The Joys of Being a Woman in Norway


“This year my colleague did something really bitchy to us: she got pregnant” says the guy sitting across the dinner table in my French New Year’s Eve 2014. I almost choked on my slice of camembert. I’ve been living in Norway for 4 years and never have I ever heard such negative comments associated with pregnancy. “She left for 3 months on maternity leave. I mean seriously! And then you wonder why employers don’t want to hire women in their 30’s”. This did not seem to shock anyone around the dinner table, including a guy with his baby son in his arms and my 8-month pregnant friend.

“She just leaves us like that, and then what are we supposed to do?”. I suggested a shy “Replace her until she comes back?” (I know, I have such revolutionary ideas sometimes). And I added that in my Norwegian office, at least one person goes on a parental leave every year, and for much more than 3 months. The person is replaced and comes back after the leave and everything goes quite smoothly. And, as both women AND men take a leave, employers can’t think while hiring someone that women are more likely to take a leave as both parents will take one anyway. This sounded very foreign, and not at all as a practical solution to him.

“But it takes time and energy to replace someone, the guy adds. She should have warned us that she was trying to get pregnant so we would have time to plan for this. It was quite unprofessional of her”. I can only imagine the solution to this “unprofessionalism”: an update at staff meetings where women report on a monthly basis whether they are planning on getting pregnant, the date of their last periods and an ultrasound picture if necessary. Now my turn to say…seriously?

Before living in Norway, and previously in Denmark, I had never really realised how bad it is to be a woman outside of Scandinavia. Of course I was experiencing sexism on a daily basis in France. Whether it was at work (I had a student job in a bakery) where my boss was making comments about how he had the same “éclair au café” in his pants if I was ever interested in seeing it. In the metro, where I had to make sure I wasn’t touching any man around because I had found myself several times with men taking an accidental light touch as an invitation to put their hand on my bum or even between my legs. You can imagine how hard it is to figure out whose hand it was when you are in a Parisian metro totally packed. When going out at night, I had to re-think what to wear depending on whether I would walk home alone later that night. Then I could not wear a skirt or a dress, because I would then be “asking for it”. I thought about all this on a daily basis without realising how much space it was taking, and that it doesn’t have to be this way.

“Men are just like that, they can’t help it” is the common mantra one hears regularly when discussing daily sexism in France. They have “needs” women don’t have (hum). Being attracted to a person walking passed you in the street or a colleague is one thing, but showing it with whistling or kissing sounds, insults, or jokes about your breasts is something quite different. In France this happens even in Parliement where female MPs are regularly harassed. Last year a female MP was hushed because wearing a dress, and another one, this year, had to go through her speech with chicken sounds made by another (male) MP.

Strangely enough in Norway no one seems to accept such attitude, whether it is in the street, at work or in politics. Men seem to actually respect women, and those who don’t get huge social blame for it. Colleagues look at you in the eyes, not in the breasts, and female co-workers are considered as equals, not as coffee and photocopy machines. My first day at work in my Norwegian job my boss even asked for my opinion. As it was the first time in my working life that had happened, I looked around to make sure he was actually talking to me. Even when I go out I don’t consider anymore what to wear depending on whether I will walk home alone. Sexism has stopped colonizing my everyday thoughts.

Of course most French or other non-Scandinavian men also respect women, but it is so socially accepted not to that the situation becomes unbearable. Women aren’t always the ones criticizing this situation. Like my 8-month pregnant friend, in the same dinner, who thought it was a normal reaction for her employer not to renew her contract when learning about her pregnancy. Laws exist but are rarely followed, and sexist comments are “jokes” that women like me don’t laugh at because of a lack of sense of humour.
I know that the other way around, there is also everyday sexism in Norway, as well as late night rapes and domestic violence. But we are talking about a completely different league here.

No matter how much I love my country, I realise now I am not ready to leave the joys of being a woman in Norway for any lower equality standard (that probably means I can never move away from this country). I want to continue seeing my male colleagues leave work early to pick up their kids, and hear only congratulations when a colleague is pregnant. I am not really sure what happened here for Vikings to become equality champions where men take months off to push their kids prams, but it all sounds good to me. I respect all of those, women and men, who fought and continue to fight for gender equality in Norway. If you aren’t sure how good this is, take a plane. I can tell you you have come a long way and I am so glad to be part of it!

