The only PM readily associated in my mind with dancing, dirty or otherwise, is the acronym for evening – not for prime minister.
It turns out my mind with its association is hopelessly misogynistic. Or at least that’s the natural inference to draw from the coverage of Sanna Marin, the Finnish prime minister.
That good-looking married woman of 36 caused three contiguous viral outbursts on social media. The first was a few days ago, when a video of her dancing at a night club made the rounds.
Miss Marin, otherwise known as Mrs Räikkönen, was doing a creditable, and credible, imitation of a pole dancer, except she was writhing around muscular young men, not a chrome stake. In between two sessions of fully clothed vertical intercourse, she was also photographed sitting in the lap of some of those men, none of whom was Mr Räikkönen.
Then a photo was leaked, showing two bare-breasted women French (Finnish?) kissing at the prime minister’s official residence in Helsinki. They were covering their breasts with the ‘Finland’ sign that normally sits on Miss Marin’s desk. It was hard not to detect a touch of mockery in their modesty, something I’m sure the fiercely patriotic Finns must have found distressing.
One of the semi-naked women was the model Sabina Sarkka, a former Miss Finland contestant. She also co-starred in another video, showing her dancing with Miss Marin at a different night club, their legs intertwined, their crotches grinding against each other.
When the scandal broke, Miss Marin admitted that perhaps the lesbian kiss at the Finnish equivalent of the White House or Number 10 was “not appropriate”. However, “nothing extraordinary happened.”
She meant she didn’t have affairs with any of the male poles she rubbed against, nor indeed with Miss Sakka, with whom the rubbing was even more suggestive. Moreover, Miss Marin even volunteered to take a drug test, which came back negative. That’s all right then.
Anyway, those pieces of visual entertainment caused a bit of a stir in Finland and elsewhere. Doubts were raised about the propriety of such behaviour by the leader of a Western country soon to become a Nato member.
Before I tell you what I think about it (as if you didn’t know already), let’s see the comments by two young female journalists in The Times.
The title of the first article, by Charlie Gowans-Eglinton, Dirty Dancing? Yes, We Millennial Women Party Like Sanna Marin!, is as self-explanatory as her take on the same-sex dance is predictable.
Anyone who finds anything wrong with it has to be a rank misogynist. “If the Finnish prime minister were a man,” she writes, “swaying arm in arm with a male friend, I doubt it would be such big news.”
Unlike, evidently, the cosmopolitan author, I don’t know enough about Finnish mores and hence can’t take exception to her comment about them. However, my imagination is vivid enough to extrapolate into a more familiar environment.
So let’s imagine Mr Biden on the dance floor at a Washington disco, grinding his primary sex characteristics against those of a Chippendale stripper. Yes, I know the image doesn’t come naturally, but please make an effort. And while you are at it, also picture Mr Johnson doing the same thing with the same male stripper at Annabel’s.
Splendid. Now imagine that stripper French-kissing another man in the Oval Office, his nether regions covered with the official US roundel – or, if you’d rather, the same scene occurring at Number 10, mutatis mutandis.
Miss Gowans-Eglinton is confident that such hypothetical scandals would be taken by the gaping public in stride, as no big deal. Clearly, her imagination is nowhere near as vivid as mine.
For I can just see those screaming 100-point front-page headlines in our newspapers, and that’s just the broadsheets. Either gentleman’s tenure would last approximately 10 minutes after the first headlines broke – which is how long it would take their speech writers to draft a hasty resignation statement.
Would Miss Gowans-Eglinton then be complaining about misandry? Would anyone?
Certainly not Olivia Petter, the author of the second article. Why, she herself behaves like Miss Marin, so there can be nothing wrong about it: “My friends and I always dance intertwined at nightclubs, with arms flung around necks and waists, bums bumping.”
Naturally, only international Colonel Blimps can take issue with such innocent fun: “The reactions to Marin’s night out feel wildly misogynistic… The sad truth is that the criticism of Marin is just another symptom of our sexist culture, one that is obsessed with policing female behaviour.”
Not guilty, m’lord. I suffer from no such obsession because my fixations tend to have a touch of realism about them. If young women choose to act like that, they are entitled to do so – tempora mutantur and all that.
All I can offer is a regret that even solidly middle-class girls see pole dancing and lesbianism as sufficiently cool to imitate aesthetically, if not physically. I also regret that even their everyday clothes leave little to imagination, thereby switching off the most erogenous of all zones. Then perhaps times are so hard that even previously wealthy women can’t afford enough cloth to cover their breasts.
Fair enough. If normal girls in their 20s and 30s choose to act and dress in a blatantly sexual (or homosexual) manner, it’s their business, not mine. Hey, I’m even man enough to admit that I occasionally steal the odd glance at the secondary sex characteristics on display. So complaining too loudly would be ever so slightly hypocritical.
However, the prime minister of a major country isn’t a normal woman of 36. The seminal difference between her and our two hacks is that they represent no one but themselves – and, alas, the paper lending its space to their New Age bilge.
Miss Marin, by contrast, represents not just her sexy self but an important and generally attractive nation. This is a high honour that ought to confer some dignity on its recipient. It should also remind her that she no longer belongs to herself or her immediate family. She belongs to the country that has chosen her to serve it.
By accepting that post she also accepted the responsibility to grow into it. That involves making the right choices and pushing them through parliament – this much goes without saying.
But it also presupposes some decorum of appearance and demeanour, for its absence may suggest to people that the holder has no respect for the post into which the people have put her. That means she has no respect for them as a whole, reserving that feeling only for similarly ‘cool’ youngsters.
“Policing female behaviour”, which so vexes Miss Petter, is passé now, one has to accept that, even if the word ‘unfortunately’ flashes through one’s mind. But a nation has every right to expect certain standards of behaviour from its elected representatives.
And yes, I realise how retrograde this sounds. Words like ‘decorum’, ‘decency’ and ‘propriety’ have no place in a modern lexicon. They belong in what Trotsky called ‘the dustbin of history’ – next to the words ‘discernment’ and ‘taste’.