Airbrush those whorey women out of the pictures

Ikea did, for the version of its catalogue that goes to Saudi Arabia.

So the familiar catalogue that shows a familiar world of people using furniture becomes a bizarro catalogue that shows a bizarro world that shows not people using furniture but just men and boys.

The removal of women from the pages of the Saudi edition, including a young girl who was pictured studying at her desk, has prompted a strong response from Swedes, who pride themselves on egalitarian policies and a narrow gender gap.

“You can’t remove or airbrush women out of reality. If Saudi Arabia does not allow women to be seen or heard, or to work, they are letting half their intellectual capital go to waste,” Ewa Bjoerling, the trade minister, said in a statement.

Her sentiment was echoed by Swedish European Union minister Birgitta Ohlsson, who branded the incident “medieval” on social networking site Twitter.

Well you know how it is. Furniture includes beds. You do the math.


  1. Beatrice says

    Well, they left that little kid in the towel. Are we sure it’s not a whore woman in training?

    IKEA really fucked up with this one.

    If this is true:

    When entering a new market the company always takes into account the ability to balance local culture and legislation with its own values, she added.

    …their own values are obviously profit! profit! more profit!, because any actual values wouldn’t let them even think of airbrushing women and girls out of that catalog.

  2. sunny says

    they are letting half their intellectual capital go to waste

    Does it matter? They have oil on tap and the West by the b***s.

    Of course, Birgitta Ohlsson is “Islamophobic”.

  3. fastlane says

    I think the US should offer amnesty to any woman wanting to leave a middle eastern country.

    Let’s see how long their monarchy lasts then!

  4. says

    This is so reminiscent of the airbrushing out of Hillary Clinton in a Haredic newspaper. Religious fundamentalists of all stripes, irrespective of their creed, hate women – this simple and pervasive fact never fails to amaze me nonetheless.

    But I never realized that IKEA would buy into this whole cultural relativism business. What they have done is wrong, just plain wrong.

  5. Walton says

    I think the US should offer [asylum] to any woman wanting to leave a middle eastern country.

    Indeed it should. In fact, I’d go further: immigration controls themselves are an artifact of racism and should be abolished. I’ve been saying this for some time.

    To run with your example from this thread: under the present system of immigration controls, a Saudi woman who arrived in the UK, fleeing sexist oppression, would probably find herself detained in an immigration detention centre. (At the Yarl’s Wood detention centre, women detainees – many of them survivors of torture and rape – went on hunger strike in 2010 to protest the conditions of their detention, and were locked up and denied medical treatment..) If she’s released from detention, she won’t be allowed to work and will be expected to survive on minimal state support while her asylum claim is pending. The UKBA interviewers may shame her and refuse to believe her when she claims asylum, and she’s likely to have to endure multiple tribunal hearings – reliving the trauma she’s suffered over and over again. And if she’s unlucky and loses her appeal, she’ll be marched on to a plane, in chains (in the custody of a private security contractor with a record of brutality), and deported to Saudi Arabia. Or left destitute in the streets.

    And why? Why are we so scared that people from foreign countries might come to live here? It’s all grounded in racism. Overwhelmingly, immigration controls are targeted at excluding people of colour from developing countries. When right-wingers rant about the need to reduce immigration, it isn’t white backpackers from Canada they’re panicking about.

    I also think you made a good point – if there were true global freedom of movement, it would hasten the collapse of Islamist and other authoritarian regimes. It’s harder for a tyrant to maintain power when people can just leave.

    (Sorry, I know it’s a little off-topic for the thread, but I do think it’s ultimately relevant. There is something that our governments can do to help women oppressed under Islamist regimes, and that something is to open the borders.)

  6. Walton says

    Ophelia, sorry if I was derailing the thread with my comment. (It’s gone into moderation due to too many links.) Feel free not to post it if you think it was too far off topic.

  7. bmiller says

    I especially love the reduction of women to “intellectual capital” and the implication that eternal economic competition and growth is the be all of human existance. IKEA is a fundamentalist organization in service to the religion of Mammon. LOL

  8. Mary Kerr says

    Is there any contact info available for the IKEA head office in Sweden where one could register a complaint regarding this unacceptable pandering to these women hating Saudi’s, what are they thinking I will not be patronizing them until they rectify this.

  9. hypatiasdaughter says

    Oooohh, the hypocrisies. Islamic cultures have historically “banned” the depiction of all human forms, not just Mohammed, to prevent lapsing into idolatry.
    In an age of television, newspapers and movies, it must be hard to maintain this standard and they are slip sliding into modernization by permitting images of men and children to appear.
    I’ll bet the women were obliterated because they weren’t decently covered from head to foot in their black bedsheets.

  10. xmaseveeve says

    The inclusion of the kid in the towel is a worry, when you think about ‘The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan’. If you haven’t seen that documentary, it is an absolute eye-opener to Islamic male culture.

  11. dirigible. says

    “Islamic cultures have historically “banned” the depiction of all human forms, not just Mohammed”

    Citation needed.

  12. Foob says

    I thought removing Clara Guasch from the photo of the designers of the collection was a particularly amazing touch. If I twist around enough I could almost see the logic of removing a few models from the photos, but removing one of the designers is just gross.

  13. Jenny B says


    perhaps i can help with that, a lil extract from ‘the future of islam’ by John L. Esposito

    ‘if a muslim values any person or thing more than god he or she is committing idolatry, the one unforgivable sin. Islamd’s uncompromising belief in the oneness or unity of god is reflected in the development of islamic art, especially in the arab world. associated anything else with god is idolatry. to avoid such a sin resulting from the depiction of human form, for example, islamic religious art tends to use calligraphy, geometric forms and arabesque designs and is thus often abstract rather than representational’

    beyond that im afraid you’d have to look at alot of islamic art to see his point heh

  14. Jenny B says

    ahem i really need to run things through spellchecker first, sowwy <– intentional btw so i dont look as silly ^_^

  15. xmaseveeve says

    They removed a designer’s photo because she’s a woman? And Ikea said that’s fine? Won’t be shopping there, then.

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