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Sex in/and Sweden: Sexual rights discourses and radical sexual politics in Sweden

Journal article
Authors Mia Liinason
Published in Cogent Social Sciences
Volume 3
Issue 1
Pages 1-16
ISSN 2331-1886
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Cultural Sciences
Pages 1-16
Language en
Keywords sexuality; gender; subversivity; normativity; sexual rights
Subject categories Gender Studies


Tracing historical as well as current understandings that contribute to shape discourses of sexual rights, this article aims to show how particular understandings of sexuality interact in the discursive production of Sweden as a modern, rational and liberal nation. Inspired by recent developments in queer theory, I engage in a broader critique of how understandings of sexuality intersect with notions of gender, class, “race”/ethnicity and national identity. With departure in three historical points of impact for the development of sexual rights, I provide a historical contextualization to tease out the specific features of sexual rights’ discourses in this context. Guided by an interest to study how particular discourses of sexual rights come to retain a status as legitimate and “true”, I then conduct a close reading of a graphic novel, as well as of the reception of this novel. Finding that normative understandings of love and sexuality in mainstream culture sustain their status by a selective inclusion of more radical views, I show that the dominant view of sexual rights in Sweden is ambivalent. Here, I use discourse analysis to illuminate how notions of equality is constructed through processes of normalization. Drawing on these findings, I conclude the article by arguing for the need of a critical engagement with norms as collective sites for political resistance.

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