Scary Pumpkins and Memorial Candles

Biking fast from the little hill of Kirseberg, going through a neighbour called Värnhem and then all way through Nobelvägen, then turning right passing by an almost completely built building hosting hundreds of brand new apartments, then crossing the road going left, you will find yourself on a relatively large street accompanied on both sides by two of the three parts of St. Pauli Kyrkogård (Graveyard of Saint Paul). Namely, the part on your left brings the name of ”St.Pauli Mellersta Kyrkogård”, as being the central part among the three of them.

The 4th of November the sky covering the industrial city of Malmö was made out of different shades of pink, grey and blue, with a giant Sun setting down on the side of the Öresund bridge, still shining red around four in the afternoon. Paving the way to an almost mystic mixture and feeling, the atmosphere just seemed to be perfectly fitting the celebration of All Saint’s day, which, after a hundred years of change, moved to be celebrated first on the 1st of November, then on the first Sunday of November, and latest, as it is now, on the Saturday between the 31st of October and the 6th of November. Giving to it more or less religious meaning, it was probably after the Reformation that the celebration started to symbolize the start of the winter in Sweden. To lit candles to be put upon what is called “Minneslund” – a term for memorial grove in Swedish – brings together people whom for different reasons decide to visit a dark cemetery in the evening of Allahelgonasdag. In this way, the dark times of the coming autumn and winter are met with hope, memories and light, and whoever wants to remember someone lost in the past or only follow this really Swedish tradition feels welcomed by strangers’ gazes, eyes, shadows, thoughts, breaths and silent talks.

Although this is my fourth year I am spending in Sweden, before yesterday I had never had the chance to experience this particular day of the year. Walking through the graveyard, we could almost distinguish between different country divisions of the graveyard depending on how the different tombs looked like. Those memorial stones bigger and sticking out more than the others – some even looking like small mausoleums – showing a coloured picture of the deceased ones, with all objects which were once close to them,

In Italy, as far as I know, graveyards are usually locked when it gets dark, and this tradition of visiting them on All Saints’ Day would not be as easily adopted as it is in fact in Sweden, where graveyards use to be open day and night out, and are involved into the inhabitants lives as they are shaped within the city’s net.

A day which sometimes risks to be recalled as only awakening sad feelings, is instead an excuse here in Sweden to get out and get involved in activities and be introduced to the warm feeling of winter, experience the closeness and unity among the city’s inhabitants and your friends, important to focus on something else than only days getting shorter. The entire weekend calendar is usually scheduled with concerts, among the others requiems, as the one I was listening to yesterday in the church of Saint. Johannes by the central neighbourhood of Triangeln. When passing by Sweden during this weekend I warmly recommend to overcome your fear for darkness or scary graveyards and find one of the many “minneslunden” and get together with some locals. You may be surprised and maybe may end up into a magic and silent, and probably scary, place immersed in a forest, accompanied by children trying to scary each other when still feeling that last breath of the Halloween festivity.

Ritornando ai pensieri da treno

Grandi edifici nelle larghe vie della città di Malmö.

Tra poco le luci si spegneranno, con l’orario invernale che entrerà di nuovo in vigore tra poco più di una settimana. Il cemento allargherà ancora di più le ombre fredde che coprono un sole che già non scalda abbastanza. Ma più vita, più attività nasceranno in quella che fino a qualche decina di anni fa sembrava stesse per diventare una città fantasma. E la mente torna ai primi giorni presso l’università di Malmö,un anno fa, scaldando il pranzo con chiacchiere fatte con quelli che poi sarebbero stati tuoi amici entro pochi mesi. Uno sguardo fuori dalle vetrate sentendo il rumore di edifici che vengono distrutti e le prime fondamenta di un nuovo tessuto urbano. Che fa rumore mentre in bici attraversi la parte settentrionale della città, prima del semaforo sulla tua destra, curve da prendere strette evitando quei lavori in corso.

Un inverno all’altezza di Stoccolma che si sta avvicinando sempre più. Sul treno gli alberi tendono a sfumare verso gialli, arancioni, e marroncini che non vedi da nessuna altra parte, e che tardano ad arrivare nel sud della Svezia.

Il tentativo di sentirsi di nuovo a casa in una città dove hai vissuto per un anno. E un po’ ci riesci, ma senti che ormai casa tua è un’altra, che hai bisogno di diversità e qui vedi troppe facce svedesi, troppo simili l’una alle altre, troppi passi camminati alla stessa velocità ed una città troppo piccola. Che prima ti dava sicurezza per la familiarità che trasmetteva, la facilità con cui riuscivi a memorizzare posti e per i volti che incontravi spesso. Ora quando vai in giro, ti basta incrociare al massimo una persona che conosci, di più sarebbero troppe, e a Malmö ognuno sembra trovare il suo posto, hai difficoltà a percepire una maggioranza. Anzi spesso scherzi con qualcuno dicendo che qui gli svedesi sono la minoranza.

