Leaked videos of Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin partying and dancing with friends at a gathering in a private residence broke the internet last week. Marin faced huge criticism and was questioned for partying in a “boisterous way”. There were questions raised about her attending this informal gathering, her private nightlife, whether she consumed drugs and being a Prime Minister, was she sober to handle an emergency had one arisen?
In answers to these reports, Marin took a drug test to put an end to all the speculations, and in her media interaction told reporters, “I hope that, in the year 2022, it’s accepted that even decision-makers dance, sing and go to parties… I didn’t wish for any images to be spread, but it’s up to the voters to decide what they think about it.”
It’s human to have fun, party and have a private life when you’re a professional. Then do we need to put leaders in the spotlight? Are these issues raised for those in power or can there be any real potential damage to the country’s reputation just because the country’s supreme leader was partying? Are leaders not entitled to live a life on their own terms?
In fact, women who have come out in her support posted videos and pictures while drinking, dancing on social media. The catch line of the videos was “Solidarity with Sanna”. They even tagged Marin. Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton also tweeted in support: “Keep dancing”, and posted a photo of herself dancing in a crowded club during a 2012 trip to Colombia while still in office.
It’s true that women relate to Marin as their leader and a true role model as she was the youngest prime minister to be elected to lead a coalition government in 2019. According to media reports, when Marin took charge of the nation at 34, she downplayed the importance of gender in her win. “I have not actually ever thought about my age or my gender,” she said in a press briefing. Marin, born in 1985, in Helsinki, was brought up in a ‘rainbow family’ by her mother and female partner.
Around the world, Marin was the youngest sitting prime minister then—other young leaders include Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk of Ukraine, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand.
In Marin’s case, being a woman in position and power indeed is a bigger issue. And we are more judgemental when it comes to women drinking or partying, especially when a woman is a leader of the country.
On the contrary, Finland has always ranked near the top worldwide in measures of gender equality, electing its first female prime minister in 2003, and women made up 47% of its parliament after elections in 2021. Women usually work full-time and enjoy equal access to education and healthcare.
But leadership comes with its own challenges. Some are questioned for unwinding and partying, as in the case of Finnish PM where she felt unapologetic and stood her ground. There are others like former prime minister Boris Johnson, whose photographs of drinking at a gathering during lockdown in 2020 emerged on the internet. It was stated that pictures were taken during the time when lockdown was imposed and he was reportedly seen breaking rules prohibited for indoor gatherings of two or more people, enjoying bottles of alcohol and party food.
Besides Johnson, news reports claim Vladimir Putin and Italian politician Matteo Salvini have been seen posing for selfies or partying hard in the past.