The wave quickly grew

Sweden too.

Cissi Wallin was inspired by the explosion of the Harvey Weinstein racket to name a name.

Ms. Wallin had filed a police report in 2011, a few years after she was sexually assaulted, only to see it dismissed within weeks. Now she decided to do something different: She put the name of a well-known columnist for Sweden’s largest left-wing tabloid newspaper on her Instagram page, alongside a statement saying he had drugged and violently raped her in Stockholm more than a decade ago.

Soon more people came forward about the man. I was a co-author of an investigation into his behavior.

And suddenly, just as in the United States, stories of other national figures in the arts and media began pouring forth. About men who had used their professional power and influence to harass or abuse younger, often subordinate women, often at work. About situations in which “everyone knew,” but men viewed as indispensable had been protected by management for years (sometimes the perpetrators were management). In contrast to the situation in the United States, however, the wave quickly grew beyond accusations against the famous and powerful: Tens of thousands of Swedish women have signed a series of appeals in the national press detailing incidents of brutal sexual assault and harassment in almost every professional field, from law, medicine and academia to politics and defense. Committed by Swedish men.

The libertarian crew will say oh no, that’s a witch hunt, that’s infantilizing women, that will never do; all those tens of thousands of women must deal with their own personal harasser or harassers and then Move On. But knowing it happens a lot lets women know they’re not alone in being harassed and they’re not alone in saying it should stop. It’s not weak or infantile to want to know what the truth is and to want fellow resisters in fighting back.

As someone who has lived and worked in both Sweden and the United States, I’ve seen sexual harassment in both places over decades. In my experience, the American workplace is more openly sexualized and flirtatious, a place where women are expected to be open and enthusiastic to advances by men, whether in the form of offers of mentorship that must happen over dinner or as more direct abuses of power.

Sweden, on the other hand, is more cold, correct and asexual on the surface. But give a Swedish man a drink or two after work, and you’ll be surprised how quickly many of them will take out their various frustrations in the form of lewd behavior against women, only to seamlessly go back to voicing egalitarian ideals the next day.


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