Art and popular culture have been unkind to Vikings. Misconceptions about Viking sexuality abound in the popular consciousness thanks to centuries of art, literature, film, and other media depicting the Scandinavian warriors as horn helmet-wearing, battle ax-wielding rapists who fornicated with their kin and treated women like animated sex toys. What is the real history behind the misconception? What were gender roles in Viking society? How does the reality of Viking sex lives clash with the images you're used to?
Results of DNA analysis from the UK, continental Europe, and Scandinavia published in 2015 reveal relatively few surviving Viking lines, despite generations of Viking occupation in those areas. These findings suggest the image of Vikings as sex-crazed rapists is wrong; they apparently weren't having much sex at all. If they were, their ancestors would be more bountiful. Yet many Viking histories were written by Christian priests and monks, whose job it was to make Vikings (and all non-Christians) seem as barbaric as possible.
Read on to uncover the real history behind a handful of common misconceptions about Viking sexuality and gender roles.