Typography

Are foreign men really in high demand in Finland?

A recent report in Helsingin Sanomat and Helsinki Times stated that many Finnish women are on the lookout specifically for foreign men.

Drawing on the achievements of a certain Todd, this Australian engineer boasted a notch on his bedpost for almost all of the nine weeks he was here on a recent work trip. Lucky for him, sure, but is this truly a phenomenon?

“The problem is that [young] women are beginning to be more educated than men and struggle to find men of similar educational background. Such foreigners do exist,” the article quotes Minna Säävälä, a senior researcher at the Family Federation of Finland.

Indeed, stereotypes may to a degree explain the popularity of foreign men, offers Johanna Leinonen, a research coordinator at the University of Turku. Leinonen points out in the same article that many Finns have traditionally admired American culture and have a positive association with the French via cinema and the written word.

Given the amount of Finns who are significantly more travelled than older generations, one wonders if these perceptions are entirely valid. Sure, while immigration is still a relatively new phenomenon here, is it so that Finns only form opinions on other cultures via second-hand information?

Furthermore, with Finnish women on the lookout for educated types, and apparently fishing in international waters – locally – to do so, how is this supposed to reflect on the collective intellect of local lads?

In fact, the perspective of Finnish men is one glaring omission from the article. Do they agree with this? And how many Finnish guys prefer foreign women to those born here? Is it just a one-way street headed towards foreign fellows?

Differences stand out, that’s a given, but one wonders if this is any more unique a phenomenon than what is experienced by newcomers everywhere around the world. The flip side of the coin sees Finns living or visiting abroad, whose unique Nordic mannerisms perhaps see them quite literally charming the pants off many. But where is the reportage on this?

One hopes that it does not act as an incentive for people who have been born and raised here to negatively perceive ‘strangers’ who have recently arrived.

At the end of the day, it appears to be just another awkward chapter in the tale of the integration of foreigners in Finland.

What do you think?
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James O’Sullivan