Thursday, February 10, 2011

Swedish stereotypes

If there's a Swedish girl in a foreign movie (especially American movies), she's blonde, giggly, often - for some reason - with a German accent, and her name is something like Inga or Helga. She also says "jaa" all the time (which I actually write to people I speak English with so that doesn't help, haha).

This morning I was bored, so I decided to google Swedish stereotypes, just to see how foreigners look at us here in the north of Europe. Of course, I already know everybody thinks we're all blonde and tall with blue eyes, but I wanted to read more prejudice about us. Many people who wrote about this subject had been to Sweden and realized "hey, everyone's not blonde and beautiful!" - well duuh...

Originally, Swedes (oh yes, the vikings) were all blonde/redheads with light eyes; blue, green, gray... but these days there are almost no "pure" Swedish people here. We have so many different nationalities in Sweden, but really (from what I've heard and read about), everyone with dark eyes and dark hair originate from somewhere else (even though they have been here for generations). I suppose this is the reason there are quite a lot of patriot groups these days. They don't consider themselves racists, they "just" want to stop the immigration so that Swedes will only marry other Swedes and get little blonde kids - to "save" the Swedish genes.

Anyway, back to the stereotypes. People consider us friendly, afraid of conflics and "cold". I guess that would be true in most cases, but of course not everyone is like that. The "cold"-part kinda annoys me, because it's not about being cold, and a lot of foreigners don't understand this "Scandinavian behavior". Acutually, it's just us being a bit introvert when it comes to emotions and stuff. We don't mind what's non of our business, which I think is a good thing sometimes. I suppose because we keep a lot to ourselves, Sweden is a pretty calm and safe country (it's considered the safest country for kids to grow up in).

Another thing people know about Sweden is that our taxes are really high, one of the highest in the world (I think). Americans that I've talked to often consider this a very bad thing and they sorta think we're crazy for having such high taxes, but it's actually not really such a bad thing. Free healthcare, free education - we even get "paid" to study! Yes, I do think our taxes are too high, but too low taxes aren't good either. Like there are no really poor people here since you get money even if you don't have a job, and the only people on the streets are either drunks or junkies.

Our beloved Swedish flag; a symbole of a burning cross in the sky - although these days the majority of Swedes are not religious, at all.

I found a list about how Swedes act, this is one of the things on the list:

25. Hugging is reserved for sexual foreplay
Haha this is a funny one... Actually yes, we sorta have our little "bubble" that surrounds us, meaning that no strangers are allowed to come any closer than that. Kissing on the cheeks as a greeting makes us feel uncomfortable. It's not us being cold, it's just the way our culture is. If a foreigners is used to standing really close to the person he/she talks so, and tries this with a Swede, the Swede will take a step back. If the foreigner doesn't get the hint and steps closer again, the same pattern will follow. If the Swede is a female (especially a middle age or older one) she will tell the person off.
     I do think women stand up for themselves more than men do. Women are the ones to complain if something's off... which reminds me of how a lot of foreign people I've talked to find it weird that my dad is the one who does all the cooking in my family. Like... seriously? What century are they stuck in?

Okay, back to the "coldness". Guys from southern Europe think Swedish girls are cold because they don't respond well when they approach them on the street saying "ooo you're so beautiful!". Umm, in what country would girls actually find that charming? Some think we never smile at strangers or just walk away when someone (like a tourist) tries to ask us a question. That's not true! People smile at me all the time, especially old people, mostly women, and yes I smile back! And I always stop to answer questions - it happens all the time (mostly when I'm in a hurry to meet a friend, for some reason). If a stranger, a man of course, starts talking to me (and friends) when I'm out shopping or whatever, I think it's annoying (unless he's hot, lol). I wrote about it before, how guys should approach girls. Read it here.

Hmm I think that sums it up... Or maybe you have something to add? What's your stereotypical Swede like? What are your prejudice about Sweden and its people? I'd love to hear it.

I'll make another post later about stereotypes, about what Swedes think of other countries! Might even be later on today if I don't have anything better to do... x)


Jmaaaaaagnussss said...

I was raised in Australia but my family are swedes, so I've more or less been socialised as a swede. In Australia people, especially people I don't know well,see me as introverted or 'cold' but it's just the way I've been raised - and I like my introverted ways haha. I don't like people getting in my personal space either!
Having only just visited Sweden for the first time just recently I felt right at home and I'm sad to be going back to Australia. :(
oh and I did notice that there are actually alot of beautiful blond girls, but also dark skin/eye girls.

Tirin said...

haha yeah it's kinda crazy how different people can be depending on their nationality. but it's good :D

hmm so you should go back to sweden!

BeXie said...

I can relate to almost everything here lol, especially the whole hugging thing. Maybe it's a Northern European thing? I guess that's what we call a British "Stiff-upper lip" rather than being "cold". I'm actually Northern Irish though so, you can imagine the stereotypes people have of us -.- Anyway, I always thought Swedes were very friendly people? I was thinking of going to Sweden for university actually (my bf won't allow me lol) since the UK raised fees to like, £6000 a year >_< We always get the impression though that you have very sing-song voices. It's somewhere I've always wanted to go - my brother says it's amazing :)

Tirin said...

oh really? yeah it must be a northern european thing. x)
ah that's quite a lot of money! although now it'll cost money for exchange students to study here (it was free before)..

and yeah! haha people always tell me swedish sounds a bit like we're singing xD

☆shawna☆ said...

I saw a program on TV or youtube? Can't remember... about sweden I think, or denmark, one of those countries and there was a homeless couple who get paid from the government almost $2000 each so together they got $4000 a month,
I was blown away!

I'm kind of homeless and the government doesn't give me a penny.

I wish we had a high taxes and benefits like some european countries.

Our taxes are the highest in Canada and we still don't get the same treatment as other provinces.

For example, Alberta has free health care and their tax is only 5%, and in BC we have to pay for healthcare and have 12% tax.
Not fair~ 

haha I think my comment is too long but that part about the high taxes made me really compare to my country.

P.S. I'm part swedish from my grandfather :)

Anonymous said...

biggest cliché about sweden: cheap furniture!
i love how that advertisement voice says "mittsommer bei ikeaa" in heavily accented german!

isabelle said...

Detta var riktigt roligt och intressant att läsa faktiskt. Har alltid undrat om detta ämnet :P Vi svenskar är väl ganska reserverade och lite mesiga faktiskt jämfört med andra länder. Och det där med flaggan visste ja inte heller att det stog för ett brinnande kors i himmelen :D

Crysta said...

That's interesting! I never thought much about Sweden, probably because I'm German/Finnish/Scottish :P
I wonder what people think about Canadians though, other than we have snow here everyday and are too nice haha