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Is there more equality in Scandinavia than the Mediterranean?

(50 Posts)
CuttedUpPear Tue 26-Feb-13 09:36:28

I'm in interested in a discussion about why it is that women in Nordic countries seem to have won equality far easier than those in more southern European countries.
For example, Finland was the first country to give full suffrage to women and the good maternity rights and childcare support of Sweden and other Scandinavian countries are well documented.

It would appear that, in general, as we head south towards the warmer climes that equality is harder won. I'm thinking of the more macho latin cultures with women raising children without hands on help from their partners and therefore having less opportunities to build careers.

Is this really the case?
And what, if anything, does it have to do with the weather?

namechangeguy Tue 26-Feb-13 09:48:42

Could it be something to do with the education system of the countries? Finland seems to come consistently high when this is assessed. The better educated your population, the more likely that equality is a no-brainer.

TeiTetua Tue 26-Feb-13 14:14:13

You could say it's the influence of the Catholic church, but then Greece is as bad as the rest of southern Europe and they aren't Catholic. And once you get into Islamic countries, it's worse still (usually).

Could it really be the weather?

namechangeguy Tue 26-Feb-13 14:33:21

They don't really have equality though, do they? Otherwise, wouldn't feminists here (UK) and everywhere else simply look at how they did it, and then implement the same things in the UK and elsewhere?

AbigailAdams Tue 26-Feb-13 14:49:16

"Otherwise, wouldn't feminists here (UK) and everywhere else simply look at how they did it, and then implement the same things in the UK and elsewhere?" And which feminists would those be ncg? The ones who run the government, perhaps?

namechangeguy Tue 26-Feb-13 14:55:10

Well, either the women in Scandinavian countries had exactly the same obstacles as faced here - patriarchal structures, obdurate rich white men in power etc - or they started from a fundamentally different place. If it is the latter, then the patriarchy is simply a product of a local culture, rather than an all-encompassing human structure that exists in every country. Which is it?

AbigailAdams Tue 26-Feb-13 14:59:33

It isn't an either/or situation. There are degrees of influence that the patriarchy has in different society's and how they choose to exert their dominance changes in different cultures. Scandinavian countries are still patriarchies. They are still male-dominant in terms of power and money. They have just chosen to follow feminist advice in this matter. Do you think leading feminist groups are not highlighting this methodology in this country?

AbigailAdams Tue 26-Feb-13 15:01:25

But you are right they don't have equality. But they are further down the path than we are in certain areas.

Velve Tue 26-Feb-13 15:06:48

Well I'm a Finn and there's definitely still ways to go there. Women still get about 80% of the pay men get for the same job. Women in Finland also do the majority of the housework as well, seems universal really. And there's the strong idea of men are men, women are women and they are therefore fundamentally different. Again, something universal I think.

My experience growing up, though, was that we are very matriarchal. Mothers matter, women are often the head of the household. Us Finnish women are super bossy and very driven. I remember growing up, the fathers and husbands always seemed to me to be more quiet and stay out of the way.

The reason the maternity/paternity leave is so fair is that we pay huge tax. That's why almost all parents work all the time. We have significantly less people for the state to take care of so organising the country is easier.

We also have a government that consists of 40-50% women. I'll be damned if I know why that is so defferent here.

Velve Tue 26-Feb-13 15:08:12

I failed to specify that we are matriarchal at home. The society is still patriarchal.

namechangeguy Tue 26-Feb-13 15:08:12

Well, I could have missed it. Are there any current discussion threads on here about feminists in the UK implementing Scandinavian methodologies to further the cause? How they have managed to weaken the patriarchy's hold on society, or government, or the media, for example? How have they got from where we are to where they are now? Via law changes, or education?

AbigailAdams Tue 26-Feb-13 15:33:22

There have been a number of discussions on here about the Nordic model of criminalising those who purchase sex acts whilst decriminilasing those who sell it and offering exit strategies. Google Nordic Model, Object etc. There have also been discussions about maternity leave and childcare with reference to Scandinavia. Look through old threads. I think that one of the tipping points was an increase in the number of women in government.

AbigailAdams Tue 26-Feb-13 15:43:10

And with regards affordable childcare etc I think they have higher tax rates than we do. Something this government is fundamentally against.

namechangeguy Tue 26-Feb-13 15:53:16

No party in the UK will actively stand on a raised taxation platform. It goes against every party manifesto, not just this government. We want everything for (next to) nothing.

