are so few options to choose between ~ it’s really not mental gymnastics for me to pick the lesser of two evils Democrat. Initiatives, city council elections, other local races are actually incredibly confusing and take a lot of energy to research…. But still there’s often a ‘left wing’ and ‘right wing’ side to the issues that I little light googling can illuminate.
It has been eleven years since I voted in a local election that pertains to where I actually live. While in college and since moving to Denmark I’ve been registered at my parents’ address in Everett, Washington. I voted there just weeks after turning 18 in 2006 and then moved away from home seven months later. I AM SO EXCITED!! I can now fully attest to the fact that it is a proper silly idea to not let people vote on things that impact their lives.
Yesterday a new political party had its official launch in Denmark, The Feminist Initiative. There are sister parties in Sweden, Norway, and most recently Finland which gives us some indication of the party’s goals and views on key feminist issues. I wrote to the party’s facebook page today to ask them about their views on sex workers and trans women. After all the TERF (Trans Exclusive Radical Feminists) bullshit of this past spring it’s really reasonable that I have absolutely no faith in self described feminists in Denmark. They do not have a policy on sex workers and say they may not before the election. The sister parties in the other Nordic countries are anti-sex worker… so this is concerning.
In regards to trans issues… they said lukewarm nice things but I’m worried. They said ‘trans women will not be excluded from our party! We accept and recognize everyone exactly how they are!’. On the surface this is a nice thought. Much nicer than ‘we hate some people for who they are’. But there are a couple worrisome notes here. Firstly, ‘accepting’ people isn’t the same as identifying and working against oppressive power structures that exclude some and benefit some. Secondly, if they accept everyone the way they are what about self-described feminists who are hateful of specific minority groups. Again with the waves of TERF hate this spring this is all too present a reality.
One comment was,
“Vi anerkender også, at ikke alle feminister er ens, men det er et fælles mål og projekt vi kæmper for i sidste ende. Derfor vil vi gerne samle feminismen i stedet for at polarisere.’
Translation: “We also recognize that not all feminists are alike, but we still fight for a common cause. We therefore would like to work towards gathering feminists instead of polarising feminists.”
This is some stinky bullshit if you ask me. So so SO many of Denmark’s most well known and politically powerful feminists outright hate trans women and are working to make sure trans women are excluded from feminist spaces. They hate all trans people to be totally clear. So how about gathering these feminists around a common cause? What cause? It’s fishy to me to insist that we all literally have one common cause. What is this mystical cause?
Anyway… I don’t think I would have written to them in the past because I couldn’t vote and I naturally adopted an observer’s position. I love weighing benefits and drawbacks, agonizing over decisions, and I’m not so wild about coming to conclusions - so it’s been a vaguely comfortable position to me. Still, an ultimately frustrating one that I’m happy to abandon! There are probably some seeds of thought about democracy and community in here somewhere. I’ll keep digging!
Thank you for listening and reading along. The election is November 21, 2017!!! I am literally postponing a trip to the US to make sure I’m able to vote… because it has to be in person. For those interested - I’m allowed to vote because I’ve been a legally registered resident of Denmark for over three years. It’s only the local elections. Non-citizens can never vote in national elections. Local elections are the most exciting anyway!!