Saturday, May 03, 2008

Sweden’s Feminists Kill Herr Gårman

In Sweden, the cross walk signs have a character known throughout Sweden as Herr Gårman or Mr. Walkman. If said out loud it can be pronounced as Här Går Man. Literally, Here One Walks. It’s a cute little play on words. Personally, I love it. It’s a little creative, kind of fun, and very easy to remember.

But now the feminists are at it again. It looks like a Fru Gårman, Mrs. Walkman, will be gracing the cross walk signs also by October of this year. The reasoning is simple when you think about it. Women also walk in traffic. Seriously, that was one of the reasons given for this change. Well no shit. But they seem to have been managing alright so far. As far as I know there hasn't been a large number of women who have been run over in traffic compared to men. But in the name of equality, Fru Gårman will soon be with us.

Obviously, numerous people have reacted to this in the newspapers and on TV. One reaction that I really appreciated was a woman who brought up the educational use of Herr Gårman. The play on words being important. The argument being that the signs are really targeted more towards children, and the play on words becomes a strong pedagogical tool. Easy to remember, easy to identify, easy to figure out that this is where you walk. I love it. Well said unknown Swedish woman.

The image itself of Herr Gårman is your standard silhouette of a person. Aside from a somewhat broad chest the figure looks pretty gender neutral really. Just a person walking. No discernible hair, no discernible penis, no discernible breasts. Basic person figure. But the Fru Gårman will most likely have a skirt. Because all women wear skirts. Which brings up all sorts of strange sexist questions in and of itself. But no matter.

I’m just appalled that this is seen as progress. Is this really what equality is about? Making sure that a road sign is changed? Really? Work on something that matters. Because the gender of a black silhouette on a crosswalk sign can’t be what those women who fought for the right to vote were really worried about.

Then again, I’m not a feminist. Or a woman. So what do I know.

But either way, I’d like to say Welcome to Sweden. Where feminists have managed to emasculate even a road sign.


  1. You nailed it... Do something that matters instead. I'm also really irrtated because if they're going to do this change they're going to do it with the Swedish citizens' tax money. What a fucking waste of money på ren svenska... It's just ridiculous. I've never met a woman that felt discriminated because there was not a cross walk sign with a woman with a skirt on it and I've met my share of women...

    Do something that matters. Try to make the gap between men and women's salaries even smaller or something else.
    What about the discrimination of immigrants? Try to deal with that too. Honestly, I want a Herr Gårman with a turban and a fru Gårman with a bhurka and I won't stop fighting until I get it!

  2. I totally agree with you on your post. I think the feminist pendulum has swung too far in Sweden, to the point of ridiculous.

    With so many young women being brain washed in school by unthinking feminist politics which really, serve to promote only themselves and what I see as hurting others along the way, I think more critical thinking needs to be done in that field.

    As a woman, I see feminist politics in Sweden encouraging a battle between the sexes that does not instill a sense of cooperation between men and women. And society NEEDS cooperation between the sexes not competition. It's a yin and yang that they're tearing apart and by that, the very social fabric of the Swedish society.

    I think being aware of women's plight around the world such as India, Pakistan, the middle-east (?) and to an extent, more masculine societies, where women are treated and sold like cattle is much more useful. And in that light, I think we should also look at men's problems or the plight of men around the world, in very masculine societies such as Japan, where men are also bound by socio-cultural norms to be strong, to not cry, to take the brunt of all worries, so to speak.

    Feminism in Sweden has become almost laughable, which is never good for a cause. It's come to a point where the feminists (with all good intentions) are shooting themselves in the foot rather than helping society become better. And in that light, I think it sad.


  3. I think it is pretty fun with a fru gårman. Is it something wrong with portraying women in signs as well as men. Is it offending someone? No.
    The what is wrong with it?

    The thing is that men is often seen as the standars person but fact is that 50 percent is also women. In resaerch for medisin the standard human is a man. So most research is done on male mouses, male humans. Even though symptons in females are different in the same diseases and reguire different medicines. This really doesn't have much to do with this sign topic but it just shows how male are seen as the standard human.

    I guess I can ask the same question to you? Do you have something against fru gårman and is it really such a big deal that you have to bother your time bringing it up. It is not like if there is an existing female in a sign that it excludes the existance of the male ones. It just shows us that the standard human is a male AND a female. Is there something wrong with that?

