Because they don’t have to. At least, they don’t think they have to, because they believe that women can and should take care of themselves. The modern Swedish man is a feminist, according to the tourism site visitsweden.se. Sweden has one of the world’s most gender-egalitarian societies, offering equal maternity/paternity leave, childrens’ books featuring characters in unisex clothing, and even a gender-neutral pronoun (hen) for those times when you’re struggling with whether to write “he,” “she,” or to just use the grammatically-incorrect-yet-gender-neutral “they.” (Those Swedes always have such practical solutions!)
The concept of gender equality in Sweden is so pervasive, that the official site of Sweden has an entire page dedicated to it:
I wonder if this is touted to attract female foreign visitors looking for some of the world’s best husbands. So I’ve snagged one of these rare, ultra-desirable husbands who shares equally in household chores and will gladly take on his fair share of parenting duties when we someday have kids. But ladies, equality is not always romantic.
“Swedish women don’t generally speaking expect men to pick up the tab on dates; they do however expect their boyfriends, husbands and partners to share equally in household chores,” says the Embassy of Sweden’s website. Great, but where’s the romance in that?
I like it when Sven pulls out his wallet to pay for dinner, even if all our credit cards get paid out of the same joint bank account. I like it when Sven carries my bags and holds the door open for me. Not all the time, but occasionally, as a romantic gesture. Sven is not great at the romantic gestures commonly appreciated by the American woman because he believes they are frivolous.
For example, I know that he doesn’t understand why he needs to buy me something to make me happy. Swedish boys are taught that if a girl wants something, she can buy it for herself. American girls like me are taught that if a guy buys something for you, it means he is thinking about you, and therefore he loves you. So while I can definitely afford to buy anything I want for myself, I still think it would be romantic for Sven to occasionally surprise me with a small gift, dinner date, theater tickets, spa day, quirky only-in-NYC-outing, spontaneous vacation (just throwing few ideas out there…Sven).
I realize this sounds like a double standard, and I’m not trying to take for granted the great strides women have made in modern society, or the fact that I actually have an amazing husband. I’m just saying I’m a fan of romance, and I like to be swept off my feet every once in a while. I think even Swedish women would agree! Sure, us women can do anything we want, and we can take care of ourselves, but sometimes we just want to be taken care of.
I’ve heard some Swedish women complain that Swedish men take the notion of gender equality so far that they use it as an excuse for not talking to girls at a bar, much less asking them out on a date or taking them out to dinner. [Deep Swedish man-accent: Well, she can always come and talk to me, too. We are equals.]
Men (especially Swedish ones) take note: Wikihow’s 12 ways to show a woman you care.
A few of my favorites:
- Invest in her happiness
- Make her your top priority
- Practice random acts of kindness
- Remember that women do not always say what they feel (especially Swedish women, who feel society’s pressure to act self-sufficient and might not ask for the emotional/romantic support they desire from a man)
Ladies, what do you think? Are you independent, yet still crave some one-off pampering from your man?
Men (particularly Swedish men), what do you think? Are women greedy for wanting to have it all: an equal society, but men who will take care of them?