A party video of Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin was leaked last week, which landed her in controversy. The video shows her dancing with her friends under the influence of alcohol at a party taking place in her private residence. On its release, her political oppositions were quick to criticise her behaviour in the leaked video and demanded a drug test.
Sanna Marin, 36, formerly known as the youngest head of the government, was quick to deny such allegations. She insisted that she had never taken any drugs or had seen anyone at the party in possession of any drugs.
To prove these allegations false, Prime Minister Marin underwent a drug test, and her urine sample was tested for traces of cocaine, amphetamines, cannabis, and opioid usage. The government report on the test states “The screening carried out Friday showed no indication of drugs.”
In the wake of the recent events, Prime Minister Marin said, “I danced, sang, and partied perfectly legal things.” She also informed the media that she was aware of being filmed. However, she is upset that it had been released on the internet without her consent.
At a press conference held last week, Sanna Marin was asked by a reporter if she would have been able to make a snap governmental decision in her intoxicated state had the need risen. In response, she said that she was perfectly in her senses and would have been able to function soundly in case of an emergency. She also added that she had never taken drugs, not even as a teenager.
She was also quoted as, “I have a family, I have a work life, and I have free time to spend with my friends. Pretty much the same as many people my age.” The Prime Minister also added, “I am going to be exactly the same person as I have been until now, and I hope that it will be accepted.”
In December 2019, Sanna Marin was sworn into power as Finland’s Prime Minister. At 34, she had set a new world record by becoming the world’s youngest Prime Minister—a title formerly carried by New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.
Despite all the backlash, the Prime Minister received support from many Finnish women who posted videos of themselves dancing and partying with their friends with the hashtag ‘SolidarityWithSanna’. Many took to social media and wittily retorted the conservative’s stance of criticising the Prime Minister’s behaviour.
Despite the support and the empowering internet solidarity, it is worth questioning why the Prime Minister faced such a backlash from a leaked video that showed her doing nothing illegal or unbefitting a 36-year-old. Most of the criticism implied or veered in the direction that a Prime Minister of the nation should not have been seen partying or dancing just like any other 36-year-old youngster. On deeper introspection, such policing of Sanna Marin’s behaviour reveals a deeper misogynistic and ageist attitude amongst the masses.
This incident is indicative of a pre-existing reluctance to accept a young woman as the head of the government. It is not the first time that a Prime Minister of a nation was seen partying or dancing, but such harsh backlash was never invited by it. It appears as if for the people to accept the Finland PM in a position of leadership, she must sacrifice her youth and detach herself from the kind of lifestyle that most young people lead.
Following last week’s backlash, one could argue that it is almost as if she had violated the terms of an unspoken agreement that was bestowed upon her as she slipped into the leadership role. Judging by the conservative’s agitation towards the video, the terms must be that she must not act her age and present to the world a much older persona.
Political leaders, especially women, are expected to assume an ascetic role in front of the public in order to justify their position of power. Especially in India, female politicians are desexualised and are always addressed as ‘didi’ or ‘behen’, imposing a certain level of familiarity with the masses while denying her to assume any space of individuality. Such treatment is very rare in the case of male politicians within the political scenario.
It is almost as if the idea of a young woman, as she is, is almost unacceptable for conservative rulers to accept as a leader.
Perhaps, it is high time we reevaluate what exactly we expect from the leader of a nation. Young people, especially women, are most affected by the political decisions of the government. As a result, oftentimes, they are best suited to lead the country.
A leader must be judged by her ability to carry out her responsibilities and not by how she chooses to spend her leisure time with her friends.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin has always presented her authentic self to the world and maintained that her personal life is just like any other young person of her age. She has also spoken up about the discrimination she has faced on being raised by a mother who was in a same-sex relationship. She has often been photographed at parties and music festivals. Last year, she made a public apology after she was found clubbing amid the covid-19 pandemic.
Despite much controversy revolving around her, Sanna Marin was declared “The coolest prime minister of the world” earlier this month by the German news outlet the Bild., and it is time the world accepts the same.