Sunday, 26 January 2014

Question 16c - What's your Attitude towards Sex?


What people in England thought about sex:

“I think we should be more free and easy about it, not be so stuck up … We should more readily share each others bodies, not like sharing a bottle of wine, but I think we should enjoy it. I have got no problem with one-night-stands, but a relationship is something much more than that. I’d prefer to stay with a person for a month than sleeping with thirty different people.”
“I feel really bad about sex, at the moment it’s not a positive thing. I last had sex five years ago with a man who said: ‘you’re not really my type but I’m too lonely to say no’. Most people want to be with a woman who is young and beautiful. I had a series of bad experiences.”
“I enjoy sex, I’m very good at it. I like masturbation, I use pornography or I should say erotica, illustrations, bondage, I like pictures. I would like sex with a woman at some point, I’m open for it, but am not looking at the moment … I don’t like sex to be rushed, it might be a woman thing … One night stands are healthy, but I’m not very good at it. I see sex as a bonding thing and it’s more healthy if there’s a connection. I see it as a spiritual connection. The man/woman doesn’t have to be spiritual but at least respect what you’re doing.” 
“I like it. It’s good. I only had one one-night-stand, that wasn’t very good … but one-night-stands are not necessarily bad.”
“It’s good, an individual ting. It’s important in relationships. Christians got a distorted idea and rush into marriage because of it … One-night-stands don’t work for me, but I’m glad I’ve experienced it. It can make women feel bad, it’s hard not to have an emotional charge.” 
“It’s fun, great … It’s important that it’s completely separated from violence and degradation of women. One-night-stands? It depends where you’re at.”
“It’s complicated, I’m not confident, I’m not motivated by sex anymore … I have no problem with one-night stands, there’s nothing wrong with it morally.”
“In general I really liked having sex, and having the conquest, but I have become more thoughtful over the past couple of years. Before that it was an ego thing, conquest … I was looking for it when I was younger. In the past two years, I’ve felt that I don’t want to have sex with just anybody. I want something more special, meaningful. I have a pretty strong sex drive, but no so strong I can’t put it aside.”
“I find it pretty confusing, I lost my virginity when I was 22, I was ridiculously shy … Most sex I’ve had has been one-night-stands.”
“It’s a lot of fun, I have no major hang-ups. One-night-stands can be fun, can be a  fuck-up … sometimes they turn into other things.”
“It’s something that happens on a distant planet. I had odd flings … When it works it’s really healthy for you, I miss it. It helps you feel like a woman; if you don’t have it for a long time you can feel neutral, female sexual energy can be really god … It can be really crap when it’s crap … I find it frustrating, people are obsessed with it. Sex out of long term relationships doesn’t work … I need: a) love, strong attraction b) get to know each other. It’s over-rated. Most people are like obsessed with it … It’s disappointing a lot of the time. There’s pressure to have sex, to be sexy, to have a lot of sex … One part of me find it ridiculous.”
“My sex drive isn’t that strong. When you get older it goes more and more … It’s fun, nice, but not something I’m wrapped up in … One-night-stands? No, I know nothing about that, I've stopped doing that. It’s more fun to know that you could have had a one-night-stand than actually having it, it’s an ego boost, to know that you can get laid, but not doing it.”
“It’s a wonderful thing, people enjoy it, it’s fun. One-night-stands are fine as long as the person you have the one-night-stand with isn’t a “Play misty for me-fan” or a “Fatal attraction-fan.”

