• Sweden's news in English
 

'Peeping Tom mural romanticizes harassment'

Published: 31 Jan 2013 16:33 GMT+01:00

Johansson made headlines earlier this week after an art project by ninth graders at the Tunaskolan school in Luleå ended up ruffling her feathers.

A door mural showed the customary his n' hers stick figures on the men’s and ladies’ rooms in a compromising situation – the male figure was latched onto the top of a dividing wall, allowing him to peep down on the female figure below.

“Women are always objectified,” Johansson told the regional Norrländska Socialdemokraten (NSD) newspaper this week.

“She’s this thing that should be looked at. And that’s the message they’re projecting in a school with a lot of young children,” said Johansson about the installation at the school, where fourth to ninth graders study.

"And no one reacts when you point this out because there is so much sexism in everyday life."

Johansson had mulled over her upset feelings for several days before publicizing her critique in a Facebook post. At first there wasn’t much feedback.

Yet, people eventually did react. Not only did Johansson hear rumours that several students were considering confronting her, without ever doing it in person, but the school’s art teacher decided to survey the other children about how they felt about the picture.

“Ninety-nine percent of students don’t find this picture offensive and don't want it removed,” a note entitled “pupil democracy” and posted near the restroom door read.

The principal, meanwhile, commented to NSD that she chose to interpret the artwork “with humour”.

And thus the fracas seemed to die down, until social media users and the national press caught whiff of the story.

Several heavyweight commentators lined up to defend and applaud the 14-year-old for standing up against her blazé peers, the morally relativistic art teacher and the “fun-loving” principal.

”What’s more upsetting than the provocative mural is how the school reacted to her criticism and how they treated Astrid,” wrote journalist Malin Michea in the Sourze.se online magazine about the bullying that ensued.

Alongside the “pupil democracy” note, several printouts of negative online reactions to Johansson’s discontent were posted by the mural:

“How can you feel violated by this? How is that psychologically possible? Don’t people have real problems in their lives?” read one of the printouts.

Johansson says that even some of the teachers giggled behind her back.

“No one has talked to me about it,” she told Michea. “Neither the staff nor other students. They’re just silent.”

The school did respond, however, online in a written statement.

"We have chosen not to give voice to any value judgements in the debate that our mural has caused."

Commentator Malin Michea was not impressed by the school's official line of reasoning:

"In a society inundated with sexist stereotypes... the school shouldn't hesitate to promote values of equality and justice and not accept a picture that trivializes sexual crimes," she wrote.

Finally, on Thursday, news broke that the principal had ordered the removal of the mural.

And Johansson herself has underlined that she thinks the school skirting responsibility is unacceptable, because the teachers are there to teach the students about right and wrong.

She welcomed the mural's removal but said that the principal, Agneta Hedenström, still didn’t seem to understand the problem.

“I don’t feel like they’ve taken the criticism on board,” Johansson told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

“They have to admit to being wrong and they need to shape up.”

The Local/at

Follow The Local on Twitter

RELATED: A list of The Local's past Swedes of the Week

Your comments about this article

16:48 January 31, 2013 by colombianska_tjej
Then draw a picture of the woman peeping on the man. Suddenly is considered less sexist and even more, shows "rebellion" against sexism, reversing roles and more mumbo jumbo. Just in case, I am a woman and I find it funny, and in no way I am offended.

Too much PC, in my opinion.
17:08 January 31, 2013 by skogsbo
Another person to avoid employing when she eventually grows up.
17:14 January 31, 2013 by Svensksmith
I've got as much humor as the next guy, but don't find the mural to be appropriate or funny. Why not show some guy in the stall choking his chicken?
17:50 January 31, 2013 by Migga
I agree with this girl that the sign is ridiculous and see no reason why it shouldn`t be removed. With that said I`d like to make a point. These little things get more focus and attention then some other real sues that excist in Sweden today. Muslim women are treated like secondary citizens and the Swedish feminists say nothing to solve the problems. They are to scared to say anything because they don`t wanna be labeld as islamophobes, it`s sad.
18:39 January 31, 2013 by Seamus Sean
I thought she was a pain when she was in "Family Ties" with Michael J Fox also!
19:34 January 31, 2013 by Irishmanabroad
She is a bit judgemental. It could be one female friend leaning over to talk to another female friend. Who says it isn't one gay guy leaning over to talk to his transexual friend? I can't believe she has been taught to think that men and women are so pigeon holed. Shame!
21:05 January 31, 2013 by dizzymoe33
@Irishmanabroad

You can clearly see in the picture it is a male figure not another woman looking over the wall.

