I saw a movie this week. It was the latest in long-running series called Father of Four. The series has been running since the Fifties. As the kids grow up, they just replace them with new actors.
Anyway, in this episode, there was a romance. The oldest sister, who’s about 20, meets a handsome young man with a guitar. What struck me watching the movie was that the male romantic lead was visibly shorter than the female lead. I’d say at least a couple of centimeters shorter, maybe an inch.
Now, in Hollywood, they’d have that guy standing on a box, to look taller, or have the actress standing in a hole, to look shorter. In the Danish film, there was no attempt to hide it. They had them walk side by side through a meadow. I had to admit, I couldn’t focus on the love scene. I kept thinking. He’s really short, or maybe she’s really tall.
Not the dominant figure
In Hollywood – or Bollywood – movies, the male actor is taller because he’s supposed to be in charge, the dominant figure. But that’s not true in Danish romance. The man is NOT in charge.
This means a lot if you’re a foreign woman dating a Danish man. He is a not a Frenchman who will pursue you to the ends of the earth. He doesn’t send flowers, he doesn’t buy chocolates. He doesn’t take you in his arms and kiss you until you’re breathless. If you are a romance novelist, the Danish man is not your dream man.
If you’re a feminist, a Danish man IS your dream man. He will cook and help with the housework. He will take being a father seriously. He’ll spend time with the kids. He’ll take your opinion seriously. He doesn’t force himself on you. In fact, you may have to force yourself on him. But if you do, he’ll usually be really grateful.
Danish women carry their own packages
Why are Danish men like this? I’ve asked my Danish male friends, and they say they’re reacting to Danish women. Danish women, they say, like to do things for themselves. They don’t want some clown opening the door for them, or helping them carry packages. They can carry their own packages. My Danish male friends say that after offering to be chivalrous a couple of times and getting turned down in a nasty manner, they don’t want to do that any more.
So, the Danish male approach is largely passive. They wait to see if the woman is interested. I get a lot of mail from non-Danish women trying to figure out if the Danish man they’re dating is interested in them. He’s really happy when I call him, but he never calls me.
I honestly don’t know what to tell them. I mean, I come from a culture where men whistle at beautiful women they don’t know walking down the street.
When I first moved to Denmark, I thought I’d stopped hearing whistles because I’d aged out of the whistle target group. But I’ve since established that beautiful young women don’t get whistled at either. Danish men do not want to offend women.
Sometimes err on the soft side
Now, I’m a modern woman, and I like a lot of things about these modern men. But they can occasionally err a bit on the soft side.
For example, a few weeks ago, we had a big storm in Denmark, and it knocked down some large trees. Before the local government came to collect them, some people were sawing off bits for free firewood, or to make furniture, or other arts and crafts project.
On our street, there was a very large tree down, and as I was walking by that Saturday, I saw a young couple trying to take part of it home. The small, slender young woman was sawing away at this big tree with an old-fashioned manual saw, while her boyfriend was just standing there, smiling, with his hands in his pockets.
Now, I don’t know what was going on.
Maybe he had a back injury – he was about 25, so maybe had a very youthful back injury. Maybe he was a professional hand model and couldn’t risk his fingernails on a messy metal saw. Or maybe he was a big wimp who was willing to let his girlfriend saw a giant tree stump while he stood there, acting like a giant tree stump. Who knows?
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Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2022