Helsinki squatters – Naked demo at ESF Sweden

by Milla

this is an email about

s e x i s m  and

[ 1 ] naked demo in ESF Malmö 19th sept, 2008

related to the Helsinki
social centre project
in Finland.

note: “she” is used as a gender neutral
word for third person singular in this text.

i still mark gender with some other words
like “man”, “woman”, “guy”,
gendered personal names etc.

00 000 00 0000 00

[ 1 ]  naked demo in Malmö 19th sept

During the ESF (european social forum) in
Malmö, Sweden a naked demo was performed
at the shadow conference at the activity house
called Utkanten (the Outskirts).

it was seen during a radical assembly
on the topics of:

– Squatting,
– Free spaces,
– Social centres.

It got a lot of good response and
friendly curiosity from the persons
seeing it. A naked female with

“wanting dialogue” painted on one leg
“right to speech” on the other leg
“feminist woman” and a woman’s symbol on her back
and a heart and “peace” on her chest and stomach

plus a quickly scribbled sign (it was very improvised…)

Confronting sexism in the scene.
Banned from helsinki squatting activity.”

this sign was held by the naked feminist
when 2 persons from helsinki
were describing the situation there.

it was a silent confrontation.

another woman witnessing this
took the initiative to add a point to
the agenda

the woman taking care of the agenda points,
asked if it was really necessary,
said that there was a shortage of time

the woman insisted, stating that there
had been a Direct Action blatantly ignored
while presenting the helsinki situation,
and suggested a talk on sexism in a small
group afterwards. especially stressing the
case of sexism in the helsinki squatting scene.

so after the country presentations, there was
a small group of 13 – 14 persons from various
countries sharing experiences in a group
focusing on sexism within the internal structures.

not one single person from the helsinki social
centre project was present. one male from helsinki though.
stating that she had heard a lot about the conflict,
and that there’s more sides to the story.

a woman from another city from finland interrupted
the round with a short comment, stating that it was
a pity that they were not there speaking about their
experience then. (the naked feminist now fully dressed,
used the hand sign for “i agree”.)

another finnish man, said that the problem in finland
is that there is no awareness on what sexism is.
which makes it really hard to confront it.

the naked feminist said that it’s generally really difficult
to speak about anything in finland. the social culture does not
allow conflict or open talks about emotions.

there seemed to be a general agreement on
the difficulty of having these issues taken seriously
and seen as political, in a movement lead by
men (white, ablebodied, heteronormative and so on).

and when the helsinki feminist expressed
great frustration over having to waste all her energy
on bringing attention to these issues amongst
“her own” instead of being able to do something
constructive and creative with the support of the
movement, there was continuous and empathic
“i agree” signs made by another woman.

there was a wish from the naked feminist to
get help with a confrontation // accountability request
// bridge building communication with two males
from the helsinki scene, because of there locally
being very little and very sporadic support, this
gathering would be a nice opportunity of bringing
this marginalized struggle into the mainstream.

the feminist wished for dialogue with a) the
one who had kicked her off a mailing list
and b) another man sending a sexist response to
an international request for solidarity sent out
by the naked feminist as a reaction to the
exclusion from the mailing list.

a man and a woman took on the task of
making an effort towards dialogue with the
persons clearly avoiding // ignoring //
blocking it (for about 8 months now).

the naked feminist could only spot one of these
two men at Utkanten. the man loudly refused any
talks on the issue (another man grabbed the opportunity
to also take an open stand against dialogue).

one of the men offering help in this was just
shaking her head. “it’s insane!”.

the naked feminist (i, the woman writing this)
moved away from Utkanten with a full heart.

it felt great getting support.

what happened afterwards
i still don’t know. i still haven’t been
in contact with the woman and man
helping out in the conflict.

there was some constructive networking
going on. a possibility for an
anti-sexist network !
in finland 🙂

much needed
very important
very political


One Response

  1. […] I don’t know exactly who you were aiming your protests against. You were naked with a sign during x’s and y’s presentation and your friend tried to bloc… I think this conflict hasn’t been about sexism for a long time. And you and I can hardly […]

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