    I also think this is a bit over done by the feminist but I don't think there is anything wrong with having a female walk sign. So I don't object it.

    /female swedish citizen

  4. Just an interesting update on my side, I was discussing this with a group of Swedish friends this evening and one of them said that when the sign was designed, there indeed was, a consideration for the figure to wear a skirt.

    But then the question was raised - why is it assumed that all women wear skirt? Isn't that sexist?

    So the figure was framed as gender neutral as possible.

    I also thought Stafrins Spaning has a good point on road signs being primarily for safety and educational purposes for children, if not anyone else. Road signs are not in the primary aspect, a gender question or equality question.

    Road signs are primarily visual semiotic in function, to communicate in as quick a manner as possible, a specific meaning for that particular context.


  5. Female Swedish Citizen--I think that point was that it was a huge waste of time and resources to make a systematic change to ensure that a percentage the signs are feminine--I don't think the Fru Gårman signs will offend anyone except those that believe in fiscal responsibility.

  6. This story reminds me of a story in the 90's involving gender-based signage (I may not get all the facts right, and I may have misspelled 'signage').

    A woman (feminist) on a college campus was reprimanded for using the men's room and not the women's restroom. Her defense was basically this: "I saw a figure wearing a skirt and a figure wearing pants. Since I rarely wear a skirt, I entered the door with the pants-wearing figure." I thought this was a premeditated stunt as it is easier to believe that aliens helped design and build the pyramids.

    What feminist in Sweden and others need to realize is that these are SIGNS whose sole function is to communicate a message. They really aren't men. Should the signs on your motorways warning of moose depict some moose without antlers? Perhaps, I wouldn't want to be around an angry female moose. Here in Chicago, our "don't walk" signs are silhouettes of a right hand with outstretched fingers. Perhaps there are some angry, underrepresented left handed people who need to speak up.

  7. You made my day, in a funny way!

    And I thought that the Swedes are 'worrying kinds' about their image abroad! We'll have a good laugh with this in Finland. Just another nail in the casket.

    But, not-too-seriously, we should have now two signs at every zebra-crossing: one for men and one for female. Equality costs. What about kids then? And women without breasts this large? What about people in wheel chairs, they don't walk, they need a sign of their own. And pregnant women? We end up with a lot of walkman signs at each zebra-crossing. But, hey, it's in the name of equality!

    Seriously, the Swedes should have come up with a non-interpretive symbol sign instead. I think they could have left the 'walking person' out and that's it. Feel free to use my idea :)

  8. Swedish guy here. I believe the feminists think too much. Why waste money on stupid crap like this? They should be ashamed of themselves for even bringing it up. Send the money to people who need it instead. I bet you could feed a bunch of people in Africa for the cost of just one of those Mrs. Walkman signs.

  9. They talked about this yesterday on the Swedish entertainment show Parlamentet. I think one guy said some good stuff, he said that "The sign Herr Gårman is a play on words, not a comment in the gender debate".

    As a lot of other people have said, and myself, I think it's a total waste of money.

    Nevertheless, I think that the anonymous female Swedish citizen had a good point. Women are, in a lot of ways and in a lot of places, seen as the worse half of the mankind and the man seen as the good kind, and this point of view has existed very long historically. Why do you think it's called mankind, for example?

    Despite this fact I do think that changing 50% of the cross walk signs into female ones instead of male ones is a total waste of tax money, resources, time and political initiatives.

    I hate to see women being treated worse than men and I'm for making the situation for women better but I'm not for wasting tax payers' money on a stupid change, that doesn't even matter, of a road sign. How is Fru Gårman going to make the situation better for women and improve gender equality? Tell me one good argument to spend tax payers' money on this?

    I think female Swedish citizen also reacted on your last sentence, hairy Swede, even if it may be said in a jokish way. What's bad about "emasculating" road signs, in other words not only having "masculine" road signs but also "feminine" road signs? Does it mean we (Swedish men) are being castrated, as you said in a previous post? Personally, I think that's taking it much too far. I love equality, be it between genders, people with different skin colours or different cultures, I love it and I think it's great that my country is striving against it. However, i don't see introducing Fru Gårman alongside Herr Gårman is just ridiculous and will have no effect on gender equality. Besides, as Hairy said, why shall the woman on the sign be wearing a skirt? Isn't that a female stereotype? What does female, or male, stereotypes have to do with equality between the genders?

