'He asked to suck milk from my breasts. He knew I was breastfeeding': Swedish actresses, pop stars and priests reveal harassment as #MeToo campaigns shatter country’s reputation for equality
- #MeToo campaigns have sparked a revolution in Sweden
- Testimonies of harassment in workplaces signed by thousands
- Doctors, actresses, lawyers, priests have all revealed systematic abuse ?
- Campaigns branded the most important thing since women got right to vote
The #MeToo campaign started as a hashtag encouraging women to virtually raise their hand and tell the world that they had been a victim of sexual abuse.
By mid-October it had taken over social media, and Harvey Weinstein had been exposed as a serial abuser, but in Sweden, the campaign would go much further than the entertainment industry.
In a nation that prides itself on being a global leader in gender equality, #MeToo has spawned manifestos revealing sexual harassment in the workplace which have shaken Sweden to the core, and knocked the country slightly off its pedestal.
Campaigner: One of the actresses who signed the #quietaction manifesto detailing horrific abuse on stages and in front of cameras is Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander
Decades of sexual harassment in the workplace has been revealed in campaigns with hashtags such as #withwhatright (lawyers), #standtoattention (military), #deadline (journalism) #technicalfault (tech industry), #lettherebelight (church), #academetoo(academia) and #onourterms (insurance).
The first came in the wake of the Weinstein scandal, an?actress manifesto hashtagged #quietaction signed by more than 700 women - among them Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander, The Bridge's Sofia Helin and Noomi Rapace.
It contained such shocking testimonies as: 'I was going to film a love scene with a 'male genius' actor.?
'While we were rehearsing he asked in a whisper, if he could suck milk from my stiff breasts (he knew that I was breastfeeding at the time) while pushing his erection against me.'
Another reveals: 'I was raped by an actor colleague. When I told a director I was working with about the assault, he jokingly replied, 'Now I'm worried you'll report me for sexual harassment'.'
Signing up: Sofia Helin, who plays Saga Noren in The Bridge, and Noomi Rapace, who has starred in several Hollywood productions, both put their names to the manifesto
And another: 'I admired them so much. Some of the biggest actors. One who played my dad grabbed my neck and tried to shove his tongue into my mouth the first time we met.'
The list of testimonies, first published in daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, caused widespread international shock and outrage, and soon around a dozen others followed.
Among the 2,192 women who signed #whenthemusicdies, first published by Dagens Nyheter, we find international superstars like Zara Larsson, Tove Lo, Robyn and First Aid Kit.
One of the signees details the following incident:?'One music label had signed a kids group with nine to 12-year-olds. When we had a meeting about the band, me and four men in executive positions, one of these men played an upcoming video with the children when he suddenly says: 'they don't have hair on their p****s yet, they have "nice shaved" p****s'.?
Bringing change: The #MeToo campaign has sent shockwaves through Sweden
Another writes about 'the artist and his musicians who - over my head - decided that they were going to have a threesome with me and were sat planning - in my presence - how this would go down and what they were going to do with me'.??
On Thursday, doctors published their 'document' - the biggest one so far under the hashtag #noconfidentiality - with a long list of witness accounts signed by 10,400 women.
The blueprint for these manifestos are the same; stories of sexual harassment and assaults in the workplace have been shared in closed Facebook groups, covering everything from?lewd comments by male colleagues to rape.
Their stories are gathered in one document and signed by hundreds in order to protect the victims' identities, and published in national newspapers.?
The hundreds of testimonies include that of a lawyer who had worked under a district court judge who wanted her to 'pay him back' with oral sex, an engineer who was asked if it wasn't 'nice with a bit of sexual harassment in the work place' as a male colleague grabbed her genitals, and a young doctor who reveals how the surgeon general pressed his erection against her in an elevator.?
Vocal supporter:?Among the 2,192 women working in the music industry who signed #whenthemusicdies, we find international superstars like Zara Larsson and Tove Lo
Journalist Maria Schottenius, former?Cultural Counsellor at the Swedish Embassy in London, says the campaigns are writing history.
Writing for Dagens Nyheter, she states: 'We are now in the middle of the biggest social uprising since the fight for democracy at the last turn of the century'.
She points out that the women signing their names to these documents are from all walks of life, all ages, all classes.
Promising change:?Sweden's Minister of Gender Equality ?sa Regnér says #MeToo is 'not just a women’s issue'
'This massive women's movement is the biggest thing to happen since women won the right to vote'.
A US study from earlier this year found that Sweden is the world's best country for women.?
But the campaigns have forced many Swedes to realise that their view of their country as truly equal does not correspond with the reality.
Sweden's Minister for Gender Equality ?sa Regnér says that #MeToo has become an 'issue for society not just a women’s issue.
‘There are three reasons why #MeToo has had such a huge effect in Sweden.
'Firstly; women are sharing their stories, secondly; women expect - and demand - equality from society and the workplace, and thirdly; all these manifestos have been taken seriously when made public, and that is why they continue and multiply.
The Swedish government is now set to create a new department to deal with equality issues, to ensure that ‘politics really change reality’.
Ms ?Regnér says she is ‘keen for these manifestos to change Sweden’, adding: ‘We are number one in the EU when it comes to gender equality – that is just a fact.
'However, we do have a patriarchal structure like any country and it’s time to discuss masculinity, the male role in society and for men to take part in this discussion.’
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