Walk the Talk

Men’s Friendships, Progressiveness and Postfeminism in Swedish Television

  • Klara Goedecke Cetrum för genusvetenskap, Uppsala universitet
Keywords: Men's friendships, postfeminism, television, masculinities, Progressiveness, Sweden, Boys, Våra vänners liv

Abstract

This article explores two Swedish TV shows centred on close, emotional friendships between men, Våra vänners liv (2010) [Our friends’ lives] and Boys (2015), as examples of postfeminism with a Swedish twist, inspired by Swedish ideologies of gender equality. Explicitly referring to feminism and gender equality, both shows explore what can be considered progressive masculine positions, drawing on ideas about sincerity, authenticity, emotionality and insight in men as central but not easily attained. I discuss portrayals of men as well as their friendships and explore the meanings of race, class and sexuality in the shows.
Unlike many US and UK postfeminist representations of bumbling, ironically sexist anti-heroic men, efforts at reaching sincerity and authenticity characterize the protagonists of the shows. Similar to other postfeminist cultural representations, both shows portray political problems as individual ones or, alternatively, as issues that already have been dealt with. For instance, Boys portrays a posthomophobic and postracial Sweden where racism and homophobia are of the past, and both shows portray personal development in individual men aimed at becoming progressive as solutions to problems regarding gender justice.
Both shows explore masculine positions that are available and unavailable, comprehensible and incomprehensible in contemporary Sweden, said to be one of the most gender-equal countries of the world. New masculine positions and intimacies between men, incorporating and referring to feminist or gender equality discourses, may be imagined and made available in shows like Våra vänners liv and Boys. However, such references and their consequences must be critically scrutinized.

Published
2021-02-02
Section
Men Can/Can men Change?