From sex toys in Sweden to board members in Oslo – Nordic roundup

// 6 March 2008

While the attorney general of Texas has nothing better to do than try and reinstate the state’s sex toy ban, the Swedish government is going to begin selling vibrators:

The Local - Swedish state to start selling sex toys.jpg

From The Local’s coverage, this fantastic quote:

“We are aware that sex is a very important part of everyone’s life. It is important to help people in this area, and there is a certain demand for the products,” [state pharmacy] Apoteket’s spokeswoman Elisabet Linge Bergman told The Local.

RFSU has produced a range of sex toys on behalf of Apoteket, which will be available for purchase in fifty stores nationwide for a one year trial period. But Apoteket has not yet decided exactly which products to stock.

“We will sell massage oils and dildos. We can’t say anything more yet,” said Linge Bergman.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s Liberal Party wants to make sex-ed compulsory. I can see the downsides to this (parents may just keep kids out of school completely if they object very strongly). But at the same time, this statistic is pretty compelling:

“It’s inappropriate that a rule about freedom from obligatory lessons which was meant to be used in exceptional cases has resulted in that every fourth foreign-born girl doesn’t participate in an important teaching moment in school,” write Party Leader Jan Bj√∂rklund, Integration Minister Nyamko Sabuni, and Party Secretary Erik Ullenhag.

The three point to a doctoral dissertation which shows that 27 percent of foreign born girls don’t receive instruction in athletics, swimming, or sexual education.

And the deadline for all Norway’s big listed companies to fill 40% of board seats with women has been and gone. Today’s Guardian reports on the reaction, under the rather negative headline “you’re fired!” (what about all the women who heard “you’re hired!”?)

In 2002, only 7.1% of non-executive directors of ASAs were female. When they introduced the 40% quota, the government had expected a widespread rebellion, but by the final deadline for compliance – February 22 this year – only a handful of companies had failed to meet it. Most ASA boards have acquired between two and four new women in the past several months. It is not exactly an army on the march, but it is a step in the right direction and has allowed Norway to buck an international trend; in Britain, women fill only 14.5% of non-executive board positions and one in four of the FTSE 100 boards still has no women at all. The number of women holding executive directorships in FTSE 100 companies actually fell last year to the lowest level for nine years, according to research by Cranfield business school. And the picture is similar all over Europe. Only 2% of boardroom posts in Italy are held by women, and in Spain the figure is 4%.

There are lots of interesting details about how the quota has been sold to the population and then achieved in practice:

The quota was presented less as a gender-equality issue, and more as one driven by economic necessity. He argued that diversity creates wealth. The country could not afford to ignore female talent, he said. Norway has a low unemployment rate (now at 1.5%) and a large number of skilled and professional posts unfilled. “I could not see why, after 30 years of an equal ratio of women and men in universities and having so many women with experience, there were so few of them on boards,” he says.

But if it was Gabrielsen who set the terms of the debate in a way that made it less threatening to men, it was a woman who worked out how to make the quota achievable. In 2003, the NHO, the Norwegian equivalent of the Confederation of British Industry, decided to step up the pace of voluntary change. It headhunted 32-year-old Benja Stig Fagerland and gave her a two-year deadline to achieve a minor miracle.

Photo by pineapplebun, shared under a Creative Commons license

Comments From You

Jennifer // Posted 7 March 2008 at 9:00 am

My sister lives in Norway and it always amazes me how well her company treats her (in comparison to the UK). She has 5 kids and holds a senior management position in engineering (who says you can’t have it all?!). Her company even give her Wednesday’s off – providing that it isn’t extremely busy. Norway really does go the extra mile in helping women get back to work after having children.

However, my sister does say that they still have quite a bit of insitutional rascism, so nowhere is perfect :(

Tazia // Posted 11 March 2008 at 5:30 pm

In England and Wales only 0.04 per cent of pupils – four in every 10,000 – are withdrawn from non-statutory sex education lessons. It is a political banner, there is nothing that I can discover which is compelling about it.

Swden also employs sex offenders in its schools. In Denmark the ‘early years’ offending rate was 1/1, polyvictimization delivered one rape (digital penetration) per male teacher in kindergarten.

Home-schooling is sadly, becoming the safest option in some parts of the Baltic area, it is really quite scary. One or two of the Danish schools were also putting on strip shows to entertain the teachers or for one reason or another.

Immigrants tend to read from the top, in Sweden, Holland, and Denmark, they basically just see the problems. in Britain one of the sex-ed charities named a political prize in 2,007 after one of the founding members of the Pedophile Information Exchange.

So, one has to ask, are they deliberately trying to scare minorities out of their wits?

I recall an article by Julie Bindel in the Guardian, several years back, and it is as true today as it was then, people have to weigh up the consequences of what they say and do and what they don’t say.

Child Ombudsman Lena Nyberg wants to ban sex offenders in Sweden from working with children, however it is not going to properly happen, it is potentially evolving into a replica of the British system, which is a dog’s breakfast

Have Your say

To comment, you must be registered with The F-Word. Not a member? Register. Already a member? Use the sign in button below

Sign in to the F-Word

Further Reading

Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

Write for us!

Got something to say? Something to review? News to discuss? Well we want to hear from you! Click here for more info

  • The F-Word on Twitter
  • The F-Word on Facebook
  • Our XML Feeds