  10. Its easy, either you take everything serious or you laugh silently when you slowly realize the small amount of fun this road sign is bringing to the world of trafic rules and directions. Fru Går man isnt a word play, why not keep this joke just for making a point that rules can be funny.

    PS. Fröken Ur must be changed, something like Dubbelkönat(könlöst) svar på frågan hur mycket klockan är för tillfället. DS.

  11. well said. a glorious discussion seems to have emerged.

    I'm just amazed by some peoples ability to be insulted and offended. It's unfortunate really. And must be exhausting.

    A road sign is a road sign, not a display of sexism. Especially when that road sign is tied to a play on words that is just glorious. Hell, if there was an English language equivalent I would be on that like a fly on shit.

    Where does this sort of thing end is my question. At some point these sorts of people will have suceeded in taking away all individuality and making everyone the same. And that's just boring. People are different. Let it be. And let Herr Gårman live on. Fru Gårman just doesn't have that same ring to it.

    And for the record, I actually don't have any problem with a woman on a sign. I just think the whole situation is ridiculous. And a waste of time. And resources. And doesn't really DO anything of value.

    Sebbe brings up a good point, why is there a malist (maleist?) group decided that anything that is given a female name like fröken complaining. I for one am insultd that it is only a woman that can tell me the official time.

  12. Feminist: the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men

    I think it's too bad people shy away from being feminists! I sure as heck am! I think women should definitely have equal rights and space in society as men do.

    When people consider the 'ridiculous' things that come up in political/social discussions that have been considered over the top (such as civil rights, women's right to vote, etc., don't they learn that "small issues" such as the right to sit at the front of the bus or drink from whatever water fountains they want are important because they are a symptom of a deeper, underlying injustice?

    At the same time, I have never been offended by the crosswalk sign, and think it has been gender neutral.
    I think it's a silly example to show how hegemonic culture fails to realize the space that is allocated to males vs. females in the public forum.

    Anyways, what's Fru Gårman going to look like? Will she wear a skirt? Will she have long hair, broad hips? Those are all stereotypes that will create a whole new discussion.

    But though this particular incident is not at all important to me, I do wish you'd understand how the acceptance of inequality of space leads to inequality in a society. Look, for instance at the coverage of men and women in sports. You probably haven't noticed, but women don't get a whole heck of a lot. That, to me, is a bigger problem.

  13. @swedette - good points. my problem with this is the ridiculousness of changing a sign that, while titled Herr Gårman, has always looked relatively gender neutral to me. I just have a hard time imagining that people can be offended by this enough that it is something that just must be changed.

    and I have te same questions about Fru Gårman as you. If you put a skirt on her won't that bring up all sort of different sexist attitudes, stereotypes, and questions?

    When it comes down to it, I just think there are more important issues at stake than a crosswalk sign.

  14. What happen to you guys in Sweden? Weren't you guys the Vikings? Now you guys are nothing more than a bunch of pathetic pussy's. I don't mean this to be offensive I really do pity you guys, your in such a terrible situation. I have traveled all over the world and Swedish women are by far the worst on earth bar none. The nastiest attitudes I have ever seen. I am sorry I could never live in your country, what a feminatzi hell hole, it really makes me sick to see what you guys go through. There would be blood in the streets in I was forced to live there. I wish you Swedish guys the best, all the Swedish feminist should be taken out back and shot dead. That is how I feel. Tack.

  15. Thank God, we left that "feminazi hell hole".

    While we´re at it: Why don´t the politicians in Sweden instead put energy on changing the public military service law (värnpliktslagen) to include women. If feminists really want to be equal, they should also strive for this. Women should also contribute to the society in all aspects (not only on road signs)... just as men. Women are indeed capable of doing military service. Why do feminists (usually) only want the goodies, not the responsibilies?
    Wouldn´t this serve a greater good.

  16. I agree. This is ridiculous! I consider myself a feminist, but this is just too much! It's like the fact that a group of "feminists" bathed without bikini tops in a public swimming pool. Their argument was that "If men are allowed to show their breasts, then so are we!" Well, if they want to show their breasts, they're more than welcome, but do it on a nudist beach for god's sake!
    Feminism for me is not only equality between genders, it is equality between all races, everyone that is handicapped and so on. Caring more about you showing off your tits at a public swimming pool than trying to stop the segregation in the country is just absurd, and sad.

