THE ROUTINE


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WAKE UP – Toothbrush, toothpaste, cotton pads, nail polish remover, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, deodorant, body lotion, eye cream, facial moisturizer, keratin treatment, brush, hair dryer, heat resisting spray, hair straightener, Moroccan oil, de-frizz hairspray, primer, large make up brush, foundation, small make up brush, concealer, medium make up brush, blush, mascara, mineral veil, lip balm, hand cream, nail file, cuticle oil, base coat, nail polish, top coat, perfume – LIVE – Cotton pads, eye make up remover, facial cleansing gel, cotton pad, tonic water, cotton ear buds, eye cream, facial moisturizer, lip balm – SLEEP.

And that’s just a regular day.

So add a little extra every now and then:

WAKE UP – Toothbrush, toothpaste, plastic gloves, hair colour, shower cap, body scrub, cotton pads, nail polish remover, shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, shower gel, foot file, deodorant, tampon, body lotion, foot cream, face mask, eye cream, facial moisturizer, keratin treatment, nail clipper, brush, hair dryer, heat resisting spray, hair straightener, Moroccan oil, de-frizz hairspray, primer, large make up brush, foundation, small make up brush, concealer, medium make up brush, blush, eye liner, dark eye shadow, light eye shadow, highlighter, mascara, eye lash curler, mineral veil, lip balm, lip gloss, hand cream, nail file, cuticle oil, base coat, nail polish, top coat, perfume – LIVE – Cotton pads, eye make up remover, facial cleansing gel, face exfoliation, cotton pad, tonic water, cotton ear buds, eye cream, facial moisturizer, sanitary pad, lip balm – SLEEP.

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Put a ring on it! No? Put a rock on it? – The story of engagement and what the Hollywood romcom never told you – PART TWO


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PART TWO 

The engagement is broken – what to do with the ring?!

The quandaries after a break-up can be plentiful. Take for instance the who-gets-to-keep-which-friends, that’s a tough cookie! Batter that up with a long-term relationship, perhaps a good portion of engagement or even a big slab of marriage, and you’ll have yourself quite a cracked biscotti to work yourself through. Luckily I’ve never had to take a bite of that myself, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been close enough to others to smell the dough turning burnt.

Another major quandary post engagement-break-up is what to do with the ring. I promised in my previous post PART ONE with the same title as this, that I would investigate the dos and don’ts with the engagement ring after a break up. Well, it’s quite an ethical question, for yourself and your partner, but perhaps sometimes stretching so far as to include the interest of families and friends. I’d say what to do with the ring all depends on the reason for the break up. I’ll write here from the angle of what I’ve nicknamed a Hollywood engagement, where a man proposed to a woman with a (quite expensive) ring, because this is the version that my very good friend Lady L just found herself breaking up from.

Her partner had, much to everyone’s surprised given the recent circumstances, gone down on one knee and proposed to her with an extraordinarily stunning Bulgari ring, price tag in the ballpark of 3 months’ salary.  Some months down the line they mutually agreed to break the engagement and separate, making it a clean and definitive break up this time around. During half a decade they’d been a couple experiencing a life that had taken them on many roller-coasters. We, their friends, as well as they themselves thought numerous of times that they had gone for their last ride, they even left the amusement park all together a few times, so to speak. But they kept on coming back for more rides, even costly ones such as moving in and out with each other, selling and buying etc. So, this mutually agreed break up from the engagement seems like a healthy way forward for both of them, separately. Now, what does Lady L do with the ring?

She is a lady of good taste and naturally she wants to keep it, because it is indeed dazzling. Though given the nature of the ring, an engagement ring to mark the bond between two partners aimed to marry each other, it is no longer suitable for her to wear it. She even asked me if perhaps it would be OK to continue wearing it, just as an amazing piece of jewellery, perhaps on the opposite hand? I bluntly said no. To me that is just immoral. Had your partner died, and you were left unmarried widowed, then yes, be my guest and continue wearing the symbol of your love. However in her case, after a break up from what had been a relationship full of not only complicated love but also various let downs of each other, continue wearing it is for me a big no-no. I mean, did she say yes to the guy or yes to a diamond clad finger…? But then what good will it do laying around in a box in her vanity? None, naturally.

