Saturday, October 17, 2020

Even Finns are surprised at their reaction to Prime Minister's photo-shoot

New (since December 2019) Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin is 34 years old, blue-eyed, dark-haired, lithe, and, while not obviously a smouldering beauty, at the very least pretty good-looking. She is also a smart cookie - you don't get to be the world's youngest Prime Minister any other way.

Finland is a typically Scandinavian, progressive country, with a well-educated populace and a pretty woke attitude towards women. There is a generally liberal permissive attitude towards sex, drinking, etc, in the country. Finns regularly sit around naked in saunas; it's a thing there.

So, I think it has come as a bit of a surprise to Finns themselves how contentious a recent photo-shoot for women's lifestyle magazine Trendi by Ms. Marin has become. One particular photo, in which she is wearing a smart jacket, slightly open to the navel, with no shirt underneath, seems to have been just too much for many people (specifically older men it seems; most Finnish women are very much positive about it, and there has been an outpouring of support in social media under the #ImWithSanna hashtag).

Some naysayers seem annoyed that she chose to do this during a pandemic, which seems a strange point of contention (the photos accompanied an article about the demands of work, exhaustion, balancing work and family life, etc). Many, though, just seem to find it inappropriate and somehow prurient, which definitely goes against the whole liberal Scandinavian outlook trope.

It is still such a novelty to have a world leader who is not male, middle-aged-to-downright-old, with a paunch, that it seems people don't really know how to deal with it. Even Canada's own Justin Trudeau turned heads back in 2015, and many opponents under-estimated and resented him because he was relatively young, charismatic and personable. New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern, who has more than proved her worth during her first term as Prime Minister, created an uproar when she took her baby to Parliament and a UN conference. It seems we have come a long way in many respects, but we're not quite there yet.

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