"You know America was founded by prudes. Prudes who left Europe because they hated all the kinky, steamy European sex that was going on.
In works produced outside Europe, Europeans are often depicted as more sexually free and straightforward than anything else on the planet. The sexually liberal European is typically contrasted with a more inhibited American, or with some other non-European character, who has trouble dealing with her libertine ways. Since this is usually Played for Laughs
, the European character tends to be female, as having a woman act this way is considered more outrageous
, and therefore more humorous. Men acting in a sexually straightforward manner is considered either normal
, or at least not particularly funny.
If the kinky European is a minor character, she's usually presented as a sex object to the protagonist, often with added Fanservice
. If she is given more characterization, she tends to be an Ethical Slut
. This trope can overlap with Innocent Fanservice Girl
, if the supposed kinkiness of the European character is explained by her culture simply not having the same sort of inhibitions that the culture she is contrasted with has.
A stereotypical example of this trope is the blonde Swedish nymphomaniac
, though other European nationalities can also be used. The only exceptions tend to be the British Isles: British people are commonly portrayed as more repressed
than everyone else on the planet, while the Irish are considered too intensely Catholic
As a narrative trope, Europeans Are Kinky
has been around since the 1960s. Earlier examples are rare, at least in mainstream audio-visual media, since before that decade cinema (excluding porn) and TV didn't address sexuality with the level of candour the trope requires. In the 1960s, the Swedish movies I Am Curious (Yellow)
(1967) and Language of Love
(1969) were among the first films with explicit sex scenes to get a wide international distribution, thus contributing to the stereotypical image of the "kinky Swede". Even earlier, the French film The Lovers
(1958), which includes a short (and not particularly explicit) sex scene, was the subject of a famous American court case. A screening of this film in Ohio resulted in the theater manager being convicted for public depiction of obscene material. The manager appealed, and the Supreme Court eventually overruled the conviction, stating that the movie was not pornography, and therefore not obscene.
Even though the aforementioned movies helped establish the image of the sexually straightforward European in the US, they are not examples of this trope as such. Europeans Are Kinky
doesn't usually appear in works produced in Europe itself, as a vital part of the trope is that the European character is seen from an outside perspective as an exotic Other
. The exceptions are, again, British and Irish works, since the British and Irish rarely tend to think of themselves as Europeans, and usually use the term "Europe" to mean "continental Europe" and cultures very much distinct from their own. Indeed, a big part of British national identity is bound up in being different from those crazy, libertine and morally lax Europeans, so this trope tends to show up a lot in British works – especially in those from the 60s, 70s and 80s.
This trope can sometimes be Truth in Television
, as in many European countries nudity and sexuality are indeed considered less taboo than in the United States, making them look more kinky in the eyes of Americans. The "kinkiness" of Europeans also has some scientific proof: in a study published in 2005
, citizens of 48 different countries across the world were asked about their attitudes towards multiple sex partners and casual sex. When these countries were put in order based of how promiscuous they are, 13 of the top 20 countries were in Europe, whereas the US placed 22nd. However, 11 European countries also placed lower than the US. Most of these were Catholic countries, such as Italy, Spain, and Portugal, whereas the European countries in the top 20 were mostly former Eastern Bloc states
and Protestant countries. A more truthful way of formulating this trope would therefore be "non-Catholic Europeans are kinkier than most other nationalites", but fiction rarely deals with these things with such a level of nuance. This lack of nuance might be attributed to ancient Latin Lover
trope, which covers the aforementioned Catholic countries.
Note that the word "kinky" is used here to refer to general sexual liberality and/or promiscuity. Kinky
is often associated with unconventional sexual practices, such as BDSM
, but they aren't necessarily a part of this trope (though they can be). For related tropes about specific European nations and areas, see Everyone Looks Sexier If French
, Freestate Amsterdam
, and Sensual Slavs
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Anime & Manga
- Most of the countries in Axis Powers Hetalia are European, and the author plays on European-kinkiness a lot. There was even a strip where mostly-European countries were arguing over who invented the condom and was therefore most perverted.