I suggested a decent thing to do was to return it to her ex, given the non-conflict circumstances under which they separated. It would be a humble gesture and a suitable closure of their shared past. That way the guy could also sell the ring and keep the money for some other future expense. Lady L explained to me that she had indeed implied this option to him and he had insisted she’d keep the ring, saying she was worth it. I’m thinking she’s now locked in quite a quandrum. She’s not giving it back because “she is worth it”, and yet she can’t benefit from that worth by having the value boxed up in a drawer in her new studio apartment (apparently the ring’s value seems to decrease as soon as it left the store, much like a car, given it’s a brand piece). Now her options would be to trade the ring for some liquid asset! Sell it, even though at a decreased value, and do something fun or useful for the cash! Should she?

Selling it would be to let her ex down a bit, wouldn’t it? He meant for her to keep it, no matter what – well maybe not after say a case of infidelity – but almost no matter what. As mentioned in my previous post PART ONE, the ring used to function as insurance for the woman, but this was in the olden days when women were less likely to have an income. Now, Lady L makes good money and doesn’t “need” the cash, at least not more than her ex would. So there’s no “insurance” based reason for her to sell it. And even if she did need the cash, there’s always the, less profitable, option of pawning it until your economy becomes stable again and you could buy it back. Only to put it back in that box. I’m a big believer in thing’s functionality. It clogs my mind having tons of stuff around that doesn’t fill any purpose. The purpose can be pure visual enjoyment, like a beautiful ornament, and that’s fine. But to keep things just for the sake of keeping them, that’s not me. I grew up in a crowded 3-bedroom apartment with my other 7 family members. Nowadays I treasure clear open spaces… So I say, sell it, and turn it into useful money. And, no offense, his wishes are no longer her command. If he truly treasures her, he’ll be happy with whatever decision she makes about the ring. Am I right?

Now, lastly, could you ever throw it away? I mean literary getting rid of it by throwing it out the window, flush it down the toilet, or toss it off the cruise ship? I don’t think I would. We’ve seen it plenty of times in Hollywood romcoms, how a woman is wronged by her man and in desperation dramatically pulls the ring off her finger and throws it far away. Perhaps should I find myself in such an awful situation I would react beyond logic, but today, from where I stand, I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would do something so stupid. The ring is yours, the guy has done something terrible to you and all you wish is that he looses his job and never gets a new one, that he always forgets his pin codes even if he’s issued new ones and that his hard drives always and forever crashes (by the way, vengeance actions inspired by awesome Swedish rapper Timbuktu’s lyrics). So why not also turn that fake intended ring into some well deserved cash and spend it like there’s no tomorrow! Or invest it like there’s an even better tomorrow, without him. Hey, why not take that expensive watch of his and sell it too, and use to money to spoil yourself and people you care about, maybe go out dancing. Sort of like dancing on his grave.

Luckily, my friend Lady L needs to do no such thing. She is still in the blissful quandary of keeping a keepsake or turning it into party.

Put a ring on it! No? Put a rock on it? – The story of engagement and what the Hollywood romcom never told you – PART ONE


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PART ONE

Engagement. Not so easy to wrap your head around. And I am not even talking about Eritrean tribes, Maori society or Maya Indians that some people find oh-so-fascinating. I’m talking straightforward Western ways of getting engaged. Traditionally. As it’s done. As in the movies, with a ring and romance and the anticipated wedding. OK, yeah right. It is totally ambiguous this whole engagement business. And I really think it is, of course, just up to each and one to decide for themselves what they want to make out of it. That is – unless you are more interested in what others think of your engagement than what you yourself want it to be.

