Public gender lectures
15 different approaches to gender studies were highlighted during the “gender marathon” of short lectures that took place last week. Subjects ranged from entrepreneurship to what life is like for young women who have suffered heart attacks.
Roger Klinth, researcher at Gender Studies, lectured on the image of the Swedish father and the paternity leave campaigns that have been on-going since the 1970s.
“Sweden is the only country that has had this kind of campaign aimed at forming public opinion,” Klinth pointed out. “They are an exciting historic source”, he said.
The image of fatherhood has changed over time in the state campaigns. The first campaign started in 1976, when the protagonist was a muscular weightlifter in a yellow and blue Sweden t-shirt with a little child in his arms.
“The image was supposed to appeal to Swedishness, to a symbol of enlightenment, modernity and equality but also to a traditional male ideal. In that way the campaign could reassure men ‘you can be real men and still take paternity leave’”, says Klinth.
The first campaigns were primarily aimed at Swedish Trade Union men, but over time the focus shifted to middle-class fathers. The tone of the campaigns changed. Now paternity leave was portrayed more as an opportunity for men, personally and career-wise, rather than as a matter of equality. The primary message was that this was a personal investment. Paternity leave was presented as an opportunity rather than a responsibility.
“From a perspective of equality, fathers were now seen as a second-choice parent. The message about equality didn’t have the same priority.
But later, in the 1990s, the focus of the campaign changed once again. The message was now “half each” of parental leave, based on the political opinion at the time.
Roger Klinth has studied the campaigns up to 2006. After that there haven’t been very many.
“That is a political signal too. Now the emphasis is on the family’s freedom of choice. Equality is still important, but not more important than other values,” Klinth says.
The organisers of the lecture day were Forum for Gender Studies and Equality, Lika Villkor (LiU:s Equal Opportunities portal) and the Passagen art gallery.
“We are satisfied with the event because it has created a lot of attention for our field of research, both in the media and internally at LiU. Between 15 and 30 people attended the different lectures, both from the university and the general public. It was interesting that several lecturers raised topics about men’s position in society, as well as Roger Klinth’s lecture there were also sessions about how men relate to environmental and climate-related issues, men’s relationship to cars and the popular press stereotypes of what men are like when they are ill.
Otherwise you could be forgiven for thinking that gender research is about women. I think that there is every reason to organise this event again next year, because we only did six hours this time. There are even more exciting research projects we want to tell people about,” commented Åsa-Karin Engstrand, administrator at Forum for Gender Studies and Equality.
Picture: Boréa bokförlag
- Publications for Roger Klinth
- Gender Studies Unit at LiU
- Forum for Gender Studies and Equality at LiU
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Last updated: 2013-06-18