The other day I wondered if it was sexist of me to give more weight to a study about Swedish boobs done by a woman than a man. I’m going to argue that it had more to do with the end result, one had ties to cancer while the other with how boobs sagged, than with the fact that the cancer study was done by a woman while the sagging one was done by a man.
Luckily though, in Sweden, you usually don’t have to think about these sorts of things. Because there is always someone else to tell you if something is sexist. Especially when it comes to advertising. And the list is long and distinguished.
Etiska Råd mot könsdiskriminerande reklam, lovingly known as ERK is big on getting the names of discriminating companies out to the public. The organization loosely translates to the Ethical Council against Gender Discriminatory Advertising. Kind of. After my own translation. Without all of the särskrivning. The Local translates it as Sweden's Trade Ethical Council against Sexism in Advertising. But that’s just no fun using someone else’s translation.
Anyway, the other day the ERK came out with a list of companies that insulted their senses. The two that really caught my attention were Lego and Ryan Air. Lego of course is known throughout the world for its sexist overtones. I mean come on. The little yellow Lego characters all start out as men. You have to put a wig on them to make them women. It doesn’t get much more sexist than that. Or so I thought. Until I read why they were listed as a company that used sexist advertising.
Lego had the gall to print in their advertising catalog pictures of girls playing with princesses and castles. In a pink room. Disgusting. But it gets worse. Lego also printed pictures of boys playing with a police station and a fire station. In a blue room. Oh the horror. Clearly, Lego, in its attempt to brainwash children everywhere, has printed the catalogs in hopes of cementing centuries old gender roles. Because Lego wins when girls like the color pink and boys the color blue. Obviously. Lego defended itself by noting that there are boys and girls throughout the catalog playing with each other.
Ryan Air, the low-fare airline based out of the UK has also fallen under attack. For an ad campaign that came out in conjunction with the new school year. The ad showed a girl in the classic school girl outfit. And by classic I mean the sexy costume that college girls throughout the US will be donning in just a couple of weeks for Halloween. So of course, this was sexist.
Ryan Air responded by saying they believed women should be allowed to take their clothes off. And if women are allowed to take their clothes off then Ryan Air should be allowed to show them in various stages of undress. Who am I to argue with that sort of logic? No one, that’s who. The beautiful thing here is that Ryan Air referred to the ERK as “anti-funsters” and “old farts.” That’s good stuff.
After these comments one of Sweden’s leading feminist politicians called for people to boycott Ryan Air. Birgitta Ohlsson said it was her duty “to name and shame companies” like Ryan Air. Or in other words, to tell people what to do and how to think. Ryan Air responded. Of course. I mean, a company who refers to the ERK as anti-funsters and old farts won’t sit idly by as their company is subjected to a boycott. And their response? Classic. “‘This really is a storm in a D cup!’” Even referring to the aforementioned politician as “Boring Birgitta.”
This turned out to be an old fashioned mudslinging contest. And I’ll be honest. I think Ryan Air won. So while some people might boycott Ryan Air, I just can’t turn down roundtrip airline tickets to such exotic locales as Poland for only 94 SEK. And with the dollar pushing 8 SEK now in exchange, well, you can’t steal it for that price.
Granted, I won’t be boycotting Ryan Air, but luckily I have found a different sexist cause to rail about. The other day I saw a commercial for a vitamin that was specifically for women. The ad said that women get home they have all kinds of other responsibilities. Like taking care of the kids. And cooking. And cleaning. I was disgusted. As a man who cooks and cleans I have never felt so discriminated against. Clearly this company should be called out for its blatantly sexist ad campaign. I started dictating an angry letter in my head. And then remembered that I’m not an idiot. I am capable of living my life without being insulted by everything that doesn’t fit into that extremist world of political correctness that so many people try to push.
Advertising should be taken with a grain of salt. It is aimed at specific groups of people. A target market if you will. Of course it will discriminate. Now if only the crazy bastards at the ERK could figure that out and let people think for themselves. If I am offended by something I won’t support that cause. Like Socialdemokraterna. I don’t need someone putting out a list that tells me what I can and can’t support. What is and isn’t sexist. What should and should not offend me.
Welcome to Sweden.