Those ads are hilarious, except when you realise that back in their day they were considered an okay way to present women in the media. The bright side is, they show how much attitudes have changed since the 1950s, and we have feminists to thank for that change. Our work is far from done but sometimes it’s nice to look at what has already been accomplished. It gives you faith.
Things have changed pretty much during my lifetime, too. In 1986 I was six years old, and when I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said, “The President of Finland!” I had no interest in becoming a nurse, a hairdresser or a vet, as grown-ups tried to suggest. I wanted a job where no one could boss me around and I imagined that as the president I would get to tell everyone else what to do.
Adults chuckled at my answer and told me that women can’t become presidents, so I had best start thinking about some other careers. I didn’t say anything to that but I thought, “Wait and see! Just you wait and see!” As I grew up, I lost my interest in becoming the president but when the first woman was elected for president in 2000, my feelings were a mixture of schadenfreude and katharsis. Better still, Tarja Halonen was re-elected so she remained in office for 12 years, proving that women can not only become presidents, but also win enough support for a second season in office.
Since then we have had a woman as prime minister and as the speaker of the parliament. This year we came very close to electing a gay man for president. He came second in the vote, out of eight candidates, and that was a small victory in itself. Only a decade ago an openly gay man wouldn’t have stood a chance in the elections.
We are far from perfect gender equality but we are definitely getting there.