Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What is a Finnish Man? 5

I have not seen Sweat of Life yet, but I hope that it is available in my city soon. I think it is the kind of film that provokes a lot of discussion. The stereotype is that Finns are reserved and don't show their emotions, yet I wonder how many other men would be willing to expose themselves, both emotionally and physically, to the camera? To the world? How many men are willing to lose control of how they get interpreted? Put their lives on the big screen for audiences to watch? And by men I mean your average, everyday guy, not some celebrity, star, or reality show wanna-be. From the trailers, I think this film shows how different masculinity is in Finland and Finnish culture than other masculinities elsewhere, particularly those of North America where ego-driven, celebrity-focused, buff-bodied, hegemonic masculinities that promote aggressiveness, competition, drive, physical strength, success, and self-reliance inundate the cultural landscape.

I hope to see this film one day soon! It may bring me one step closer to understanding the Finnish male psyche. Exposing one's emotions and vulnerability is not easy, yet here are these Finnish men, a mix of ordinary guys, sharing their personal lives with you and me, baring body and soul. Does the anonymity of the eye of the camera, like the web, free one to reveal secrets one normally can’t say aloud?

image source

The sauna seems to be a key place where Finnish male identity is forged…

or softened.

Outside of the sauna, are we any closer to understanding Finnish masculinity? Looking up from her morning coffee, my Ȁiti (mother) stated with conviction: “Jaa, ja Suomalainen mies on rehellinen.” (Yes, and a Finnish man is honest).


marja-leena said...

I had heard about this film before - hope to see it someday! It certainly is uniquely Finnish, whether it's men or women gathering together in the buff.

northshorewoman said...

Hello ML,

This film will be very interesting, as well as the one I linked to in the next post, on Finnish people in their living rooms. Perhaps this is the new Finnish identity: expose your everyday life to the camera! to the world.

isn't this social media, blogging, in that same impulse of blurring the private and the public?

And Finns are blogging a lot.