To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily
February 23, 2017 11:06 PM   Subscribe

In 1969 a young danish girl had been given permission to travel the countryside alone (on foot), which apparently was considered highly unusual at the time. She even had a document with a stamp from the local police chief. In this video a reporter asks what she would do to protect herself if harrassed. [speaking only]
posted by Johnny Wallflower (58 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
 
(English captions available)
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:09 PM on February 23, 2017


nice! plus she has a dog.
posted by sio42 at 11:27 PM on February 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


That sounded potentially interesting from your description. I watched it and think you way undersold it. Best 35 seconds I've spent today.
posted by mark k at 12:10 AM on February 24, 2017 [16 favorites]


Fucks news: fair unbalanced.
posted by flabdablet at 12:11 AM on February 24, 2017 [3 favorites]


Freaking priceless. Vid is a pro-click!
posted by Samizdata at 12:18 AM on February 24, 2017 [3 favorites]


Speaking only? The best part was how she didn't speak at all in answering his last question, but instead offered a wordless demonstration of exactly how she would defend herself. Still laughing.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 12:23 AM on February 24, 2017 [5 favorites]


I dunno, pushing people into ditches...is that strictly ju jitsu?
more like Dick Emery
posted by glasseyes at 12:35 AM on February 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


Sigh. I read the YouTube comments so you don't have to. You're welcome. (Srsly - what is wrong with these people?? Why are they so vile?)

Apparently, it might have been a comedy skit? *Shrug*
posted by greermahoney at 12:56 AM on February 24, 2017 [4 favorites]


I did not expect that. Fabulous.
posted by solarion at 1:10 AM on February 24, 2017


fucking hell that was brilliant
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:53 AM on February 24, 2017


The dog seems used to this.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:40 AM on February 24, 2017 [7 favorites]


it might have been a comedy skit

Seems possible. I spent a few minutes searching around and couldn't find any other media about a girl traveling on foot thru Denmark in 1969, which I would sort of expect.
posted by Miko at 4:48 AM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


Most of them were abducted by men pretending to be journalists.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:58 AM on February 24, 2017 [9 favorites]


Fuck the patriarchy and fuck anyone from the patriarchy who questions our ability to fuck the patriarchy.
posted by BrashTech at 5:15 AM on February 24, 2017 [9 favorites]


She even procures a document
What?
posted by unliteral at 5:24 AM on February 24, 2017


I've watched this like ten times already. Recommend.
posted by schadenfrau at 5:25 AM on February 24, 2017


What?

What about it?

procure, v.
3a. trans. To acquire or obtain, esp. with care or effort; to gain, get possession of (now the usual sense)
posted by zamboni at 5:32 AM on February 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


Even if it was a comedy skit, I'm curious about the context concerning the document. To whom is it implied that she would need to show it?
posted by RobotHero at 5:41 AM on February 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


I know what procure means, but:
She even procures a document with a stamp from the local police chief, to verify her story.
I guess it's the 'She even' that throws it out for me, 'produces' would work better in this context. AMA needed.
posted by unliteral at 5:50 AM on February 24, 2017


To whom is it implied that she would need to show it?

Hello, person who has apparently never been a young woman in the world. We don't get to walk around unharassed or "unprotected", which is why you always see stories of globe-trotting white men! (i.e. not women and not people of color)

She would need to show it when people assume that a young girl walking around alone is an anomaly and "helpfully" offer to call the police to "protect" her. With a police-stamped paper that says her story is true, everyone gets to be relieved that a young woman walking around alone has been approved by the patriarchy.
posted by fraula at 5:53 AM on February 24, 2017 [48 favorites]


Great mystery meat, would eat again.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:56 AM on February 24, 2017 [3 favorites]


To whom is it implied that she would need to show it?

