ABOUT THIS BOOK
Sinners and Citizens explores how sexual habits changed in Sweden during its development from an agrarian society into a modern welfare state. Jens Rydström examines the history of homosexuality and bestiality in that country to consider why these sexual practices have been so closely linked in virtually all Western societies. He limns sharply the distinctive experience of rural life, showing that to regularly witness farm animals stirred passions and sparked ideas, especially among young farmhands.
Based on medical journals, psychiatric reports, and court records from the period, as well as testimonies from men in diaries, letters, and interviews, Sinners and Citizens reveals that bestiality was once a dreaded crime in Sweden. But in time, mention of the practice disappeared completely from legal and medical debates. This, Rydström contends, is because models of penetrative sodomy shifted from bestiality to homosexuality as Sweden transformed from a rural society into a more urban one. As the nation's economy and culture became less identified with the countryside, so too did its idea of deviant sexual behavior.