From Theory to Praxis: Bringing My GSS Experience Abroad

The most powerful aspect of Gender and Sexuality Studies that I will take with me after this class is how to examine the world intersectionally, through a lens that always includes race, gender, class, and all other factors that vary the experiences of people. I have found myself unable to turn off my critical eye when interacting with people, consuming media, and taking my classes at Davidson. I know that the analytical skills I gained from this class will stay with me as I travel abroad to Stockholm, Sweden for the fall 2017 semester. Sweden has been known internationally for its liberal and open policies in regards to gender parity, sex education, social programs, and government in general. After taking this class, I have seen how many structural and systemic power structures there are that are designed in order to hold down people sexually, politically, and socially and I think it will be interesting to experience a culture that did not form the way the United States did. While abroad, I’m hoping to collect information and learn more about what makes Sweden so different than the United States in hopes of returning and being able to join dialogues about what we as citizens can do in order to make our country a more open and equal environment for all.

In my time aboard, I hope to not only take my classes but also to learn outside the classroom and bring back to the United States the culture lessons that Stockholm teaches me. In my research on Sweden, I have learned that Sweden is considered one of the most progressive countries when its come to women’s rights. Half of Sweden’s government ministers are women and almost half (44%) of their Parliament is female. For my theory to praxis, I would like to look at the differences in the societal and political systems in Sweden as compared to the United States in order to find out why there is such a difference in the power of women in both countries. Although the American and Swedish systems of government are very different, I hope to experience the feeling of tolerance that is so foreign to our country and bring back that experience to America.

I can connect my travel to Sweden with my literature review by examining the differences in the ideas of masculinity in both countries. The problems that plague America, such as rape, police brutality, and domestic violence, are seen in much lower levels in Sweden. I believe it is because, unlike America, there is no institutionalized idea of masculinity that is bred into boys from an early age. The power systems that are at work in the United States and are pushed by our capitalistic, patriarchal societal design place men and women on very different levels, allowing men to feel as though they have a right to women’s and other marginalized people’s bodies. By removing not submitting to this power system, Sweden has been able to stop many of the rampant problems of toxic masculinity still happening in America today.

Works Cited

Edsall, Thomas B. “Why Can’t America Be Sweden?” The New York Times. The New York Times, 29 May 2013. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.

“Sweden and Gender Equality.” Swedish Institute, 21 Nov. 2016. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.