Hollywood tells us that all women are highly surprised when their boyfriends ask them to marry them. The girls had never thought the thought and it has never been discussed in the relationships. Ask me and I’d tell you it says something about their lack of conversation ability, and maybe thus their incompatibility for marriage? Anyhow, if the girl is lucky she gets a big expensive diamond ring showing the world she is taken and belongs to one man only. Her partner however is free of earmarks and readily available for any sort of, should I say temporary engagements, up until wedding ceremony when the wedding bands are exchanged. Where I come from however, and indeed in other countries and customs, the game goes a bit the other way around.

Couples in Sweden often make joint plans for an engagement, go look at rings together and set a date for when they are going to exchange the rings – yes, both partners get a ring. Many book a trip abroad or decide to do it on a, for them special place, such as a beach or in a restaurant. The rings are often simple bands in white or yellow gold, and are indeed often sold in combo. In the jewelry boutiques where they still label the rings “for women” and “for men”, the man ring tends to be a bit wider in style and the woman ring sometimes have an added little stone set into the very band, to differentiate them a bit. I haven’t done any actual research before writing this blog post, so alas I’m not updated on the development of gender awareness in the jewelry market. It is my hope however, that we have started to move away from the old women/men divide and that each individual in love can buy the ring they want for themselves and/or for their partner without being advertisement-ly pushed toward one or the other style. Getting engaged this way marks both partners as taken, equally devoted and obliged, and on the day of the wedding, traditionally the bride receives a second ring, which appearance’ could resemble her engagement band, upgraded in stones and value, or be a completely different looking ring, with a stand alone larger stone a la Tiffany’s. At the wedding, traditionally the man doesn’t get his finger decorated a second time. This way, the order is the complete opposite from that in the US.

As much as it’s true that not every woman in the US are completely surprised when their future husband pops the question (indeed many couples do talk about marriage and agree on a shared vision for their future!), it is also true that not every couple in Sweden are completely leveled in their life plans together (there have been known to be a number of surprise proposals even in that egalitarian country…!) Regardless of the order in which it is done, the gesture of giving the woman a ring is traditionally much more meaningful than most people in my generation seem to be aware of. It is two-folded really. The ring symbolizes a certain type of ownership, much like handcuffs on a slave. Yes, a bit shocking but true. We all know in the olden days that women were daughters in their family, under the rule of their father, until the day they got married off and instead became the wife of their husband. This is also further supported by the ceremony where a bride’s father “gives her away” to the groom, where she leaves her father’s name behind to become the Mrs. of her new master, the husband.  Wait, wait, wait – don’t’ tell me off as a man hater just yet. I am not. At all. I am very much into traditions and I’ve had the fortune of being to a number of absolutely wonderful weddings in different countries with people of a variety of traditions and faiths. Including the one just described. I love it all and I can see the beauty in it, and I am the first to say that traditions are alive and breathe and constantly change with the way we live them and recreate them. And what meant something 100 years ago could mean something completely different today. That’s what’s so amazing with culture and traditions. I do think it is interesting though to know and understand the root of a tradition, if not to base any serious decisions from them, then at least to have an amazing thought to ponder upon. I believe people try to do things for a reason, and if you or your partner decide to make your engagement or wedding a certain way, I believe it is desirable to at least know why you are doing it in that certain way. So, just to clarify, I am not a hater of weddings or rings or family building or men in general. I tend to love it all.

