About Charlotte

The fall of the Berlin wall was shortly followed by my birth in 1990 in Hamburg/ Germany. My parents were blessed with a polite little girl who soon developed to overcome her lack of beauty with being quite funny. I grew up in the remarkable city of Hamburg, being left in the believe that it belonged to Sweden till the age of 6, when I started elementary school in ..Germany. My Swedish mother was eager to hide that we lived in another country than her beloved one; hissing Swedish flags, cooking Köttbullar every second day and showing me constantly Astrid Lindgren movies. Thus it is legit to say that I grew up bilingual. In order to understand social and cultural differences I already grew up with I started to study International Relations in the old hometown of my mother, Malmö, to catch up with the 'real' Sweden. Now, I feel my horizon needs to be expanded even further, therefore I decided to travel to the other end of the world; as far as one can go. Down Under, Australia.

We want you.

 

we want you

Receiving a newsletter from a store, fashion label, human rights group and whatever you have sign up for to get a one-time-extra-discount and whatever you have sign up for when rushing through the streets of a busy city and got stopped by some teenager to sign something for a good cause, via mail is rather common. These constant mails, call them spam, inform you about important discounts or new arrivals or even if you should sign some petition to save the world from its utter evilness (means from us). However, after a time the inbox is filled with these kind of mails and it’s a mystery how some of the stores go you mail address. However, after a time the adverts just land directly in the bin and the attention is captured just by the tagline. Thus, the other day I got the weekly newsletter of some fashion label I used to buy my clothes from, I was about to delete it when I saw the headline:

‘We Know What Girls Want, We Know What Guys Like’

Well, I thought to myself ‘really?’ you know what I want, that’s interesting, so yes I clicked on it and voilà…

Obviously they didn’t know what I want, but I guess it’s a nice tagline to upset people like me. Hoping to be FINALLY enlightened in ‘what I want’

Nevertheless, my personal desires aside, I also noticed something else and I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t have noticed it some months ago.

Before I went to the University of Melbourne, before I took a class in Gender Politics.

Yes, this text will address feminism. So don’t stop reading.  In fact, I was convinced to do it. When I first started studying the course ‘Sexual Politics’ at Uni Melbourne I thought

‘Why should I engage in this class? I AM a woman, I am naturally a feminist, I know what it is about!’

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My friend showing provokingly her unshaved armpit and our courseliterature

Also, I had a quite strong belief that many so called feminist are totally against men, in a mystical sphere of overanalysing and self-pitying ; basically, that they are somehow crazy. In fact, if you type in ‘crazy feminist’ on Google images you will be surprised how many memes and pictures are ridiculing that movement. However, a friend of mine said that it wouldn’t hurt to attend the course and she believed that I should go. Another thing that stroked me when I discussed it with her was something that some people would undeniable call a female reaction.

I was scared. I was scared that I might find out that feminist are not crazy, that they have a point, and that I not just belonged to the biological sex  which is supposed to be weak, but also that I wasn’t doing anything against it, that I was laughing about jokes which were sexist, but hey ‘it’s just a joke’, that I was one of the girls which laughed with the guys when a sexist joke was outspoken and that I judged  the girls who weren’t, that I looked at them and said:’ what a prude’.

I do have the strong but strange feeling that many women do feel like this, and that so many men don’t what to have the feeling of being ‘the evil one’ maintaining the system.

How stunning it is, how personal feminism is; as nowadays the decline of state-identity men and women tend to search for another identity-pool which is mostly to be a man or to be a woman, thus the theory (which was widely supported in the 60s) is instead condemned by ridiculing it, or by claiming it is too extreme. The radical voice is always the loudest, so in which theory don’t you hear about the radical views first?

Back to the newsletter I got the other day from the fashion label; the ad suggested that girls want:

Make-up

Hand- Bags

Nailpolish

Nailstickers

a hair straighter

Shoes

Trendy clothes

Feminine watches

and a book about fashion.

 

Guys liked (notice how the brand knows what girls want whilst they just know what guys like)

A pencil case

Shoes

Clothes

Two wallets

A case to put your eventual writings in it (uh wait, that could be something for for me but ahh.. no. that not what I would want.)

Headphones

A watch

2 books about hobbies

1 comic

… well, of course it could  be claimed that there is no difference and of course it could be said that this choice of products is based on demand, but then again:

That’s not the point is it? The point is that girls just want something which includes looks, whilst guys like something which includes action, includes reading something with content (not just plain picture of how you are supposed to look), having something which has an actual purpose: headphones-to listen to music, writing utensils, a wallet to put all themoney in which is earned.

we can do it

Clearly, as a girl I wish to have more choice and my choice to study feminism brought me closer to this wish.

Sleeping at Last.