This blogpost was translated and published in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten under the title De likestilte vikingene. on the 12th of January 2014.

A Frog in the Fjord: One Year in Norway Book

208 thoughts on “The Joys of Being a Woman in Norway

  1. I think the strong sense of community among Norwegians (and Scandinavians) is one of the things that makes us accept these long maternity/paternity leaves, our high economic unemployment compensation rates, our free health service and schools – we think it’s worth looking out for each other and willingly pay for that through our taxes. This is also the reason that I, and many others, are genuinely offended when somebody abuse the trust and get money that they are not entitled to. I hope that we are able to continue to compensate people for having children, we need all the kids we can get 🙂

    As for the whole woman/man equality thing – being equal is a given, on all arenas.

  2. Great post with very interesting comments. Nobody can replace me as a human being, but my job can be taken care of by any competent person. It will not be done in the same way I do it, but it can still be done. In a society, caring for children is job number one. It is a ridiculous idea that this is a strictly personal matter. Demand more of your political systems to ensure a fair treatment.

  3. Reading your article in Aftenposten made me laugh and at the same time reminded (if necessary) of how right I was when I, French by birth, applied for the Norwegian citizenship in 1987 and got it! I am so proud of being a Norwegian, because, while not being perfect, at least the Norwegian society takes care of its people and its women in particular! That’s something (among many others) that the country of Descartes still has to learn!! Thanks for the article!
    And by the way I am a man! 🙂

  4. I live in Norway for over 8 years now. I hold a Master degree from a Norwegian university and the last two years I work in academia, with contract-based jobs as a research assistant. I am pregnant with my second child, and at late November our research project leader (external partner) denied to DISCUSS the renewal of my temporally contract for the new year (2 months into 2014, due day last days of Mars). They denied to give any further explanations and clearly send the message to look for new job! Result was to end up with bleeding in the hospital due to stress and get sick permission until the day of birth. I will not do any action against anyone as I do risk my future academic carrier and a possible PhD position (very tiny academic area).
    What I want to point here is that Norway has all the laws and regulations to protect it’s workers, but sometimes even at the public sector “monkey business” are possible specially towards employs that do not hold a permanent position or even have a stronger influence in the projects or in the working environment.

    1. If you are a member of a union (Forskerforbundet or similar) they should help you follow this up. It sounds unlawful and should not stand! I am not all that surprised, however, as there are still a lot of problems with temporary contracts especially in academia.

      1. Yep, this is a well-known gap in the system: young researchers/academics are ofte stuck in temp positions/projects for years and years, and thus they often miss out on maternity/paternity benefits like you describe here, partly because of dickhead bosses. Needs fixing.

      2. My union (not Forskerforbundet) is build up to protect the rights of “us” in the business world, not academia unfortunately. I have been advised from my supervisors and “protectors” in the work, not to spend my time further with this projects, enjoy my last part of my complicate pregnancy (paid by NAV) and let them work the plan B (aka a more permanent position or PhD) for me the months I am out with permission. Luckily I do not miss any permission rights or money, but still the insecurity of the future and the bad treatment from specific “wanna be” bosses has make that pregnancy even harder :s

  5. I know a lot less about France than I thought! Thank you for sharing! Norwegians don’t really know how well off we are. It’s nice to get a reminder now and again. 🙂 I can’t imagine going back to work after only 3 months… I thought 7 months were too short after given birth to my second child.. (I had 12 months leave with my first born).

  6. I’m not sure this speaks as highly as Norway as it does poorly of France.I’m horrified by your French experience and certainly would never expect such poor treatment in a European country.I’ve lived in Norway and other European countries as well as Australia and have never heard something so appalling.

    1. I’m not sure about that. I’m from Australia and I would put the country as somewhere between the two. Not *quite* as accepting of street harassment as France, but unfortunately the things discussed here aren’t completely out of the question in many circles in Australia either.

  7. Dommage que cet article ne soit pas traduit en francais, il y a malheureusement beaucoup de vrai dans tes propos. Tres bon article, merci!

