Sexual revolution in Scandinavia  

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"On July 1, 1969 Denmark became the first country worldwide to legalize pornography for adults. This was called the "Danish experiment" for a while." --Sholem Stein

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s Scandinavia (Sweden and Denmark in particular) was seen as an international leader in what is now referred to as the "sexual revolution", with gender equality and abolishing censorship having particularly been promoted.

Scandinavia is important in the history of Western 20th century erotica and pornography, not so much for its production, but because it set a legal precedent as the first region to legalize written and pictorial erotica.

An obscenity trial of an unexpurgated edition of Fanny Hill in Denmark in 1964 led to the conclusion that pornography was not harmful to adult readers. Pornography was subsequently decriminalized, first in Denmark, the rest of Scandinavia following suit.

This decision influenced obscenity and pornography laws in the United States, because some of the Danish findings (most prominently the work of Dr. Berl Kutchinsky) were republished in the first Presidential Report on Obscenity and Pornogarphy, the so-called Lockhart report.

A second result of the decriminalization was that a number of pornographic and erotic publishers such as Private Magazine set up business in Scandinavia.

Later, Caballero Control Corporation (CCC) appropriated the name "Swedish Erotica" and recorded a string of 8mm hardcore loops. Cabellero also used the name "Swedish Erotica" for their pornographic magazine, which they subtitled a film review magazine. [Oct 2005]



From 1962 onwards, Denmark is the center of a movement of liberalization of morality that will become the "big pornographic wave". First of all it are the books published on the Index which are sold under the counter. A first climax is reached in 1964/65, when the Danish industry starts publishing the magazine " Weekend ". On June 2 1967, the law that banned writings of pornographic nature is lifted. Two years later, on June 1 1969, pornographic visuals and gadgets are legalized. At that moment, Denmark has the most liberal legislation regarding these matters in the world. A veritable industry is started of at least 50 to 70 millions of US dollars.

The Danish are on everyone's lips. Sex tourism begins. Liberalized Denmark features about 100 sex shops, half in Copenhagen. 25% of the visitors are foreigners. October 1969 also sees the first pornography trade fair: Sex 69.

The sexual behavior of the Danish ignites the imagination of the rest of the world. It engenders a new genre of pseudo porn documenting the Danish. The film Pornography in Denmark also known as Censorship in Denmark : A new Approach is a documentary film on the sexual revolution in Denmark. The director Alex de Renzy only gets away with it by emphasizing its documentary nature and give it an air of sexual eduction rather than eroticism.

Renzy's film and other 'sexual education' films set in motion the sexual revolution of the Western world and especially the United States.

Enter Berl Kutchinsky. For the American Commission on Obscenity and Pornography of 1968 - 1970 he provided statistics that seemed to prove that the recent Danish liberalization of obscenity laws had brought a "cathartic effect". Kutchinsky had discovered that the relaxation in Denmark coincided with a decrease in reported sex crimes. Kutchinsky's report led to neighbors Sweden relax their pornography laws as well.

Other European countries followed suit. In 1973, German legislators authorized production and distribution to adults, at a time when the golden age of Danish erotica had known its peak. France is relatively late, French adults had to wait until March 1 1994 to officially lift the ban of pornography.

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The sexual revolution, together with sexual content in mass media (notably the films 491 and I Am Curious (Yellow), together with the broad entry of women in many lanes of professional life (including the priesthood) in the 1960s and 1970s provoked a moralist counter-movement including the Christian Democratic party, but this trend has had scant political success. While the label "Swedish sin" is no longer quite appropriate, the acceptance and lack of ingrained shame in the face of sexuality is still a striking facet of Swedish attitudes.

At the present time, the number of single people is one of the highest in the world. The early Swedish film I Am Curious (Yellow) (1967) reflected a liberal view of sexuality, including scenes of love making that caught international attention, and introduced the concept of the "Swedish sin". Sweden has also become, in recent decades, fairly liberal regarding homosexuality, as is reflected in the popular acceptance of films such as Fucking Åmål. In the absence of legislation on same-sex marriages, Sweden has a civil union for same-sex couples ("registered partnership").



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