Homosexuality for men was… complicated
Pre-Christian Norse views on homosexuality weren’t simple. While Viking cultures seemed to be accepting of physical relationships between two men, it was more complicated. Men were still expected to marry women. There was never a way out of that which did not result in social ostracism. But when married, a wife was expected to ignore any extramarital affairs her husband entertained, whether it be with men or women. But intimacy with a wife was always a must – mostly to procure children. Of course, we’ll talk a bit more about how a woman had legal grounds to divorce her husband if she was not satisfied in bed. So other than not being able to marry a male counterpart, it sounds like it was pretty open, right? This is where it gets even more complicated.
Viking men were known to violate both men and women as a ways to degrade and demean them during raiding trips. It was common practice. So penetrating a man was fairly common. However, it was considered extremely shameful if you were on the receiving end of that action. One of the worst insults an enemy could hurl at a Norse man was “sordinn” (penetrated). Any man branded as such would fight until a fatal end to defend his honor. These conflicts led to Scandinavian law codes making such types of insult illegal because of the violence that ensued with the slanderer often outlawed. However, if such abuse was believed or proven, it had grave consequences for the man in question. Although Norse myths tell of gods such as Loki and even Odin taking on a submissive role during intimacy., Norse mortal society did not tolerate passivity in men. The man in question would become a social outcast, branded âergi”-or unmanly.’