SAY WHAT? - Because girls - also young, progressive, female political leaders - just wanna have fun, video emerged last week of Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin on a night out joyously dancing, singing, drinking and getting down with friends, a spectacle of glad normalcy that horrified dour male misogynists who harrumphed this was Just Not Done. Cue the ensuing "absolutely stupid political scandal" known as Partygate, a "very classic 'Finnish scandal,' which is actually not a scandal at all but because Finnish politics tend to be so uptight and slightly boring you have to get creative to stir things up." At 36, Marin is the world's youngest head of state; raised by two women, she is also a fierce supporter of LGBTQ rights, the happily married (straight) mother of a four-year-old, and the multi-faceted, competent leader of a majority-women government who since being elected two years ago has successfully advocated for Finland to join NATO and navigated growing tensions with neighboring Russia after their invasion of Ukraine - all while periodically taking time out to attend music festivals, looking very cool yet. Still, because misogyny, Marin has been criticized for having a life beyond work; in the recently leaked video, she was filmed rowdily singing and dancing with several friends in the private VIP room of a nightclub in Helsinki.
After the video surfaced, right-wing pols - who may be the leakers - began making outraged noises: What about national security? Are they singing about cocaine? Why did she dance with a pop star who's not her husband? Why is she having more fun than we are? Marin defended herself, arguing, "Finnish society and its resilience can withstand me singing and dancing with my friends...I hope that in the year 2022 it's accepted even decision-makers dance, sing and go to parties." She also agreed to take a drug test to shut down the haters. (The results: negative.) Meanwhile, Finnish and Danish women rallied to her cause. Urging "Fight the misogyny and "Let's dance for each other," they posted images of themselves jubilantly, defiantly boogeying under the hashtag #SolidarityWithSanna, Others posted reminders that, "Once upon a time, Finnish heads of state could let their hair down": See 6th president Gustaf Mannerheim, naked on his horse with friends. "Dancing insists we take up space," said Eve Ensler, writer and organizer of One Billion Rising's flashmobs performed to "Break the Chain." "We go there together." Just so, argued anarchist Emma Goldman, who famously, allegedly proclaimed, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution." It's an apocryphal quote, writes Alix Kates Shulman, but it echoes Goldman's call for "freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody's right to beautiful, radiant things." So dance on.
(Abby Zimet has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. Email: [email protected])