• Sweden's news in English

New Swedish film puts sex back on the map

The Local · 14 Jan 2011, 10:39

Published: 14 Jan 2011 10:39 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Sweden's previous cinematic effort to teach people about the birds and the bees, “Language of love” (Ur kärlekens språk), came out in 1969 and is often cited as one of the reasons why the country became synonymous with sex.

The film, which featured live actors, contained authentic scenes of intercourse and masturbation, and despite the fact that many of the scenes consist of serious round table discussions, the film sparked protests in the UK and was confiscated at the US border, spawning a free speech case that eventually made its way to the Supreme Court.

In the intervening years, societal attitudes toward sex and talking about sex have changed considerably. The advent of the internet has also made images and information about sex more readily available to young people and adults alike.

Despite increased access to information about sex, young people in Sweden nevertheless seem in need of a refresher course. Chlamydia infection rates are on the rise, and many seem to be lacking basic knowledge about human procreation.

Thus, public health and education officials in Sweden thought the time was ripe for a new film to increase sexual awareness among Swedish teens.

Entitled “Sex on the map”, the new film, co-produced by the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) and the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company (UR), is the first sex-ed film for Swedish schools for 25 years.

It’s set in a school library where five teenagers, Abdu, Melody, Kim, Hanna and William, have met to do some extra maths study. The stand-in teacher, Jao, knows less about algebra and equations than he does about what’s really on the teenage mind: sex.

While the set up may sound like something out of a low-budget porn production, “Sex on the map” is about as far from the San Fernando valley as the Ice Hotel.

In a frank and open way, the maths teacher explains everything about sex to the students, from the anatomy of the genitals (including the ‘vaginal corona’, as the hymen was recently christened by RFSU), to the act of sex in all its variations and interpretations.

The subject matter in the film, which ranges from the most basic sexual information to quite complicated emotional and physical issues, is based on real questions that Swedish teenagers have asked RFSU.

Rather than relying on live actors like “Language of love”, the new 28-minute film is animated, featuring detailed anatomical drawings and intimate encounters between semi-life like cartoon characters.

The film’s writer and director, Annamaria Dahlöf, found in researching “Sex on the map” that teenager’s questions about sex had become more and more basic in recent years. It wasn’t uncommon to be asked “Can you get pregnant if you have a bath in the same water that a boy has ejaculated in?” she told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

Sweden has led the way in terms of frank discussions of sex for generations, and sex education has been obligatory in Swedish schools since 1955. The open attitude towards sex is largely thanks to the RFSU organisation, which was founded in 1933.

From its inception, the organisation has fought for issues such as the right to an abortion and contraception, sex education in schools and the decriminalisation of homosexuality. When it began, RFSU was funded through sales of prophylactics. Even today a large part of the group’s income comes from the sale of condoms, as well as other products including lubricants, dildos, vibrators and pregnancy testing kits.

A sexuality education expert at RFSU, Hans Olsson, served as project leader for the film and did his best to ensure the accuracy of both its anatomical and emotional content.

According to Olsson, it was high time for a new sex education film for Sweden. The film shown currently shown in schools is a Danish film that made 25 years ago. Being an animation the film has stood the test of time well, but things needed to be updated for a modern audience.

Although the new film is very explicit, Olsson doesn’t think people will be too shocked by it.

“We have already previewed it to a group of 300 people in Gothenburg and it got a good reaction. The audience wasn’t shocked as there’s nothing new in terms of its explicit content. Most people have seen sex on the Internet,” Olsson explains.

When it comes to grading Sweden’s efforts to promote sexual awareness, Olsson gives Sweden mixed marks. By some measures, Sweden is doing very well in comparison to other European countries. There are fewer teenage mothers than in the UK, for example, and attitudes towards sex and sexuality are open.

Overall, says Olsson, Swedish teenagers are “satisfied with their sex lives”.

Story continues below…

On the other hand, infection rates for Chlamydia have been on the rise over the last few years and condom use is particularly lax among the 19- to 21-year-olds. However, if a sexually transmitted disease is caught or there is an unwanted pregnancy, there is less of a taboo in Sweden to talk about it and seek help.

The fact that the new film is animated makes it a lot easier to show sex in both an explicit and anatomically detailed way. On an emotional level, cartoon characters also allow the viewer to detach themselves from the action.

Current plans call for it to be shown throughout the Nordic region. A version with English subtitles will also be released, although there are no plans as yet to distribute the film to the wider international market.

And while the new film probably won’t generate as much controversy as Sweden’s last foray into sex education cinema, its creators hope it will help young Swedes learn and talk about sex.

The philosophy of RFSU, and by extension, the forthcoming film, is to be non-judgmental about sex and instead to offer factual advice, rather than take a moral stance.

“Society has to accept that young people have sex and that it is a part of their lives. At RFSU we aim to support rather than restrict young people, in order to help them make healthy decisions,” says Olsson.

“Sex on the map” (Sex på kartan) will have its premiere broadcast on Monday 17th January at 10.30pm on Svergies Television (SVT 1).

