While Scandinavia is commonly thought of as the leading region in the world in terms of gender equality, Denmark surprisingly ranked among the least feminist countries in the recent poll by the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project, conducted in collaboration with The Guardian.
The global survey, which polled over 25,000 people in 23 major countries on gender, equal rights and the anti-harassment #MeToo movement, found out that only one in six Danes call themselves a feminist.
Fittingly, even Denmark's Equality Minister Karen Ellemann declared that she didn't consider herself one when she took up the post three years ago. Only a quarter of Danish women consider themselves feminists, which marks a stark contrast to neighbouring Sweden, where 46% do. Surprisingly, when it comes to feminist self-identification, Danes polled even lower than Italy and Spain, which are thought to lag behind Denmark in terms of gender equality.
By contrast, a third said that wolf-whistling at women in the street was acceptable. Fully one third of Danish women argued this habit was acceptable, the highest proportion in any country other than Nigeria.
"I don't mind it so long as it's done in a nice way" 37-year-old accountant Helene Frost Hansen told The Guardian. "I see it as a compliment, actually". According to her, many Danish women would like Danish men to be more like their counterparts in southern Europe.
According to Rikke Andreassen, a professor of communication studies at Roskilde University, Danes tolerate low-level sexual harassment due to the belief that it should be excused if "meant well".
This attitude may explain the differences in how the public debate around the #MeToo movement has played among Danes and their Scandinavian peers across the Öresund Strait. While #MeToo totally engulfed Sweden, triggering countless petitions signed by thousands of representatives of various trades, hours of media debate and hundreds of opinion pieces, as well as numerous outings of alleged sexual predators, in Denmark it received only a fraction of the attention.
Conversely, only 4 percent of Danish men and 8 percent of women in Denmark said they had a "very favourable" impression of #MeToo, compared to 16 percent and 34 percent in Sweden, and the average of 19 percent and 24 percent across the survey.
Even Danish London-based comedian Sofie Hagen, who is trying to establish her own brand of body-positive feminist humour, explained that she couldn't enjoy the same success in her home country.
"Feminism is a dirty word in Denmark. <…> and political correctness is often seen as a bad thing," the self-proclaimed "fat activist" famously told the Information daily newspaper.