Love and Sex in Scandinavia

With its reputation for being liberal and sexually-open minded, Scandinavia leads the the world when it comes to gender equality. Its empowered women are not afraid to express their desires. But is gender equality enough to ensure harmony between men

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With its reputation for being liberal and sexually-open minded, Scandinavia leads the the world when it comes to gender equality. Its empowered women are not afraid to express their desires. But is gender equality enough to ensure harmony between men and women? In this episode, we go in search of the secrets of Nordic love.

From as early as kindergarten, children in Scandinavia are taught to challenge the gender stereotypes that society imposes on them. In one classroom, a group of small girls chant ‘we are strong’ as their teacher encourages them to shout and occupy space. Next door, the boys are taught to compliment each other and be in tune with their feelings. At a church in Reykjavik, the (female) pastor has set up sex education classes to help teenagers understand their desire. Here masturbation is encouraged and nothing is taboo.

But this progressivism also has surprising side effects. When it comes to dating, Scandinavian women almost always make the first move. Often they tend to find their male partners shy, even uptight. Sometimes men don’t even dare to approach them anymore in case they are seen as being inappropriate. The Viking male today is in the midst of a masculinity crisis.

And, from one country to another, the contrasts are striking. In Sweden, there is a law that requires the consent of the partner before intercourse. In Finland, there is still the Eukonkanto, a traditional discipline where you race while carrying your wife like a sack of potatoes.

A symbol of free and uninhibited love, Scandinavia also has to deal with a serious problem: sexual violence, which has been steadily increasing for years. According to a recent report by Amnesty International, 30% of women in the Nordic countries are victims of sexual abuse – one of the highest percentages in Europe.

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