In Finland, March 19 is Equality Day; in America, August 26 is Women's Equality Day

Both need some retooling.

If you have access to the N.Y. Times online, be sure to read yesterday's piece by Maureen Dowd. In it she weighs in on one of the great non-issues of our time–the conduct of the Finnish prime minister, Sanna Marin–she of the dancing-and-having-too-much-fun-in-public conspiracy. Conspiracists like her are easily recognizable: their lives do not yet center on discussions of cholesterol medication or dwindling 401K's, and they enjoy the company of others with exuberance.


Ms. Marin is 36 years old–young for a position of such importance, and that appears to be her main offense. Being a woman is a contributing factor. Age and gender, it seems, even in a progressive country like Finland, can be a problem.

Prime Minister Marin has not been accused of dereliction of duty, incompetence, or any other shortcomings with which American politicians pad their résumés. She did not purloin secret documents, transport a minor across state lines, encourage insurrectionists, conceal stock trades, or fail to honor a subpoena. Instead, on her own time, she gathered with a group of friends to dance and enjoy music–what we in America used to call living before people forgot how to do that.

Who's to blame for her being ostracized? Old white men come to mind, but it's not chronology but the mentality that makes someone old. All those graybeard members of Congress screaming for a return to the good ol' days need to listen to Dylan's advice:

—"Your old road is rapidly agin'

Please get out of the new one

If you can't lend your hand."*

Mitch McConnell and Joe Manchin and countless others will be dead and gone when all those dire environmental predictions become fact–when every state in the union has a fire season, or Atlanta begins selling beachfront property, or the struggle for water becomes an internecine battle. McConnell, et al., should not be making decisions that will sabotage the well-being of generations to come.

But that's only half the problem for Prime Minister Marin, of course. Even though last Friday was Congress-designated Woman's Equality Day, we all know the truth. The Supreme Court reminded us last June just what role America ascribes to its women and how devoid of meaning the term "women's equality" really is.


And when one associate justice, Amy Coney Barrett, openly avows the belief that decision-making in a marriage should be the province of the husband alone, it's difficult to register any surprise when she acts against the best interests of her own gender and every other by voting down Roe v. Wade. This zealous enemy of women's sovereignty might do well to read some Chaucer before she makes more stupid decisions that will affect millions for decades. I'm sure Barrett is foursquare behind the move to pillory Sanna Marin, maybe on some public platform in Helsinki.


Now I don't claim that high school students should make our laws, but if we want bright young, forward-looking people to enter politics, we have to make the political theater palatable. It can't be a place where elected officials are denounced for having fun but winked at when they use their position to feather their own nest. I'm not a fan of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but at least she's going to be alive to face the cataclysms ahead. I won't be, nor will McConnell or Manchin. It's not ageism: in many ways Bernie Sanders is a lot younger than Josh Hawley.


As for Sanna Marin, I hope the people of Finland back off. They should be proud to have a youthful official guiding that country through the Russian crisis–a woman who may very well live another 50 or 60 years and can comprehend what lies ahead. At 36, she may yet marry and have children, but even if neither of those events occurs, she would want to live in a world without strife or deprivation.


Last May 15, Marin announced that Finland would apply for NATO membership, and on May 17, the Finnish parliament approved the proposal 188-8. Amid Russian threats and Turkish opposition, she held firm. This is the kind of strength that should invite praise, not require a drug test (negative, not that it should matter) or a tearful public apology.

 

*from "The Times They Are a-Changin'" by Bob Dylan, © Universal Music Publishing Group


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