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Sexuality in Scandinavia: How Scandinavia Looks at Sexuality

Brace Yourself: Sexuality in Scandinavia


Nudists in Europe

Nudists in Europe

Michel Porro / Getty Images
Don't be surprised to see exposed breasts here and there when you travel to Scandinavia. There's a certain liberty about sex issues in Scandinavia that you'll rarely find anywhere else. Sexuality in Scandinavia is treated more openly, which can be quite shocking to visitors from other parts of the world.

Sexuality & Nudity for Travelers

Looking at the sex issue from the outside, travelers are often surprised at how liberal Scandinavia is. You may see a couple of pornographic movie theaters and sex shops, along with naked breasts in the media - or at the beach. Bathing top-less is very common not just in Scandinavia, but all over Europe (also see Nudism in Scandinavia).

In Norway, a visitor may see magazines offering discussion and Q&A columns about sexuality and sexual matters. Note that while sexuality in Scandinavia is a liberal issue and you can buy as many erotic magazines and videos as you want, pornographic materials with children are absolutely illegal.

Sexuality in Scandinavia is treated with ease since locals haven't been brought up to think of it as a "taboo" - sexuality education is compulsory in schools in all of Scandinavia. Teaching youngsters about sex is considered crucial to the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, the government of Sweden believes. You'll be surprised to hear that numerous studies show that Scandinavian teenagers have better sexual health, fewer sexual partners, and start being sexually active at the same age or later than teenagers from the U.S.!

Sex on TV

Most of the time, Scandinavians treat displays of sexuality on TV as just another part of the regular programming. Clear sex on TV in Scandinavia, along with frontal nudity, is usually shown after a certain time at night, e.g. past 11 p.m.

Sexual Attitudes in Scandinavia

As a whole, Scandinavia views sexuality more liberally than any other region in the world, with relaxed attitudes towards their own and others' sexuality. Premarital sex has been acceptable in Scandinavia for centuries, which mainly in Denmark are based on old Nordic customs like the Night Courtship:

"Night Courtship allowed boys who visited girls to lie in bedwith them (bundling). It was another matter that unmarried girls often had the responsibility for the cattle and therefore slept in the byre. The court records show clearly that it was considered self-evident that young unmarried men and women shared shelter for the night." by Kari Teiste, 1652-1710.

As in many other parts of the world, the average age for marriage keeps increasing. However, in Scandinavia the rate for divorces is much lower than in the U.S. For example, in Norway, twice as many individuals lose their partner by death than by divorce.

Recent Sexuality Issues

Abortion has been legalized in Scandinavia in the past 30 years and in the past 20 years, gays & lesbians in Scandinavia have obtained (almost) equal rights to those of heterosexual couples. Prostitution in form of selling one's services is legal but controlled for health reasons.

Scandinavia offers health centers with free abortion counseling, child care centers everywhere, paid maternity leave, and high child care benefits for families.

Hopefully, this could prepare you a little for your trip to Scandinavia. There will be no need to blush, and you can always go one step further and enjoy Nudism in Scandinavia!

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