I have a wonderful sense of humor but I do not see any humor in this picture. It is objectifying women/girls and should be taken down. It is really a sad state of affairs when the adults can't even see it is inappropriate. I am glad this young woman stuck to her guns and didn't let it go.
21:37 January 31, 2013 by skogsbo
Can't anybody see the creative side in this picture? Why take everything in life so seriously.
22:29 January 31, 2013 by oddsock
Speaking of bathroom sexism, anyone ever noticed that toilets in government buildings/libraries/stations/universities in Sweden have no urinals? It's a part of a long campaign to outlaw penis use.
00:22 February 1, 2013 by Svensksmith
It's as if the school is promoting vouyerism...not funny.
00:49 February 1, 2013 by Reason and Realism
This reminds me somewhat of the recent decision by the municipal government of Uppsala to waste tax payer money by ripping down perfectly good crosswalk signs because the silhouette of the woman on these signs was slightly too attractive, and ordering ones having uglier female silhouettes to replace them.

Or the other recent decision to ban a poster for a children's film that had a bunch of ameoba shaped cartoon characters on it, some with spots and zig zags and crazy hair and angry faces, simply because one of these characters (frankly one of the better looking ones) was black.

The image here is clearly intended to be humourous, by its use of conventional stick figures of the types in airport signage in an unconventional arrangement. The image can also be viewed as an insult to teenage boys, who (it is implied) go through a girl crazy phase, and will even scale bathroom stall walls just to get a look at a girl.

I think those people who get extra upset by this know deep down that it is nearly trivial, and try to compensate for their doubts about its triviality with their histrionics. Not that big a deal, folks. Read post number 1.
08:34 February 1, 2013 by RobinHood
The head was quite right to remove the picture. Her duty is to protect the school, and all its children (including Astrid), from unwanted and unhelpful attention. The poster, right or wrong, was attracting harmful attention.

By making this child its "Swede Of The Week" the Local has not shown the same wisdom. Astrid is a child and, right or wrong, is not a tool of the media, nor the numerous feminists and so called gender experts currently celebrating her. Even if she courted their attention in the first place. Some children have to be protected from themselves,as well as from the media, and those who do not act in her best interests.

Please think again, The Local, before making a child your "Swede Of The Week".
11:07 February 1, 2013 by muscle
nothing funny in it. the picture should be removed at least from the kids school!
16:11 February 1, 2013 by Swede_lee
I just have to say that I think that when it comes to schools where we are supposed to at least try to protect our children from abusive and too much adult-hood life! This girl does the right thing! You should never ever imply any kind of crime on miniors like this! If you see this kind of art at an exhibition or online on an adult site it is a total other thing.

Let children be children for as long as posible, leave offensive material out of their lives, the bullying in schools are really enough! (Even that should be taken out) This girl was even bullyed at school for standing up! And when the bad got worse she still stood strong and did not change her mind. That is a true hero in my world.

And by the way all time a girl stick her neck out saying that something is wrong the guys at Avpixlat goes trolling all over the place! We need people to stand up against that too!
17:27 February 1, 2013 by rise
Clearly sexism towards teenage boys to picturing them behaving like that!
18:11 February 1, 2013 by johann2340
This picture is not fair, it is sexist - it depicts boys as sex-criminals and girls as helpless victims.

I wonder if they draw a picture of a boy peeping on a girl, same as the removed picture, but the girl is 'cleaning' his face with a toilet brush as response of his peeping, will it also be removed? - or is this 'female empowerment?
20:04 February 1, 2013 by ann2
"What's more upsetting than the provocative mural is how the school reacted to her criticism and how they treated Astrid," wrote journalist Malin Michea in the Sourze.se online magazine about the bullying that ensued.

Yes!

Just so Swedish. The following quotes are exactly what I would expect from Swedish group behavior.

Not only did Johansson hear rumours that several students were considering confronting her, without ever doing it in person, but the school's art teacher decided to survey the other children about how they felt about the picture.

Alongside the "pupil democracy" note, several printouts of negative online reactions to Johansson's discontent were posted by the mural:

Johansson says that even some of the teachers giggled behind her back.

"No one has talked to me about it," she told Michea. "Neither the staff nor other students. They're just silent."

. . . . the principal, Agneta Hedenström, still didn't seem to understand the problem.

"I don't feel like they've taken the criticism on board," Johansson told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.
22:45 February 1, 2013 by Jackdempsey187
Good for her! Too many muzzles in society.
14:39 February 2, 2013 by k2kats
Brava to Astrid for speaking out!

