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Challenging the myth of gender equality in Sweden$
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Lena Martinsson, Gabriele Griffin, and Katarina Giritli Nygren

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781447325963

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447325963.001.0001

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date: 18 August 2017

Emotionally charged: parental leave and gender equality, at the surface of the skin

Emotionally charged: parental leave and gender equality, at the surface of the skin

Chapter:
(p.69) Three Emotionally charged: parental leave and gender equality, at the surface of the skin
Source:
Challenging the myth of gender equality in Sweden
Author(s):

Kajsa Widegren

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447325963.003.0003

One of the flag-ship reforms of the Swedish welfare state was the parental leave–reform from 1974. In this chapter images from official, state-mandated information material designed to increase Swedish fathers’ use of parental leave are scrutinized. Images are often inherently contradictory, with meanings that tend to move beyond the intention to ‘inform’ the viewer. The images in the parental leave campaigns reproduce Sweden as well as Swedish fathers as modern, white and heterosexual. At the same time as some of the images strive to articulate the message that ‘dads should be pregnant’, that is to be bodies capable of taking care of infants, they show little or no closeness between fathers and children, either emotional or corporeal. Thus these messages simultaneously incite and deter men from parenthood as it might be lived in a more gender-equal context.

Keywords:   parental leave, fatherhood, corporeality, gender equality

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