Slogans of the day: I will not be silent and I will stand by you
Dear gathering – dear “sluts”.
I don’t want to spend the short time I have here to compliment or thank you. You should know that you are fabulous and that I adore you and everything you have been doing the last year.
You are role models, you are encouragement, you are inspiration and you are a provoke. You are a revolution. I can shout out my admiration for you until I lose my voice, but it won’t change anything.
I love you – believe me. But now I’m going to speak about gender based violence as a political subject, what can be done and must be done.
Gender based violence is not a personal tragedy, single incidents or bad luck. It affects individuals – of all genders – but it is first and foremost a social construct – a social tumour.
Gender based violence is a real threat to women on daily basis.
It is the cruellest symptom of gender inequality. It is built on systematic discrimination and has been sheltered with a tacit agreement for centuries.
Gender based violence thrives in a society of dichotomy, where girls and boys are given different roles from early childhood, where femininity is based on properness and passivity and masculinity is based on authority and aggression.
Gender based violence thrives in a society where pornification is not criticised, where the line between sex and violence is unclear, where “rough sex” and “she wanted it” are seen as believable explanations for rape.
Gender based violence thrives in a society of double standards. Where girls are taught to be sexy and cute – but not too sexy or too cute. Slutty, but not sluts.
Gender based violence thrives in a society that discriminates when it comes to capital, power and attention, where men are in majority in parliament, in government and in the justice system.
Gender based violence thrives in a society where the seriousness of a crime is defined from the white, heterosexual men’s perspective.
Gender based violence thrives in a society where victims are silenced, where support and counselling is based on voluntary acts and where pressing charges is assumed to be a bigger crime than the crime itself.
Gender based violence thrives in a society of silence – in a society where every attempt of the victims, their friends and families, activists and politicians to break the silence is actively silenced.
Gender based violence thrives in the shelter of silence.
I will not be silent.
Victims are not silent anymore – it is not enough to whisper, rely on anonym self-help-groups or closed web-groups.
To define the reality from the privileged perspective and live in a blissful ignorance is not an option anymore.
It is time to stop protecting the society from the reality – from itself and the rape culture it has created.
Your revolution has replaced the silence with a loud demand for change, for action, for a better society.
The shelter of silence does not exist anymore. The revolution has commenced – but it is not over. It is our turn, victims, friends, families, activists and politicians, to unite and do what must be done.
The revolution must enter the City hall, it must enter the parliament, the health care system, the justice system, the police, social services and the schools. The revolution must flow through the entire society and make future proved changes.
That’s why we cannot be silent. That’s why we must unite.
Just like gender based violence is not about individuals, the silencing is not about individuals. It is systematic. Gender based violence is a taboo. Victims are supposed to be silent. Politicians are supposed to be silent and focus on different and more important issues. Real politics.
But I will not be silent. I will stand by you.
For me as a politician, those two sentences are intertwined. I will stand by you, by not being silenced.
All the spin-doctors of the world may try to convince you that I hate my son, that I am stupid or incredibly boring. I will not be silent.
All the internet may burst in flames, it’s commentators can condemn me and my opinions. I will not be silent.
People may hate my focus, my actions and my spirit. I will not be silent.
I can take threats and defamation. I will not be silent.
And to those of you who are always telling me to broaden my focus – that politics are about so many other things than feminism. I am so sorry. I will not be silent.
The revolution is personal and the revolution is systematic.
We will not let the patriarchy define politics. Politics are about many different things – but they should all involve feminist perspective.
During the city planning, we must reconsider the focus on tunnels and alleys and focus more on light and security in urban design. That serves people of all genders.
We must ensure participation and visibility of diverse people of all genders in sport, culture and take actions against the gender based stereotypes limiting the choice of people of all genders.
The social service must take the needs and experience of people of all genders into account – and why on earth does people with disabilities have to live with a constant threat of violence while being served in their daily life?
Last but not least, must we teach gender studies throughout the educational system – where children are taught to analyse and be critical towards the written and unwritten roles of the society.
We need to change the world. Together. You started. We – the politicians – must listen. And understand. And act. And if we don’t – you must go crazy. That’s the essence of the grassroots-politics partnership.
The City council has made some improvements – thanks to you. A special council of Violence prevention has been established and its first proposals are almost ready. Our measures against domestic violence have been proven to work and many smaller actions and initiatives have been agreed upon.
We need to do better. We have to change the whole society and deal with small and large things that are all connected.
Different ice-creams for boys and girls. G-string pants for little girls. Sexual messages on children’s clothing, princess and superhero costumes, pop songs praising sexual violence and pornified popstars. Those are not trivial. They are puzzles in a larger picture – a picture of a society that objectifies girls from early childhood.
And when the advice and message from grownups are added to this picture – when girls are told to be compliant and decent, in contrast with the social expectations of them being slutty but not sluts – than the picture is clear.
Picture of a society that objectifies girls from early childhood on, where gender based violence is a non-issue. A picture of a society that makes victims responsible for gender based violence.
This is an ugly picture – and it harms all of us.
Once upon a time, women’s suffrage was considered a utopic dream. Today some might think that the idea of a violence-free society is a utopic dream. That’s nonsense. A violence-free society is a self-evident and normal demand – and we will never give up.
This is a wonderful day – and there is no reason to give up. I am grateful and hopeful. I am grateful for the suffrage, for the hospitals, for the day care system and for the abortion law – the things our ancestresses brought to us. I am hopeful because I am looking at all of you – thousands of young women who will continue the fight for as long as it takes.
Thank you for bothering. Thank you for the revolution. Thank you for the demands, for the provoke, for the encouragement and for the endless power, spirit and energy. Thank you for everything.