In the Swedish town of Kalmar three girls ran out of money on their night out. So they came up with a plan to replenish their purses. They would go to a local hotel, offer sex for money, but then run off with the cash. They knocked on one hotel room door, but the man refused them. The next time their offer was accepted. They got the cash, undressed, the man went to the bathroom, they attempted to dress and flee with the money but were too slow. The man demanded his money back before letting them go.
The upshot of all this? The man has been charged with attempting to buy sex. But as there is no law against attempting to sell sex, the women have been let off scot free.
Apart from how tawdry the whole scenario is, what's striking is the legal bias. It was not the man who sought out a prostitute - it was the three women who went knocking on hotel room doors looking for the man. And it was the women who attempted a deception for financial gain, with the man being the targeted victim of the deception. And yet it's the man alone who is considered guilty under Swedish laws.
Is this sex equality Swedish style? Can we really say here that men and women are being treated equally under the law?
The second item concerns the extent of lesbianism in Sweden. An online survey of 900 young Swedes has produced an interesting result. According to the survey, the extent of male homosexuality/bisexuality in Sweden is not so high. Only 3% of the men have ever engaged in any kind of same sex activity (a result which accords with other large-scale surveys from other countries).
But 13% of Swedish women claim to have had same sex experiences. That's way above what previous surveys in other countries have shown.
Of course, the survey itself could be flawed and misleading. But if it's accurate, then it raises the question of why a cutting-edge feminist society would produce a higher rate of lesbianism.
The researchers themselves give a standard liberal answer. Sven-Axel Mansson, a professor of sociology, explained that,
We are seeing a greater openness among young people, particularly among young women. There is an increasing interest in experimenting and pushing boundaries, and a growing resistance to defining oneself as heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual ...
Many [women] no longer wish to be tied in to rigid sexual identities, they want to be open and free as people and as sexual beings. That is my interpretation ...
The assumption here is that we should be autonomous, self-determining beings, which means that we should not be limited or restricted by any particular sexuality, but should instead break norms, taboos and impediments and adopt fluid, open sexual identities. That's just orthodox liberal autonomy theory.
But what else could explain a high rate of lesbianism in Sweden? If individuals identify positively with their own sex, they usually go on to have a heterosexual orientation. In Sweden the female sex role has been cast in very negative terms as an oppressive and artificial construct. So perhaps if women can't identify positively with a feminine sex role, it then becomes more difficult to relate in heterosexual terms (after all, heterosexuality is the attraction between the masculine and the feminine).
That's all speculation on my part. I think the issue is worth considering, though, as Sweden is held up as a model of what the future should be like when it comes to relations between the sexes.