A little side note to the walking-down-the-aisle-part: The Swedish way of getting married, traditionally in a church, when Swedes were still Christian, was actually for the bride and groom to walk hand-in-hand together down the aisle to the altar. There could be a flower child preparing the walk for them, or an unmarried bridesmaid, only one, who would help the bride with the bouquet. But the ring would be presented by the priest who would give it to the man to put on the woman’s finger. Ring bearer, best man, grooms men, brides maids, maid of honour and father giving his daughter away are all quite new additions to the traditional Swedish wedding. Today it is also becoming increasingly more popular with the American way of going about the ring business with women receiving, expectantly or not, an extravagant engagement ring, and the couple exchange rings at the wedding. It might be a small IKEA-furnished country far far up in the north, but like the rest of the world it is no stranger to adapting American culture 😉

Back to the meaning of the ring. The second reason to give the woman her wedding ring is because it is her insurance. If her husband would do anything inappropriate causing her to having to leave him, she is guaranteed to set off with at least the value of the ring on her finger. That jewel is hers. Maybe more relevant a couple of generations back than it is today, but the married woman is also more likely to loose her income, perhaps because she becomes a stay-at-home-mom, than the married man is to loose his. As you see here the value of the ring is not only meant to cover that juicy tab you and your girls keep on adding to when ordering in Aperol spritzers whilst verbally puking over the memory of that unfaithful ex-husband. It is also intended to cover all those stay-at-home-years of pension saving loss.

So, ladies, either make sure you get a big solid expensive ring, just in case, or better yet, make sure you make yourself some of your own money so in case, universe forbid, you would have to separate from him you got your own two legs to stand own. Preferably in some kick-ass shoes.

***** Dear reader, if you enjoyed this post, check back for Part Two on the same topic! I’ll be investigating the dos and don’ts with the ring after a break-up. Under what circumstances is it OK to keep it, wear it, bin it or sell it? Or would you hand it back or pawn it…?

Sexuality education – global and local barriers and opportunities


© Lennart Nilsson

© Lennart Nilsson

Despite the crucial element of sexuality education to increase general public health and ensure actual implementation of human rights for all, it is a tremendously controversial topic in many countries around the world. In many cases, the discussions around sex, sexuality and the education of it, are infected by conventional wisdom, traditional believes and society’s norms. Whether sexuality education should exist at all is an opinion often tainted by internal political agendas, historical bonds between nations and religious dominance in the society.

The rationale for sexuality education is manifold. In some developed countries sexuality education is part of the national curriculum and should thus be integrated in formal schooling. Sweden is a prime example of such country where sexuality education is mandatory, the discourse around sex is widely open in society and access to information, clinics and contraceptives is impeccable. Despite this, teachers colleges most often lack in training their students, and thus the quality of sexuality education in schools are highly varied depending on the individual teacher. As a result, sex and sexuality are still often suppressed in society by taboos and stigmas.

In developing countries, sexuality education is often presented under the umbrella of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), encompassing “negative” topics such as sexually transmitted infections (STI) including HIV as well as unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions. Solutions to alleviate these challenges are also presented, such as information about and access to contraceptives, and family planning as well as discussions about change in normative attitudes. Albeit the focus on sexual rights is somewhat neglected when it relates to love, sexual pleasure and gender equality. Instead focus often remains medical, teaching about the body and reproduction, which is a good start for sure!

The traditional target audiences for sexuality education are youth, in particular girls. However, in a majority of developing countries formal schooling is a luxury for the selected few, therefore it is essential to focus on the strengthening of community outreach by social franchising where making use of civil society organisations and local community leaders is important. International NGOs, funded by governments, roll out SRHR projects where they train peers such as commercial sex workers and orphaned street children to pass on their knowledge to children and youth in non-formal settings. This method is highly valuable and it is critical that these peer educators receive adequate training for their assignment.

Some common misconceptions facing teachers of sexuality education is that such education will increase youth’s promiscuous behaviour before marriage and reduce students’ respect for the teacher by whom they are taught. In the development of these discussions worries are also raised regarding contraceptives as the devil, enabling women to be unfaithful to their husbands without any obvious consequences. The teacher or mentor must therefore be highly trained to counter argue such claims. Another aspect to consider in the engagement of sexuality education is the ethical dilemma of conveying “facts” while taking into account the local customs, believes and traditions of your audience. How is this done without patronising the people you are talking with? As an NGO worker, regional frameworks[1], which underline the necessity of objectivity in sexuality education usually, back one up. They state that curricula should be based on scientific facts with correct information about contraceptive methods; should be inclusive of all audiences and not be discriminatory nor underpin any stereotypes.

