I forgot she’s black! And did I make a mistake in doing so?

Swedish Minister of Culture and Democracy, Alice Bah-Kuhnke

Swedish Minister of Culture and Democracy, Alice Bah-Kuhnke

A little while back my homie country got a new government. One of them, the new Minister of Culture and Democracy, Alice Bah-Kuhnke, isn’t exactly known to the people of IKEA-land as a life-long politician, but to most as an early 90s host of Disneyklubben, a Swedish version of the Mickey Mouse Club.

At the time I turned around to our US editor and made some sort of ‘funny-haha’ comparison between our Mickey Mouse club presenters and theirs (Ours become political leaders, theirs become Britney Spears) and did not think more of it – she’s only just started so we’ll see if she makes a difference.

Today I went on Twitter and something caught my eye: “Can we all just STOP going on about how Alice Bah-Kuhnke used to host a kids show and broadcast to the world that we have our SECOND black woman in government?”

‘Shit the damn bed,’ I thought to myself, ‘she’s black!’

I had completely forgotten. It had not even crossed my mind to turn around to anyone and say “Guess what, we just put ANOTHER black woman under 45 in our government”.

At first, I thought it was a good thing that I did not see this potentially great cabinet minister (I didn’t vote for her so I reserve judgement) as her colour. But then I felt less sure.

Is it really a good thing that I completely forgot that she is black? Or is forgetting that someone is a minority a mistake only I, a privileged white chick, can make and should I have been shouting from the rooftops about the fact that my homecountry has put a woman of colour in charge?

You tell me.

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How to fail at naked selfies, or “Is that a wand in your bed, or are you just happy to see me?”

Disclaimer: The person in this selfie is, in fact, wearing clothes

Disclaimer: The person in this selfie is, in fact, wearing clothes

This morning I took a selfie in bed.

It was one of those selfies where I wanted to appear adorable, yet titillating, in an attempt to make the person receiving said selfie imagine waking up next to me (at least once).

I did a good job. I messed up my newly-blonde hair a little bit extra to get that “I just woke up like this”-look.

I managed to manoeuvre my iPhone camera to show just the right amount of skin for the man on the other end to think I wasn’t wearing clothes.

I also pulled a face full of sexy-time promises.

About a nano-second after pressing send, I discovered that I had managed to turn a #nakedselfie into a #epicfail.

In the corner, next to my tousled hair, just to the left of my naked shoulder, lay the Harry Potter wand my colleague had gifted to me the day before.

Now most straight men are averse to seeing any kind of wand other than their own in the bedroom – let alone one from a place called The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Fortunately this man-of-my-dreams and I go back quite a while, and he knows that if I was going to have another man’s wand in my bed it would be Harry Potter’s, so I just about got away with it.

Other times I have not been so lucky.

I am terrible at the sexy picture thing. I do words, they’re easier to hide behind and do not require me sucking in my gut or staring at my phone-camera like I want to eat it.

I can count on one hand the number of pictures I have sent to people where I have not been fully dressed – and not one time has it been worth it.

I did the ‘sexy shirt’-thing once, to which I only got: “Is that another man’s shirt?” (It was. My dad’s).

Another time I did the “I am SO ALONE in this BIG BED”, and accidentally nip-slipped which resulted in several of our mutual friends laughing their heads off (he obviously told them).

Then there was the time I was asked to go to the bathroom in the office and “take a pic of ur boobs”. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

This morning’s incident has settled it. From this day forth, my selfies will be limited to blurry ones taken in London bars, and any naked moments will stay firmly in the real-life department.

And the Harry Potter wand is going on a shelf.

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Family comes second, first you have a shot

20140610-112025-40825837.jpgI am about to pick up my second passport in London. For the second time in my life, my own face will be staring back at me with that look of someone who decided to go out and drink all the tequila in Soho despite knowing fully well that the following day was passport-photo-day, from a piece of plastic issued by the Swedish Embassy in the British capital.

It’s a strange thing to realise that I have spent my entire adult life (well, post turning 18) in the city of dreams.

I don’t really have a bucket list, but if I did, I’d say I’ve ticked off quite a bit.

I’ve stopped traffic on Kings Road – not because I was so gobsmackingly attractive that every red trouser dropped between Sloane Square and Blue Bird, but because I was hit by a car. A black cab, actually.

I haven’t met that many celebrities, but that’s probably because I’m not a very cool sort of person. Although legend has it that Scarlett Johansson drinks in El Camion when she is in town and considering the amount of time I have spent in that cave of Mexican joy, it almost counts.

I have had a billion morning explanations that have started with “I went into London Cocktail Club for one drink…“

I’ve tried online dating, bright red hair, breaking world exclusive news, bikram yoga and a diet that consisted of gin and yoghurts (I did get skinny, but it was a very fuzzy month).

But most importantly, as last night at Made in the Shade showed – a night spent hugging pretty much everyone that walked through the door as my bar family joined in one by one – I have most definitely found my lobsters. Proving once and for all that it may have been years since I got paid to shake drinks and run around sticky floorboards with trays, but the friends you make in hospitality last a lifetime. Or at least until you’ve run out of tequila.

