Wednesday, 24 November 2021

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Trigger Warnings: Racism, Sexism, Violence

Today the 25th of November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. 

Violence against any human is always a product of a complex system of power and inequality, a system, that campaigns like MeToo, BlackLivesMatter and many more have tried to dismantle since years.


I believe in the good in all humans, that most of us want to become better humans and strive for a better world. For me the “woke movement” has been a proof of that: a growing number of people trying to educate themselves about their own privileges, get informed about the basics of intersectional feminism and working on changing their way of speaking to make it more inclusive and a safe space for as many as possible.


However, since last Friday Finland has been buzzing after the scandal on national TV. ( Yle’s Marja Sannikka discussion program where first the whole “woke culture” was questioned after which astronomer Esko Valtaoja used the racist N-word twice in a discussion which left the reporter Renaz Ebrahimi bewildered). It has been very disappointing to watch: both the program itself as well as the media coverage it got afterwards.


Here are a few points of prevailed power structures that have upset me:

  1. Why would you interview two white males (Valtaoja and Tammisalo)about racism, when they never have studied anything to do with racism or with intersectional feminism. This is a very important and difficult subject, where terminology is very important. Why invite people who neither have the terminology nor even personal experience.

  2. Why juxtaposition a person of colour (Ebrahimi), who has a lot of knowledge about racism and intersectional feminism, with a person who has no knowledge in the field and say that “everyone has the right to their opinion”. No, no one has the right to racism or oppression in the name of “free speach”.

  3. The person of colour (Ebrahimi), who rightly was upset of the usage of the N-word, has been portrayed as “aggressive and emotional” by press and many on social media. It is absolutely absurd that the person calling out the racist behaviour is being portrayed as the “agressive” one, and not the one using the racist language (in a calm voice).

  4. The absurd juxtaposition, of a white male (Valtaoja) and white female Sannikka) arguing for “free speach” against a woman of colour (Ebrahimi) who opposes hate speech, has made the internet explode. The outcome has been that: Ebrahimi has received hundreds of death threats and other threats over social media. Sannikka’s program has been cancelled. Valtaoja has been given media coverage by Iltasanomat to tell “his version”.


Here we see usage (and misusage) of power in a nutshell, and the outcome was just an other “textbook example” of how structural oppression works. The person of colour who happened to be a woman had to pay the highest price, although she only called out racism and said it was unacceptable. 


Threat of violence against women is used very actively also today to try shut up women’s voices.


Lets try to change that, together, okay?

© Cecilia Damström 2021