Male immigrants to Norway given lessons in how to treat women

(99 Posts)
JoanFerguson Sun 20-Dec-15 20:26:14

mobile.nytimes.com/2015/12/20/world/europe/norway-offers-migrants-a-lesson-in-how-to-treat-women.html?smid=tw-share&referer=

What do people think about this? I think it seems like a good idea, a way of addressing the concerns people have about men coming from very misogynist/unequal cultures. I kind of think that perhaps in the UK at least (I can't speak for Norway) these lessons might benefit uk born young men as well... Part of me wonders if it's treading a line between pragmatism and racism though, making possibly unfair assumptions about attitudes based on where people are from? I don't know.

Roonerspism Sun 20-Dec-15 20:35:05

Part of me is depressed by the necessity for these courses.... But at least a problem - and it seems to be a problem - is being addressed.

GreenTomatoJam Sun 20-Dec-15 20:55:23

I think it's a good idea to have cultural lessons - I think they should be teaching the women too - what's acceptable, and what they should do if they experience unacceptable treatment - too many immigrants suffer in silence because they come from places where things aren't against the law, or if they are, fear of the police, or family, or society in general means that they don't report.

People need to know that they can speak up (and I really hope that they'd be listened to, although I'm concerned they might not)

It starts so early for boys raised in ouer culture too though. DS is only 5, and already he's had some indoctrination attempts from his friends about colours and toys (he's a you-tube/iplayer boy - never really been subject to adverts, so until he hit school, he'd not experienced any gender separation - plus his dad is the most impractical man you've ever met whereas I'm all about the sci/maths/diy). DS luckily takes after his dad (and can't imagine why anyone would say he couldn't have sparkly things...) so it hasn't made much of an impression yet. I'm dreading the day he stops feeling as though he should moderate his tastes because of his sex.

0phelia Sun 20-Dec-15 20:56:36

The UK would never do anything like this!
Think of the cost.
It would be a "disaster for the economy"... That anything sensible like this is paid for by the state.

I think it's genious. But in Norway, women are actually considered fully human and deserving of being treated as such.

startrek90 Sun 20-Dec-15 21:05:38

I did an integration course in Germany and we did something similar. It was really useful for those from a different misogynistic culture. The men in my class were surprised how many rights their wives and children (in particular daughters) had. The women were grateful for the information. My friend in my class came from Nigeria and was shocked to hear that her husband could not beat her. It turns out he had been doing it for ages and myself and the teacher helped her get support. She had just assumed that the law was the same here and he could do that to her sad she was pregnant too....

GreenTomatoJam Sun 20-Dec-15 21:17:13

yes. I'm still fizzing from the article in the daily mail about 7-13 year olds on the isle of bute riding their (new) bikes down the one way, the wrong way.

Yes, obviously it's dangerous, but for goodness sake, these are kids.. I can't even count how many times I rode my bike down the one way the wrong way in my village! Plus of course they were new bikes - were they expected to pack bikes when fleeing for their lives to refugee camps?!?

I'm not completely liberal, but even I can see that it's shit stirring.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 21-Dec-15 09:51:21

Why is it racist? I know several people male and female who have worked in OPEC countries in oil and medical sectors. They were not refugees obviously and were being very highly paid but they were briefed on the enormous cultural differences they would find.

The classes should include women as well. They need to know what rights they and their children, girls and boys, have and what is expected of them as well as what they are entitled to.

QueenStromba Mon 21-Dec-15 12:42:51

I think this is a brilliant idea. Women aren't entirely seen as fully human in the Western world but it's a million times worse elsewhere. The worst misogyny I've experienced has been from non-Western men. When I was about 15/16 Dublin had a massive influx of Nigerians and the men thought nothing of harassing me on the street, on the bus etc. and they just would not take no for an answer - I used to regularly spend 20 minutes or more trying to get these men to leave me alone.

I worked at Madame Tussauds for a while and we got a fair number of south Asian visitors - the men (never the women) accounted for all of the horrible experiences I had there. I was treated like a servant, talked down to, shouted at - generally treated as subhuman. Americans loved a good complaint but they were always polite about it and Europeans generally didn't like to make a fuss.

I spent a lot of time in nightclubs in my youth so had to fend off a fair bit of male attention. Europeans/Americans etc. would get the hint quite quickly that their attention wasn't welcome (unless really drunk) but Africans, Middle Easterns, Asians, South Americans were often pretty difficult to shake off as if it didn't matter to them that I obviously wasn't interested.

MephistophelesApprentice Mon 21-Dec-15 12:49:58

I definitely think classes that teach incoming women what their rights are would be a fantastically useful idea.

JoanFerguson Mon 21-Dec-15 13:11:06

I suppose I just wondered about the one size fits all assumption that all men from a particular culture would have the same set of attitudes Lass. I suppose there is no way round that and presumably if people didn't hold those attitudes they would understand the need for those who did to hear the stuff? Like I said I do think it's a good idea and I think that letting women know their rights is a good idea too.

PausingFlatly Mon 21-Dec-15 13:11:08

I've had pre-departure and on-arrival orientation briefings when I've relocated for work. It's normal good practice, and included cultural stuff, how health services and education worked, and warnings about local dangerous driving.

I'm pretty sure the UK does orientation for refugees. I've seen it mentioned in passing a few times.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 21-Dec-15 14:13:08

It's important in relation to children too. Corporal punishment of children is banned in Norway.

startrek90 Mon 21-Dec-15 15:01:27

joan I understand your concern but honestly in the class that I was in the men from western Europe (like myself) didn't get offended. We all just got on with it. I think they are a useful thing and we all got something out of it.

