Being Swedish, I know there are a few things you can learn from Swedish women, including what to avoid. You will get surprised how unique these women are.
Sweden is known for its blonde women, saunas, Abba, Zlatan, pickled herring and white nights. Growing up in Sweden, I know what an amazing country it is. I also know all about the pitfalls—especially the long dark winters.
However, there are things that I will always treasure having learnt from growing up in Sweden though, and I take these with me to the warmer countries where I prefer to live.
I know, I know: you already know this. The thing is, in Sweden, equality between the sexes is more or less taken for granted. You don’t grow up fearing men are your superiors or thinking you have to prove to men that they can’t rule your life.
They don’t rule your life, they aren’t smarter and they certainly don’t have more rights than you do. As such, there is also little need to put men down, which some feminists seem to have decided to do.
For the same reason, women don’t expect men to pay for them unless they have chosen to be housewives, for example, and that’s their contribution to the household. Or, if a woman dates a man much further along the career ladder and it makes sense, he pays, but not even then will you find it common.
Men are different from women, but they are neither better nor worse. Celebrate the differences and enjoy the equality.
You’ve heard of mother’s taking leave from work after having a baby. In Sweden, men have the same right—paid paternity leave.
Mothers and fathers are different. That’s not to say that fathers care less about their offspring. While they seem to have a natural tendency to want to provide for and protect their families, it doesn’t mean that they don’t want to also spend time with their families.
So, as a woman, honor their wish. Give your man equal rights where raising the family is concerned.
Yes, we do have saunas and people are prone to go skinny dipping too. Personally, I grew up sailing and went showering with the women in each harbor. It was a sense of belonging; of being a woman.
No one tried to hide behind their towels either in the shower, which I later realized American women do in changing rooms. I found this behavior extremely weird. It’s you. It’s your body. What’s to hide?
It’s no more special than your face, really. The only reason to cover up is to avoid men getting a bit too happy when seeing you, to stay warm and to prevent the spread of germs.
Being naked, while not always practical or recommended, isn’t scandalous—it’s natural. Embrace your body. Make peace with it. It is your body.
In America, they love censoring sex scenes in movies. In Sweden, they censor violence instead. After all, violence is usually abusive and leads to people being hurt. Sex is supposed to be an act of love. So, it’s only the love of attraction or the love of sex. It’s two consensual adults engaging in something they want to engage in.
Sex is good for you. It does your body and mind a world of good if you are having it for the right reasons. It also comes with risks like STDs and pregnancy. That’s why, in Sweden, people are educated about these risks from an early age and learn to protect themselves.
Sex is natural. It’s part of human nature. The important thing is not to confuse attraction with love and beware of the consequences it can have if you don’t protect yourself (and even if you do, as is the case with HPV). You need to have sex for the right reasons; not because you’re starved for attention or bored with your life.
As sex is natural, it also means that women don’t frown upon men for wanting it because women want it too. Celebrate sex. After all, it’s one of the pleasures in life.
Sweden is a country where people celebrate nature. In summer, everyone flees the cities and heads to the countryside or the beach. If you ask people in Sweden about the best things about Sweden, they’re prone to include the beautiful nature.
Women in Sweden are, therefore, willing to protect their nature. They also understand that their children and children’s children will not have great lives if nature ends up poisoned by chemicals.
Crown Princess Victoria often wears clothes from H&M to big events—especially their eco-label. Suffice to say, she can afford other clothes, but why should she buy them if she likes the cheaper options?
Cheap isn’t dirty. Cheap is practical. And, if you like it, the price tag doesn’t matter.
In Sweden, money is, to some extent, frowned upon. As most people have what they need to get by, they aren’t obsessed by riches. If you walk into a room and start bragging about achievements and riches, chances are women (and men) will walk away from you.
While I like the American pride in achievements, I think that Swedish women have it right when it comes to not valuing someone because of their riches, but rather their personality.
If we invite you to our house, we mean it. Unlike friendlier cultures, we don’t always talk to strangers, but when we do talk to people, we tend to make friends for life. We don’t pretend to want to invite people to a party if we have no intention of doing so. I think other cultures could learn from this, while Swedish women could learn to be more friendly!
The average Swedish woman can saw, cook, build and bake. She was taught all that in school. As there are few maids and nannies in Sweden, women know how to take care of their homes and family.
You will find food cooked from scratch by both men and women in most households. If carpentry skills are needed, both men and women know the basics, though men still seem to enjoy this more than most women.
When I grew up, whenever costumes were needed for plays or dance performances, it was assumed that someone in the household could use a sewing machine to follow a pattern and make them.
There is a feeling of being down-to-earth in Sweden that I’ve found lacking in some big cities where you can buy everything pre-packaged. I think it helps if you know how to do things yourself.
While I’m a big proponent of maids—I tend to focus way too much on my career to have time for everything around the house—I love that I know how to do things myself. I don’t stand about helpless if something happens, and, thanks to Ikea, I can put together my own furniture—most of the time.
We can learn from all cultures around the world. I always say that politicians in particular need to travel so that they can see what works and what doesn’t. Likewise, women have a lot to learn by looking at other women around the globe.
Just because a culture isn’t directly attractive to us doesn’t mean that there aren’t nuggets of gold for us to embrace and learn from. After all, we have one thing in common: womanhood.
Writer. Social Entrepreneur. Foster mommy (twins). Change maker. Foodie. Health freak. Nature lover. Creative nutcase. Blogger (Confessions of a Dizzy Blonde). A friend of mine once described me by saying “One minute she’s like the Dalai Lama, the next a dizzy blonde” and maybe that does sum me up…
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