  8. Veldig bra det du skrev om likestilling. Har selv bodd i Frankrike, og har opplevd de tingene du skriver om der. (sextrakassering) Forstår veldig godt at du liker deg her! 🙂 (Er jo litt partisk her, da, he, he-siden jeg er norsk ). Men det er klart at vi har kommet veldig langt på likestillingsfronten. (Likevel gjenstår det nok en del.) Nå gleder jeg meg til å lese mer på bloggen din – den virker artig og interessant.

    Det jeg synes Norge ikke har, er mat- og vinkultur (selv om det er trendy å lage mat, like gourmetmat, osv akkurat nå for tiden – og helst i storbyene) . Der har vi mye å lære av Frankrike.

  9. congratulations for your beautiful words.
    When I was reading I remember My Country Mozambique, now days it possible to see man to pick up their kids, and this was a big job that This amazing woman ALICE MABOTE work hard to win and change men’mind.
    we shall overcome one day.

  10. HI Lou

    Nice blog, def’n’tly … But I’m sure can see from some of the comments, especially the ones in Aftenposten, that we have our share as well … 😉

    It’s interesting though as we have currently a discussion going on in some of our papers about everyday-sexism, some people still think there is so much of it here in Norway 😛

    Generally it’s always nice to get outside views on ourselves, guess you’ve seen that we have our “sides” as well. 😀

    I’d also like to comment on that Viking stuff, it’s true that women had a right to divorce if she was treated badly, there were exact on how to go about it..
    Always as some states, while men were out fishing, the women ruled at home.
    And on the countryside in the inland, the women kept the keys, yes, among them the key to cupboard where the liqour were stored.

    Much of those old times values and rights can be found in various extracts from a book called “The Kings-mirror” (Kongspeilet), that gives an insight in the Birka-code, which was the ruling set of living in Scandinavia back in time. Birka is named after an island called Bjarkøya (Birch Island) that I think is located in one of the greater Swedish lakes …

    Keep up the blog – Bonne chance !

  11. Hello. I just read your article in aftenposten, and it really made me think. I am a norvegian girl living in France where i study law. And everyday i experience being looked upon as a feminist, just because i am for equality. As you we’ll wrote ‘egalité’ is more or less the customs in Norway. I experience everyday as a battle. This is now becoming so disturbing, that I don’t wish to spend my life here. I am so glad to hear that someone out there in the opposite situation confirms that there is indeed a difference between Norway and France, and that you appreciate being a woman in Norway

  12. I am French, been married happy to Norwegian lady for 14 years, lived in Norway for 7 years now, have two kids together. Honestly the general description of both countries sounds familiar and holds some truth. But you make generalities of single cases taking the worst of what you have met in France and the best of what you experienced in Norway. This is clearly exaggerated both ways. But of course it makes it more sensational. Making general statement out of single experiences without using statistics, more detailed studies or references than your own and therefore biased experience to draw conclusions insulting an entire country and it’s people is a bit sad (you must be French then…). The worst is that it holds some truth and hence gives credibility to your general statement. It really hurts to see the comments your article generates which are either self satisfactory about Norway or horrified about France. Norway is a great place, France is not so bad either. Maybe you should just pick-up your French friends better…and travel a bit more rather staying in one place to see that drawing conclusions on people and cultures based on personal experience is not a proof, just an experience…

    1. This comming from a french MAN!! what would you know about not being treated as an equal in France. And why would you critizise this bloggers opinion not being based on statistics.. This is a blog you know …. Not SSB. writing about experiences it’s what’s making it a blog. But indeed you are right about proofs.. Next time let’s ask this blogger to take pictures of people grabbing her ass, and record discriminating sayings. That will surely make her more ‘credible’

      1. Another JF, also French, female this time – and with a face. It seems that this discussion is degenerating. There is nothing wrong in telling about own experiences. Lou Déguin does it very well. The problem is when people interpret experiences as a truth. I have personally not experienced any discrimination of the kind Lou tells about – neither in France nor in Norway. It is true that France has several examples of discrimination at top political level – nothing to be proud of. It is true that women in France do not benefit of a long parental leave. However I would not say that the French social system is worse. Priorities are different. For instance, a person with a cancer does not need to wait for an operation in France.
        Back to gender equality, there are also French cases Norway can look at: much more women work with technology in France than in Norway. They dare to chose in an “untraditional way” and they contribute to shape a society that is highly dependent on technology. And this is valuable for gender equality.

