Looking back at the #MeToo movement of autumn 2017

In the autumn of 2017, the #MeToo movement reached Sweden with a force that almost resembled a volcanic eruption. For a couple of weeks, I – and many of my friends and colleagues – felt I was part of a collective mental crusade that completely occupied our minds with lively discussions about testimonies of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. Inspired by the events in the United States, where it all began, public individual testimonies in Sweden were soon followed by organised group manifestos from different occupations, heated debates in newspapers and on TV, and finally statements from politicians, eager to stress the importance of taking the issue seriously. Every other day you could read about yet another famous actor, another politician or another TV personality that had been forced to leave their jobs. And we thought we lived in a paradise of equality.

But of course we already knew that we don’t live in an equal society – not yet. Sexism and discrimination have been part of our daily lives in Sweden, as in many other countries, in spite of all gender equality plans. However, the fascinating thing about #MeToo was that we suddenly seemed to re-evaluate the implicit norms of our society. Discrimination was officially condemned even before #MeToo. Somehow, however, men behaving in a sexist way towards women had been silently tolerated by society as a whole. And now these behavioural patterns have been openly scrutinised and clearly defined as not acceptable. Personally, I embraced #MeToo whole-heartedly, having witnessed and to some extent experienced a great deal of everyday sexism and misuse of power, mostly by men and sometimes by women too, in my own working life. Thanks to the American women who started #MeToo, the world, or rather my perception of the world, has changed a little and I think it will never be the same again.

Naturally, not everybody embraced #MeToo in Sweden. As time went by, more sober voices have repeatedly stressed the importance of keeping up the principles of democracy. People have drawn attention to the danger of judging people in social media without giving them the chance to defend themselves. Others (quite often elderly men with a solid position in society) declared that the whole #MeToo movement was completely exaggerated anyway and that surely, there must be room for some “innocent flirting” in society …

On the whole, however, people with leading positions in society had to react (ministers, principals of universities, schools and hospitals, heads of public service media, newspapers, national theatres and opera houses, and so on). Too many voices had been raised in all those manifestos, including voices for people who were not able to make their own voices heard. Leaders were forced to take the question of sexual harrassment and sexual misconduct very seriously ant to take different kinds of measures in order to sustain already existing laws and guidelines for respectful behaviour at working places, universities, hospitals, schools and even in kindergartens.

So what was this all about? How can we understand the #MeToo movement from a cosmological point of view? Or is it just a temporary debate that will fade away as quickly as it was initiated? Personally, I don’t think so. If we look at these events from the point of view of Martinus’ analyses, we will see that his description of what he calls the two poles of the living being, the masculine pole and the feminine pole, and the transformation of these poles during the journey from animals to real human beings, is an enormous topic that cannot be covered in one blog post only. But when we talked about this to friends who are inspired by Martinus (we recorded three podcast episodes about #MeToo in Swedish), we could quickly establish at least one important aspect: #MeToo is not really a sudden phenomenon. It has to be regarded as part of a long-term development towards more equality and more “likeness” between the sexes.

According to Martinus, all human beings have their roots in the animal kingdom. This means that we once had a primordial identity as “pure” male and female beings at a certain stage in the spiral cycle. This one-poled character, which pays little attention to anything but its own needs, belongs to animals and more primitive human beings. The masculine gender power structure was a natural and necessary part of that epoch. Today, however, this patriarchal behaviour is regarded as out-of-date and negative. Within all human beings, men as well as women, instinctive primitive traits may still be visible and influential. But as a result of the suffering that unselfish and disrespectful actions and thoughts cause in other beings, these primitive sides are slowly being replaced by other, truly humane qualities of love and unselfishness. According to Martinus, the two poles of all human beings are on their way to becoming balanced, and will ultimately reach a double-poled state. Then, in future, we will no longer be regarded as men or women, but only as humans.

But at the moment, everything is in a stage of transformation. While both men and women are undergoing the same general transformation, they have experienced their journey through the spiral cycle with different horizons and different perspectives. These different horizons may explain why women and men sometimes react in different ways, for example when it comes to attitudes towards sexual harassment and sexism in daily life. And even if the development of the secondary pole (the feminine pole in men, and the masculine pole in women) means the development of intellectual, artistic and creative faculties, there are also immature and unbalanced stages of these manifestations. So far, the #MeToo movement had focused mainly (but not only) on men’s harassment of women, which is understandable from a historical perspective, but as everybody knows, sexual harassment and disrespectful behaviour can be found in all kinds of relationships. And it is worth remembering that women too may exercise their mental and physical power in order to abuse others. According to Martinus, both sexes are developing from a primitive, selfish stage towards a stage of universal love, and there are many steps on the way. You can read more about Martinus’ analyses of the pole principle in his Symbol No. 35: The Cosmic Cycle of the Pole Principle

So what happens next? In Sweden, #MeToo has been compared to a volcanic eruption, but will there be any long-term consequences at all? This is of course very difficult to predict in January 2018. But the other day I listened to a debate on the radio about the Swedish movement of 1968, which, among many things, was characterised by left-wing protests against the political establishment, capitalism and what was considered to be a bourgeois way of living, as well as the promotion of women’s rights on the labour market and demands for better daycare. Since this is history today, how could it be relevant to the #MeToo movement of 2017-2018?

What struck me while listening to the debate, was how the 1968 movement was described in completely different ways depending on the political views of the participants and − perhaps − also on their gender. A well-known female journalist, quite young in 1968, talked enthusiastically about the optimism and power of their feminist protests of the time. The women fought for better daycare and higher salaries and more respect in society in general. A now retired, equally well-known Swedish politician from the largest conservative party described those years as people being blinded by a leftist mass hysteria, lacking respect for democratic traditions and just protesting wildly against many things without thinking. The third participant in the debate, a researcher, took a more neutral standpoint and analysed the protests in 1968 as an overall, general reaction from young people against conservative patterns and traditions in society that they experienced as out-of-date and inadequate. Some of the reforms that were the result of the 1968 movement, such as a comprehensive daycare, are now considered important and normal by all political parties.

Consequently, seen from Martinus’ long-term perspective, society is organically evolving towards a better place to live in. When the citizens of a country have reached a more advanced moral stage, they may experience that the norms or habits of their society have become out-of-date. While collective movements and protests may run the risk of simplifying things and want to change everything very quickly, I see such movements as natural signs of a society that needs to adjust its balance in order to meet the needs of its citizens. As far as the #MeToo movement is concerned, I see it as yet another a step towards true equality and respect between the sexes. So let’s go for it, as in the 1970s: Equality, the time is now! 

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