I biked a few thousand miles alone in the US when I was 17. One time I asked local police for help figuring out if I had a concussion from getting a bottle thrown at my head, and they kept me for a bit while they called my parents to verify "my story." (Okay, I didn't really ask, so much as I tried to figure it out on my own with a bike light & mirror and worried a shopkeeper.) I didn't live with my parents, and had already shown a US passport & license. It was just a very confusing situation for them. (And for my parents!)
posted by cogitron at 6:00 AM on February 24, 2017 [9 favorites]


I biked a few thousand miles alone in the US when I was 17. One time I asked local police for help figuring out if I had a concussion from getting a bottle thrown at my head
This also needs an AMA
posted by unliteral at 6:11 AM on February 24, 2017 [5 favorites]


Bad. Ass. Wonder where she is now? I bet she's got some stories to tell!
posted by jhope71 at 6:29 AM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


This woman... she sells pastry?
(No, really, it was great/funny, but Danish. You're welcome! Any time!)
posted by heyho at 6:30 AM on February 24, 2017


I've watched this three times so far and I'm still laughing. I'm curious about the full story, but nothing would disappoint me; this is great.
posted by Songdog at 6:33 AM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


The dog seems used to this.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:40 AM on February 24


They're good dogs, Yeck.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:45 AM on February 24, 2017 [11 favorites]


It's got to be a skit: they stand up at just the right time. Doesn't diminish it, though; the timing is perfect.
posted by Brother Rambler at 7:33 AM on February 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


While traveling alone I met a Danish woman, who was also travelling alone, with whom I climbed and descended a very large volcano in one day. She made it look effortless, just taking a stroll up a volcano. I can totally see this woman doing this.
posted by waving at 7:34 AM on February 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


This wasn't really so unusual in 1969: we're talking the high hippie era here, and lots of young people all over the world, male and female, left home with or without parental permission.

Heck, my own grandfather --- then aged 15, 4ft 10 inches tall at most and legally blind since birth --- got ticked off when his stepmother told him to wipe his muddy feet before coming in the house, so he left home in 1920. He came back a year later, she told him to take his hat off in the house, and he left again for another six months. People have been going walkabout for a long, long time.
posted by easily confused at 7:39 AM on February 24, 2017 [15 favorites]


While traveling alone I met a Danish woman, who was also travelling alone, with whom I climbed and descended a very large volcano in one day.

This is the most Elizabeth Bishop thing I am likely to read all week, and I was literally reading Elizabeth Bishop last night
posted by miles per flower at 7:46 AM on February 24, 2017 [9 favorites]


As a young white man I wasn't even able to hike 25 miles from one town to another without being hassled by the police. A young woman needing the described document is completely believable to me.

Still, the way the camera backs away to capture her move and the way they both stand up on cue says the interview was at least staged, if not the entire thing made up.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:50 AM on February 24, 2017


Well, it is an interview. They would already know her story -- interviews aren't impromptu, good interviewers just make it seem that way -- and would have discussed the interview structure beforehand. She would know the reporter expected her to demonstrate her self defense at that point in the questioning, but likely would have only discussed the demonstration itself, not practiced it.
posted by davejay at 8:00 AM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


Why didn't she just shoot him?

/confused Texan
posted by Beholder at 8:30 AM on February 24, 2017 [7 favorites]


a young woman walking around alone has been approved by the patriarchy

The clip is supposed to be from 1969, not 1769.
posted by effbot at 8:41 AM on February 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


> The clip is supposed to be from 1969, not 1769.

In the early 70s, my mother was having to produce her divorce papers to prove she didn't need her husband's permission to get a car loan from the bank. My mother was long past her teen years, and yes this was in the US. This kind of thing is not as distant as you - and far too many other people - would like to think.
posted by rtha at 8:57 AM on February 24, 2017 [26 favorites]


Why didn't she just shoot him?

She did better. He's alive and humiliated. I assume her martial arts have advanced.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 9:14 AM on February 24, 2017


(Okay, you can trip me but don't kick me in the face, um, or anywhere else)

(We'll see. My note gives me a bit of latitude about this)
posted by mule98J at 10:00 AM on February 24, 2017 [3 favorites]


This kind of thing is not as distant as you - and far too many other people - would like to think.

It is pretty distant in Scandinavia; e.g. your mother would have been considered to be of legal majority as early as 1734 in Sweden/Finland (ok, she would still have had to prove that she was divorced, I guess). For unmarried women, you had to apply to the monarch before the mid 19th century and some did, but Denmark/Norway fixed that in 1855, Sweden in 1858 (in Sweden first opt-in via local court, changed to opt-out five years later). Took a bit longer before the rules for marriage changed, but that was sorted out long before 1969.

(So it's pretty safe to assume that the girl in the video is an unmarried minor, i.e. younger than 20 years at the time. Or an actress playing an unmarried minor, at least :-)
posted by effbot at 10:08 AM on February 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


In the early 70s, my mother was having to produce her divorce papers to prove she didn't need her husband's permission to get a car loan from the bank. My mother was long past her teen years, and yes this was in the US. This kind of thing is not as distant as you - and far too many other people - would like to think.

