Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s dance party video reveals a sexist double standard
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Former Ulta CEO Mary Dillon has a new job, Jill Biden recovers from COVID, and a controversy surrounding Finland’s prime minister reveals a double standard. Have a productive Monday.
—Party politics. When Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin took the reins of the country’s government at age 34 in 2019, she was hailed as the youngest head of government in the world. She began leading Finland with a coalition of five female leaders, four of whom were under the age of 35.
But whereas Marin was once lauded for her achievements at such a young age, her youth has now been weaponized against her as a political liability.
A video of the now 36-year-old PM dancing with friends at a party leaked on social media and became a national controversy in Finland last week. In the video, Marin is seen lip-synching for the camera among a group of friends, dressed for a night out in a lace tank top. There are no drugs visible in the clip, but some opposition politicians, mainly from the right-wing Finns Party, raised questions about whether illegal substances could have been present. The PM, who leads the center-left Social Democratic Party, ended up voluntarily taking a drug test to push back against those claims.
This is the second time a night out of Marin’s has made international news; in late 2021, she left her work phone at home and, while she was out until 4 a.m., missed an alert to isolate after a COVID exposure. This time around, the questions that have circled her night out include whether she would have been capable of handling an emergency had one arisen and whether she was technically on summer vacation.
Marin isn’t that young; at 36, she’s married and the mother of a 4-year-old. Her behavior is relatively typical for someone in her demographic, as she has reminded those who ask her about it. “I have a family life, I have a work life, and I have free time to spend with my friends. Pretty much the same as many people my age,” she said this past week. So why the controversy around how she chooses to let off steam?
As a young woman in power, Marin looks different from leaders who’ve preceded her. In the U.S., for example, we’re used to seeing presidents take time off to play golf. Why should a weekend party with friends be viewed any differently?
Other women see a double standard in the treatment of Marin; some Finnish women began posting photos of themselves partying, too—arguing that a photo of a night out doesn’t mean they’re irresponsible or incapable of tackling important work.
Marin herself hopes that this particular controversy will lead to some changed perspectives. “I had some time off, and I spent it with my friends,” she said. “I hope that in the year 2022 it’s accepted that even decision-makers dance, sing, and go to parties.”
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