Swedish sex and sin

The photograph with the more personal bit obscured

Lars Ohly, the former leader of the Swedish Left Party, posted a photograph of his new tattoo – the Liverpool FC bird – on Instagram recently. What he did not realise was that he was showing a little more than he intended. As soon as he was alerted to this fact he removed the post. Naturally by then the photograph had spread like wildfire and was reported in media all over the world. I was in Britain at the time and the reaction was – from the Independent:

It could have happened to anyone.

Decide to post a picture of your nice new Liverpool FC tattoo for your social media pals, then moments later realise the worst has happened and you’ve actually exposed rather more than intended to your legion of followers – and their followers, and their followers…

This wake-up-in-a-cold-sweat scenerio was very real for Swedish politician Lars Ohly after he proudly tweeted an Instagram picture of his tattoo.

“Ha, ha, I accidentally posted a picture on Instagram that showed more than intended. Now corrected,” Ohly said on his Twitter account.

Mr Ohly, 56, quickly removed the picture after posting it but couldn’t stop the avalanche of comments in social media.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, of the rival Moderate Party joked: “Congratulations – finally, after all these years you have made a genuine public breakthrough.”

On his Twitter account the 56-year-old Swede wrote: “Summer’s wonderful. The willy picture is today’s hot topic. Completely by accident, though. The future will see a more thorough uploading review process.”

According to The Local he said the ‘best reaction’ to the Instagram gaffe was from a fellow politician who texted him to say: “I’d planned to grill sausages tonight but now it’s going to be chicken.”

Mr Ohly made light of the embarrassment and said he would be more careful when he posts online in future.

The reaction from The Daily Mail:

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I was most interested in the third comment on the list above.  So many people have a ‘sex and sin’ view of Sweden. It is a stereotype that is perpetuated by films, jokes and lines like ‘my name is Helga and I come from Sweden’

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Another source of the rumour is probably a speech given by US president Dwight D Eisenhower in 1960, in which he claimed that “sin, nudity, drunkenness and suicide” in Sweden were due to welfare policy excess.

But sex and sin goes a bit too far.  In my experience this has arisen because Swedes are more comfortable with nudity (like Mr Ohly above) and with living together without being married than many other nations. They were also the first country to introduce mandatory sex education in schools (in 1955) and to show nudity and sex in films and on TV. But the rest of the world has caught up with that now, it has to be said. This country is by no means a hotbed of sex and sin.

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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