America’s becoming Sweden? Bring it on!

Chloe Angyal

If we are to take Glenn Beck’s word for it, if there are indeed Arctic-length summer days spent at the beach with the famous Swedish bikini team in our not-too-distant future, then things are really looking up for American women.

If you watch the O’Reilly Factor, Glenn Beck, or pay attention to any other Conservative media these days, you’ll know that America is rapidly becoming a socialist nation. More specifically, we’re becoming Sweden. The Daily Show has
done some hard investigative reporting into what the impending
socialist nightmare will mean for America, noting that Sweden is
burdened with unfathomable horrors like universal healthcare, paid
parental leave, annual paid vacation and, of course, really hot women.
But The Daily Show has missed some of the other awful things
that Americans, and particularly American women, will have to suffer
through when America succumbs to its inevitable wealth-redistributing,
ABBA-loving Scandinavian fate. Here are a few of the very worst ones:


In Sweden in 2007, women’s wages were, at the very least, 90% of men’s wages. In the private sector, the gender wage gap was only 2.2%. For comparison, in America the 2008 gender pay gap
between women working full time and men working full time was 22.1%.
This means that when a man and a woman doing the same job, the woman
earns just under 80 cents for every dollar her male colleague earns.
According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research,
that gap that reflects gender differences in both hourly wages and the
number of hours worked each year (because women are more likely to work
part time in order to combine work and family).


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from being paid more equitably regardless of what work they do, Swedish
women are also more likely than American women to do prestigious,
high-paid jobs. In Swedish companies, 22.8% of board members are women, compared to 15.2% in the USA. That might not sound like a huge difference, but according to European HR research organization Mercer,
countries where women make up around 22% of board members will take
until 2065 to reach parity. If it’s going to take them that long, then
the US can hope for parity around the time when they finally stop
making sequels to The Fast and the Furious.

In Sweden, a parent is allowed 480 days of paid leave,
60 of which must be used by the other parent. Also, either parent has
the right to leave until their child is 18 months old. Parents also
have the right to reduce their workload by 25%
until their child is 8 years old. The goal of these policies is not
only to make it easier for women to combine work and family, but also
to make it easier for men to participate more fully in raising
children. According to The Economist, though, fathers take very little advantage of these progressive policies, with men claiming only 15% of parental leave days.

In America, on the other hand, Family Medical Leave Act
requires companies with more than 50 employees to grant employees a
total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period, so
that they can give birth and care for a newborn, have a fostered or
adopted child placed in their care. As for paid leave, that’s left to
each private company to decide. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research,
24% of the employers ranked as “good for working mothers” by Working
Mother Magazine provide four or fewer weeks of paid maternity leave,
and half provide six weeks or less. No American company provides more
than six weeks of paid paternity leave.

In 2001 2, 184 rapes were reported to law enforcement in Sweden. In America, the number of reported rapes that year was 95, 136, with an estimated 60% of rapes going unreported. Swedish infant mortality rates are the lowest in the world; America is ranked 29th in the worldwide.

Under Swedish law,
abortion is legal up to 18 weeks for any reason, including to preserve
the mother’s physical and mental health, in the case of foetal
impairment, and for economic or social reasons. It is also free. Sweden
has a high rate of contraceptive use, around 71%. Comprehensive sex
education and easy access to contraception also combine to give Sweden
a very low teenage teenage birth rates, as well as low abortion rates.
You don’t need me to tell you about abortion rates, access
contraception, comprehensive sex ed and teenage birth rates in the US.

Suffice it to say, the Conservative media panic
is misplaced (shocker!). We are not becoming Sweden, politically,
fiscally, or socially. But take a look at the data. Take a look at the
affordable and available medical care, the pay equity, the vastly
decreased likelihood of rape, and the emphasis on gender equality that
forms the basis of the society. If we are to take Glenn Beck’s word
for it, if our not-too-distant future does indeed contain Arctic-length summer days spent at the
beach with the famous Swedish bikini team, then things are really looking up for American women.

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