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I’m not supposed to be ok with this, but I’m also not supposed to ask why not

When I think about all the things I am not supposed to do:
Not supposed to be happy with my ‘relationship status’. (“Wait, so you’re not…? But you are..? I don’t get it, if there’s not a Facebook relationship status for it, then I don’t get it.”)
Not supposed to dislike the idea of marriage(“One day you’ll understand.”)
Not supposed to dislike small children. (Again: “One day you’ll understand.”)
Not supposed to think infidelity isn’t the end of the world in a committed relationship (Honestly, staying with someone you don’t love anymore is a billion times worse).
Not supposed not want to go back to school (“What?! You can get a Masters degree for FREE – what are you even doing here?!”)
Not supposed to be unhappy with my body (This does not even warrant an example comment)
Not supposed to like really offensive rap music (“How can you listen to this when you call yourself a FEMINIST?!”)
Not supposed to like porn (See above example comment)
Not supposed to be unhappy with what I already have (“You live in London and work as a journalist, what more could you possibly want?!”)
Not supposed to vote center-liberal (“You have no idea what the welfare society has done for you, you are SO UNGRATEFUL.”)

When I think about all these things, I try to remember the immortal word’s of Armande Voizin (Judi Dench in Chocolat): “Don’t worry so much about ‘not supposed to’. Live a little.”

twm023_L

 

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Who cares about the European Parliament when you can vote for a bearded Kim Kardashian?

It is an event which will have a significant impact on the future of Sweden’s relationships with its neighbouring countries and fellow EU member states.

If the winner is not the best of them all, if the votes are placed on the wrong person, there will be outrage, social media storms and several column inches filled with analysis by experts, anger of prominent commentators and statistics detailing who to blame for the outcome. The entire nation awaits with bated breath the final results of the voting, glued to their screens, phones and monitors.

No, I am not talking about the European Parliament elections, I’m talking about Eurovision.

chonchita

The sequined circus – this year featuring a bearded Kim Kardashian-lookalike and Russian twins – returns tonight, and where I come from it is regarded as a matter of national importance.

In fact, voting participation tonight might even be higher than in the EU elections on May 22nd. And this makes me weep.

The Swedes are deadly serious about Eurovision – and you better not accuse us of ‘friend voting’ for our neighbouring countries, we ONLY give ‘douze points’ to the best song (as long as it’s from Norway, Denmark, Finland or the Baltics).

Whereas in the UK we just sort of send some random nobody cares about (Molly who?), Sweden is literally enveloped in Eurovisionmania for months before the show.

Grown men and women sit glued to the television screen to watch all FOUR regional semi-finals as well as the ‘Second Chance’ round where all the third and fourth-best songs from the semi-finals compete AGAIN.

That’s five Saturday nights even before you get to the Stockholm final, where an entire nation gathers to vote for which song to send to Eurovision (and these days, it doesn’t even end there as we now have semi-finals for the actual Eurovision as well).

I don’t have the statistics of how much time the average Swede of voting age spends contemplating who the nation should send to represent us in the EU, the but it’s probably nowhere near as much as they spent discussing Sanna Nielsen. For many people, sadly, it is more important to send ‘the right song’ to Copenhagen, than the right people to Brussels.

In 2012 more than two million votes came in during the Stockholm final. If this would count as one vote per person, even though we all know quite a few people vote several times for their favourite and that under-18s are not incapable of working a phone, that means more than 32 per cent of adult Swedes voted on which artist to send to Eurovision that year. In the election to European Parliament in 2004, that number was 37.85 per cent.

Am I exaggerating? Of course I am. Especially considering that the Stockholm Eurovision final this year only had a total of just under 1.2million votes and that more than 45 per cent of Swedes voted in the 2009 European Parliament elections, a figure set to rise this year.

But still. To quote last year’s winner Emmelie de Forest: “How many times til we get it right?”

“Oh yeah, I’m super multilingual – I know the French word for mustard”

Totally just ticked the “I speak more than Swedish and English” box on an application, despite the fact that my additional foreign language skills are limited to the ability to name farm animals in French, give directions and swear in Italian (rarely mutually exclusive), buy chickens in isiXhosa and tell a Spaniard his mother is a ham sandwich.

Hopefully nobody asks.

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Babies. Seriously, they’re flipping everywhere.

minimalmMy cousin is getting one. Funnily enough, I’m not talking about a doctorate (although, seriously, three out of five female cousins, including my sister, will soon legit be Dr. Malm – but NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING). She’s having a baby.

I can’t blame her, she’s got the PhD, the loving partner and the return to Sweden all in the bag, so it makes sense. But I also can’t understand her. Neither her nor the ever-swelling number of Facebook friends who are multiplying left right and centre – and them I understand even less as most of them are my age i.e. barely 25.

