IKEA’s Literal Erasure of Women

The catalogue photo to the left was released in Sweden; the one to the right was released in Saudi. To the right, the woman has conspicuously vanished from the photo.

While I don’t deny that this is indicative of Saudi’s approach to sexual equality–and a degree of very poignant and disturbed reactions followed after I viewed this photograph–and of the erasure of women in Saudi from the face of the earth, I’m furious with those who assert that IKEA is not to blame. Saudi did not ask for women to vanish from the IKEA catalogues distributed in its blasphemous anti-Islamic country, and that is a terrible (and racist) defense of IKEA: the political atmosphere in Saudi is no excuse to assume that sales would plummet if women were shown in catalogues.

To IKEA’s credit, the company did apologize, insisting that they had betrayed their values with the erasure. Frankly, I don’t believe they are really sorry. You can’t make a mistake this massive without demonstrating you really don’t give a fuck. Capitalism without morality–and the anti-thesis of patriotism. IKEA did not betray its own values: it betrayed Sweden’s. This is what happens when corporations forget their roots.

6 thoughts on “IKEA’s Literal Erasure of Women

  1. Umm, IKEA’s a Swedish company; I don’t see how it could be betraying American values when there’s no reason to expect it to hold them. That said, it certainly betrays Swedish values, given that Sweden is one of the more gender-equal countries in the world. In fact, I’d argue that about the original picture, as I’m 90% sure that baby is a boy, making this a 3:1 male:female ratio.


  2. Pingback: Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion « Clarissa's Blog

  3. rootedinbeing

    The only value for business is making money. Unless caught they do whatever the hell they please. Oil of Olay sells racist skin whitening creams in Asia, creams that would have people calling them on their racism if sold here in the States. Olay pushes White and Western definitions of beauty in non western countries because they can capitalize on privilege and sell the fantasy to those who buy into it. Good business, according to marketers. Gotta love globalization.

    Exxon has oil spills in Nigeria that they are refusing to pay for or clean up, some pipes still leak to this day – polluting the waters the locals fish from. Does Exxon care? Hell no. Unless they are caught and brought to mainstream media, then they will apologize – but only because they may lose business if they don’t.

    Ikea doesn’t give a shit that it erased women, it only gives a shit because it was caught and needs to have good PR.



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