The femininity test (2017)

Photo: Anette Nantell, Dagens Nyheter, 2017.

How the media portrayed Anna Kinberg Batra – the previous person who had the chance to break the ultimate glass ceiling in Sweden – was a gender trainwreck.

AKB was often told that she was too cold, stiff, too “robotic” – criticism I have never heard directed at a male politician. Then it is usually seen as something positive, to be controlled, logical, guided by reason – not by emotions.

This is the very definition of double standards, and leads to double punishment. Since the norm, the “neutral” politician, is a man, “masculine” expressions, garments and characteristics are seen as the norm and synonymous with competence. And too much “femininity” as something inappropriate and ill-fitting for a politician.*

Understand what a strange balancing act this leads to. If you are too “feminine”, too emotional, have too much make-up, you’re not a real politician. But if you are too “cold”, not pleasing enough, not smiling enough – then you’re not a real woman.

The picture above, I think, is an attempt (unconsciously or PR-strategically) to show that AKB is indeed a happy, accessible, easy-going woman. Portrayed during a fit of giggles, dressed in a warm red dress, legs close together, a harmless household item in her lap… Not a typical power portrait, but maybe not a completely natural image at all? Reminds a bit of the stock photo cliché “women laughing alone with salad”.

Source: Women Laughing Alone With Salad, The Hairpin

But it was when AKB resigned as party leader of the Moderates that the media seriously sent in the gender clowns…

1. The Swedish radio reported on her choice of clothing during the press conference. Something that was later echoed in Aftonbladet, where it was stated that she was wearing the same dress (😱) hours later at Arlanda.

2. In the same magazine, her husband David suddenly got air in his lungs.

“My strong, brave, beautiful wife has announced today that she will step down as party leader.” Okay thanks! Then we can return to normal, now that it’s official that she didn’t get Sweden’s most male-dominated profession either? Valued by her appearance. Reviewed based on clothing. Defined in relation to a man (wife).

3. Later it was stated, also in Aftonbladet, that the next party leader of the Moderates “regardless of gender” must probably be a “superman”. 🤦

Source: Aftonbladet


Bonus: In the same article in Dagens Nyheter, Anna Kinberg Batra walks past a roll-up with a picture of her in life size, with the same perfect posture and smile. Perhaps also not the best picture if you are trying to prove that someone is not a robot?

Photo: Anette Nantell, Dagens Nyheter, 2017.