Apart from my loving circle of London hospitality friends, who aren’t having babies just yet for natural reasons (a.k.a. alcohol), pregnancies are more common on my newsfeed than ’10 Random Things You Really Don’t Have To See But Will Feel Compelled To Because This FOMO-inducing Headline Says So’-articles.

Don’t get me wrong, I find the whole process of babymaking fascinating. I mean, how is it even possible that I as a woman can make an actual human being in the same place I turn brioche buns and pulled pork into poop? Amazing. And it’s not like I haven’t played mental petridish with every single ex-boyfriend/crush/Zac Efron in my past, wondering what our kids would look like – but that is merely a result of the kind of curiosity that killed the cat, not a longing to care for and bring up a child.

Is there something lacking in my biological makeup that makes me feel this way? Or, god forbid, could it be that there is something that I, a 23-and-a-half-year-old egocentric, alcoholic journalist don’t know about life?

(Yes, that’s me as a child. I did find one of me as a baby, but I was such a heffalump it would be fatshaming to post it online)

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Neither – or both – are still possible

73610-The-Scary-Thing-About-Dating

… or, you know, not break up, but still not get married or conform to heteronormative relationship rules, and just be happy that you’ve found someone who still finds you sexually attractive even though they know that you have smelly farts.

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It’s not hard to find love in London, you’ve just got to lower your expectations

Everyone keeps lamenting how hard it is to find love in London. I honestly don’t know what they are talking about.

I have always found it easy to find love in London, but that is probably down to an unconventional view of what constitutes as ‘love’.

If by ‘finding love’ you mean someone who is of similar mindset and place in life, works the same hours, is happy exchanging bodily fluids with just one person at a time and thinks you’re the best thing since Oyster cards and B@1 Happy Hours, then no, it’s not going to be easy. More like impossible.

I’m not entirely sure where adult relationships live, but it sure as hell aint on the Jubilee line to Stanmore.

I was on one of those online dating websites once (my friend thought I should try and meet someone who isn’t a bartender. I have no idea why). Did up a profile. Downloaded the app.

The following three weeks were exhausting. Fun? Well, yes, but my time on OKCupid mainly exposed that there are actual real-life human beings out there who thinks “Ur hot, wanna sit on my face?” is an acceptable way to start a conversation. Thankfully I had some success, and I swore never again.

Personally I have yet to wrap my head around Tinder, mainly because it just seems like Snapchat with clothes on, but also because, as my colleague pointed out, “under no circumstance do you have a real life conversation with someone from Tinder until you are absolutely sure you are going to have sex with them”.

And due to that ‘three mile radius thing’ there is also the ginormous risk of bumping into someone you’ve swiped right on, but never talked to in real life, which happened to a friend of mine. In the street. Outside a bar. When he was with me. Now whenever we hang out I sometimes randomly blurt out “OH MY GOD IT’S THE TINDER GUY!” before collapsing with laughter.

And for those who manage to keep their index finger off their iPhones, there is always the classic British way of courtship. Get drunk. I mean, what is love if not waking up in a flatshare in Bow with no memory of how you got there, who the hell that is and why you’re not wearing underwear?

So, no, it’s not hard to find love in London. It’s all about perception.

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A whore is clever, because she gets paid for what I give away

cestunmalmIt started off as a discussion about an immature insult. It ended up as something completely different, but somehow even more insulting.

A person of the female gender, blatantly lacking in the IQ/common sense/humanity department, had angered me to the point where I referred to her as a ‘dumb whore’. Not to her face, obviously.

I immediately took back what I had said. I lamented the fact that I could not be more creative with my insults, and that although the woman who had angered me clearly was and is dumb, I should be able to come up with something better than ‘whore’.

“Yes,” the person on the other side said (a man by the way, which probably matters), “you shouldn’t call whores dumb, that is insulting to the whores.

“After all, whores are not dumb; they get paid for the things you give away for free.”

Now THAT, that was an insult.

Because it’s 2014, I am nearly 24, and for some reason, my private bits are still equalized to a raisin cookie.

Saying that someone gives something away for free, implies that there should be a prize on it. Whether it is a dinner date, a round of drinks, an expensive bag or a handful of crumpled up fivers.

It appears to be the general view that the female reproductive parts, whether you call it a vagina, a pussy or a love box (no, seriously, that happened to me once), is something which has to be coaxed out of its hiding place. “Here kitty kitty kitty, come hither and have some milk!” Heavens forbid that women would go out and get their own goddamn milk.

Whereas for dude parts, well, they’re roaming free regardless, and not just in the physical sense. Quite frankly, most of the time it’s shoved in your face whether you like it or not. Pardon the pun.

I am so tired of this conversation. Really, I am. Personally, I have been having it for nearly a decade, so I can’t even imagine how the generation ahead of me must be feeling. I so wish we didn’t have to address this at all. But I suppose if we stopped harping on about sexual equality, we’d all be ‘massive pussies’, so maybe it’s better to ‘man up and grow some balls’?

 

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