Chissà quanto tempo passerà prima di muoversi ancora, ma per ora, nonostante se ne parli spesso in termini negativi, Malmö è un posto che inizio a chiamare casa, quasi una piccola Londra che sta mettendo le sue radici, centinaia di ristoranti con cucina di tutto il mondo, festival musicali e cinematografici, ed il suo profilo, dalla terrazza dell’università, che assomiglia a città piene di grattacieli ai primi arbori, ancora, e sempre più, in costruzione.

 

The culture of gender violence – La cultura della violenza di genere

Some days ago, while doing a school work about representation of gender in different cultures, I ended up finding this article. As I published it on fb many where interested and I promised my Swedish host.sister to translate it to English once I would be done with my exam. So I decided to translate it – as good as I could – and put it also on the blog. The article is about a social phenomenon quite diffused in numbers of countries, not only that of gender violence but especially of unreported cases of gender discrimination and so on. Surely it can be read as a way to understand a bit more about Italian Culture as this is a phenomena really present there but nevertheless it may be applied to all the Western societies and other places’ ways of behaving and seeing women.

Here is the translation, here the article I read, and here the original source where the article was firstly published in Italian. Here the Spanish original.

It exists, we see it every day, it is rooted in the parenting models, in socio-cultural factors: the violence against women is real although it is even accepted as natural (normal), in our misogynistic and sexist society. For gender-based violence do not exist territorial borders nor distinction of class, color, faith and level of education. It is imperceptible because underhanded. A violence present on every level, unlimited and which does not surprise. It does not astonish; it does not give indignation.

The culture of gender violence has its wedges in stereotypes, in the religions created to oppress, in a patriarchal education, in a system that makes the woman as an invisible human being and it denigrate her constantly, which abuses her although her rights and excludes her from justice.

That culture which goes from the negation of labor rights to social equality, to abortion, education, health, progress, which re-victimizes the victim, which hails to the murder as an “alpha male”. Established norms which have to do with double moral, hypocrisy, with fear and the attachment to appearance. Reasons for which emotional, physical, sexual abuses therefore feminicides remain unreported.

And when the victim dares to report she ends up to be judged by the society which accuses her of guilty. Not to talk about a juridical system which convicts and dishonor blaming her of lying, leaving free the aggressor, the same aggressor which for revenge goes to murder her with the terrible and innumerable feminicides of which no society cares about.

The rape culture, also naturalized, that tells us: she is woman. She is a woman, it does not happen anything, she is only a woman: an object, a rest, a slave. That culture which goes from the ascription of roles, colors, which tells us how to think, how to behave, what yes or no following our gender, and that if we do not adequate to norms then whatever may happen to us is just our fault. Even living according to the parameters defined by the patriarchy everyone accuses and blames. Worldwide, there are laws that enslave women.

The culture of gender violence which tells us that we women are the weaker sex, that we cannot play sports assigned to men, that we cannot pursue professions or crafts which has been historically assigned to men; a culture which tells us that our role in life is to be mothers, clean the house and take care of our children, sexually satisfy our men, live for them. And poor that woman that decides to break rules and love another woman! Because she is denigrated, hit, violated and murdered. Even worse, she was just a woman who could not even be a woman. Case closed when the body enters the morgue.

That violence which is in school, in television, in the radio, in art, wherever. In everything which surrounds us.

The way in which news handle information in the occurrence of gender violence: with prejudice, stereotypes and patriarchate. Women which, for personal convenience, support the patriarchate, so deciding to live this life by submission and shadow.

That culture which denies us our personal achievement and life according to our free will.

There is much to say about the culture of gender violence from whatever point of view, on its reasons and consequences and on who benefits from it. What is it that allows us to react in front of this atrocity? What is it that allows us not to denigrate and waking up every time a little girl, a teenager or a woman is raped, when she is hit or murdered? What is it that does not lead us to create the culture of prevention, a restauration of society and models? What is it that does not allow us to respect each other, to value ourselves as human beings holding equal rights? How deep is our indifference that makes us not to grieve and not infuriates every time that we know of a feminicide, of an assaulted woman, of an injustice of labor rights, of a state that does not invest on development policies for women? When will we stop to live by stereotypes, with misogynic and oppressive religions? When will we change patriarchal norms in order to start raising healthy children who are not going to violate in any stage of their lives?

When will we look each other with the certainty of being nothing more than a particle in the immensity of time? And that our passage on Earth is so fleeting that we will put all our efforts to ensure fairness, and that the right to be and to live with free will not be punished? When will we have the integrity to change the culture of gender violence with that of respect?

There are many ways of doing this, the archetypes in which all exercise gender violence, so much so that many times we do not even realize what we are doing, because it is something so rooted in that, as naturalized as the air we breathe, as the heartbeat, the blink of an eye. But gender violence is something of learnt, so it can be changed. We certainly have the ability to eliminate patriarchy, sexism, misogyny and indifference. The question is, when will we do it?