Have you ever paid for yourself on a date – or yelled at a man for whistling at you on the street? Then you may be more typically Swedish than you think. We’ve put together a list of nine experiences that make a true Swedish woman.
1. Not expecting a man to hold open a door for you
Some call it chivalry, but for many Swedish women it’s an outdated and even sexist tradition. Indeed, when a man holds open a door, he may be offending her. Why? Because of the unspoken suggestion that she’s too weak to open it herself. However, in practice, most Swedish women won’t bite a man’s head off for daring to hold open a door (although practical Swedes that they are, they may find the gentlemanly act a tad unnecessary).
2. Not being embarrassed about getting naked in changing rooms
Swedes are known for being more liberal than other nationalities when it comes to nudity. A true Swedish woman won’t be embarrassed about stripping off in front of her female friends in the swimming pool changing rooms. She’ll also happily have face-to-face discussions with friends while stark naked. Why should women feel ashamed of their bodies?
3. Ask your boss for a raise
Or… be the boss. Sweden prides itself on gender equality in the workplace and women occupy some of the country’s top managerial positions. While for many women the prospect of asking for a pay rise sends shivers down their spine, in Sweden, where the gender pay gap is one of the lowest in the world, it’s viewed as a matter of course.
4. Pay for yourself on a date
You know you’re becoming Swedish when you think nothing of paying for your own meal on a date. Eating out can be extremely expensive – so it’s hardly fair to ask one person to cover the costs, is it? Particularly when the gender pay gap is so low.
5. Order a pint of beer
Speaking of dates, it is also perfectly acceptable for women to order a whole pint of beer for themselves. The Local Sweden’s resident Swede says that she often gets strange looks in countries like the UK when ordering a pint instead of a half. If a woman can hold open a door for herself, then who’s to say she can’t down a pint?
6. Get naked with your in-laws
Nudity again. In many cultures, the prospect of appearing naked in front of your in-laws doesn’t even bear thinking about. But in liberal Sweden, naked saunas with friends, colleagues and even relatives of both sexes are perfectly normal. In fact, it would be a lot more bizarre if you kept your clothes on.
7. Have an impeccable sense of style
You know you’re becoming more Swedish when you wardrobe is steadily becoming more monochrome. Swedes are well-known for their simple, functional style and tend to shy away from bright colours and outlandish designs.
8. Shouting at men catcalling at you on the street
Catcalling and appreciative whistles are everyday occurrences in many countries around the world – but not in gender equal Sweden. Here, any men who risk indulging in such brazen behaviour are likely to get a mouthful in return. You know you’re becoming Swedish when – far from feeling secretly flattered – you’re aghast that someone could objectify you in such a way.
9. Ask a man out on a date
Once again this ties in with Sweden’s legendary gender equality. In Sweden it’s just as common for a woman to initiate a relationship as for a man. Of course, it’s easier said than done and according to this expat blogger, alcohol plays an important role in Swedish relationships.