It’s creaking at the joints, the picture of the little red house. But what is Sweden today? A feministic Taliban state that at the same time has men behaving like pigs?

Debater and documentary filmmaker, Michael Moore, criticized the Swedish judicial system in conjunction with the accusations against Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, and feminist Naomi Wolf made fun of Sweden as a feminist dictatorship and an uncertain place to be. More recently, the former director of LO (the Swedish Trade Union Confederation), Stig Malm, said on television that the rumor of the insecure Swedish judicial system may well mark how people view Sweden, much as the “Swedish sin” did in its heyday.


Author Stieg Larsson has also helped show Sweden as not so innocent as it once was, with raw male characters. But what really put the Swedish image to shame, according to an article in Svenska Dagbladet, was the story about Göran Lindberg, chief of police of Uppsala, who had been a tireless proponent of women’s rights when he was arrested on his way to meet a 14-year old girl in a hotel encounter which was also due to feature a number of other men.
It was said that in Lindberg’s car was a bag containing leather whips, handcuffs and a blindfold. About this piece of news wrote the German Der Spiegel: “A bizarre trial is shaking the picture book country in the north,” describing Sweden as a country where Emil i Lönneberga (the Astrid Lindgren character) had been as bad as it ever got.

Is it an illusion?
“Is it all just an illusion?” The Germans asked and illustrated their article with a pretty picture of Fjällbacka, and the British The Guardian followed suit, writing, “The Sweden of Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson—all shadowy rightwing conspiracies and prostitution rings—might not be so far from the truth.”
When the controversial book about the King, “The Reluctant Monarch,” was published last fall, many European journalists welcomed Sweden to the continent. According to the article in Svenska Dagbladet, the image of Sweden abroad (Social Democracy, ABBA, Ingmar Bergman, Olof Palme, the Swedish Sin, the openness, Pippi Longstocking and blue-eyed blondes) is pretty much written in stone. But Liselott Bergman, an analyst at the Swedish Institute, says the image of Sweden is not as strong as all that.

,b>Not just about good or bad
“We are not as well known as we think are," Bergman says. "The Swedish music wonder, for instance, isn’t as known internationally as we in Sweden may think.” Bergman believes it would be best if the bubble of Sweden as something entirely innocent and positive burst. “Absolutely! It’s a prerequisite in a global world that we get to know each other better, and that it isn’t just about good or bad. We in Sweden need to open our eyes too, and in order for us to do so, we have to be self-critical and not blinded by our old images.”