      2. Dear lbe026,
        First of all let me say that your answer sounds rather agressive. Yes it is a blog as you mention, with a commentary field at the bottom. I assume it is not meant only for comments agreeing with the article. I never asked for proof of her personal experience, so, no thank you I don’t need pictures I trust this experience and akcnowledge that it is unfortunately happening in France and probably much more than in Norway. What I regret is that the article is turned in such a way that it makes it look usual and hence shed a very bad ligth on all the men living in France. You cannot deny that the article is quite categorical and makes general conclusions.
        It is funny however that you mention being touched by strangers in inapropriate locations. It has been my own experience here in Norway, at two occasions ladies I didn’t know did “grabbed my ass” as you say (in nigth clubs, but nevertheless). I also witnessed at work a Norwegian secretary grabing the bottom of one of my male colleague without it raising any kind of mild indignation except among foreigners. At a company party I witnessed another lady taking off the belt of another colleague without really asking any kind of permission or even latent consent.The most funny thing is that the acceptability of this behaviour was feeling very similar to the one you would have found in France in the opposite way 20 years ago (doing it at work today would grant you a serious warning or worse even in France). This kind of attitude is of course inapropriate and disrespectfull in my opinion. However, I would never make it a general case saying that “In Norway women grab the bottom of men”. These were the actions of individuals that misbehaved but certainly don’t represent an average. There is a way to make generalities, and yes, it is by doing studies and have statistical representativity. I am sorry but it is the basis to describe a society. And this article is turned in such a fashion that it makes a generality without ground (I am not even discussing if the generality is rigth or not, but considering how insulting it is, the minimum is to show some kind of representative evidence). This is all I meant.


        A French man who has as much as a women the rigth to have an opinion on man/women relations

        PS: I work in oil and gas engineering, not supposed to be the less educated environment. And no, I didn’t take take pictures to prove it 🙂

      3. Jacqueline, people in Norway with cancer don’t wait for operations either. That’s not how triage works. Even in Australia where our public health system is significantly less well-resourced than Norway you don’t wait for cancer treatment. You may wait for non-urgent treatments such as a hip replacement – and don’t get me wrong, that can seriously impact your overall health and quality of life – but you don’t wait for cancer treatment.

    2. I was surprised to read this post, because I always thought France had a well-developed welfare system and a lot of focus on employee rights and benefits. I guess I have that impression from all the major strikes that France has had, as well as from Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko”.

      I agree that there are some smug Norwegians commenting here, but not all comments about the Norwegian welfare system are out of self-satisfaction. I know that I personally didn’t create the welfare system we have and can’t take any credit for its existence, so I don’t see that I have any reason to feel neither smug nor proud about it. But I do feel a need to point out that it’s a system with a lot of advantages, and those who don’t understand it (because they’ve grown up in a completely different universe) shouldn’t dismiss it as theft from the hard-working people, and/or charity for the poor, lazy, and immoral, as they often do. That is very misunderstood. I also wanted to point out that parents taking out parental leave isn’t a disaster for the business owner, if you have the right attitude towards dealing with it.

      1. Just expressing keen support of your observation that Michael Moore’s movies are indeed an insufficient source of one’s worldview 😉

    3. Sorry … you’re a french MAN … you can’t realy realise what french women have to live every day ! Sorry i prefer continue in french . C’est aussi ça le probleme en France : les hommes qui se tiennent correctement n’arrivent pas a imaginer ou croire ce dont sont capables leur con-citoyens ! Le harcèlement de rue est malheureusement le lot quotidien de chaque femme habitant une grande ville . Les mains qui frôlent les fesses les clins d’oeil les accostages à deux francs suivis d insultes parce que tu n’as pas voulu donner ton numéro ou suivre le mec pour prendre un café . Je pense que lorsque les hommes “corrects ,prendront au serieux nos doléances les autres hommes se sentiront un peu plus obligés de faire un certain effort . Bref … c’est pas demain la veille lol ! Allez sans rancune 🙂

  13. Can’t the benefit for much of this be attributed to social democratic government policies which incentivise employer behavior and even parental behavior?

