1 in 3 young Danes face everyday sexism

A recent survey reveals that every third young Dane has been the target of unwanted sexual advances or comments.

1 in 3 young Danes face everyday sexism
Many Danes say they are subjected to everyday sexism in both their private life and at work. Photo: Colourbox

According to the results of a new survey conducted by Epinion on behalf of national news broadcaster DR, every sixth Danish adult claims to have been subjected to everyday sexism.

In the survey, ‘everyday sexism’ was defined as “differential treatment and harassment based on gender. It can for instance be groping someone on the bus or wolf whistling, but it can also be something that takes place at the doctor’s office, at a florist, or at work.”

In total, 17 percent of respondents said they had been subjected to everyday sexism.

When survey results are broken down by age, however, the study shows that nearly a third of all respondents aged 18 to 34 – 29 percent – answered yes to the same question.

See also: Denmark may introduce porn to public schools

There was a clear difference between sexes as well. Across all age groups, only one in 14 male respondents had experienced every day sexism. That figure was one in four for women.

Irene Manteufel, head of the Everyday Sexism Project in Denmark, said that she and her team had collected over 1,900 stories from women detailing inappropriate behaviour.

“They write about everything from receiving lewd remarks on the street, bring groped when they are out partying, and experiencing uncomfortable advances or stalking – both in their private life as well as in the workplace,” she told DR.

See also: Many young Danes approve 'sugar dating' concept

Professor Kenneth Reinicke at Roskilde University is not surprised by the figures.

“Many men feel some sort of entitlement to act this way. They do not consider that it constitutes culturally inappropriate behaviour, believing that this is something that they have the right to do,” Reinicke told DR.

Reinicke argues that Danes are not doing enough to bring everyday sexism into mainstream discourse, and that many women therefore believe it is their own fault if they — for instance — wear shorts and receive a pat on the bum from someone.

He believes that the best way to combat everyday sexism is for women to become more confident in telling men off when they cross the line.

“Some men just need to be told that some of their comments aren’t charming, but constitute harassment. You could tell them that they probably wouldn’t like if their own girlfriend, sister or mother was on the receiving end of such behaviour,” Reinicke explained.

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Danish health chief gives OK to lockdown love: ‘Sex is good. Sex is healthy’

Denmark's health chief has made it clear that Denmark's strict approach to social distancing does not extend to sex, either casual or in a steady relationship.

Danish health chief gives OK to lockdown love: 'Sex is good. Sex is healthy'
Søren Brostrøm puts some of Danes' worries to rest during Monday's press conference. Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix
At a press conference on Monday, Søren Brostrøm, The Director General of the Danish Health Authority, said that even singles who have a relatively high number of different sexual partners should not feel inhibited by social distancing measures. 
“Sex is good. Sex is healthy. We are sexual beings, and of course you can have sex in this situation,” he said. “As with any other human contact, there is a risk of infection. But of course one must be able to have sex.” 
Coronavirus enters the respiratory tract by the inhalation of droplets, and is not spread via semen or vaginal fluid, but the physical closeness involved in sex clearly brings a risk of inhaling the virus. 
Kåre Mølbak, professional director at Denmark's SSI infectious diseases agency, said that the social distancing guidelines in Denmark should nonetheless not discourage either dating or full-blown sexual encounters. 
“I don't think there is a ban on meeting. That is only in relation to larger assemblies. So in that way, I think there is still the opportunity to have that kind of contact, and especially with a permanent partner,” he said.