14 Eye-Opening Differences Between Sex In Europe And Sex In The United States
"My kids got their first sex ed at school when they were 7 or 8."
Recently, we shared a list of ways in which Europe differs from the United States when it comes to their approach toward sex. The discourse continued in the comments, where further points supporting the hypothesis that Europeans are more "sexually open" were brought up. Here are some of the most interesting responses:
1. "In Germany, it’s definitely completely normal to have your partner over at your parents’ house when you’re still in high school and have sex while they’re home. Parents will talk about sex with you and get you birth control options."
2. "I'm from Hungary and what I find rather odd in the US is the constant sexualization of naked bodies. For example, in many European films or novels, it might be casually shown that someone is naked. I have no idea how someone can see something like taking a bath in a sexual way."
3. "I once hooked up with an Irish tour guide and he giggled at the fact that I had tan lines EVERYWHERE!!! He had never seen someone naked who looked like they were still wearing a bathing suit. I had to explain to him that in the US there's nowhere to be naked in public without getting arrested (unless you're at a nudist colony)."
4. "UK here. I had my boyfriend practically living with me in my house from the age of 16. We were sexually active and my mother knew about it. The only time it was an issue was when I had to tell her I had taken the morning after pill after a condom broke (because I got sick)."
5. "The Netherlands here. What I love: My kids got their first sex ed at school when they were 7 or 8. It was very age-appropriate and sweet, and mostly focused on feelings, consent, and bodily autonomy."
6. "I’m American and have been living in Europe for the last decade. I was SO shy about nudity when I left the States. Cut to now. I’ve skinny dipped with my whole in-law family and there is something really confidence-boosting about being free to be fully naked around other women in locker rooms. I had a lot of internalized body hate and shame from growing up in the States that is largely gone."
7. "Dutch person here. I feel like in the US, everything needs to be labeled and coming out is a really big thing. I, as well as many of my friends, have had both male and female partners and nobody ever asked us if we were gay because it doesn’t matter."
8. "I read last week that here in northern Sweden, the teens (around 14 years old) were given a small textbook about 'fist sex.' I doubt any school in the US would do that."
9. "It is very common for women in Europe to go topless on beaches. I would happily go topless on a beach if not for the fact that my pasty white tits would burn to a crisp in the hot sun."
10. "One of the biggest differences is that sex ed is part of the normal curriculum of schools. Opting out is not possible and 'abstinence only' is not taught at all. Teenagers are far better informed about sexuality and sex (not the same thing), and are taught about contraception, consent, how to deal with puberty, etc.
"As a result, teen pregnancy rates and STD rates among young people are far lower than in many areas of the US where teens are taught that abstinence is the way."
11. "As an American living in Germany, I have seen naked people hanging out by the river on hot days. It just doesn’t really matter."
12. "I remember 10 years ago, I went to Norway to stay with my boyfriend and his family for the summer. When we arrived at the cabin, he told me, 'Just so you know, they only have clothes on because you are here!' Nudity is so normal outside of the US!"
13. "In Sweden, every town/county has a place just for teens and young adults where you can see a gynecologist, get birth control (you don't have to tell your parents and condoms are usually free), get tested, or just talk and/or ask questions. At some schools, you can get free condoms from the school nurse."
14. And finally, "The side benefit of Europe being more open about sexuality and their naked bodies is also why I find my European friends have a higher self-esteem than my American friends."
Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.