Seiska

When a #kikkelikuva Is Not a #snoppselfie and What Are the Consequences of That

There are not many MPs in today’s Finnish Parliament (Eduskunta/Riksdagen) that have been so often in the attention of the media, and even fewer have managed to galvanize more vehement reactions than the (True) Finn Teuvo Hakkarainen (PS/ Perussuomalaiset/ Sannfinländarna/ SF). Hakkarainen took the Finnish parliamentarism with storm as a result of the March 2011 elections that witnessed his election into the Eduskunta/ Riskdagen, and shortly thereafter made a name for himself for his mediatized rants against the Somali (Muslims) living in Finland, the Swedish-speaking Finnish minority, the LGBTQI-community – in short, against everyone and anyone not easily assimilated to the position of a heterosexual (true) Finnish-speaking Finn that he claimed to represent (for a brief update, see my previous blog entries here; and here). For such acts of (true) Finnish masculine bravery, Hakkarainen earned the distinction of ‘the Apostle of Genuineness‘ and swiftly dismissed any accusations of xenophobia and homophobia as mere misunderstandings of his sense of humor.

In this light, the latest incident may be understood to add a new layer to the complex masculinity performative embodied by Hakkarainen. To cut the long story short, on 13 March 2014 the entertainment magazine Seiska published a piece disclosing that Hakkarainen has been assiduously courting a woman, even sending her naked pictures of himself and close-ups of his sex organ from his work phone (in Finnish, tässä). The incident caused a lot of media attention and Hakkarainen issued a public apology. It was discussed not only in the Finnish yellow press – Ilta-sanomat (in Finnish, tässä) and Iltalehti (in Finnish, tässä); but also on the Finnish national TV network YLE (in Finnish, tässä; in Swedish, här) and the reputed Helsingin sanomat (in Finnish, tässä) and in the Swedish-speaking Finnish main newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet (in Swedish, här). On Twitter, the Swedish language hashtag #snoppselfie (in English something along the lines of ‘#willieselfie’) trended seriously, as well as the (somewhat) tamer equivalent in Finnish #kikkelikuva (in English, something like ‘#williepic’).

The chair of PS/SF parliamentary group Jari Lindström refused to comment on the event, indicating Hakkarainen‘s public statement concerning the incident. Indeed, Hakkarainen blamed the whole affair on his alcohol abuse and claimed it was part of a failed attempt to extortion. Even more so, according to a PS/SF fellow MPMika Niikko, Hakkarainen did not take the picture himself, but was in fact the victim of a ‘prank’ set up by ‘a friend’ (in Ilta-sanomat, in Finnish, tässä).

In other words, does the whole issue boil down to a (male) Finnish MP’s misfortune to find reliable friends, combined with his inability to deal with alcohol abuse? Does this indicate a toxic manifestation of masculinity widely spread within Finnish society that regards alcohol abuse as an inherent part of being a (Finnish) man? But do these alone justify the harassment that the woman in question was subject to (sending sexually explicit pictures surely do qualify as such) – an aspect not so much picked up on by the media? What if putting this incident in the wider context of significant level of violence against women (both physical and sexual but also psychological) in Finland (Helsinki Times news report, in English here; the FRA report , in English here)? Hakkarainen has gained his reputation of ‘Apostle of Genuineness‘ for his remarks that can be easily considered a manifestation of outright xenophobia, but also a sign of a populist homophobia; does his ‘genuineness’ include sexism as well in this context? Having in mind the coming EU elections later this spring, and despite the fact that the chair of the PS/SF parliamentary group does not consider this issue serious enough to address, do the Finnish voters have a right to know where does the PS/SF position itself on such issues? So far, Hakkarainen‘s previous remarks have been explained through references to his particular sense of humor and his famed ‘genuineness’. At the moment it appears his harassment of women is allegedly blamed on his entourage and alcohol abuse, so the question that comes forward is what and when would be considered to be the entire responsibility of the PS/SF MP Hakkarainen, and when would the PS/SF assume its responsibility in front of its electors for having such a representative in the Finnish Eduskunta/ Riksdagen?

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Sunday, March 16th, 2014 Research No Comments