Yes, it’s true: Finland’s 34-year-old Prime Minister has recently bared it all to expose ”misogyny” in Finland and worldwide. Google the news to see images from the photo shoot and they are completely SFW (safe for work).
One headline in Finland read: “Sanna Marin: Finland PM wears blazer ‘with nothing underneath’, sparking sexism debate.”
Another read: “Magazine photoshoot branded ‘inappropriate’ by Finnish critics, while supporters post selfies under #imwithsanna hashtag.”
So yes, 34-year-old Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin was interviewed by ”Trendi” magazine in Helsinki and posed for photographs wearing a black blazer with apparently nothing underneath except a necklace in the plunging neckline. This style is nothing new on the red carpet of Hollywood movie awards show, but a national leader dressed like that causes quite a stir. Even in Finland.
After Marin’s photographs were published in the trendy fashion magazine, conservatives in Finland criticized her outfit saying that it was likely to damage her ”political credibility.”
Some even gossiped online about how much people might pay for membership to a pornographic website that featured photo spreads of Marin. No such website exists.
Although the number of female national leaders worldwide is on the rise, many voters still expect them to have a masculine look in the clothes they wear and are photographed in, according to fashion industry observers.
“Once a woman, whether a star or a politician, reveals a more sexual aspect of her body, conservatives and rightwingers immediately sexualize her and diminish her value as a talented woman by reducing her to a sex object,” said Chia-hsien Yang in Taiwan.
However in a novel twist, many of Marin’s supporters started posting images of themselves in blazers with ”nothing underneath” on social media in Finland (and other nations) with the #imwithsanna Twitter hashtag as a show of solidarity and to support for her effort to break a patriarchal gender stereotype.
What Marin has encountered is ”the misogyny complex,” according to Yang, which to this day is present almost everywhere. Worldwide.
”Misogyny is not limited to men — some women have internalized patriarchal thinking, with disgust for, and censorship of, other women,” Yang says.
”When women are unwilling to abide by pre-established gender norms — to be obedient and act like “good women” — or unwilling to take the initiative to conceal their femininity in a male-dominated public domain, they are viewed as unqualified,” Yang added.
Marin’s challenge is that she has become a “magic mirror” for revealing misogyny, said Yang, a managing director of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights.
Prime Minister Marin was photographed wearing a smart black trouser suit with a plunging neckline for the cover of a Finnish fashion magazine last month..
However, despite telling the publication that she wanted to “concentrate on policies, not my appearance,” she has found herself at the center of a sexism brouhaha over the photoshoot.
Politicians and members of the Finnish public have been divided in their opinions, with some calling the image “inappropriate” and others praising PM Marin.
Supporters of the Finnish leader shared similar images of themselves on social media under the hashtag #imwithsanna, while some also posted ”topless” photos of male world leaders, including Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Finnish actress Kiti Kokkonen and singer Hanna Pakarinen also posted images of themselves in the same pose to show their support for the prime minister.
Overseas in Malta, Rosianne Cutajar, Malta’s junior minister for equality and reforms, retweeted the image of PM Marin, writing: “Regardless of our work and our roles in society and politics, all too often we are judged by our appearance. Sexist and misogynistic attacks continue unchecked. When will this shaming stop?”
Latvian welfare minister Ramona Petravica said politicians “must be judged by their achievements, not their looks.”
On the male chauvinsist pig side of the brouhaha, Aki Pyysing, a Finnish entrepreneur, mocked PM Marin’s photo and claimed she was “attention-seeking” in a blog post shared by two Finnish MPs from the opposition center-right National Coalition party.
But Mari Karsikas, Trendi’s editor-in-chief, suggested the “brouhaha” stemmed from misogyny, writing: “Many did not see her bare chest at all — they saw Sanna Marin dressed in a trendy black trouser suit.”
Some background: Social Democrat PM Marin became the world’s youngest leader at 34, the youngest prime minister in Finland’s history and only its third-ever female premier when she was sworn into office last December.
She was born and raised in Helsinki by her mother and her mother’s female partner, in what she describes as a “rainbow family.”
She was the first person in her family to graduate both high school and university, where she obtained a master’s degree in administrative sciences in 2017.
Hat tip to Eddy Chang in Taipei for translation of some of the choice quotes above.