Since July I am wandering through the majestic campus of the University of Melbourne. Surprisingly, my time here at University will soon be over and I have one last challenge to master:

The examination period (a little thunder would fit remarkably after this sentence).

The courses have their final exams in November and the students here are becoming slightly nervous. If not to say: they are panicking! Every morning I witness hysteric students at the university libraries, struggling to maintain a good position in front of the doors so they can get a seating place in the library with access to a plugin. I witness angry comments at the universities Facebook page condemning all students which are ‘blocking’ precious plugin access while just reading or making notes, seating at a plugin-place without using the plugin is not tolerated easily. I witness threats, like spilling holy Latte Macchiato over fellow students to get access to a university computer. I witness how every screen is structurally checked if fellow students are on avoidable pages such as Facebook, Twitter or their email account, and in case they are: loud protests are heard from the help-desk that ‘the twats can check their Facebook at home! I NEED THIS COMPUTER’

Yes, the examinations period is indeed a state of emergency; where the students mutate to zombies with dangerous coffee-cups. I have to say the sign ‘no drinks allowed’ gets a totally different meaning during this period. Also, when I talk about students becoming zombies I don’t mean the harmless zombies struggling to keep their eyes open; slurping from computer to printer. NO. I talk about the horrible dangerous once, being smart and aggressive like you can see in Marc Fosters World War Z or Francis Lawrences I am Legend. As they are reacting extremely aggressive to noises and are avoiding the sunlight; also they like to gather in groups and breathe simultaneously whilst studying with maniac eyes.

Giblin Library

 

Unnecessary to say that as a Swedish student I am not really used to this collective amount of stress at one place; having my exams evenly distributed at the end of each month. However, even though I am slightly irritated by the change of behaviour of my fellow students, I found it even more surprising that after an approximately 3h working session they take a nap (!) In Uni. Wherever they occupied their belongings, students fall asleep. It seems like the effort they put into snatching a seat in the earliest hours is so vast that they simply cannot leave their place, not yet to say that the effort in itself is rather tiring. Of course this totally contradictory behaviour of falling randomly asleep triggers the other students’ anger, who are still searching for places to work at. Hence, the hands holding coffee-cups are scarily starting to tremble when passing one of the sleepyheads. It seems to be a vicious cycle. Nevertheless, after the nap I found it even more astonishing to see how the person just forgets it and continues to work in a total serious manner, as if the dribble spot does not exists on his or her shirt. I would say: this is commitment, and since studying is always so extremely prized for its ‘best time of your life’ and it’s ‘you will never ever have so much fun’, I feel there is also a need to congratulate all students for their unbelievable strength in stress-coping.

A Flat White, please!

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As a Student from Sweden I am quite familiar with the idea of drinking coffee constantly during my presence at university. The lectures have a 15minutes break, where you have the chance of keeping your precious caffeine-level as high as possible. As one hand is occupied holding the holy cup the other one seems to be filled with a cinnamon roll. But this is not mandatory. However, when I began to study at Melbourne University I felt it was rather natural to look for a coffee container and some paper-cups around it to maintain my new developed need for coffee. Thus, I started to look for a coffee-distribution place everywhere; I was even expecting some serving stations. At last I entered the Union House which seems to inhabit all snack bars, shops and various mini restaurants where you can purchase food from; there is no cafeteria as at Malmoe University. As I strolled around the campus, which is rather huge and confusing, but looks like Hogwarts (see pictures attached which traces my search for coffee), I experienced my first cultural shock: There is no ‘brygg-kaffe’ served. Not even at Uni.  My search for a coffee container and a smiling blond cafeteria staff member handing me a paper cup in which I can pour in the black gold for a cheap prize was in vain.

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Coffee is essential during my studies, especially when a deadline runs short, coffee needs to be close. In Melbourne I encountered a different kind of coffee culture, not the entire loss of it. I found was the total admiration of coffee. Coffee at University seems to be not simply black, maybe with a hint of milk; it seems to be: cappuccino, latte macchiato and flat white (?), freshly made from pressed coffee beans (It wouldn’t even surprise me if they have an own roaster behind the various coffee shops). I do hope you start wondering what a ‘flat white’ is. I certainly did. As the Swede likes to drink coffee during his work-time preferably black, the Australian likes to enjoy their coffee with a lot of milk (here you can chose naturally between soja-milk, non-fat milk, lactose free milk and normal milk), and a flat white is basically a coffee with so much milk that just a delicate hint of coffee can be detected.

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In Melbourne, a city adorably proud of its coffee serving, each speciality you order is topped by fine foam; cappuccinos are even sprinkled with chocolate powder. No doubt, it is possible to find such coffee in Malmo too, but at my home University the students keep strictly to the ‘more caffeine the better’ method.  It might not be the most life-changing event which I came across during my exchange but it struck me how the small simple changes are the ones which surprise.