PlaysWellWithOthers Mon 21-Dec-15 18:06:37

I personally think that these kind of lessons should be done for everyone.

Everyone should have some kind of formal lessons where they learn their rights and obligations as citizens of the country they live in. I understand that PHSE is supposed to do that, but it's obviously not been very successful.

TheLowKing Mon 21-Dec-15 18:18:46

I think this is a massively useful and important thing to do, and Norway is getting it exactly right in insisting on it.

I also agree with PlaysWell that it should be done for everyone. And it may be patronising to those who would normally behave properly towards women, but tough. Anyone decent would take it as an opportunity to reinforce to other, less-enlightened men what is acceptable behaviour. How much better for men with 'old-fashioned' attitudes to women to be in a class where many other men are going, 'Well, DUH, obviously men don't hit women/withhold money/proposition women/rape within or without marriage, etc...'
I receive annual training in stuff that is basically second nature (child protection), but I would never dream of suggesting I don't need to do it. It's the common good, basically, and all about normalising expected behaviour. I was reading a thread earlier today about scary places, and several women mentioned feeling uncomfortable being shadowed/whistled at etc in some areas of Britain which are dominated by various non-indigenous cultures. I can't day I've experiences that, but I live in a fairly culturally mixed area of South London, where no one culture dominates. A scheme like Norway's might help avoid areas like these arising.

hedgehogsdontbite Mon 21-Dec-15 18:35:18

I live in Sweden and here all foreigners are entitled to free language classes. Usually within a month or 2 of arriving. I've recently restarted after a long break due to illness. Last week one day was given over to a discussion about equality, rights, reporting problems etc and a discussion about attitudes.

It was a real eye opener for me and not what I expected at all. The arabic and african students were surprised by a lot of what they were hearing but were very accepting of what they were learning. The eastern europeans (not all of them though) were a nightmare. I was horrified hearing how bigotted they were and their refusal to contemplate anything different. I think it'll take a hell of a lot more to see any change there.

PlaysWellWithOthers Mon 21-Dec-15 19:50:42

That's really interesting hedgehog, we're looking at emigrating in a few years, and Sweden/Norway are really high on our list.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 22-Dec-15 22:48:18

I was just teaching a women from Pakistan about tenancy rights recently. She asked about what to do when she heard her neighbor being beaten up. She has heard, since being here, two women screaming at night and she assumes domestic violence. She was horrified by this.

ALL men and women should be given an education about rights, values and obligations. Men in Western democracies do pretty bloody awful things as well.

VestalVirgin Wed 23-Dec-15 12:47:27

Part of me wonders if it's treading a line between pragmatism and racism though, making possibly unfair assumptions about attitudes based on where people are from? I don't know.

The problem with the racist implications could be easily solved by giving lessons to all men, regardless of where they come from.

This should start in school, then giving those lessons to immigrants would only be helping them catch up what they missed. Nothing racist there.

Maybe we could also send invitations to such lessons to adult men, sort of like invitations for mammography are sent to women over a certain age.

I am shocked at how many people here report that female immigrants don't know what their rights are ... obviously we need lessons for them, too. I didn't know this was such an issue ... somehow imagined they'd all know about the laws immediately. Stupid me.

MagicalHamSandwich Wed 23-Dec-15 22:44:22

I'm an expat and I would have loved some 'this is how we roll' classes - might have spared me the shame of being lectured about doing laundry on a Sunday and calling people by their first names. I don't think it's racist at all if everyone gets to do it, and having lived through the experience of settling in a new country I think this is actually something people might even welcome as it's just supremely useful.

The one question I do wonder about is how much of an impact this actually had on people's mindsets as opposed to their behaviour. E.g. my conservative Christian American co-worker essentially still thinks I'm a whore but has stopped saying si since being confronted by both me and our boss. In a similar albeit less serious vein I also still think not being able to do laundry on a Sunday is ridiculous and totally impractical.

I guess the question is what the goal really is - changing how people act or how they feel.

OTheHugeManatee Thu 24-Dec-15 07:31:48

Surely how people act is far more important, especially when it comes to not raping random women because no-one told you that wearing a short skirt doesn't mean she wants you to rape her.

It's being suppressed for great of inciting racist reprisals, but there are persistent stories emerging across Europe of a sharp rise in rapes and sexual assaults following the migrant crisis, essentially because a lot of men newly arrived from a conservative Muslim culture simply have no idea that a woman with skin on display is signalling anything but 'anyone can come and shag me'. I think these classes are an extremely good idea.

VestalVirgin Fri 25-Dec-15 18:58:05

essentially because a lot of men newly arrived from a conservative Muslim culture simply have no idea that a woman with skin on display is signalling anything but 'anyone can come and shag me'

I know I'm nitpicking, but I do think they know very well that she doesn't want to be raped.

What they don't know is that in Europe, a large percentage of men disagree, and that there might be consequences.

VestalVirgin Fri 25-Dec-15 18:59:05

Disapprove, I mean, I think they are not aware that people disapprove and it is persecuted as crime.

HermioneWeasley Fri 25-Dec-15 19:04:54

I think it's a great idea. I am genuinely worried about such a large influx or disproportionately young men with very different cultural attitudes (particularly to women and homosexuality). But here the Tories don't care enough to offer it, and the left would scream racism is you suggested it.

GarlicCake Sun 27-Dec-15 06:46:32

Vestal - I feel you're underestimating cultural assumptions elsewhere. Men in several other cultures actually do think we're up for any old shag with any man. The majority of what they know about "liberated" women is gleaned from porn and action movies.

Fully agree with those saying such training should be vastly expanded.

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