In 2009, my wife was in with her gyn-ob for a visit to discuss a C-section for the upcoming birth of our second child. She told the doctor that while he was in there, he should tie off her tubes. She was asked if I was ok with this. So, yeah, this kind of attitude persists.

(My wife's response was to tell the doc that if I wanted more kids I could carry them to term myself. That ended the conversation, apparently).
posted by nubs at 10:51 AM on February 24, 2017 [5 favorites]


Assuming this isn't a skit, I would also assume that the reason for the note is to prove she has permission from her parents to be out wandering. Something to show local authorities that she isn't a run away so that they will allow her to go on her way. 1969 was a LONG time ago in terms of attitudes about acceptable behavior. Especially when it came to the young and female (think Mad Men).
posted by Carbolic at 12:10 PM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


So the thing the document first reminded me of was the pass system that Canada used to have for Natives. You could acquire a travel permit from the local Indian Agent to assure RCMP you had a valid reason to be out an about. The implication being that if you've gone off the reservation without permission you must be up to no good.

So was there was a similar presumption that a single young woman without male to vouch for her is probably a prostitute?
posted by RobotHero at 12:12 PM on February 24, 2017


This is the most Elizabeth Bishop thing I am likely to read all week, and I was literally reading Elizabeth Bishop last night

This was a great thing about travelling in New Zealand in the 1980s. I met several women from around the world travelling alone, hitchhiking alone, too. I'm not sure what it is like now but I'm planning to visit again soon to scope it out for retirement.
posted by waving at 12:51 PM on February 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


Minor women traveling alone still get questioned. Even as a fully grown adult lady traveling alone, I get questioned sometimes - not as much as when I was in my 20s and received a tremendous amount of concern and/or concern trolling about being 'all by yourself.'
posted by Miko at 1:06 PM on February 24, 2017 [4 favorites]


And then there was this not that long ago - people lost their freaking minds.
posted by Miko at 1:09 PM on February 24, 2017 [3 favorites]


In 1966, Katherine Switzer was trying to run the Boston Marathon, against her coach's advice. People at the time thought that women's reproductive organs would be damaged by long-distance running. Yes they did. She was noticed during the race and a race official tried to physically wrestle her off the course.

For her own safety of course.
posted by Miko at 1:16 PM on February 24, 2017 [4 favorites]




I don't care if it was stage. I went from Trump's speech at CPAC, through the WH banning some media and made the mistake of reading some of the comments on the Smithsonian Holocaust article. I needed this laugh. THANK YOU.
posted by Malingering Hector at 2:13 PM on February 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


The comments aren't loading for me. So for the last couple of hours I've been down the rabbit hole of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation's archive sites: Here are "raw"-ish archives, and here are edited vignettes of everyday life from the sixties (scroll down for more programs). I can't find the segment with the girl, but it's really fun. I don't know if they can be accessed from abroad, or if they make sense without subtitles, but I think a lot of the visual material is pretty amazing.

Up til 1988, there was only one TV channel in Denmark, and it was public service, no ads at all. In 1969, there were 5 hours of broadcasting a day.

In the programs from the sixties, you see people smoking marihuana and discussing its benefits, frank discussions about pornography, sex and reproduction, some semi-nudity (from a porn shop!), lots of women with opinions and young people, even children speaking out. There is also a segment about UFO watching, and one about Christian summer camp. And urban planning and debate about extending the draft to women. It's not that this doesn't happen today as well, but I was surprised that there is so much of this from the sixties.

Within the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, the department for Children and Youth was legendary, and the cause for decades of fierce political debate as well as international prizes. They did puppet shows, similar to the Muppet Show, and other stuff for the small children. And then they did really strange, surreal or dadaist stuff for the older children and youth. This interview is very much in their style - and you would never know if something was real or ironic or just crazy. They also did a special brand of social realism, with humor to counterbalance the rough facts. Many Danish directors, cinematographers, actors, musicians and screenwriters started out in "B&U" as it was called.
posted by mumimor at 2:44 PM on February 24, 2017 [10 favorites]


In the early 70s, my mother was having to produce her divorce papers to prove she didn't need her husband's permission to get a car loan from the bank.