What people in Sweden thought about sex:

”It's good if it's good. All enjoyment is positive, it doesn't mean that drugs are good, but sex is a natural enjoyment. It's stupid when people have feelings of guilt. One-night-stands are all okay, as long as you both agree.”
”It can be fantastic and good, but it's absolutely not the most important thing for me or in a relationship ... But the one-night-stands I've had have been quite fun, exciting …”
Positive, important. One-night-stands? Not positive.”
”You have to have it with the one you love and are attracted to. It's a highlight … One-night-stands? I think you should look after yourself, have second thoughts ... I can understand that you do it, but to me, sex is a bit ... you give of yourself, there are so many dimensions to sex ... I don't know if I want to put a value on it ... It's an alternative if your marriage ends and you don't want a new partner, but you could work instead, wear yourself out by work."
”It's very important in a relationship, very intimate. One-night-stands haven't been that good for me personally, but it depends on.”
”It's good kind of, important perhaps, but it doesn't have to be that important ... It's very individual actually. If you have one-night-stands when you're single there's not a problem if you protect yourself ... Sometimes it can feel like sex is about confirmation for many girls, it becomes like a chase, I think.  It's better to get a fuck-buddy than getting a new guy every weekend.”
”I like sex, it's nice. One-night-stands had a function when you were single, it was exciting and releasing, relaxingwhen you were in need of it.”
”What others do I don't care about, but personally I could never have sex with someone I didn't like, that I didn't know, it would never work." 
”It's something very positive to me. I wish it could be more positive and uncomplicated for more people ... To allow yourself to have sex with people who want to have sex with you. You shouldn't have to rationalise or let the intellect steer the choice of sex partners. We should go with the gut feeling. One-night-stands isn't a problem for me, if it feels right, it's right. If we hadn't build up this ideal with relationships where jealousy is a big thing it would be easier ... You should be able to allow that one person wants to be with only one person and that another wants to be with many. But we have to take it easy, we're shaped by our culture, it's hard to step aside from the norm. Personally I'd like an open relationship, as a confirmation of strength and power for the relationship, let each other go, let each other do what we want."
”I like sex and that, but it makes me feel exposed; I can become very uncomfortable from one moment to the other ... That I'm perhaps not good enough and very ugly ... One-night-stands? As long as you feel good and it feels good, absolutely, it can be fun, as long as both know what you're getting yourself into. Then you can't know if a  one-night-stand is a one-night one  … I'm probably the one who has had the most one-night-stands of all people I know, but I've been single so much that I've had the time."
Come on, it's good! It's nice. One-night-stands? It's hard to tell as I've never had one, but if both agree I guess it's okay. It's up to each person what they do, but it's not something that works long-term. At times it could be good."
”It's good, important as well I think, but not the most important, but important ... I've never had one-night-stands, but maybe I've snogged someone down the pub … But really I think that sex is so much better when you'e in love, it's not like I feel like doing it with someone I don't know, I want to feel comfortable with that person."
”Society of today is divided into two worlds: one is sex as in being turned on - for the sake of sex, porn and nakedness, turned on because you get turned on by the thing itself. The other is because you're in love with each other, more than the need, when you love someone it's nice if you take care. Someone you meet down the pub who is super hot and sexy you could have sex with straight away - with someone you fall in love with, it doesn't come first. You don't have one-night-stands with someone you're in love with, it's someone you don't know, I don't want it when I'm in love."
”It goes in phases, how interested you are. I've had a dormant sex life for the past few years, you're doing so many other things. But it has never changed, it's not like you stop thinking about sex because you reach a certain age … One-night-stands are all okay as long as it doesn't make you feel bad, as long as you don't do something you don't want. It's easy to end up in a vicious circle, that you only have one-night-stands. In my twenties, if I'd not managed to pull, it was a disappointment, at the same time you didn't feel that good after all your sexual adventures. As long as it's okay for both of you there's nothing wrong with it.”
”I think about sex as others think about marriage ... Like other women long for weddings and have dreamed about it since they were little, I dream about sex. If there was a heaven, sex would be heaven, you should have it as often and as many times as you like ... One-night-stands are wonderful! Preferably ”three-night-stands”. You can let go more, it's exciting, fun ... I prefer to have lovers, if it's good a one-night-stand doesn't end with a one-night-stand.”
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. A majority are heterosexual women, but there are a few men and some LGBT people in the study as well. Two of the people in England weren't able to answer this particular question because their kids/partner were around. Look out for the next question: Do you want children?

