The Architect For The Barbershop-Conference Openly Misogynist - The Reykjavik Grapevine

The Architect For The Barbershop-Conference Openly Misogynist

The former Foreign Minister of Iceland, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, and former Prime Minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, have been entangled into a political scandal in Iceland where they, with three other MPs, were recorded at a local bar close to Parliament.

On the recording the male parliamentarians, and one woman, can be heard demeaning and dismissing their female colleagues. DV.is and Stundin reported on this on Wednesday night, and there it is also stated that Gunnar Bragi could have misused his power when he appointed former disgraced Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde as an ambassador to the United States, and former MP for the Left-Green Party, Árni Þór Sigurðsson, as an ambassador in Finland.

UN Barbershop Conference

Barbershop Conference

This also comes as a serious blow to Gunnar Bragi, who campaigned and organised the so-called “Barbershop Conference” for the United Nations in New York in 2015, drawing international attention.

Grapevine wrote about the conference at the time, where the stated goal of the conference was to “promote change in how men and boys think and talk about women’s empowerment and gender equality”, focusing on initiatives “that aim to support non-sexist male attitudes and behaviours between men.”

The conference was announced as an “exceptional contribution” to the HeforShe campaign, which aims to encourage men to support gender equality. The campaign was launched by actor Emma Watson at the opening of the UN General Assembly in 2014.

Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, former Prime Minister, was also in the room.

“She’s a spaz”

In the recordings, Gunnar Bragi is heard demeaning his women colleagues, saying about the former chairman of the Social Democratic party, Oddný Harðardóttir, that she is a total “spaz” (the Icelandic word is apaköttur, or monkey-cat, which is hard to translate to English but the thought is similar to and as demeaning as “spaz”).

Then he said about a female colleague in the Independence Party, who has not been named, that she is “a promising politician and a damn cute girl“. Another MP, Bergþór Ólason, who is in the same party as Gunnar Bragi and Sigmundur, The Centre Party, says then that she have been aging fast and doesn’t look hot anymore, and it will affect her in the primaries. None of the MPs protest this misogynist analysis.

The woman in the group, Anna Kolbrún Árnadóttir, who is also in the same party as Gunnar Bragi and Sigmundur Davíð,, then says that men are dyslexic, and women are dyscalculic.

Gunnar Bragi then responds: “Is that the reason they can’t keep up with how many boys they have slept with?”

“The bureaucratic hag”

But Gunnar Bragi didn’t stop there, either. He called Independence Party MP Unnur Brá Konráðsdóttir, and then parliamentary president at the time, a “tough bureaucratic hag“ (In Icelandic it is kerfiskerling which again is hard to translate but is demeaning for women and is portrayed as a an old women which is guardian of the system).

Gunnar Bragi have apologised for his words, and said in an interview in the morning show at RUV radio this morning that this was not an appropriate way to talk. He did not address his role in the Barbershop Conference and how these actions were exactly what the conference were meant to fight against.


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