  14. I’m from the US, and I find this to be really sad. Over here, women only get 6 weeks maternity leave, and it doesn’t have to be paid, though most companies do pay. Some companies grant men 2 weeks paternity leave, but that is much more rare. 3 months for both would be amazing! Replacing someone for 6 weeks probably sucks, since most people would want longer employment, but 3 months? That shouldn’t cause a problem on the new persons end. However, to say that there isn’t time to prepare for that is just ridiculous! A women is generally pregnant for 9 months, and most know before 4 months, and usually by 2. That leaves 5-7 months to hire/train a new employee, if the women reports the pregnancy (which they most definitely should). I think that’s plenty of time.
    In the US, hiring/contract decisions cannot discriminate against age/sex/race/etc (though it undoubtably still happens). Also, it is considered invasive to ask questions about pregnancy planning, periods, and whatnot. I recall a few years ago a company came under fire because during random drug testing, they were also checking to see if their female employees were pregnant. And they told the women after the fact, which quite surprised some that didn’t know they were yet!
    Pregnancy should never be considered a burden for women anywhere! It’s a blessing, not a curse, and frankly it’s nobody’s business besides the parents.
    I’m not even going to touch on your experiences in France. That’s just terrible and I hope you never have to experience that again.

    1. There’s actually a short (49 weeks/100% salery) and a log (59 weeks/80% salery) term paid leave that parents chose from. And if you are expecting twins or more you get 10 weeks more. (59 weeks/69 weeks etc..)
      And the law says that you have to go on maternity-leave no later than 3 weeks before the baby is due. Fore safety reasons. So in reality you get 46/56 weeks with the baby.
      The funny thing is that it usually is easier to find a long term temp, than a short term one.

  15. I read your article in Aftenposten and found it to be excellent reading ! 🙂
    I moved to France for a year when I was 19 to go to university, and to be quite frank, I found the first months there quite unsettling. I experienced a lot of sexism, men whistling, making kissing sounds, trying to touch me in the street or on the tram, making rude suggestions etc. I even had a 16 year old guy telling me off on the tram for wearing jeans which were ripped on the knees, whilst touching my knees through the holes.

    For me it was a complete change, having never been shouted/or whistled at in the street before. At some point I almost felt like not going out in public anymore, or at least like wearing trousers and turtle-neck sweaters most of the time.

    Not that it put me off France, though. I am currently doing a French Law degree, and hopefully I will be moving back next year. I just think it is a shame, that some men think they can treat women like that. Don’t get me wrong, I have met plenty of nice french guys, and I know they are not all like that.

    I asked one of my french friends about this, and she said that I should not have taken it so seriously, as they were only ‘flirting’. Of course its nice to feel like men finds one attractive, but I think a lot of behaviour like that feels more like harassment, especially when one makes it clear that it is very much unwanted behaviour. The whole argument that ‘its just because you are a woman without a sense of humour’ is just ridicules, why anyone would find it funny having strange men grabbing ones arm and making rude suggestions in a dark street late at night is a mystery to me.

    1. I am French and feel exactly the same as you. It felt so good to move to another country and leave this behind me.
      It usually gets better when you get older, though!

  16. Women has always had a great deal of respect in scandinavian culture. Even back in the viking days. Scandinavian women were shown must more respect and freedom then women from other parts of the world at that time.

    For over 1000 years women in scandinavia has been seen as partners not “something that belongs to you”.

    “women were respected in Norse society and had great freedom, especially when compared to other European societies of that era.
    -They managed the finances of the family.
    -They ran the farm in their husband’s absence.
    -In widowhood, they could be rich and important landowners.
    -The law protected women from a wide range of unwanted attention. Grágás (K 155) lists penalties for offences ranging from kissing to intercourse. ”

    Source: “”

  17. What I find really interesting about this comment field is seeing all the Norwegian men defending the paternity leave. That should speak for itself.
    Also, having both parents home creates a more equal society, and is healthy for the entire family.

    “The study, which will be presented to a conference in Melbourne next month, also found that children whose fathers were more involved did better in their early years, had greater cognitive development and better school readiness at ages four and five.”

    Read more:

  18. En av mine kollegaer (over 60) har hva vi kaller “senil dager”, fridager siden han er over 60. De tilbringer han sammen med sine barnebarn 🙂 (lærer)

  19. Norway is fine, like every other wealthy country part of the international banksters’ alliance and petroleum cartel.

    Please remind us here why does a government worker (female) born in Rwanda earn 50 times less than one born in Norway, for the exact same work, occupation? Equal pay for equal work between females & males in Norway, what about between females in Scandinavia and developing countries?

