Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Women on the loose" - Kjerringsleppet

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

During the 1994 Winter Olympics at Lillehammer, thirty five Norwegian women skied down the slope, opening the giant slalom competition. In Norway this group of bold women is known as the Kjerringsleppet, which roughly translates as "Women on the loose."

The group formed back in 1989 when only men were invited to participate in the opening ceremony of Norway's Alpine Center. The women felt insulted and excluded, so these thirty-five banded together, waited in the woods until the appropriate moment, then shocked everyone by swooping out of the trees on snow skis, clanging cow bells and crashing the ceremony. The country loved it, and the women became a fond symbol, so much so they were invited to the Olympics.

The Kjerringsleppet are a marvelous image for female empowerment and a "woman on the loose" is a woman who leaves the woods where she has been growing strong all these years. She swoops out of the trees, ringing her bell. She is saying, I am here now and I am not going away!

The motto the women on the loose adopted is translated as:
"To improvise, surprise, and come uninvited."

To improvise means to take whatever abilities and resources are available and to use them in whatever situations arises, often an unforseen one. These Norwegian women were presented with a situation in which they were excluded, so they improvised a way to challenge and circumvent it. As Sartre said, "Genius is the way one invents in desperate situations."

An empowered woman becomes a genius in desperate situations; she is an improvisational artist. Rather than bypassing or shrinking from situations where her consciousness is needed, she speaks and acts, relying on something insider herself. To improve you must trust your-self and value your own knowing.

The rest of the Kjerringsleppet motto is "to surprise and come uninvited," which means stepping out of the expected and becoming a daring and dissident presence. Powerful women are always surprising themselves, always getting a small gasp out of the world.

When women speak truly, they speak subversively," writes Ursula K. Le Guin. They refuse to be uninvited. They learn surprising ways to invite themselves.


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