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

15:01 January 14, 2011 by jjoensuu
Young people in Sweden need to be told this? haha, I do not believe that.

Besides that the amount of information that is needed for copulation-related activities can easily be communicated with the material that is already available.

More likely is that there are people who find it amusing to make this type of videos and now they think they have found a good excuse for it.
00:50 January 15, 2011 by Tanskalainen
I believe the Mexicans know more about sex than anybody and they don't need any frigging cartoons to explain it.
22:36 January 15, 2011 by tomas R

It is the big question to show or not to show the things about sex to young people. But I think that it is important to show these things in video for teenagers. Because the young people must understand the reality of sex life in family. And the important of this thing.

It is my opinion,

tomas (Lithuania)
15:50 January 16, 2011 by Freebie
Recommended viewing perhaps for this particular American high school, considering '....High School in Memphis Deals With 90 Teen Pregnancies'

22:49 January 17, 2011 by Dr. Dillner
This reminds me of a song from *Annie, Get your Gun" entitled, "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly." Part of the lyrics:

Folks like us could never fuss

With schools and books and learning.

Still we've gone from A to Z,

Doin' what comes naturally (doin' what comes naturally)

You don't have to know how to read or write

When you're out with a feller in the pale moonlight.

You don't have to look in a book to find out

What he thinks of the moon and what is on his mind.

That comes naturally (that comes naturally).
23:06 January 17, 2011 by Swedesmith
Shucks and I always thought masturbate had to do with fishin'.
21:51 January 18, 2011 by Garry Jones
Are parents consulted before this is shown to kids for consent?

For the rest of my post see the forums. I'd already posted there when I saw this. (Same heading)
23:55 January 18, 2011 by Ivan Juric
After the consentual sex scene you should also show where the "polis" come kicking the door down and arresting the man for rape due to some obscure technicality.
16:40 January 20, 2011 by ismetopher
where can I view this video?
15:36 January 21, 2011 by MarshaLynn
How is it that for thousands of years, civilization has gotten by without sex ed? It's a bunch of hooey and is the spawn of a degenerate society. The people who come up with these ideas are the last ones I would want teaching my children about the birds and the bees. Here is what you should teach: that non-monogamous sex leads to unwanted pregnancies and STDs. There! That's all they need to know. Furthermore, when we have a society that is soaking in sex everywhere -- even on billboards!!! -- then we have to be crazy to think we aren't influencing kids in that direction. When society does not control itself, why does it expect kids to do so? Maybe, just maybe!!!, profligate attitudes toward sex aren't such a good idea for society.
20:03 January 22, 2011 by BobWas
I know it's only an instructional video, how did they have the teacher broach the subject of sex to the maths study group? Sounds like something a pervert would do.

Like, "Psst, kids. Look at this porn I found on the Internet"
10:37 February 1, 2011 by HYBRED
"...Overall, says Olsson, Swedish teenagers are "satisfied with their sex lives".

Envy or jealousy may be part of the problem. Adult Swedes are somewhat uptight when it comes to sex. The older they get the worse it is. They just hate someone else enjoying themselves and getting something they are not.

But underage kids should not be having sex.
Today's headlines
Revealed: Game of Thrones could be coming to Sweden
Game of Thrones cast members at the Emmy Awards in September. Photo: Jordan Strauss/AP

The producers of the hit show have asked for three rounds of location pictures of Swedish island Gotland.

Prime Minister to meet Swedish troops in Iraq
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his Kurdish counterpart Nechervan Barzani. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Löfven is set to meet Swedish troops in Iraq on Tuesday.

Swedish politicians wage war on winter time
Soon it will look like this on your way home from work in Sweden. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Should Sweden stick with summer time all year round?

'Don't turn the Pope into a global teddy bear'
Sweden's Queen Silvia and Princess Leonore visiting Pope Francis in the Vatican last year. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

It's time to hold the Pope to account and make sure he turns his words about reform into action, argues a minister of the Swedish Church ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Sweden.

Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Should Swedes think fairtrade with porn? Photo: Karin Malmhav/SvD/TT

A fairtrade attitude to pornography would be beneficial, Sweden's health minister told The Local.

Presented by Stockholm University
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

Nordic fashion took centre stage in the Swedish capital last week as Stockholm University hosted the “first-ever” academic conference looking at luxury and sustainability in the fashion industry.

Referee, coach and parents in Swedish youth football fight
File photo of a referee holding a red card not related to the story. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång/TT

A football dad broke his leg in the brawl in front of 11-year-old kids after a Hammarby youth football game.

Illicit abattoir kept more than 100 bulls' penises
A couple of young bulls not related to the story. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Dried cattle genitalia, goats' heads and hundreds of litres of lard were just a few of the many strange finds discovered when police raided a property in Sweden.

This is officially Sweden's most beautiful beard
The most beautiful beard in Sweden. Photo: Memo Göcek

According to a jury of barbers and 'well known bearded profiles', that is.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
jobs available