    1. This is an interesting question that could probably foster a good debate, but it’s hardly relevant to this blog post. The post is about attitudes towards pregnancy and parental leave in different countries. The poster doesn’t need to defend the different income levels in Scandinavia versus Africa. There are many reasons for the status quo, many of which are not good ones – but it’s a different discussion.

    2. All though I can’t defend women wages in Rwanda, the explanation to why wages in Norwegian public sector is as high as they are – is explained by two important factors. 1) Natural resources are regarded as the property of the people, thus revenues from natural resources are funneled back to the state – either directly through state ownership, or high taxes on industry related to natural resources. We rely on taxes to fund public sector, but we don’t solely rely on private capital for state revenues. A fair arrangement if you ask me. 2) A strong union, who follows the development of wages in private sector, and demands increases in public sector to follow private sector. All though, the wages aren’t equal, as private sector has the possibility to have bonuses and other incentives – it’s always a goal to not have a too big gap between private and public sector. And in reality the gap is smaller than what’s listed on the pay check, as public sector usually has a better pension plan. In annual negotiations between employer organisations and labor unions, private sector always negotiates first. This becomes the standard, for public sector, who follows. We have an expression called “Frontfagene” – “Front professions” – i.e. engineers, lawyers, economists in private sector. The rest follows “Frontfagene”. This also gives employers in “Frontfagene” a reason not to increase wages according to company surplus, but has to hold back a bit, so public sector doesn’t become too expensive.

      A third factor that probably fits within no.2 above, is a general consensus, that we need to look at the total economic system – both public sector and private sector, both employer and employee, and even those on welfare. Both employer organisations and labor unions acknowledge that they need each other, and has will to find some common ground. Without employers, no jobs, without employees, no production. Without demand, no need for products/services, thus no employees, no production, and no revenue/profits. Unemployment, costs tax payer money, and eventually, those who has money – has to pay the bill. There’s no real net saving in squeezing “the little guy”.

      Rwanda, if they chose to, could follow the same system. Natural resources i.e. gold, silver, minerals, petroleum, water falls and so forth, could be owned by the state or by companies controlled by the government. Any external and foreign interests, had to pay a higher tax on certain types of industry related to natural resources. The tax revenues could then be funneled back into schools, hospitals, police, army, research, administration and so forth. One could allow unions to grow strong, so they’d have a focus on not having a too big gap between, say an engineer working for a telecom provider and an engineer working in maintenance at a government building. By spreading the wealth, one could remove the foundation for civil unrest, removing the need for armed forces or extensive policing.

      There’s always the argument that this will deter investors from ever setting foot in the country, but we’ve proven that this is just capitalist propaganda. As long as the conditions for doing business is stable and predictable, i.e. low levels of corruption, stable taxes, stable markets, then money will come.

      Even in high risk areas, businesses are willing to pay for private armies to protect their investments. Paying taxes to fund education for people who at some point will become their employees, or bureaucrats handling their cases, would be a smaller price to pay – than paying risk bonuses, funerals, private armies and communication agencies handling bad press.

      1. Frankieboy,

        You do an excellent job in explaining several factors that could contribute to the wage differentials between the public sector in Rwanda and Norway. Some of them also explains some of the related differences of the general wealth levels of both countries.

        However, I believe the main component in both said differences is the same as explains the general differences between almost all African countries and western European ones(and arguably to some, but much lesser extent, more specifically to Nordic countries).
        It is contested what this is, but most explanations centers around different legal systems, accountability, transparency etc.
        Different time lines and climatic factors are also plausible explanations. Several factors might be interrelated. If African countries had undergone industrialisation at the same time as Europe, different legal practices might have emerged, overpopulation might have been tackled as living standards improved etc.

  20. I am French and I strongly disagree. What is frown upon by the person complaining about the pregnancy of his colleague is not to be a woman or to be pregnant, it’s just to give them extra work. In the situation related by this article, it seams that hiring a person is not an option. Why ? I don’t know. Maybe we can put the blame on the lack of flexibility of the work market ?

    In some Parisian professional circles, it’s not pregnancy witch looked at unprofessional but, more general to have a live outside your work. Being a good worker is generaly being a workaholic.

