Denmark is known as one of the most socially progressive countries in the world, thanks to its welfare policies, consensus politics, and low level of wealth inequality, and it regularly ranks at or near the top in quality-of-life surveys. (It is also one of the richest countries in the world.)
It turns out that this Scandinavian nation, however, is also one of the least feminist countries in the world.
According to a new study conducted by the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project, a joint partnership between the U.K.’s YouGov-Cambridge Centre, the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at Cambridge University, and The Guardian newspaper, only one Dane in six self-identifies as a feminist, and only 40% of Danes support the #MeToo movement. Even the country’s equality minister, Karen Ellemann, refused to call herself a feminist.
The study, which covered some 23 western nations, also found that in Denmark’s neighbor, Sweden, in contrast, nearly half the people surveyed considered themselves feminist — and noted that even Italy and Spain scored higher in this regard.
In reporting this story, The Guardian quotes a Danish accountant, Helene Frost Hansen, as saying that she didn’t think wolf-whistling was always unacceptable. “I don’t mind as long as it’s done in a nice way,” she said. “I see it as a compliment, actually.” She added that many Danish women would prefer “[their] men to be more like in Southern Europe and tell you how nice you look.”
Rikke Andreassen, a professor of communication studies at Denmark’s Roskilde University posited that Danes found low-level sexual harassment acceptable because it is well-meant.
There’s a dark side to this easy-going attitude, however. The Guardian also reported that a 2014 study across 28 countries in the European Union found that Denmark, along with Sweden and Finland, had the highest rates of violence against women in the developed world — despite the fact that all three are considered among the world’s best countries for gender equality.