AbigailAdams Tue 26-Feb-13 16:14:08

Speak for yourself

AbigailAdams Tue 26-Feb-13 16:22:29

Sorry ncg that was flippant. I take your point about successive governments being reluctant to raise taxes. Product of a highly capitalised society I think. I also think it is interesting to look at how Scandinavian countries got change. I do think legislation is a big key. Despite people insisting that legislation doesn't change attitudes I think that there is plenty of evidence to show that isn't true and it does work to changing attitudes. I read a good blog post on that recently. I'll see if I can find it.

But to influence legislation we need more women in government.

vesuvia Tue 26-Feb-13 17:18:32

Velve wrote - "a government that consists of 40-50% women".
AbigailAdams wrote "to influence legislation we need more women in government."


The current figures for government cabinet ministers who are women, are:

Norway 53%
Iceland 50%
Sweden 48%
Denmark 48%
Finland 47%

Spain 29%
USA 19%
UK 18%
Italy 15%
Greece 4%

namechangeguy Tue 26-Feb-13 18:23:25

I'd love to know if there are studies as to why the proportion is so low in the UK. Is it the culture of UK Parliament, party structure, family support?

But also, what kind of people does the UK Parliament attract? Our one female Prime Minister was notorious for her lack of support towards women's issues and equality. If all a ministerial post attracts are workaholics with no time for family life, then even 50 per cent women wont change things much - will it?

TeiTetua Tue 26-Feb-13 18:39:19

Maybe sociologists would say that the productivity of southern countries supported a dense population, and that made social control possible in a way that couldn't happen where the people were sparser.

So in the south you had feudalism, and despotic kingdoms and empires, whereas in the north it was more a society of independent farmers who had to be persuaded to (for example) pay taxes or serve in armies. The result of this in a modern society is that in the north, the outlook is that government will provide services for the people, and people will recognize that it costs money and be willing to pay for it. Then everyone receives services equally, and it leads to the expectation that everyone has equal rights. It's easy to extend that to women and men having a fair amount of equality.

In the south, the tradition is that a distant government extracts taxes, with strong urges by individuals to avoid paying if they can. With memories of emperors and aristocrats in the past, government is by some compromise between the desire to be a conspirator against the establishment, and to be the lord oneself; it certainly don't have an ethos of a "common wealth" that everyone will support and benefit from. As far as gender issues are concerned, the emperor/king/lord was a man, and every man could expect to rule someone, if only his wife. Maybe the king no longer demands much from his subjects, but a husband is still lord of his home. That's a very resistant idea, once it's set up.

I just made all that up. Doesn't it sound good?

AbigailAdams Tue 26-Feb-13 19:58:37

Well those are some interesting figures vesuvia. A bit of an eye-opener how low down the list we are.

TeiTetua loving your theory. I know nothing about sociology myself but it sounds plausible smile

CuttedUpPear Tue 26-Feb-13 21:19:01

TeiTetua love your theory too! This kind of thing is plausible.
Really interesting facts Vesuvia - I think this is what I'm getting at.

I suppose I should have asked if the climate, not the weather, was an influence on the way men and women work together.

To put forward a vague theory, did tribal people, as they travelled north perhaps do more equal sharing of tasks in a new and bleak climate? Maybe with everyone all bundled up against the cold it became less important who had the norks or the willy and everyone got on with chopping wood and cooking together?

And perhaps in the indolent southern heat, with fruit dripping from every bough, the menfolk got a bit lazy, and just kicked back and drank some wine, and the women had to do all the work but got no credit for it?

Obviously not that simple (Where's Dr Winston when you need him?)
Your thoughts please.

SinisterSal Tue 26-Feb-13 21:33:26

I will try my hand at inventing a theory too - the influence of the famously patriarchal Roman Empire? May not even need to be straightforward subjected peoples, perhaps proximity would do.
Then add catholicism.

Hmm, theory needs work, but anyway

CuttedUpPear Tue 26-Feb-13 21:35:27

Yes Catholicism must have something to do with it. They are doing a pretty good job at repressing women still.

I'm wondering what happened 500 - 200 years ago to lead to things being like they are now.

SinisterSal Tue 26-Feb-13 21:44:18

Well - the reformation I suppose! Sorry for smartalec answer

sashh Wed 27-Feb-13 05:15:24

I think it has more to do with the influence of the church in various countries rather than the weather.

The southern med is predominantly RC and to a greater or lesser extent this has influenced law making.

Look at Ireland, still no legal abortion and when was divorce legalised? Something like the mid 1990s.

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