It is the week of criticizing women, due to a dancing Prime Minister from Finland, Sanna Marin, and due to discussions about why there are still too little women sitting at the table in Dutch talk shows and other broadcasts. Apparently, we still live in an infantile phase of representation.
The whole world reflects on President Sanna Marin’s ‘moves’ – a young woman indeed. Yes, let’s emphasize that again because a young female president is still exceptional at this time (unfortunately). The recordings were not supposed to actually go public. As we women know: whoever is looking for a rod to strike with, will always find one. So, the entire world sees how Sanna Marin keeps her cool – rightly so – and explains that people her age still like to party wildly with friends, followed by Marin apologizing for naked images of her friends and undergoing a drug test. All of this is by no means classy.
Do I think the ‘moves’ show solidity? Meh, not the stature I would feel great respect for. But there’s nothing wrong with it in the context. So, let’s do something more meaningful with our lives and talk about her actual work.
Do I mind that these recordings have been made public? What does it say if I, like so many women from all over the world, am not surprised by it?
For example, for anyone who claims that prudishness has made a comeback, which I think is not really the case, here is why women are always on their guard, in whatever context. Not only recordings of Sanna Marin leak out and are deliberately used in a game. An endless number of (innocent) images or recordings of women are also used against them. Images, chat conversations, emails, audio/video and more are even pieced together to blackmail and oppress women. For example, if these women are part of very traditional environments in which honor still plays a role. Again, if someone is looking for a rod to strike with, he or she will always find one or fabricate one.
Am I okay with President Sanna Marin taking a drug test? Again, I wouldn’t have expected anything else. What does this say about the age-old, patriarchal system and how much we trust women in their role nowadays?
In addition, while this is about what is legal and what is not, thus the enforcement of the laws and regulations in an exemplary role, it is also about the friction between the old versus new world. In part, society rightly sees drugs as something that we must continue to monitor. For example, because the power of plant medicines can transcend all kinds of interpersonal care, as recent studies increasingly underline. Do we then continue to classify those plant medicines under drugs according to the old thinking?
Back to Sanna Marin: Do we think it is normal for her to have to answer questions on drug use during her life prior to her premiership? I’m only asking because I don’t know. What do you think?
What I do know for sure is that no one in the whole world would reflect on a dancing, male president who would display truly questionable behavior. I do not mean extroverted ‘moves’ with friends only, but severe practices on private islands, with partying and serving girls, various types of illegal stimulants that make all test outcomes turn red and corrupt gang entanglements. No one would question their confidence and proficiency, right? Filled with feelings of acceptance, we would listen to them over again and we would even look up to them as they would appear alongside other world leaders.
Times change. Women around the world are now dancing in solidarity with Marin. In protest, they are publishing videos of their weirdest ‘moves’ because dancing is good for the body and the mind.
More importantly, what we see happening is the beginning of many more female world leaders who, while dancing or not, will bring many things to the table. Matters that history has actually never known before. Those female leaders will even correct what some terrible men have done. They will connect instead of wage war. They will celebrate instead of kill. They will innovate instead of stagnate. With their grace and splendor, they will start to work together from a fundament of natural instinct, rather than increase performance by abhorrent methods.
In the Netherlands, we are currently discussing a recurring theme, namely why there are so few women sitting at the table in Dutch talk shows and other broadcasts. We are talking about the trust gap between men and women. About the so-called bashing culture that targets women more strongly than men. About how women systematically underestimate and ignore themselves. Even about the fact that editors have to do their best to convince so called ’transfer women’ of their qualities.
On social media, professionals come up with tips on how editors can approach female experts and how to train women to participate in representation, to get them to sit at the table. Formats and proprietary editorial bubbles are being criticized. Female experts announce their availability.
It is 2022 and we are still talking about issues like this? All while there are plenty of professional women in all domains, beyond the level of #Instaperfect, the women’s magazines and the domain of lifestyle.
Another point is that the talk shows and other broadcasts should not keep on working in the same journalistic loupe again and again, by inviting the same people over and over again. So, they shouldn’t invite ’the usual suspects’, but create space for different sorts of voices. This too should no longer have to be emphasized in 2022.
On social media, reasons are given for these journalistic scrutinies, namely the financial and collegiate agreements that exist. Some well-known speakers are transparent about this. Let’s take an example that won’t offend anyone. Dutch journalist Peter R. de Vries has said many times in talk shows or in public (newspaper interview) that he was paid to participate.
Have the leading editorial teams keep track of the statistics, so that it will become clear what the problem actually is. It wouldn’t surprise me if it would be demonstrated measurably that it really isn’t a matter of women’s self-confidence or skills. We don’t have to ‘fix’ women. We are great, exactly the way we are.
The bashing culture is part of the job and is no excuse to camouflage an infantile phase of under-representation. There are plenty of sturdy, confident and knowledgeable women who don’t care because it should be about their work. It is not all that complicated. Let’s not make representation more difficult than it is. It is not some specialized heart surgery. It is like taking candy from a baby – while dancing, throwing two arms in the air. You just have to want to see it, just like the Prime Minister’s moves.
The Dutch version of this article was published by BNNVARA, Joop.