Ottar och kärleken

Elise Ottesen-Jensen

by Gunilla Thorgren

This is the great biography of a Swedish women's legend - Elise Ottesen-Jensen. She became a mythical key figure in sexual politics, a young Norwegian who struggled with prejudice, sexual fears and discriminatory laws and managed to transform Sweden.

Gunilla Thorgren’s biography describes an unjustly forgotten person in the Swedish feminism, but also an incomparable and to this day controversial figure in the Swedish twentieth-century history. Born in Stavanger, she left home early and found the labor movement and became a journalist. She met the Swedish syndicalist agitator Albert Jensen who was sought after by the police, fled with him to Denmark during World War I, was deported to Sweden and in the 1920’s she started organizing Swedish women in the syndicalist movement.

Together with Moa Martinson, she developed the women's page of the newspaper Arbetaren into a forum for feminist ideas. In 1926 - forty years old - she began her work with sexual education. She traveled around the country, agitating for a change in legislation, and taught women to use contraception. In 1933 she founded RFSU (Swedish Association for Sexual Education.

In the fight for women's right to control their own body - the right to contraception, the right to abortion – Ottar performed crucial work for the Swedish society. Countless people could thank her for a happier and less anxiety-ridden sex life. The biography uncovers a central part of the Swedish twentieth-century history.

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