The utopian land of Sweden reserves two of the government-mandated 13 months paid parental leave for fathers. This has turned men into hunky he-dads who slaughter game as well as they change diapers.
Mikael Karlsson owns a snowmobile, two hunting dogs and five guns. In his spare time, this soldier-turned-game warden shoots moose and trades potty-training tips with other fathers. Cradling 2-month-old Siri in his arms, he can't imagine not taking baby leave. "Everyone does."
The title of the piece says that "In Sweden, The Men Can Have It All." But so can the women! Mikael's wife, Sofia, says she finds him most attractive "when he is in the forest with his rifle over his shoulder and the baby on his back." Oh yeah: That is some sweet, sweet, gender equality.
And who wouldn't want to live in a country where, as Swedish European affairs minister Birgitta Ohlson tells the Times, "Machos with dinosaur values don't make the top-10 lists of attractive men in women's magazines anymore." All Swedish men can whip up a mean gazpacho from scratch and spend their free poring over dog-eared copies of Pride and Prejudice. Swedish men! Don't you want one?
But! Before we start trying to transform our own guys according to the Swedish model, consider the downsides:
Some women complain that Swedish men are too politically correct even to flirt in a bar. And some men admit to occasional pangs of insecurity. "I know my wife expects me to take parental leave," said a prominent radio journalist who recently took six months off with his third child and who preferred to remain anonymous. "But if I was on a lonely island with her and Tarzan, I hope she would still pick me."