stack of books

Readings the books; Hela Kakan

Usually, I’m not a fan of serious books on serious topics. But for Hela Kakan, I’ll make an exception.

For those of you unfamiliar; Kakan is a well-known face in Swedish media. I know and love her primarily as a radio host; I still miss her in PP3. And Morgonpasset.

Anyway. There are people who don’t feel quite the same way. Being the feminist and lesbian that she is, and quite outspoken too, her mere existence offends a lot of people.

Let’s move on to the book! It’s off to a brilliant start:

[Journalist:] “are you pro gender equality?”
Really? We’re suddenly on level Gender Studies 101 for beginners in primary school, where I haven’t been since, well, primary school. I got this terrible feeling in my stomach and thought, if this is the level we’re on, I’ll never be able to reach a single person, and also, I’ll be misunderstood a thousand times round. If I’m pro gender equality? I don’t know what s/he thought I was goingto say, that I was hoping for an army like the one Valerie Solanas was trying to raise to kill everyone not on my side?
I was under the impression this was a biography. Or rather, it is a biography, but very untraditional at that. Bascially, she’s picked a number of topics, or issues, and put these in the context of her life. Now this! It’s exactly how I like my biographies served; no chronological order, no relate every boring detail, just random events arranged in whichever way.

The length is also a selling point. It’s the size of a children’s book; large page, hardback cover, thin volume. It’s a mere 170 pages, easy breezy read!

This book should be translated and read in all schools.

What she mainly deals with different feminist issues in a way that’s easily accessible. Cannot help but love this book.

Main point in case: anyone quoting or referring to Carin Holmberg, I cannot help but love. Carin is a researcher who studied the power relationship between the genders in heterosexual relationships, and wrote a book about it, back in the early 90s. The title of the book is Det kallas kärlek [It’s called love]; the fact that this book is not studied in all schools is a crime.

The part Kakan quotes is about how the assumption that women and men have the same goal when it comes to gender equality. We didn’t way back when Carin did her research nearly 20 years ago, and we still don’t. It goes without saying that is an important problem.

While this is a serious topic and she treats it as such, Kakan is funny too. I mean obviously. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: feminists have the best sense of humour. For example, I like this part, where she jokes that maybe the title of the book should have been My struggle against becoming the woman of your dreams. If she’s not writing this book, someone really should.


She’s also got a knack for illustrative examples. A favorite is this one, where she explains how tiresome it is that some men have the need to comment on women’s sexuality in all sorts of irrelevant contexts:

It’s not as if Zlatan is told he’s straight every time he scores or assists.

Another of the issues Kakan deals with is body positivity.

Patriarchy has many great ideas about how to not make anything of ourselves and never be free.
That a journalist would ask a question like that about my weight isn’t only off limits, but also stupid. How much energy do you think it takes to keep track of your weight or how much you eat? Or feeling anixous about your body? Just imagine what we could be doing with all this time.

And her will to change, it’s admirable and inspiring.

If you’re a man and reading this, furious, and feeling run over, then you’ve got some work to do. Keep reading this book and you’ll learn something. If you’re white and offended, then, I’m not sure where to start, we’ll just have to start all over.

There are so many reasons to love this book, this was just a few of them.

Lots of love!

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2 thoughts on “Readings the books; Hela Kakan”

    1. So glad you’re mentioning this because the title of the book is actually a fun little translation puzzle. 🙂

      Her name is really Karin Hermansson, her nickname, and the name she’s known by is Kakan. Which could be translated as either cake or cookie, depends on context.

      If you consider it being a nickname, you’d probably translate it as cookie, since that also works as nickname in English, However, “The Whole/Entire Cookie” that just seems all sorts of wrong.

      I also keep thinking that it’s loosely referencing “having the cake and eating it too” (ha hela kakan och äta den också), so translated literally you’d sort of have to use cake, but the wordplay would be lost. Also; we’re not generally in the habit of translating names anymore.

      Probable solution in a translation situation: just picking a different title. I’m guessing the title is really saying “All about Kakan”.

      That’d be the long answer then 😉

      Liked by 1 person


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