    On sexism in general, this article remind me the tons of arrogant articles about the subject. Yes, the men depicted here are clearly misbehaving but telling it’s a general way of doing in France is like saying that Anders Breivik is a typical Scandinavian.

    1. Good to hear, this is also far away from what I have seen, lived or heard about everyday life in France (I am not saying it is not happening, and happening too much though). This is also far away from what my wife (who is Norwegian…) has experienced as well over 7 years in Rouen (not Paris or Marseille but not a village either). But I fear someone will soon tell you that your opinion is irrelevant because you are a man 🙂 Good luck with the comments you will generate 🙂

    2. Anders Breivik is only one but I have met a lot of misbehaving french men and I’m afraid to say her experiences is the same as mine.. even my french female friends would agree with me.

  21. God forbid a colleague should get pregnant and leave us with extra work! As an American living in Marseille, maybe it was as much the prospect of an increased work load the man was responing to as the pregnancy.

    I think there’s an interesting question to ask about appearances and reality. I live in Marseille but am currently in Oslo for work, and I find the seemingly real fear based on past events of getting raped as a woman walking alone at night in the streets of Oslo disconcerting. In Marseille, men make comments and get too close, but I am not aware for the same kind of wide spread rape as I hear about in Oslo. Maybe it’s happening but isn’t reported because the outward sexism silences women? But still, while it’s common for women not to report rapes in the family or by men that play a large role in their lives, I think French women have enough respect for themselves to report any downright dark-alley rape situation.

    So, why these rapes in Oslo?

    1. It doesn’t come out in the papers, but most of the rapes that occur here, especially in Oslo, are perpetrated by aliens from other countries. Many of them refugees from Africa and the middle east. This is the back side of the medallion as we like to call it. We are an open and peaceful society, and being such, we attract a lot of undesired people. Many of the refugees are war criminals from countries like Eritrea, Kongo etc. and they have a very skewed way of looking at how to treat other people. And since our system for entry isn’t good enough to catch all of them, most of them are released in to society on their own merits.
      A lot of them ends up in Oslo selling drugs. Their psyche is never considered by professionals, and many of the look at women as just meat.
      Rape is a way for them to have sex, and nothing more. They don’t think of it as criminal, so if you take away the rapes that are perpetrated within families and by known assailants, you are left with a majority done by foreigners.
      The problem is that almost none of the major news agencies here dares to state what origin the assailant has, in fear of stigmatizing a certain group of people. And the results of that policy, is that foreigners who follows Norwegian news, gets the impression that Norwegians are a rapy people. It’s the same with a lot of other types of crime. Our prisons are over crowded with illegal aliens, but “we never talk about it”. The press here are more concerned what Justin Bieber did last, than covering what our government is really having problems with. It feels like it’s a secret gag order out there that prevents them from telling the truth?

      1. Dear Bob,
        In this article:
        we can read: “Police statistics show that between 8,000 and 16,000 persons are raped in Norway every year. Police in Oslo are still dealing with 96 random street rapes in the capital last year, a new record, according to newspaper Aften. While many of the random rapes, called overfallsvoldtekter in Norwegian, were linked to foreign attackers and set off widespread alarm last year, they make up a tiny percentage of the total number of rapes in the country.”
        Based on these statistics maybe you’d like to review your opinion on who really commits all those rapes.

      2. @Alex (Apparently I can’t comment directly)

        I don’t want to defend all of what Bob is saying, but the point is still relevant in the context (of “dark-alley rape situations”, or overfallsvoldtekter). And your quoted text says the same thing. To quote your quote:

        “many of the random rapes, called overfallsvoldtekter in Norwegian, were linked to foreign attackers”

        These are the rape situations that are relevant when you’re walking home alone at night.

        If you look at total rapes the numbers and ratios are different, but in this context, your source confirms that most rapes are committed by foreigners.

  22. Thank you for the article. I appreciate as you do being a woman in Norway, and hope the societies in other countries will manage to develop such good attitudes to gender equality.

  23. I love this! Here in the US the trend is either to take am indecently short period of time off (3months to as little as 3 weeks – which I feel is almost uncivilized!) or to retire from the work force more or less permanently. I am literally the ONLY working mom in my upper middle class neighborhood and am viewed with a mixture of pity, disgust, and fascination. As the mother of 3 boys I wonder if they are going to end up in this situation – having to support an ever-increasing family on whatever income they can manage to scrape together on their own. I think its kind of odd, but American businesses don’t offer many good options for part-time or flexible work. I like the Nordic countries. They seem to be full of very common-sense people. I wish I could visit there some day.

