A programme at a Swedish open-air swimming bath in Malmö that eliminated gender-separate areas to encourage transgender bathers has resulted in men taking the opportunity to stare at naked women.
The programme, called “Queer Kallis”, is held on the first Monday of the month at the Ribersborgs kallbadhus, an open-air bath in the heavily migrant populated city of Malmö.
What organisers soon found, however, was that while very few transgender people were making use of the programme, men and boys used it as an excuse to enter women’s showers, changing rooms, and toilets, Aftonbladet reports.
“They were in the showers, in the restrooms, in the locker rooms, and on the bathing bridges. The place was invaded by men, not by transgenders from what I could see. Everything felt incredibly unpleasant,” said Jeanette Larsson, a lecturer in diversity issues, who recently attended the open-air bath.
According to Larsson, many women chose to simply leave the bath due to the presence of the men. While she did note some transgender individuals, she remarked that they were stared at and mocked by some of the men.
“It should be understood by anyone that it will be an open market for those who are only interested in looking at women’s bodies,” she added.
The programme, which began on the 7th of May, was backed by municipality councillor Hanna Thomé of the Left Party and Linda Hiltmann of the Feminist Initiative party whose party leader Victoria Kawesa once blamed men, rather than Islam, for an Islamic school segregating children by gender.
Thomé commented on the early results of the project saying it was an “expression of the patriarchal world we live in”, and hoped it would not have to be shut down.
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The programme is yet another social justice project that has had unintended consequences in Sweden. One of the most well-known feminist-inspired projects was the snow-ploughing policy adopted by the city of Stockholm in which sidewalks were given precedence over main roads because women were said to use cars less than men.
The policy ended up causing chaos as main roads had to wait to be ploughed and both drivers and commuters on public transport were stuck as buses cancelled or delayed service.
Swedish Environment Minister and Green Party member Karolina Skog has also advocated for reducing the number of cars on the road, claiming it to be a feminist issue due to more men driving cars than women.
“Cars are driven largely by men so by giving a lot of space to cars; we’re giving a lot of space to men — at the expense of women,” she said.