  17. well said. it seems that most rational people can see that there are more important things to fight for. unfortunately it seems that, all too often, the feminists in Sweden thatget the press are the ones who pull stunts like this.

  18. "feminazi hell hole". lol.

    whats the problem with that? since when is pimpin up road signs a bad, unpunky, non-fun thing? I mean, it seems like you only get upset because you feel irritated by feminists. i´m one myself. get over it and get happy?

  19. strangely enough, thats often times the same argument used agianst hard core feminists.

    that they only get upset because they are irritated by those who arent feminists.

  20. Hello HairySwede - my Swedish, living-in-America, desperate to go home friend turned me onto your blog, which is alternately making me laugh and slap my forehead. I would love to hear more about your reasons for being borderline antifeminist...I totally don't get it. Granted, I am a woman so it's hard to imagine for me, but perhaps you might find the link below of interest:

  21. Im not antifeminist at all. Im anti extremefeminist. Hell Im anti extreme most everything really.

    And when it has gone so far as to decide that a sign, which doubles as a play on words that hapens to be quite descriptive, is deemed sexist, I believe that to be extreme.

    Unfortunately, it is the ridiculous extreme feminsists that end up in the news for things like this. Sweden has done an increible job in gender equality. And it is impressive. But sometimes it can go too far.

    There are more important issues at hand than Herr Gårman.

  22. Hah. I'm not much for extremism in any case either, but how can gender equality go TOO FAR? That's an absurd idea. I agree that a street sign or whatever is not something to quibble over, but the idea that at a certain point we should just be satisfied or not be offended at certain things for fear of being labeled overly sensitive, touchy, or humorless IS something to quibble over!

  23. The same way anything can go too far. You’re essentially saying that feminism should be allowed to go as far as it like regardless. I would imagine that anyone who believes strongly in an idea would come with the same argument. That their ideal can never go too far because it is inherently good. Or right. Or obvious.

    Unfortunately, I just don’t agree with you. Some things can be taken too far. Feminism included. Political correctness can go too far. People are different. Men and women are different. It’s ok to laugh at those differences. To laugh at those differences as long as those differences are understood and accepted.

    I label people oversensitive all the time. I label the parents who think their children shouldn’t play sports where score is kept oversensitive. I label some of the people I went to college with oversensitive because they believed that competition was inherently evil. I label feminists who believe the Herr Gårman sign to be sexist oversensitive. It’s a sign. Sometimes a sign is just a sign.

  24. Yes, the sign is just a sign. I just think you have an odd definition of feminism, as if you equate it more with a struggle for dominance than equality. How can men and women be too equal? Modern feminism is mostly about the idea that women are to be trusted to make their own decisions, whatever is best for them as individuals. How can that go too far? It's not a struggle over political correctness, except when whatever given thing is actually misogynistic - which the street sign dude is not, I totally agree. But feminism certainly doesn't seek to make men and women the same, except in value as human beings! Feminists on average have a MORE favorable view of men in general than women that do not consider themselves feminists (go figure, the antifeminists are the real man-haters!! The irony is delicious.); the natural differences between men and women are celebrated in feminism, the imposed patriarchy and misogyny are not - big difference.

    Don't mean to quibble here, it just disappoints me to see men with generally progressive social attitudes (which I do applaud you for, for the most part) hold on to that weird "omg, the wimminz...they're trying to take over!" mentality. It's so not about that.

  25. The funny thing is I have no problem with feminists. I have a problem with the feminists who try to turn a sign into some sort of symbol for male oppression. The extreme feminists if you will. As I said, and you agreed, a sign is just a sign.

    In terms of my definition of feminism. Nowhere do I write, nor do I believe, that feminism is meant to be dominating. Nowhere do I write, nor do I believe, that people can be too equal. I do believe that the quest for equality can be taken too far in terms of misguided efforts. Like a sign.

    That being said, when things like this are focused on, it is hard to agree with your statement that “feminism certainly doesn't seek to make men and women the same” because if that were the case, movements to change a street sign wouldn’t be grabbing such headlines.

  26. now i get furious, did those feminist even think about flat cheasted women.

  27. flat chested women in pants were completely disgusts me.