  24. Your blog is so great. I am designing a curriculum unit on gender for the high school Sociology class I teach. I am going to have my students read this post!

  25. I really liked this blog, but what makes me sad is that women don’t seem to have a choice to go back to work in Norway after having children. My husband is from Norway, I am from Canada and we live in the U.S. I was a stay at home mother by choice until my children were teenagers. Norwegian women don’t consider this an option, regardless of financial status. The state raises the children, I have never met another woman while in Norway that stayed at home with the children. One should be able to make a choice and not feel guilty either way. If the government is so willing to pay for child care, why don’t they pay mothers to raise their own children? Just wondering.

    1. We do pay parents who can’t get their child in a kindergarden, or who choose not too until the age of 3. This is an option most used by the wealthy, christian conservatives and immigrant. It is bad for the economy and we do not want to subsidize these groups to isolate their children.

      It is much cheaper to have women working and pay for the education for children than to pay them to not work. A child in kindergarden cost the state 33,565 USD, what we pay mothers for staying at home is about 6,042 USD a year (the same as the state had to pay for each child in public kindergarden in 1997, this was to compensate people who did not get a place in public kindergarens).

      You might say ‘hang on, that is a lot cheaper!’ The same was claimed in the 2nd largest newspaper in Norway before new years. But the average salary in Norway is 60 000 USD (for women men is about 15% higher), and if they pay 36 % taxes that amounts to 20 500 USD. a gain for the state.

      But I think you answered it yourself. ‘WOMEN don’t seem to have a choice’. It is always the mother, almost never the father who stay at home. This leads to women being dependent on their husbands salary, and makes it very difficult to get into the workforce when their children has grown up. Most people don’t want to risk that.

      1. Well, to put it in another way; I didn’t want to stay at home. My son has a great time in the kindergarden and he loves it there. Also, as I work in another kindergarden close by, I have no problem seeing all the advantages kids get from not being at home all day.
        And I rely don’t see what your kids benefit from you being at home all day while they are at school? Sorry, but that got lazy written all over. What did you do all those hours? Wash, cook etc? Yeah, I’d love to be an unpaid housekeeper instead of earning money and actually being in an equal relationship where we raise the kids and manage the house and financials together.
        To be confined inside sound like my worst nightmare. Sure stay at home with your kids instead of sending them to kindergarden, but after that it’s wrong to want the society to pay you to stay at home.

  26. actually even back in the viking age the vikings where at the forefront of gender equality, yes of course family and status was the deciding factor for whom a women could marry. but once married the women was the boss of the household, the slaves and the money both when the housband where and when he was away. along with that women where free to divorce their housband and that was actually one of the greates shame that could happen for men. because then they hade failed as housband and providers of the family 🙂 it was only later with the coming of christian religion that the vikings got anything close to what could be called gender discrimination.

  27. I would have told Mr. “French Man” it was highly UNPROFESSIONAL of the father of this baby to pull out his pen%s and sexually satisfy himself.

  28. It’s not actually that weird that the Scandinavian countries went from Vikings to equal rights. The Vikings may rape women in other places, but if you raped a viking woman, she had the right to cut of your penis.

  29. I really can’t imagine ever shouting at woman or touching her in a bus and that silly hunter approah, I’d say Norway is far more developed than France, something like 4000 years..

  30. This was a beautiful post.
    I’ve always thought that being a woman in Scandinavia is better than being a woman anywhere else. I am not saying that Scandinavia is free of sexism, I am very much aware that sexism still exists in the every angle country of the world and we have a long way to go before feminism beings about a sturdy change in the society.

    I look forward to someday travelling to Norway.

    Q: is there a particular (non written) dress code that is sexist in Norway. I had friend of mine who is from Sweden who said that Scandinavia is filled with sexist dress codes.

  31. Hey! Norway sounds like a really good country to live as a woman. The only bad thing I’ve heard is that holding a job position in academia is tough if you want to become a mom. How true is that? Because I think that if I go for a temporary stay there’s a high chance I’ll want to stay for real.

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