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Sanna Marin’s Moves: Who Gets to be Human?

Drawing a line between having fun and acting responsibly has been notoriously difficult for people in positions of authority. When individuals look up to you, and their lives are influenced by the decisions you make, they are inevitably interested in what your day off consists of. However, as we have seen in the case of Sanna Marin: sometimes they are too interested. 

While politicians and teachers arguably could not be more dissimilar, both must appeal to their audience: whether that’s a nation, or a class of opinionated teenagers. However, maintaining the right to engage in normal activities, without receiving unjustified online abuse, is essential for fulfilling a healthy private life outside of the office. 

Sanna Marin “danced, sang and partied – perfectly legal things.” However, social media says otherwise. With multiple reprimands and disapproving remarks endured on social media after one of the party guests posted videos featuring a dancing Sanna Marin, it would not be unreasonable to mistake her for an unruly teenager returning home intoxicated on a school night. 

Branded as the most incompetent PM’ Finland has ever had, critics have castigated Marin for her ‘raucous’ night out at a friend’s home. Not only was she told to take a drugs test to prove her innocence after suggestions of the illegal use of narcotics, but she has also apologised for having two topless party guests in a different party back in July.

Source: Twitter.com

It would be naïve to assume that there were no drugs at the party attended by Sanna Marin. There may have been, just like with any other party so many of us have chosen to attend. Taking a drugs test is not an automatic precondition for your individual right to party. While Sanna Marin is a prime minister, she is still a woman who likes, and maintains the right, to go out with her friends: why should she have to take a drugs test? 

A video recently surfaced of Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese chugging a beer at a Gang of Youths concert. As the physical cheering suggests, the virtual cheering has also been duly noted. While he is within his right to have down time, social media searches for accusations of imprudence will amount to very little in this instance. Could this be because he is a 59-year-old man? 

It seems that this is a recurring theme. In 2011, previous Russian prime minister and president Dmitry Medvedev was videoed dancing, albeit not quite as skilfully as Sanna Marin, at a party. Deemed as comedic perhaps, but certainly not scandalous. The same goes for Conservative MP Michael Gove, who busted a few iconic moves in a nightclub in Aberdeen last year. As the title of an article suggests, people were ‘loving it’. Marin is young, attractive, and female: which seems to have played a role in the reasons why she has received more backlash than her older, male political counterparts. 

A mention of the so-called ‘flour gang’ in the video led viewers to believe that Marin may have done drugs, while she was deemed as irresponsible for dancing at a time when Finland is in economic crisis since the onset of Covid-19. However, as Marin said herself, she acted both legally and in a way that was pretty much the same as many people my age’

Source: Twitter.com

As the UK’s party gate scandal has shown, there is a time and a place to have a party: that is not in the midst of a pandemic, when Conservative MPs chose to disregard the rules they had themselves created. Sanna Marin, on the other hand, did not break the law, as her negative drugs test result also proves. Instead, she was perfectly within her right to have a night out with friends. 

The glaring double standard has not been glazed over by social media. Instead, women are standing in #SolidaritywithSanna on social media platforms. Sharing videos of themselves dancing, women are showing their support for the plight of Marin against the exponential social media backlash. As Sanna Marin said herself: 

As stated by Labour MP Charlotte Nichols, being a young member of parliament requires that you do not tweet about ‘having a big bag of cans with the lads’, as there is a line between letting your hair down and attracting bad headlines. 

However, it is easy to forget that individuals in positions of authority do have a life outside of the professional realm they appear to permanently inhabit. While teachers’ private lives are far from front page news due to being private citizens, ‘Mrs Smith Sacks off School for Local Beer Chugging Bonanza’ would certainly grab my attention if I was an 18-year-old sixth form student. 

Walking into the pub and seeing my teacher not only sat at the bar, but equipped with a full tray of Jägerbombs, is still a shocking occurrence. “What are you doing here Miss?” is no doubt a familiar question endured by my old teacher, who we forget is only in her mid-thirties. When my teacher turned up for the fun splash session at my part-time lifeguarding job, I recall feeling confused: They have a life outside of my form room? Children? Regular swimming essentials? 

Source: Blog.mimio.com

As made particularly clear in recent news, social media can be a dangerous place for teachers alike. Online dating is something many of us take for granted, but it seems that teachers must proceed with caution when searching for partners in the world of Tinder, Bumble or Hinge. 

Dating is a regular facet of many individual’s criteria for living a fulfilling private life outside of workplace relations. Yet, as someone in the public eye, or someone in a position of authority, online dating is increasingly becoming more difficult. 

Worries confessed by an anonymous teacher: Are they related to any of my students? If I add Negronis to my profile’s list of likes, will I appear irresponsible? Will I bump into students when on the actual date? 

It seems that an increasing number of students have created fake dating profiles in which their teachers have matched with. As they arrive for the date, they are not greeted with Brian, the 35-year-old marketing executive from Newcastle, but instead an empty table. In fact, 1 in 10 teachers have suffered online abuse at the hands of their pupils. With the number of people completing traditional teacher-prep programs dropping by 35% in the last 10 years, teaching is increasingly becoming a less attractive profession: and this will not help. 

How does Sanna Marin compare to a teacher worried about online dating? Both individuals must second guess their every move in fear of condemnation or awkward encounters. Certain occupations do involve a trade-off between living a comfortable private life and fulfilling your chosen career. However, whether you are a teacher unable to use dating apps, or a prime minister unable to go out with friends, there is a notable issue at hand. 

While New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern refrains from commenting on other nations’ domestic politics, when questioned on Sanna Marin’s social media backlash, she has asked whether politics appears as an attractive profession for political hopefuls. “How do we constantly make sure that we attract people to politics, rather than - perhaps as has been historically the case - put them off."

Evidently, as women in politics are 27 times more likely to face online abuse compared with their male counterparts, it is perhaps unsurprising that they often feel dissuaded from standing for elections. In Australia, 60% of women between 18 and 21, and 80% of women over the age of 31, said they were less likely to stand for elections after witnessing the amount of online abuse former PM Julia Gillard was subjected to. 

In response to Ardern’s question, a career in politics is increasingly appearing as unattractive, especially for women. Reprimanding Sanna Marin for her dance moves is in direct opposition with ongoing plans to level the international political playing field.


Lucy Thomas

Lucy is an undergraduate BSc Politics and International Relations student at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research interests include social stratification and international political theory.

Linkedin: /in/lucy-thomas



Sanna Marin’s Moves: Who Gets to be Human? Reviewed by Lucy Thomas on Tuesday, September 06, 2022 Rating: 5
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