By only scraping the surface of sexuality education and the role it plays or should play in formal and non-formal educational settings and societies across the globe, I have left out a lot. Some topics I have merely or not at all touched upon, even though they often provide different angles to and contribute to the larger discourse within the realm of sexuality education and SRHR, e.g. lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) sexual identity; homogeneous, heterogeneous and polyamorous relationships; sexual preferences; sexual abstinence; definition of sex; masturbation; abortion and “menstrual regulation’; adults’ rights vs. youth’s rights; sexual violence, honour and rape; age of marriage; laws; infrastructure as means of accessibility to clinics, contraceptives and maternal health.

Ethical barriers and other challenges for sexuality education are many. But the opportunities are also plenty. Sexuality education will help reduce the number of maternal mortalities and will be crucial to reach the Millennium Development Goal 5 of improving maternal health by 2015. With proper training for educators, with cultural sensibility of international NGOs and with relevantly tailored curricula, sexual education is the right tool to increase public health and allow all people to enjoy their human rights.

Only in the past week we have seen important days for all the people on in our world; Nelson Mandela’s passing (5 December), Human Rights Day (10 December) and The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony & Banquet (10 December). Just a few days before that was the annual World aids day (WAD, 1 December) and Christmas with all it’s warmth and prayers for those in need is just around the corner. During this period it is easy to fall into the almost indulgent mode of angelic thinking, patting oneself on the back for sharing an ill person’s story on Facebook or perhaps even donating a gift to a homeless person. That’s all very good, please do continue giving (I know that ALL of my Facebook friends can afford to give $10 to charity once a year. That’s more than $3,000 per year for a good cause! If everyone actually did it.), but also remember; there are homeless people and rape victims and motherless children who all need your help, all year around.


[1] Regional frameworks such as e.g. Mexico City Declaration on Sex Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (2008) and Maputo Plan of Action (2006)

Gula droppar små


Det här med killar och toalettsitsen – ingenting nytt där tänker ni. Jo men faktiskt, jag har två funderingar varav den ena inte ens gäller killarna och hur de tänker eller kanske inte tänker när de inte fäller tillbaka toalettsitsen efter att de har kissat. Så min första fundering rör den mer omfattande diskussionen och missnöjet kring detta, ska vi kalla det fenomen. Diskussionen förs oftast av kvinnor, eftersom det är vi med snippor som sitter ner på toalettsitsen när vi ska kissa för att enklare pricka rätt, medan personer med snopp är de vi pekar ut som förbrytarna i denna toalettritual. Och hur går pratet kring det här då? Enligt mina observationer genom åren ligger snippfolkets eviga irritationen i att de inte vill få en liten kalldusch när de ovaksamt sätter sig ned direkt på toalettstolen, när den något varmare sitsen har fällts upp av tidigare användare. Att låta bara lår möta det kalla porslinet, särskilt nattetid och kanske till och med i februari, när en inte bara är sömndrucken utan också någotsånär i en konstant önskan om att ha kunnat gå i ide ett par månader, är en akut obehaglig känsla. Inte heller vill en ju bli blöt på de stackars bara låren av att sätta sig i kissdroppar efterlämnade av senaste användaren. Kort och gott, när jag ska kissa vill jag sätta mig på en ren och rumstempererad toalett. Majoriteten av snippfolket tycks mena att detta enklast åstadkoms genom att personer med snopp kissar med toalettsitsen uppfälld så att de kan pricka rätt eller fel, och sen på dessa blöta kissdroppar fälla ned sitsen som en fin gest till nästa användare som slipper bli kall och blöt om låren. Ja, så kan det lösas. Men vet ni vad, jag har ett bättre förslag! Om personer med snopp efter att ha lättat på blåsan torkar rent toaletten från spillda kissdroppar så riskerar inte snippfolket att bli kissiga på låren. Och eftersom området kring toalettskålen ändå torkas rent efter snopp-personens besök har det ju mindre betydelse om det är själva toalettringen eller toalettsitsen som det har spillts på och alltså kan personer med snopp låta sitsen vara nedfälld hela tiden och således inte riskera snippfolket att bli kalla om låren. En positiv, och kanske för vissa oanad, följd av denna lösning vore ju också att toaletten hålls ren längre. Om snoppfolket torkar upp sitt kiss som hamnat fel behöver ju ingen användare oroa sig för gammalt intorkat, illaluktande urin under toalettsitsen. För mig känns denna aspekt onekligen uppmuntrande. Så kanske vill tjejer som känner igen sig i att klaga på att killar aldrig fäller ner toalettsitsen efter sig, tänka om i sin diskurs och istället klaga på att killar inte torkar upp sina spillda droppar. Eller om vi tänker positivt, istället för att klaga kan vi alla hjälpas åt att uppmuntra till att torka upp efter oss!

