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Steam of Life

Premiere Date: August 2, 2011

'Steam of Life' in Context

Gender and Masculinity in Finland

In recent decades, Finland has earned a reputation for gender equality. Like its Scandinavian neighbors, Finland has some of the world's most progressive laws and social structures regarding health care, child care and supporting women in the workplace.



In recent decades, Finland has earned a reputation for gender equality. Like its Scandinavian neighbors, Finland has some of the world's most progressive laws and social structures regarding health care, child care and supporting women in the workplace. As a result, women make up an increasing share of the Finnish workforce, with about as many women as men now working outside of the home. Women have also made strides toward closing the historical gap in wages. More than one third of elected officials in Finland are women, including the current president, Tarja Halonen, elected in 2000, and the previous prime minister, Mari Kiviniemi.

A 2001 study showed that both Finnish men and women (but especially women) thought that having a female president (the country's first) was an important step toward equality between the sexes and indicated a shift in the political climate.

With a shift in the political climate came a shift in what many Finns refer to as "sauna diplomacy." While there has been a long custom in Finland of holding business and political meetings in saunas, Olli Rehn, the Finnish politician currently serving as European commissioner for economic and financial affairs, conceded that with increasing "emphasis on gender equality" it is more difficult to organize sauna meetings. Saunas in Finland are typically taken in the nude, and as a result men and women take separate saunas.

Photo Caption: Mikko Rissanen and Petri Koskinen   Credit: Oktober Oy

Sources:
» Branchereau, Gael. "Sauna Diplomacy on the decline in Finland." Lanka Business Online. January 22, 2007.
» Chhokar, Jagdeep S., Felix C. Brodbeck and Robert J. House, eds. Culture and Leadership, Across the World: The GLOBE Book of In Depth Studies of 25 Societies. London: Psychology Press, 2007.
» Dutton, Edward. "The Men's Turn at Last." 65 Degrees North, November 3, 2010.
» Ember, Carol R., and Melvin Ember, eds. Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender: Men and Women in the World's Cultures. New York: Springer, 2006.
» McHugh, Charles. "Japanese Less Open Than Finns Toward a Same-Sex Friend." Intercultural Communication Studies, 2002.
» Menken, Robin. "Mika Hotakainen talks about 'Steam of Life.'" Cinema Without Borders, January 8, 2011.



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