Thank You, Sweden! Distracted Boyfriend Meme Is Sexist

The Guardian carried this photo today, with a report that Sweden’s advertising ombudsman ruled it sexist:

The response can only be, Thank you! to Sweden’s ombudsman. As the ombud’s decision said, the ad implies that women in many countries adopt hair styles, wear makeup, and choose clothing for the specific purpose of manipulating men, and that men thus manipulated are then attacked for behaving as intended. According to the ombud, “The advertisement portrays men as oppressed items whose behaviors are subject to women’s approval, and who are condemned if they exhibit normal and honest responses to attractive women.” The ombud went on to point out the implied sexist expectations that men should behave dishonestly, by concealing their natural responses, and that women have the right to tell men what those responses should be.

(Note: this is a rewrite of what the ombud actually said. The ombud is not necessarily wrong, as far as it goes; it is just sexist in its overriding preoccupation with a feminist perspective — including what it admits about men being objectified. Like the man in the photo, it is looking in only one direction.)

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