Sweden's New Masculinity

Ever wonder what a country which was run by the faculty of the University of California Berkeley would be like?  Now you know.

SPOLAND, SWEDEN — Mikael Karlsson owns a snowmobile, two hunting dogs and five guns. In his spare time, this soldier-turned-game warden shoots moose and trades potty-training tips with other fathers. Cradling 2-month-old Siri in his arms, he can’t imagine not taking baby leave. “Everyone does.”

From trendy central Stockholm to this village in the rugged forest south of the Arctic Circle, 85 percent of Swedish fathers take parental leave. Those who don’t face questions from family, friends and colleagues. As other countries still tinker with maternity leave and women’s rights, Sweden may be a glimpse of the future.

In this land of Viking lore, men are at the heart of the gender-equality debate. The ponytailed center-right finance minister calls himself a feminist, ads for cleaning products rarely feature women as homemakers, and preschools vet books for gender stereotypes in animal characters. For nearly four decades, governments of all political hues have legislated to give women equal rights at work — and men equal rights at home.

Incredible.  So one country finally achieved sexual equality and all they had to do was take children away from their parents at twelve months of age and brain wash them.

Swedish mothers still take more time off with children — almost four times as much. And some who thought they wanted their men to help raise baby now find themselves coveting more time at home.

But laws reserving at least two months of the generously paid, 13-month parental leave exclusively for fathers — a quota that could well double after the September election — have set off profound social change.

Actually, never mind.  Men are forced to stay home by quotas and women still take nearly eighty percent of paternal leave.  Must not be trying hard enough.  Too many gender roles in animal stories.  

Sweden had already gone further than many countries have now in relieving working mothers: Children had access to highly subsidized preschools from 12 months and grandparents were offered state-sponsored elderly care. The parent on leave got almost a full salary for a year before returning to a guaranteed job, and both could work six-hour days until children entered school. Female employment rates and birth rates had surged to be among the highest in the developed world.

“I always thought if we made it easier for women to work, families would eventually choose a more equal division of parental leave by themselves,” said Mr. Westerberg, 67. “But I gradually became convinced that there wasn’t all that much choice.”

Perfect insight into the liberal mind.  Free to make your own decisions...until you choose wrongly.  

The New York Times wants the reader to get the impression that Sweden’s high birthrate and low divorce rate can be attributed to its proactive feminism, but the article itself makes it clear that there’s massive redistribution from the childless to parents.

Taxes account for 47 percent of gross domestic product, compared with 27 percent in the United States and 40 percent in the European Union overall. The public sector, famous for family-friendly perks, employs one in three workers, including half of all working women. Family benefits cost 3.3 percent of G.D.P., the highest in the world along with Denmark and France, said Willem Adema, senior economist at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

TFR in Sweden is 1.67.  In France, which is less insane on gender issues, it’s 1.97.  Obviously subsidizing children gets you more of them but the New York Times would rather pretend that feminism leads to a healthier demographic situation than apply a fundamental economic rule.