Challenging Social Norms and Breaking Down Stereotypes

Feminist activist, psychologist and dancer Louise Kjølsen talks femininity and the power of challenging social structures.

WORDS BY
Maria Collinge
Published
January 19, 2024
(Photo: Female Invest)
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Challenging stereotypes and the status quo is Twerk Queen Louise’s superpower and her unapologetic self-expression has transformed her into the activist she is today. Fusing her passion for dancing with a masters in Psychology, she uses her platform of 80,000 followers to shine a light on sexual discrimination in all corners of society.

From female representation in politics to advocating for consent laws, Louise is not afraid to step into the world and promote positive change armed with knowledge, whilst simultaneously posting selfies and twerking videos to reflect her authentic self. She’s considered provocative by many, but it’s exactly these sorts of narratives she’s on a mission to overturn.

“When people shame me I don’t get hurt – I get angry”

Louise explained how the shock factor of merging her parallel worlds propelled her own career and advocacy.“It really gave me a unique position” she said, “because I was in a position to surprise people and we all know that the brain remembers what is surprising. It really gave mean upper hand that everyone was so prejudice because it made me stand out.”

Completing a Psychology bachelor's degree in Denmark, Louise then enrolled as a student for the first semester of her masters in Amsterdam. It was in Amsterdam that Louise went clubbing and danced...a lot.Proceeding to write her thesis on twerking as a feminist practice, this she explained, represented the moment when her two worlds collided. “I didn’t feel like I had to choose between a body or a brain and it made me feel like a whole person – that I could be more things than one.”

(Photo: Female Invest)

But Louise is no stranger to backlash and has experienced her share of criticism along the way. She explained how “it was confusing to people that you could be smart and hot at the same time when you are a woman because men get to do it all the time”, adding that “it provoked a lot of people that I didn’t play by the rules.” Being vocal about societal issues whilst wearing a crop-top was difficult for people to process, she explained, but changing her style “would make me a hypocrite to say women can dress how they want and women can do with their bodies what they want.” So, rather than conforming to the criticism and allowing her gender to define her, Louise explained how she would get really angry and instead felt a sense of entitlement. “When people shame me I don’t get hurt – I get angry.”

Step into the world with entitlement

It is this sense of entitlement that has catapulted Louise’s success, and she insists that no woman should ask for permission. “Entitlement means I can be who I am and I shouldn’t apologise for it and my gender doesn’t limit me in that way. I put my foot down and I’m going to twerk my ass off and talk about structures in society.”

It’s therefore no surprise to see that Louise has bulldozed through the criticism and is using her voice on radio and tv debates, documentaries and by attending events to challenge the structural issues that continue to characterise society. She explained how the fight to be her slowly turned into fighting for women as a whole. “I’m not just fighting for privileged white women but I can also make awareness about, for example, women wearing hijabs and LGBT+ communities.”

Shake things up and be curious

Louise urges that people to not get complacent and that they can all make a difference by being curious and challenging the norms. “If people just accept the way things are, we won’t see any progress” she said. “Whenever people give you the reason that this is just how it is, you should always stop and be curious and think ‘could it be greater?’ When you feel like something is set in stone, that’s when you should push it or turn it upside down.”

“Representation matters, but we need more than that – we need femininity in the system”

For Louise, you cannot change the world from a place of acceptance. “That is the real problem right now. We cannot solve these problems because people don’t see that there is a problem.” Whether it’s the pay gap or female political representation, “wake people up with the statistics” she says. It is from this starting point that the issues can be debated and legislated. Turning the mission from an ‘I’ to a ‘we’ issue is where the true power of feminism lies for Louise. Arming yourself with the facts, she believes, is powerful.

Femininity is power – let’s reward it

More women are being represented in business and politics than ever before. Data from the United Nations database of 133 countries shows that women constitute 2.18 million (36%) of elected members in local deliberative bodies in 2021. Meanwhile, 26% of all CEOs and managing directors were women by 2021, compared to only 15% in 2019 . However, Louise urges people to see women and femininity as separate issues because “we do see more women in power today but the thing they all have in common is they have to be very masculine to get there. We continue to have a system that rewards masculine behaviour.” She continued: “Representation matters, but we need more than that – we need femininity in the system.” Toxic masculinity, she says, is an old-fashioned way of ruling the world and femininity is being more sought out, no matter the gender that embodies it. “The way we run the world should reflect who is in that world.”

(Photo: Female Invest)

Investing is power – it’s like voting

As an only child, Louise observed that money was never a priority for her parents. But as she grew older, she realised the power of money to not only build freedom and security for herself individually, but for the future as a whole. “I had to re-programme my whole mindset into rich people are not necessarily bad people and then viewing money as something that gives you power.” She added: “I didn’t want to have enough, I wanted to have a lot. Not in a greedy way but in a way that allows me to create stuff. So that’s when I started working really consciously with my mindset.”

After years of deliberating investing and believing her limited knowledge in the area was a disadvantage, Louise made her first investment in November 2021 which she describes as giving her a sense of control. “I’m creating a better future – it’s like voting. I’m not voting for oil or coal, I’m voting for a greener future, I’m voting for a more diverse future. It really gives me a sense of empowerment in the best way.”

Smash the taboos - start talking about money

But like so many of us, Louise had never previously discussed money with her friends until one day, she realised her best friend had been investing too. “It was then I realised that we never have conversations about this because we are women and we’re not brought up to talk about money. Why don’t we talk about money?” Louise said. “It’s how we get ahead.” Louise is proof that embracing all parts of your personality and not conforming to society’s standards is a force for powerful change.

The word “no” doesn’t exist in her vocabulary and her sense of entitlement has undoubtedly fuelled her success. She urges other women to follow suit and to challenge the structural issues that continue to permeate society. As she put it (by quoting Beyonce, of course): “Life is your birth right, they hid that in the fine print. Take the pen and rewrite it."

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