…He cooks, he cleans, he plays soccer too.There is a firm belief in Scandinavia that women and men must be able to participate in the working life on an equal footing. In order to do this, they have to share the work at home.
Left: Tuxedo pants by Fillippa K. T-shirt (knife illustration) by WhyRed. Frying pan designed by Ole Palsby for Eva Trio, Denmark. Right: Trilobite robot vacuum cleaners by Electrolux. Black long-armed shirt by J. Lindeberg. Jeans by Tommy Hilfiger. Khaki jacket by Filippa K. Scarf by Tiger. Baby Elsa: Sweater by Lindex, jumpsuit by Polarn o. Pyret. Photography: Mikael Ericsson. Models: Daniel Giray and Sofie Svensson. Props: Zofi Nilsson, Make-up/Hair: Lisa Petersson.
After all, it is tough for any family to survive—or a woman to have a serious job—if the mother has to work full-time and also do all the laundry, dishwashing, vacuuming, and child raising by herself.
Many North Americans would probably be surprised (or envious) about the changes which have taken place when it comes to equality between the sexes in the northernmost part of Europe. Throughout the Nordic countries, both mothers and fathers are entitled by law to be able to stay at home for long periods after the birth of a child without losing their jobs or their paychecks. In Norway, for example, parents get nearly a full year of paid leave after the birth of a child, with four weeks reserved for the father. Parents with children under the age of twelve years are each entitled to take ten days paid leave if their child is sick. Subsidized daycare for the children of working parents is considered a right rather than a privilege.
Since the majority of Scandinavian mothers with small children work, the guys are routinely expected to do their fair share of chores in the home. This has led to the development of a New Nordic Man, a guy who takes pride in his ability to cook, clean, and take good care of his offspring. Attitudes and values are steadily changing. Nowadays, for example, it isn’t impossible to be an all-male jock and a fashion icon at the same time, a state of affairs exemplified by both metrosexual-supreme David Beckham of Great Britain and Swedish soccer star Freddie Ljungberg, who models underwear for Calvin Klein.
There is probably a kernel of truth in the old feminist cliché of the 1970s about equality for women implying liberation for men. “Gigantic changes taken place in this area in recent decades,” says ethnologist Åke Daun. “My own father never gave a thought about house cleaning, doing the laundry or cooking food.” The well-respected academic, now 70 years old and retired from the University of Stockholm, cooks most of the food in his own house on weekdays, since his wife works during the days. “I look for good recipes and try to make interesting dishes,” Daun says. The Swedish scholar notes, however, that the Nordic woman still has the main responsibility for the home. She generally organizes everything and takes the initiative. She may have to remind her husband, for example, that it is time for house cleaning, or time to vacuum. Generally, the man will prefer vacuuming to doing the laundry. He may not be aware which kinds of clothing should be washed at a certain temperatures; perhaps he is not interested enough to find out.
Among Scandinavian men in their early or mid-twenties, a liberated attitude about gender roles at home is routine. Stockholm native Daniel Giray, 27, a university student with several part-time jobs who serves as the male model in the accompanying fashion photo feature, was coincidentally a true example of the New Nordic Man. “I do most of the housework at home. I wash the clothing, do the dishes, and clean the house. That is only natural because my girlfriend has a job and comes home late,” Daniel says.
Thanks to Patriksson Communications, Spalt Public Relations, Mikas Stockholm (model agency), Swedish Shoe Council, NK Department Store for kitchen goods, IKEA, Nokia, Lego, Ylva Liljefors (for lending us her beautiful baby girl Elsa Garp Liljeförs), Olle and Ingrid Cyrén, Hammaby Sjöstad, Stockholm (for letting us invade their house).
Another Stylish Side of Stockholm
When searching for a place to shoot this issue’s feature on the New Nordic Man, we looked high and low for a classy and thoroughly Scandinavian interior. We found one in Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm’s largest and newest urban development project. A few years ago, this part of town was a rundown industrial and docklands environment.
The area has now been transformed into an ultra-modern urban environment which will eventually include 9,000 upscale apartments for 20,000 residents. The at the time recently married project leader Olle Cyrén generously let us invade his own apartment in Hammarby Sjöstad. He watched with good humor as we pretended to set fire to his kitchen, poured buckets of suds on his grand walk-around balcony, and dumped huge boxfuls of Lego building blocks on his living room floor.
For more information about this attractive lakeside development, see: www.stockholm.se/hammarbysjostad