Toaletten

Min andra fundering rör tankegångarna hos de personer som utför de här kissdåden. Om förklaringen till deras agerande vore pur lathet eller ignorans kunde jag förstå fenomenet. Men flera tecken tyder på att så är inte fallet. Hade lathet varit boven hade personer med snopp inte besvärat sig med att fälla upp toalettsitsen över huvud taget. Hade ignorans kring problematiken legat som grund för agerandet hade personer med snopp inte ens kommit på tanken att fälla upp sitsen eftersom det för dem då inte utgjorde ett problem med att kissdroppar föll på toaletten och då per automatik inte heller skapade potentiella offer för kissnedkladdning. Hur går då tankegångarna i den här frågan? Är det en medveten sopa-under-mattan-mentalitet vi ser hos personer med snopp? ”Fäller jag upp sitsen här så kan mina missade droppar döljas när sitsen fälls ned igen och jag slipper torka upp!”? Njea, för att den teorin ska hålla bör ju boven ha för intention att dölja sitt brott genom att själv fälla ned sitsen och inte lämna det jobbet till nästkommande person, potentiellt individ från snippfolket. Finns det andra outforskade orsaker bland folk med snopp till att detta fenomen sker under toalettritualen? Är det en genusfråga där män förväntar sig att kvinnor sköter städjobbet, eller där kvinnor förväntar sig att män är och förblir bångstyriga? Är det en fråga om barnuppfostran där föräldrar och förskolpedagoger bär ansvaret för att lära ut renhållning, hygien och etikett i badrummet? Är det ett invant beteende hos personer med snopp som löper det tillbaka till tiden då gosedjurspälsinklädda toalettsitsar var på modet och det torde ha känts opraktiskt att kissa ner tyget när en enkelt bara kunde fälla upp sitsen och istället låta kisset falla på den bara toalettringen? Är det kanske rentutav ett kulturellt betingat fenomen som inte sträcker sig utanför västvärlden? Det sägs ju att araberna var de som introducerade fontäner i södra Spanien och förespråkade hygien med hjälp av vatten. Ottomanerna höll sig ju rena i sina enorma hamam, något som vi förvisso har tagit efter här i väst med vårt spa, och japanerna spelar ju i en helt annan liga än resten av världen vad gäller toalettbesök. Jisses säger jag bara; vattenstråle fram, vattenstråle bak, stor vattenstråle bak, varm sits, spolningsljud för att dölj pinsamma ljud, doftpustar… Ja de japanska toaletterna kan bli en hel annan story.

Mina två funderingar kvarstår alltså. Hur tänker egentligen dessa personer med snopp och varför ändrar inte snippfolket sina klagomål från bekymmer kring toalettsitsens position till uppmaning om att torka rent? Kanske blir jag en dag upplyst på området och beteenden skiftar, men till dess tänker jag fortsätta göra mina knäböjövningar på gymmet för att palla med att slippa sätta min i dessa gula droppar små.