Satanic Sex on Sunday: Gunilla Ekberg, Sex War and Extremist Feminism

Note: This post was first published in May 2011.

Feminist Satanism. No, that’s not right. Satanic Feminists. To be fair, no, it should be Feminists Who Believe Men are Pedophilic Satanists (or Satanist Pedophiles). No matter how you look at it, these words don’t immediately make sense together. This is the Rescue Industry with a vengeance – and Extremist Feminism indeed.*

Gunilla Ekberg has not appeared in public in Sweden in quite a while, I believe, but she has been giving anti-prostitution talks in Canada in support of a campaign to defeat Judge Himel’s decision to decriminalise many aspects of sex work in Ontario (Ekberg is apparently a citizen of Canada now). Admirers in Canada are billing her as a famous international lawyer, but she was publicly criticised in Sweden for calling herself a lawyer – does anyone know about Canada?  Her notoriety derives from her unyielding attitude as a campaigner, so authoritarian even some Swedes with similar ideas stopped wanting to be associated with her.

In 2005 she worked for Sweden’s Ministry of Industry as an expert on prostitution and was closely allied with ROKS, an organisation that runs shelters for women in trouble. At the time, ROKS’s management claimed Swedish patriarchy could usefully be compared to Afghanistan’s and advocated separatism: women living apart from men. As if this were not enough, ROKS management came to believe that pedophilic satanism was a real threat to girls and women in Sweden. Phew.

Other European countries have suffered mad bouts of belief in satanic cults in history, and the US is famous for its Satanic Panic all through the 1980s, but the oddity with Sweden is how such extremism can dwell so very close to mainstream government: get funding, have prestige, function as if ordinary and unremarkable.

The story of Ekberg’s embarrassing moment and public disgrace occurred in 2005, when journalist Evin Rubar (a woman) was making a programme about ROKS for Swedish Television, Könskriget (Sex War – link to first part),  in which the story of the satanic pedophiles is told, including the testimony of a young woman supposedly saved by ROKS who complains about her treatment by the rescuers. You will see in the clip below that Rubar, assuming Ekberg to have been closely involved, asks questions Ekberg refuses to answer. Leaving the room, Ekberg, assuming the microphone is off, threatens Rubar: Don’t count on any help from the shelters. The whole Sex War programme is two hours long; this is the clip in which Ekberg threatens Rubar:

Ekberg did not lose her job over this, but she did eventually leave it. The affair generated much criticism of her behaviour and that of the ROKS people, who come across as maniacs (at least one writer calling their thought patterns feminist fundamentalism, with which I concur, here on the blog and in Sex at the Margins). Numerous Swedish bloggers followed the disgraceful affair, reported here in the newspaper Aftonbladet. The ROKS manager was replaced.

Here is Part One of Sex War in Swedish, and here is a website that does a summary in English. After which, you will need a laugh.

Today, 25 June 2012, numerous people wrote to me to say, about another blogger’s post: Didn’t you write about this already? The answer is yes, in May 2011. Oh blogs, so easy to ‘absorb’. Sometimes the absorber says ‘but I only used the links you gave!’ Not good enough, say I, as defence against parasitism.

–Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist

18 thoughts on “Satanic Sex on Sunday: Gunilla Ekberg, Sex War and Extremist Feminism

    1. Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette

      (Answering my own question after reading your last link)

      Ahn, no! It’s Margareta Winberg I’m remembering. She was the one who did the abolitionist song and dance here in Rio back in 2003. That was a sight to behold!

  1. Petra Östergren

    This is great, Laura.

    I wrote two articles in 2005 re this that might be of interest for you. First one in Aftonbladet, where I also mention the 1996 article and chain of events that led me to begin doing research in this field.

    And thanks to the Aftonbladet article I got more information on what was happening in the Ministry of Gender Equality, and had one more article published in Expressen.


  2. Alice-Dagen 365

    While this entry is interesting reading, I am concerned about your use of the word “pedophiles”.
    You don’t have any quotes here indicating that it is these extremist feminists who use the word, so my conclusion is that it’s your interpretation?

    What bothers me is that it’s a very prejudice inclination to use this word and then talk about satanic ritual abuse and other extreme criminal acts against children.
    I don’t think I am exaggerating because the witch hunt on pedosexuals is already so extreme. So I would not use the word so carelessly.
    Pedophilia is neither an act or a crime. It is a sexual orientation involving love and attraction like any other sexual orientation.

    Lastly, I can honestly not see a huge problem with thinking that males are pedosexuals, because it is a natural variation and as a side note it also concerns women. It’s only to split hairs to try and estimate how many have the orientation or not.

    I think facts are important. These are both my facts as well as my thoughts, which I thought appropriate to share.

  3. laura agustin Post author

    alice-dagen, for heaven’s sake, why make these criticisms if you didn’t check out the source of the information? pedophilia is precisely the accusation the extremists make in the film. take a little trouble and you will see.

  4. Iamcuriousblue

    I remember when the whole “Satanic Panic” was going strong in the 1980s and 90s in the United States. It was mostly spread by Christian Fundamentalists, but the idea was picked up by recovery industry feminists who were pushing dodgy “recovered memory” therapy. The book “The Courage to Heal” was the bible of this movement. A particularly low moment came when Ms Magazine ran a cover story urging readers to “believe” in the idea Satanic Ritual Murder.

    The larger panic led to the prosecution of a number of innocent people, notably in the McMartin Preschool and Wenatchee “satanic abuse” cases. In the case of the “West Memphis Three”, three men have been in jail for over 15 years based on questionable murder convictions the received as teenagers based mainly on claims that they were “satanists”.

    What’s interesting is that while panic largely blew over in the US by the late 90s, it apparently lives on in Sweden, spread mainly by extremist feminists rather than extremist Christians.

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  7. C

    Someone might want to mention this to the rather naive Paisley branch of Amnesty International …/

  8. Pascal

    I am wondering if you are aware of the criticism of Rubar’s documentary? It was cut in a way that it leads you to some minsundrstandings, like the girl rescued was in fact NOT criticising the rescuers but the kidnappers. Other things like that contributed to the fact that the documentary was deemed partial and unfactual by Granskningsnämnden.

    1. Laura Agustín

      And Rubar complained back – multiple accusations and also prizes. But even without the over-dramatisation and probable manipulations that happen in all films, Ekberg’s behaviour stands out and speaks for itself.

  9. Passerby

    God, I can’t believe that woman didn’t lose her job for threatening to withhold emergency services to a reporter. I’m not suprised she said it, but for getting it filmed I would have at least expected Ekburg to be fired to save face.

    1. Laura Agustín

      Ekberg was indeed badly discredited when this incident became public and soon stopped being active in Sweden, made a career abroad, now getting a second law degree this time in Scotland. She always has offers to talk and consult from abolitionists.


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