- The Czech exchange student Nadia in American Pie.
- In Batman Begins, part of Bruce Wayne's Millionaire Playboy cover is a couple of women he carts around to generate the right sort of attention. When they basically strip down in the middle of an upscale restaurant and start bathing in a fountain, he excuses their behavior to an outraged maitre'd with "They're European" and a shrug.
- Bitter Moon: Averted with Nigel and Fiona, but certainly not with Mimi.
- Lili von Schtupp in Blazing Saddles.
- There's a Swedish woman with no nudity taboo in Cashback.
- Parodied and played around with in Eurotrip. Scotty's friend Cooper travels with him to Europe in the hope that this trope is Truth in Television, providing the page quote... and sure enough, they find out just how kinky Europeans can get. Subverted, however, when the main characters visit a nude beach in France, only to find it populated entirely by flabby, ugly male tourists who had scared off all of the women.
- Also features a Rare Male Example in the form of Kristoff, who seemingly fulfils Jenny's fantasy of being swept off her feet by a suave, wealthy Frenchman. Then he admits to being married, and suddenly all magic disappears. He doesn't see a problem with it (and neither does his wife). He then makes it worse by casually admitting that he's bi.
- This trope is at least as old as 1965, when it forms one of the themes of the Bob Hope movie, I'll Take Sweden.
- Parodied in Not Another Teen Movie with Areola, the foreign exchange student who is constantly nude.
- The Swedish blonde Ulla in both the original movie and the musical remake of The Producers is a prime example of this trope.
- The German couple in Super Troopers.
- Ramathorn and his girlfriend are on about the same level as Germans. They're perfectly fine with having a foursome with carjackers.
- Naval Cadets series played this both ways at once, when a French man had funny ideas about the Russian bath (see below). He learned what it really is about, but barely survived the experience full of steam and broom.
- Referenced in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. After Tom Sawyer sees Mina Harker bite a man's throat open, he sardonically notes, "They told me European women had funny ways."
- Even though Mina is British and normally fits the aversion.
- Everything Is Illuminated: One of the deleted scenes from the movie showcases Alex's sexual prowess.
- In Summer School, the cast of high school students have gone to the beach together and Italian exchange student Anna-Maria starts to take off her bikini top. To the disappointment of the male students, one of the other girls stops Anna-Maria and tells her "this ain't the Riviera."
- Wayne's World 2: Although none of the characters is in any way shy about sexuality, the Swedish secretary girl even dazzles Wayne with her outspoken desire to "sleep with you in the near future."
- Viva Maria!: Maria I is part-French, part-Irish and Maria II is French and together they show the American audience what a Parisian Variete Show really is like.
- Sinead in But I'm a Cheerleader. Explaining the root of her homosexuality, she simply states "I was born in France." In addition she also "likes pain".
- The Divide by Nicholas Evans makes a passing reference to a "voluptuous Swede called Ulrika" who took her clothes off during a New-Agey dance class and literally gave a guy a heart attack.
- Confessions of Georgia Nicolson gives us Scandinavian Sven, a Rare Male Example. He and his girlfriend Rosie get the furthest through the snogging scale and his outrageous antics are often hilariously sexual, up to and including kissing strange men on the lips and dancing on tables in furry shorts. Since they started dating, Rosie now carries a false beard and a pipe around at all times. Actually, this is more a case of Mainland Europeans Are Outrageous, given that the series is set in Great Britain.
- The D'Angelines from Kushiel's Legacy are a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to the French. They're all incredibly beautiful and base their culture around Eternal Sexual Freedom.
- In Jacqueline Susann's 1973 novel Once Is Not Enough, David Milford makes this assumption about the protagonist, January Wayne, since he knows that she spent the last several years at an "exclusive Swiss school". He gets a rude awakening when he discovers after they have sex that she was a virgin, and that the "exclusive school" was really a rehab center where she was learning to walk again after a motorcycle accident that nearly killed her.
