Today, June 2, is International Sex Workers’ Day. It is celebrated today because on 2 June, 1975, 100 sex workers occupied the Sant-Nizier Church in Lyon, France to express anger about their exploitative living conditions and work culture. The Church was brutally raided by the police forces on 10 June. This action became a national movement and the day is now recognised in Europe and worldwide.
In 1999, Sweden was unique in the world with the introduction of a ‘Sex Purchase Act’. The act makes it illegal to purchase sex but not to sell it. Under this law, it is the customer that is the criminal but not the sex worker, who is considered to already be in a vulnerable position. The law is based on the principle that prostitution is an act of violence against women. The ‘Swedish Model’ has been duplicated and adapted in the other Scandinavian countries as well as Canada, Ireland and France.
The Swedish Sex Purchase Act stands as a complete opposite to the laws in Germany and the Netherlands where the purchasing of sex services is legalized. Proponents of the Swedish law would at this is why Germany and the Netherlands have become European hotspots for sex tourism and trafficking.
However, many organisations, including Amnesty International, WHO and Human Rights Watch oppose the Swedish model. They suggest instead that legalization improves the sex worker’s access to health care, their ability to report crime and ability to organize themselves in, for example, unions. They also claim that the sex worker is not always a victim of the situation and that the Swedish law forces them into risky behavior and contributes to their poverty.
Despite the criticism, the Swedish law stands strong and does not look like it will be changed anytime soon. It seems that most Swedes agree with the law, based on the belief that nobody has the right to buy another person’s body.
There’s one stereotype of Swedes that seems like it will never go away – the stereotype that Swedes are sexually liberated. This impression started after the wave of Swedish films that came out in the 1960’s and which were considered erotic by the rest of the world. Equal gender rights, contraception, abortion rights and a relaxed attitude to nudity have reinforced this stereotype. Perpetuating it further over the decades is the regular supply of seductive and physically attractive Swedes in the media – Britt Ekland, Ulrika Jonsson, Anita Ekberg, Maud Adams, Dolph Lundgren, Victoria Silvstedt, Alexander Skarsgård to name a few.
I don’t know if Swedes are more sexually emancipated than other nations or if they indeed have more sex than anybody else.
One thing is for certain though, they do have lot of words and phrases for the sexual act. So, if they’re not doing it – they’re certainly talking about it!
Here are 21 words and phrases to expand your vocabulary. Any others you can think of?
One of the major stereotypes of Swedes is that they are sexually liberated.
Twenty years ago, a large research project on 2800 people was carried out looking into how Swedes view sex. Participants were between 18-74 years old. In comparison to many other countries, Sweden was consequently seen as a place that has a liberal view on sex. Now this research is about to be carried out again, to see what, if anything, has changed in the last two decades. The suspicion is that a lot has changed in the last twenty years.
So what did the results look like 20 years ago?
Here’s a summary, courtesy of daily newspaper DN.
Sexual debut was on average 16 years old
The average woman had 4,6 sexual partners
The average man had had sex with 7,1 people on average
Swedes between 26-55 had the most sex
Sexual activity had increased since the previous study in 1967, except between the ages 31-50 were there was a decrease, probably due to work pressure
The top 10% were called ‘superactives’ and the men had slept with 29-560 people and the women had slept with 15-100 people
38% of the Swedes had experience of sexual relations outside of their committed relationship
The average amount of penetrative sex was 65 times per year
15-20% of women had same-sex fantasies, 3% of men.
Women more frequently reported a diminshing interest in sex. Difficulty to achieve orgasm was the most common reason. Amongst the men who claimed the same reduced desire, premature ejaculation was the most common reason.
The last time they had sex,
95% had had vaginal sex
59-72% had carressed eachother’s genitals
25% had oral sex
1% had anal sex
71% of men orgasmed, 62% of women acheived orgasm
80% had sex with their husband, wife, partner
5-6% had sex with a friend or casual partner
1% had met via a contact ad
In the last twenty years, a lot has happened in Sweden. Easy sexual contacts via aps such as Grindr and Tinder makes sex more accessible. Young people who experiment with their sexualities, and refuse to identify as hetero or homo, is more common than twenty years ago. On the other hand, Sweden is a more multi-cultural society than before and attitudes to sexuality may well be influenced by religion, culture and a new restrictive morality. It will be interesting to read what the results of the new survey reveal.