Notes from Abroad – Tabatha Pilon on Sex & Culture Differences in Denmark! January 23, 2012

CFNSpeculators have said time and time again, that Denmark is ranked to be the happiest country in the world, and that has always made me think. Why are the Danes ranked as being so happy? In Denmark, along with free health care, less teenage pregnancies and suicides, there is a lot more freedom over controversial issues. Things such as nudity, gay rights, alcohol, pornography, teenage pregnancy are a lot different here in Denmark.
Denmark was the first country to legalize same sex marriage back in 1989. Laws like these are what give the country its high happiness factor, as there are many people who are allowed to publicly be who they are and have no shame to it.When sitting down to watch the news, or any danish tv show for that matter—advertisements included— it is a very common thing to bare witness to nudity on the television, which was something that shocked me the first time I had witnessed it. It was in my first week here, I was sitting with my entire family, watching the ‘telly’ and suddenly, a naked man was just being filmed on the news. The news!

My immediate reaction was to say “What?! They can’t show that!” to which my host parents looked at me with a bewildered expression and proclaimed that, in fact, they could.  And they did.It is something now that I don’t even think twice about, but it is something that North America will never be comfortable with airing on national television. The realization that there are less restrictions in Europe than in North America was a strange concept to completely get used to in that first week, but now, I realize that it is for the better, in my opinion.   In North America, it is a really awkward thing to talk about sexual things with parents or other adults, but what I’ve found here is that it is more normal. While my host parents have talks at the dinner table of sex related things, in Canada, it would have been a big ‘no-no’ to do, especially while eating, but here…well, it’s normal. (It would then probably not be a big surprise to learn that Denmark was the first country to legalize pornography.)

It is when living in a country where these issues seem to be non-existent, that I realize how different things truly are. When I talk to my friends here in Denmark about how many pregnant teenagers I know back in Canada, they are appalled. In Denmark, it is a very big decision to have a child, and it is very uncommon to do so under the age of 25.I believe that when living in a country with a lot more freedom, it results in more happiness. Although to outsiders, Danes can come across as being ‘cold’ people, as is the stereotype, once you see the environment and understand the social customs and laws, it becomes more apparent that that is what makes them so happy. Not being constantly in each other’s business(ie cashiers interacting with customers, interaction between strangers on the bus, etc) is one of the things that allows the society as a whole to grow into the happy community that they appear to be.

Tabatha Pilon is a 17 year old student from Cornwall Ontario spending a year in Denmark.   She will be writing to us  each week or as her “gymnasium” schedule allows.  If you have questions for her or would like to sponsor her column email us at
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  1. Sounds like paradise! Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could live in harmony and have others keep their noses out of your business? They are such an advanced society . Wonderful!

  2. Naked men on TV?… Paradise?…OOOOOOOH yeah……

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