- In The Dresden Files (specifically Small Favor), the England vs. Europe distinction gets called out specifically when Harry expects Luccio to be more sexually conservative since she grew up in the Victorian era. "Victoria was English," she explains smugly, "I'm Italian."
Live Action TV
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode "Mac and Charlie Die" is heavy on this trope. Dennis finds a new roommate from Europe. The man quickly manages to fill the entire place with sexy kinky ladies willing to do anything. Though Dennis draws the line when his roommate tries to trick Dennis into having a tryst with his own father in a glory hole.
- Lampshaded in an episode of Son Of The Beach, where the word "European" is used as a stand in for "gay". It Makes Sense in Context.
- In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Will and Carlton attempt to impress a pair of French girls. The episode was filled to the brim with jokes about how promiscuous and "easy" French women were.
- Mad Men: In "The Jet Set", Don Draper falls in with a bunch of Europeans while on a business trip to California. The most bizarre moment occurs when Don is lying in bed with his conquest of the week, only for her father to walk in and make suggestive comments about Don - to which the daughter responds "Papa, ne touchez pas."
- Party Down: Ron is approached by a European porno producer.
- Work of Art: The Next Great Artist: In season 2, the Parisian-raised contestant Ugo talks about how women have inspired his art in a Confession Cam segment. Then he stops himself and mutters, "The French guy talking about women. Goddamnit."
- Pretty much the entire point of Eurotrash.
- On Gossip Girl Nate claims to know all about threesomes because he's been to Europe (and because Chuck Bass is his best friend).
- Three quarters of the plot of 'Allo 'Allo! is generated by this, whether it's Rene and the waitresses, the German officers and the waitresses, or Herr Flick and Helga.
- In-European example: One Episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus shows British Vice Police (and later Tudor-Era Noblemen) fighting against the smuggling of filthy mags from Scandinavia. In the Tudor-Era part, the porn-smuggling business is run by the Spaniards.
- The Crazy Ones episode "She's So European" focuses on Helena, a British client of the ad agency who becomes gal-pals with Sydney, and fuckbuddies with both Zach and Simon (Sydney's father). When they both get too emotionally invested, she dumps them for the voiceover artist from the B-plot. She keeps the agency on, though, because she's so amused by their quaint American prudishness and drama.
- The British series Fresh Meat portrays Sabine, a Dutch foreign student, as this. She casually asks Howard to be her fuckbuddy.
- In the Doctor Who episode The Time of The Doctor, the Doctor's companion Clara invites him to a Christmas dinner with her family. The Doctor arrives there naked, much to the shock of Clara's parents (and to the delight of her granny). Clara then tries to explain this odd behaviour by claiming "he's Swedish".
- WWE's Aksana practically exists to spout innuendo, and is from Lithuania, playing up to the stereotype completely.
Stand Up Comedy
- In Passing Strange, a youth finds his way to Amsterdam and discovers the promiscuous hook-up culture in the song "We Just Had Sex," where he experiments with single partners, multiple partners, female partners, and male partners. Being the American in the situation, he's the only one who sees anything unusual about this.
- A Zig-Zagged trope on Metalocalypse. Out of the two European members of Dethklok, Skwisgaar (Swedish) is easily the most promiscuous and kinky, but Toki (Norwegian) is by far the least sexually active on account of his extreme childishness.
- In the movie version of South Park there's the porn film starring Cartman's Mum and some Germans that the kids find on the internet.
- Archer has several characters that fit:
- Konrad Schlotz, a German Chubby Chaser hot for Pam. Though Malorie is able to seduce him.
- His 16-year-old daughter, Anka, appears to be a nymphomaniac. It's a front; she is très inexperienced.
- In Transformers Prime, Knock Out is stated early on to have taken the Alt Mode of a European sports car. Of all the Transformers, he's the one implied to be the sexually active pretty-boy.
- Inverted in The Onion article: "Point-Counterpoint: European Men Are So Much More Romantic Than American Men vs. American Women Studying In Europe Are Unbelievably Easy"
- The origin of the old aphorism "Paris in the bedroom, Boston in the parlor." Playing on this trope and New England's puritan roots.