Saturday, January 7, 2012

Censorship and nudity in Finland

Did the title of this post grab your attention?  :)  I do find this subject very interesting because Finland is for the most part an "Americanized" Western country, but when it comes to censorship and nudity Finland and United States are very different.  The other day I was driving my children to school around 9am in the morning and we were listening to the radio station as usual, when I was greeted with one F bomb after another from this somewhat popular song that has been in rotation on the popular local radio stations.  The title of this particular one was called "Loca People" by Sak Noel.  However, one profanity laced song wasn't the point I was trying to make. Any song that has profanity and vulgarity will most likely not be censored by the local radio stations.  Also, the DJ's will not be beeped out for saying an occasional swear word. I kind of have mixed feelings on this one.  I am not one who wants to subject my kids to relentless f bombs, but on the other side of the coin, kids are smart and if something is "beeped" out or they are curious about something they will most likely find out about it sooner or later.  Since these Finnish children are exposed too less censorship at an early age, it probably becomes less and less mysterious to them and just a part of life.

Nudity is an entirely different subject where Finland and most likely the rest of Europe is different from the US.  In the United States it seems that violence is more accepted in society than nudity.  This is pretty clear judging by the films we release and the fact that violence is in full force and nudity (even when graceful) is not as accepted or only in certain types of films.  TV programs in Finland are not censored and they even run rated R films without any form of censorship.  These films are also broadcast as early as 7 or 8pm, not just reserved for late night.  I was amazed a few years ago to see a Finnish cell phone commercial where these guys were running around with their  "junk" hanging out. :) Yes, no joke, they were completed exposed in this commercial.  Imagine this in the US where we had Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction (otherwise known as "Boobgate") experience several years ago at the Super Bowl halftime show.  They actually changed the rules on viewing live television (now it is delayed several seconds) because of one breast being exposed.  I think US thinks of itself as a puritanical society, but the irony is that it is extremely violent at the same time.  Nudity is just more accepted in Finland.  This country invented the Sauna and when I talk about Sauna it should be known that it is regarded in Finland as a family experience.  Most families with young children have Sauna day on Saturdays where the entire family uses their Sauna and then just relaxes.  In US there might be some stigma around the Sauna being more of a place for nudity and sex which is far from the truth.

I do have one experience to share that made even me shake my head in disbelief.  It was one of those "It would never happen in US" thoughts.  So, I have been swimming in various indoor swimming halls since I moved to Finland.  They are all very nice and have extensive shower and Sauna facilities.  However, there is one big catch.  :)  The cleaning lady will come into the men's shower room at all times during the day to mop and clean up.  Yes, it could be right smack in the middle of a busy Saturday afternoon and the cleaning lady comes to clean the entire the shower room with 9 or 10 men taking their showers and no one blinks an eye!  I was more surprised that no one cared rather than by the fact that the lady just casually walks in the the room.  This is not a perverted type of thing, the lady is simply minding her own business.  She is not there to gawk, just to do her job and leave.  I was a bit uncomfortable at first, and would quickly run to my towel.  But I guess "When in Rome, do as Roman do" so they say.


  1. Anna (Tuija's friend)January 14, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    Hi Mark,
    all this is very interesting for me to read, so keep on writing and I'll keep on reading :-)
    I just finished a book called How to marry a Finnish girl by Philip Schwarzmann. He is an American guy living in Finland aswell, writing about his opinions and experiences in Finland. I suppose if you would publish your texts they would sell at least as many copies as Schwarzmann seems to do (quite many according to papers).

  2. I am a German who grew up in the US and is now back in Germany. I never understood the aversion to nudity in the US but no one thinks anything of violence. It's something most Germany don't understand.

    1. Germany doesn't understand violence- You have got to be kidding you Nazi bastard

    2. lol. well said.

  3. "most likely the rest of Europe" nonsense, absolute nonsense England if anything is more prudish than the United States although not quite as religious.

  4. I agree with your post and that's the one thing I dislike the most about America: its overblown, puritanical attitudes towards anything regarding nudity and sex. I'm a laid back person and I've been to Europe several times. I didn't scream at a girl who changed her clothes in public. My mom saw a guy change his clothes on a bus in Switzerland one time but she didn't yell or take offense at it. It proves something: the more this country whines and makes a huge fuss about the human body, the more it BRINGS attention to the subject. Things would be better for everyone if they left it alone and stopped howling bloody murder over a single exposed breast. Even the most conservative parts of London had nude ads plastered inside phone booths. The media here would cry about it day and night, saying it would "poison" kids. I have yet to see any kid spending the rest of his or her life in a mental institution over seeing a single nude picture like the "anti-porn" movement claims.