In the mid-70s my divorced mom was a college prof and the treasurer of her faculty union. At one point she was shopping around for a new institution to keep the union's pension fund in. She used to delight in touring around to places with me and my two cousins: tellers would see a woman in her thirties with three kids under ten, walking in wearing jeans, a sweater, and sneakers. She would ask about opening a new account and they would hand her some paperwork and steer her to a table where she found fill it out.

"And how much money are you thinking of depositing, Ms. Biscuit?"

"About 2.5 million."

"Oh, er... the manager will see you now. Right this way!"
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:15 PM on February 24, 2017 [6 favorites]


Minor women traveling alone still get questioned.


Minors in general travelling alone still draw attention. I think it would not be the worst idea in the world for a traveler under 18 to have a letter from a parent or guardian to allay questions at border crossings and airline check-in desks.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:26 PM on February 24, 2017


Well, when my partner was 12, which would be in about 1961, he was interested in trains, football and walking around. As the eldest of a large family he had a lot of freedom and he was allowed to go from Bristol to London by himself on the train. Once the police took him off the train thinking he was a runaway. They phoned the Bristol police up about him and got straight through to his dad, an officer, so they ended up putting him back on the train. I think he carried a letter from his dad after that if he was going anywhere far.

So, police and parental permission in one.
posted by glasseyes at 3:39 PM on February 24, 2017


But I think it would be dreadful if you couldn't go anywhere without your parents permission till you were 18, jeez. No bike sheds, no long grass, no back of the girls toilets - you'd be stunted.
posted by glasseyes at 3:43 PM on February 24, 2017


Thinking a bit more, I think it was in 1978, when I was 15, I was allowed to travel through Europe from Copenhagen to St Raphael in France and back. Some of the way down, I met up with a boy from school (our parents knew this and approved). We had Interail cards. We split somewhere in the South of France, he was going on to meet other friends in Spain. We did not have letters of consent, and while some conservative people en route asked about us traveling together, no-one commented on our age.
On the way back, I had saved up for a special day in Paris, with lunch at Le Train Bleu and time for exploring on my own. I met a guy and we talked and had fun, and then I couldn't find my key for the locker at Gare Lyon, and the station office was closed for the night, and he offered me to sleep at his place. Which I did. Sometime late at night, his roomie came home and said something to the effect that he couldn't believe there was this Scandinavian girl in their apartment and no-one was having sex. This was scary — he was drunk and seemed aggressive. But I explained I was still a virgin and didn't see this as the right time or place to change that, and the two discussed it and let me be. In retrospect I think one experience every girl in Copenhagen had all the time at the time was that sex-tourists mistook you for a prostitute, and got used to explaining no and pointing them in the right direction without fear.
The school year after this holiday, we actually had feminist self-defense at school, which was fun and gave me a confidence that probably has protected me from assault from strangers ever since. I've never used the moves, or had reason to use them.

I think the girl was unusual because of the jiu jitsu, the mode of travel (walking) and then the whole thing is also funny because of her dialect and style. I'm pretty certain that both my mother and my aunt were allowed to travel alone when they were 16-17 years old, with my aunt being about the same age at the same time as the girl in the video. Lots of people moved out of their childhood homes at 14 up till the late sixties, and kids traveling alone for work in other towns or at farms must have been very normal till then.

I'm still searching for the clip - for more context. It may have been an act all through.
posted by mumimor at 4:30 PM on February 24, 2017 [3 favorites]


What's funny about her dialect, mumimor?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:06 PM on February 24, 2017


But I think it would be dreadful if you couldn't go anywhere without your parents permission till you were 18, jeez. No bike sheds, no long grass, no back of the girls toilets - you'd be stunted.

I specifically cited airlines and border crossings. When I had a sixteen-year-old, I was all for her going out and exploring the world. Going to a concert or on a weekend-long trip with friends and going to Indonesia are not quite the same thing.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:00 PM on February 24, 2017


the permission slip could've also been (subtextually) to assure hotel owners that she wasn't a sex worker, which is the assumption some people make about young women on their own
posted by Emily's Fist at 8:15 PM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


Johnny Wallflower - she has a provincial dialect and homey style which runs counter to the perception of who trained in martial arts at the time. I googled to make sure I wasn't imagining stuff, because all those old documentary clips have already surprised me a lot, but all references I could find supported my assumption that jiu jitsu was something urban boys practiced, not sweet, small-town girls.
posted by mumimor at 11:31 PM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


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