There’s an old postcard, one of those cards you buy at souvenir shops, called The Perfect European.
The postcard, which dates from the 1980s, has several small cartoons, illustrating each nationality within the old EU, and making a sarcastic remark about what it doesn’t do best.
In the lower right-hand corner of the postcard, a blonde Danish man is opening his coat to show a visitor lots of pictures of naked ladies. The perfect European, it reads, is discreet as a Dane.
What’s that about, you might ask? Actually, Denmark was once the international center for pornography. It was the first country to legalize pornography, in 1969, and for awhile, it was the world’s leading exporter of pornography. There was also a flourishing red light district in Copenhagen, which was popular with tourists.
My grandmother, who in her 80s when I moved here, was very upset when she heard this, probably from one of the other residents in her old folks home who had been one of those tourists. She said, “I didn’t know you were moving to a sex town!”
Fast forward thirty or forty years, Copenhagen is no longer a world center of pornography. But Denmark is still one of the most relaxed places in the world when it comes to nudity and sex.
Photo Credit: Denmark’s Royal Library, photographer Svend Türck, via Creative Commons