Politi­cians’ sex­ism taped

Record­ing went vi­ral af­ter be­ing posted, spurring na­tion­wide out­rage in Ice­land

StarMetro Toronto - - BIG OPINIONS - Cey­lan Ye­ginsu and Egill Bjar­na­son

Many Ice­landers are call­ing for the res­ig­na­tions of a group of politi­cians who were se­cretly recorded in a bar us­ing sex­ist and ob­scene lan­guage about fe­male col­leagues, in­clud­ing mak­ing dis­parag­ing re­marks about a for­mer mem­ber of Par­lia­ment who has a dis­abil­ity.

The politi­cians — in­clud­ing for­mer prime minister Sig­mundur David Gunnlaugs­son, for­mer for­eign minister Gun­nar Bragi Sveins­son and a fe­male minister, Anna Kol­brun Ar­nadot­tir — met at a bar called Klaus­tur two weeks ago in Reyk­javik, Ice­land’s cap­i­tal, or­dered beers and spent more than three hours talk­ing.

A man sit­ting nearby over­heard the con­ver­sa­tion, made a record­ing with his cell­phone and sent it to the news me­dia.

The record­ing went vi­ral af­ter it was posted on­line last week, spurring na­tion­wide out­rage in a coun­try that has a fe­male prime minister, Ka­trin Jakob­s­dot­tir, and that prides it­self on its gen­der equal­ity record af­ter top­ping the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum’s gen­der gap in­dex for sev­eral years. This year, a law was passed that re­quires com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ment agen­cies to prove they are pay­ing men and women equally.

Some of the politi­cians who were recorded have apol­o­gized.

Sveins­son, the for­mer for­eign minister, who has a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing a cham­pion of women’s rights, is heard on the record­ing mock­ing a fe­male law­maker for com­ing for­ward as part of the “Me Too” move­ment and laugh­ing at do­mes­tic vi­o­lence ac­cu­sa­tions made against a for­mer mem­ber of Par­lia­ment.

Some in the group ex­pressed a de­sire to sleep with par­tic­u­lar fe­male col­leagues. One per­son warned that one such woman could not be trusted be­cause she “plays on men like women know best.”

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