Married at first sight (2022)
Graphics: Therese Granlund, Politikbyrån, SVT, 2022.
“Sweden seems to be moving quickly towards a marriage with the defense alliance NATO. If Sweden goes to bed with NATO, we do it with Biden’s USA and Erdoğan’s Turkey. Will it be a forced marriage? And what if we want to divorce?”
That’s how the episode of the Politics bureau, whose thumbnail image depicts Magdalena Andersson polygamously marrying Joe Biden and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, begins.
Granted. It’s a humor picture. More in the tradition of political cartoons than serious news journalism. But I still have to wonder: would the Politics bureau have even come up with the idea of using the same visual metaphor if Stefan Löfven was still prime minister?
To even visualize it, I had to do a gender remix, with Angela Merkel and Kamala Harris laughing and looking at a reluctant but dutifully self-sacrificing Stefan Löfven.
Gender photographer remix.
Personally, I lean towards a no. I think that idea had fallen flat on the brainstorming-floor at the Politics bureau. Partly because it would have looked too foreign compared to what the real world gender order looks like. Partly because of something we established in previous analyses: men do not have a gender. Not in politics, anyway. Since the norm, the “neutral” politician, is male, a male politician’s gender does not stand out – and is certainly less inviting to make the subject of jokes and metaphors.
The heteronorm, I think, also plays a role. Which makes us project heterosexual desire onto everything and everyone, including politicians. Like when Sanna Marin and Volodymyr Zelensky met in Kyiv and posed at a very appropriate distance in photos taken by the Finnish government – but where some Internet forums still managed to interpret sex into it.
Photo: the Finnish government, 2022
In order for the same erotic reading to be made of a picture of two male politicians, something extraordinary in the way of intimacy is required, like the picture of Macron and Zelensky.
Photo: AFP via Getty Images, 2022
But here maybe the common thread is the hunk Zelensky? And maybe there is something about Magda that attracts headlines about kissing parties and love from Swedish journalists?
Photo: Jonas Ekströmer, Simon Samuelsoon/TT Graphics: Stefan Rothmaier
Source: Aftonbladet. Photo: Foto:
Perhaps it could be as simple as the projected tingle that we have a prime minister who is a woman for the first time?
Extra example, added after comment by the brilliant Karin Sandelin at Kantar Sifo:
Photo: Lisa Mattisson