Sunday, September 26, 2010

What is a Finnish Man part 2

Heavy metal band Terasbetoni rock out to Missa Miehet Ratsastaa  [Where the Men Ride]
"Biog: Terasbetoni - Finnish for Steel Reinforced Concrete - say they don't take themselves too seriously, but are fired by 'new quests to overcome'. Songs advocate a Pagan warrior lifestyle and a 'brotherhood of metal'."

I think my father could relate to  that "brotherhood of metal" although his concept of metal stemmed more from the construction industry than the heavy metal music industry. He would have also shared the masculine drive of "new quests to overcome." Indeed, my father Kalevi took up the quest of crossing the Atlantic ocean by ship in the mid 1950s, leaving behind his inheritance and shop keeper status, and with his wife and two young children (my sister, Katja, and me) emigrated to Canada to start a new life in blue collar work.
Continuing with my article (please see my last post), to my query, I also received this response:

Anna wrote: I think Finnish men are quite complex—on one hand, there is this tradition of being the head of the family—being strong, hiding emotion, not admitting weakness, and defining themselves through their work; on the other, there is a paradigm shift happening—men are fighting for their rights to stay at home with their children, for example, as well as fighting the above-mentioned stereotype in various ways.”

Interestingly, the later posts got longer and more complex, suggesting it may not be easy to wrap up a Finnish man in a short 

sentence. The last three posts, by 20 and 30 somethings who live in Finland, make clear that being a Finnish man means complexities, rather than simple stereotypes. Their comments suggest that Finnish masculinity is constantly changing, dependent on the particular people, context, and social environment around a man, yet also steeped in a particular history, from the culture of the sauna to the family, work, the military and the politics of war. 

Indeed, Visa and Anna’s well-thought out responses remind me that the Finnish men I knew growing up were more likely to think over their response carefully than rattle one off the top of their head. 

to be continued....

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