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Finnish feminists turn an old insult on its head

Finnish feminists turn an old insult on its head

Activists have disarmed the taunt “flower-hat aunt”

Activists have disarmed the taunt “flower-hat aunt”

Lane Greene | October/November 2019

kukkahattutäti

1. Flower-hat aunt (noun)

KUK-ka-hat-tu-TÆ-ti

Flower hats are back in Finland. Well, maybe not quite. A new insult came into vogue in the early 2000s, after Tarja Halonen was elected as the first female president and immigration began to change the largely homogeneous, macho, strong-but-silent nation. Some misogynist opponents labelled women who involved themselves in the battle of the sexes “flower-hat aunts”, a taunt meant to evoke elderly, 1920s-era female moralists who disapproved of dancing and booze. The top definition on Finland’s equivalent of the “Urban Dictionary” calls the kukkahattutäti an “obnoxious moralist who knows how others should live their lives”.

Activists know that the best way to disarm a barb is to own it (just ask readers of Bitch magazine, America’s “feminist response to pop culture”, or the pussy-hat marchers against Donald Trump). Increasingly, young Finnish feminists have proudly claimed kukkahattutäti as a badge of honour. No flowers, or nieces and nephews, are needed: just a willingness to be labelled “obnoxious” for saying what you think.