Monday, 20 January 2014

Question 16b: What's your Attitude towards Marriage?

IMG_5542A majority of the Swenglish participants were positive towards marriage even the ones who were divorced. As many as 10 of 15 people in England wanted to marry, re-marry or were married already; 3 were hesitant; 2 totally uninterested. In Sweden the figures were surprisingly similar: 9 of 15 Swedes wanted to marry, re-marry or were married already; 4 were hesitant and 2 were against marriage. Here's a typical answer: 
”It was something I was totally against when I was younger, but I've softened a bit ... It feels good kind of: inheritance, legal stuff. But then I suppose I find it quite romantic with marriage ... And if you have children it's good to marry, in case you get cancer ..." 
In short: most people saw marriage as a mix between legal stuff and romance. But there were some people who only saw it as a legal arrangement and a few who wanted to marry just to have a wedding party. One of the same sex couples who took part in the project thought it was important to marry as a statement for their rights, but that essentially marriage was a patriarchal institution that they disliked.
Two of the participants stood out in a different way: one of the participants in England was married to the sea and one of the Swedish participants was married to herself! 
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. Look out for the next question: What's your attitude towards sex?

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Question 16a: What's your Attitude Towards Relationships?

IMG_4532Your relationship status is 87 % complete.
This is the message I'm greeted by when I log into Facebook. Thank you Facebook, thank you very much. It's good that you know what you're doing. And you're actually right. I'd like to claim that I'm 87 % happy being single, but I don't think that's what Facebook are after. They just want me to make up my mind: "single" or "in a relationship". But you also got the choice of ticking "it's complicated" ... 
The Relationship Norm
Most of the singles I stayed with during the Swenglish project really wanted to meet someone. People often take it for granted; when you're single you do want to meet someone. As if the normal status would be to be in a relationship. My normal status is single. I've had three more or less good relationships and I'm open for meeting someone again, but it's not one of my priorities or something that I'm looking for. If it happens it happens. One of the project participants, who lived with her parter, but sometimes had an open relationship, said something I found interesting:
”I'm critical to the relationship norm and what it does with peoples' lives, the way people adjust, the way your relationship becomes more important than anything else. Many couples who live together disappear into the distance and have stopped being close friends. I wish that people would question the ideals a bit more, instead of making those claims and giving up your independence./.../I think it depends, different relationships suit different people/.../each person needs to find out what's true for oneself."
Separate Bedrooms
Two of the twelve couples I stayed with had separate bedrooms. One couple in England and one couple in Sweden. Partly to avoid going on each other's nerves and partly because they had different working hours and didn't want to disturb each other. Me and my ex in England had the same arrangement and had to take a lot of abuse because of it, so I wrote a poem about it a few years ago. Click here to read Same roof - different ceiling.
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. Look out for the next question: What's your attitude towards marriage?

Monday, 6 January 2014

And then it was 2014

Fireworks and champagne, dinners and parties. I don’t think there’s a massive difference between Swedish and English New Year celebrations. In the past people fired a canon, something that took place in both Sweden and England.

Vegan bread cake

Many people make up their own traditions. For the past few years my friends and I have made a vegan bread cake and this year I got the honour to decorate the cake with seaweed caviar. We had neither fireworks nor champagne, but the neighbours - in the middle of nowhere - did a lot of shooting and we used Asti Cinzano for toasting. Some elderly people, at least my grans, used to have the same food for New Year’s Eve as they did for Christmas.

Man or woman, apple or pomelo

I’ve read a bit about Swedish folklore and found out that the first visitor of the year was important. If it was a woman it meant bad luck and if it was a man it meant good luck … And it was good to be up early and eat an apple on New Year’s Day. We raised late and had pomelo. A fruit I’ve never heard about before. My dad thought it was a melon and I thought it was a grapefruit before my more cultivated friend told us it was a pomelo.

That’s it. New year, new beginnings. I’ll carry on answering the 30 questions here on the blog while I’m waiting for the Swenglish book to get published. Happy New Year all readers!