If this article is accurate, the school's response (substituting convention and 9th grader's consensus for common sense and morality) is appalling.
06:35 February 7, 2013 by sigfus45
A good start to joining the ranks of the perpetually offended and annoyingly political correct.
10:58 February 7, 2013 by Max Reaver
normally i wouldnt agree to making such a big deal of those signs.

but, we are dealing with kids, and because of that, its better to remove them.
Today's headlines
Royal princess couple to quit Stockholm for UK
Chris O'Neill and Princess Madeleine of Sweden. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/SCANPIX

Royal princess couple to quit Stockholm for UK

Princess Madeleine of Sweden is set to leave her native country and move to London with her British-American banker husband Chris O'Neill, the Royal Court confirmed on Wednesday. READ  

Mediterranean migrant crisis
Sweden learns of new EU migrant quota details
Migrants arriving in Italy. Photo: AP Photo/Carmelo Imbesi

Sweden learns of new EU migrant quota details

Sweden has been told to help relocate 821 migrants who have arrived in Italy and 548 who have travelled to Greece as part of the European Commission's controversial plans to ensure refugees are spread more evenly across member states. READ  

Interview
Swedish mum makes kids' dolls with genitals
Some of Julia Taube's dolls. Photo: MyIDolls

Swedish mum makes kids' dolls with genitals

A Swedish mum-of-three has started making her own hyper-realistic dolls, designed to challenge gender stereotypes. The Local spoke to Julia Taube as she prepared to put the toys on sale, despite a backlash in one of the world's most equal nations. READ  

Are Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Swedish memoirs fake?
Sweden's controversial football star Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Are Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Swedish memoirs fake?

Football fans all over Europe were sent into a mad social media frenzy on Wednesday after the ghost writer of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's autobiography let slip that none of the quotes in the book came from the Swedish footballer himself. READ  

Sweden puffs up outdoor smoking ban proposals
A Swedish woman smoking outdoors. Photo: TT

Sweden puffs up outdoor smoking ban proposals

Plans for an outdoor smoking plan in Sweden are hotting up with reports that a majority of politicians in the Swedish parliament will back plans to stop people lighting up on terraces and in beer gardens. READ  

Opinion
'Culture debates are meant to stop questions'
Stockholm University Library. Photo: Simon Paulin/Image Bank Sweden

'Culture debates are meant to stop questions'

After Norwegian literary legend Karl Ove Knausgård accused Swedes of being narrow-minded 'cyclops' (one-eyed giants from Greek mythology), Stockholm University business lecturer Carl Cederstöm argues that his fellow countrymen and women should learn to offer more sophisticated cultural debates. READ  

The Local List
Six essential shopping spots in Stockholm
Exclusive shopping street Biblioteksgatan in Stockholm's Östermalm district. Photo: TT

Six essential shopping spots in Stockholm

Sweden has a reputation for style and the nation's capital is a haven for shopaholics - once you know where to go. Here's The Local's beginner's guide to Stockholm's shopping scene in 2015, from the latest designer stores and independent boutiques to handy malls. READ  

'Rotten’ business claims at Nordic TeliaSonera
A TeliaSonera conference in Stockholm last year. Photo: TT

'Rotten’ business claims at Nordic TeliaSonera

Swedish-Finnish telecom operator TeliaSonera has been accused of “rotten” business dealings in Azerbaijan, following a separate bribery scandal in Uzbekistan. READ  

Presented by ConnectSweden
The millionaire teacher who leads by tough love
Barbara Bergström, founder of Internationella Engelska Skolan. File photo: IES

The millionaire teacher who leads by tough love

Barbara Bergström, founder of Internationella Engelska Skolan, talks about what’s wrong with Swedish schools, international teacher recruitment, and why she's not above cleaning toilets. READ  

Bones of missing Swede confirmed in US town
Larkspur Landing, in California, where Elisabeth Martinsson was last seen. Photo: Pedro Xing. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

Bones of missing Swede confirmed in US town

US coroners have officially identified the skeletal remains of a 21-year-old Swedish student who went missing in California over three decades ago and have relaunched a murder investigation. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
Why expat women are choosing Swedish natural birth control
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Your May sun snaps
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: Nine questions every expat should ask
National
Russian veterans' Nazi attack on Ikea
Sponsored Article
What it's like to be a student in Malmö
Blog updates

26 May

Vet, kan, känner eller känner till? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! It happens every now and then that my students mix up the words “vet”, “kan”, “känner”..." READ »

 

24 May

 (Joel Sherwood) »

"Real American men don’t watch Eurovision. New video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQk5dUhGt-w ..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Avicii confirms royal wedding DJ gig
Sponsored Article
Kristin Amparo: 'Swedes are afraid to be proud'
Gallery
Property of the week: Lugnvik, Östersund
Sponsored Article
'No one tells expats about unemployment benefits'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Eurovision winner Måns Zelmerlöw through the years
Gallery
People-watching: May 22nd-23rd
National
Why are Sweden's beaches among the worst in Europe?
National
VIDEO: Can you get your tongue around Sweden's word for 'nurse'?
National
How two million Swedes are designing a 'house of clicks'
National
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Five facts you need to know about Sweden's Eurovision entry
National
Why do one in three Swedes want to join Nato?
Features
What to do in Stockholm this summer
Gallery
People-watching: May 20th
National
How Sweden and Saudi Arabia got back on speaking term after row
Gallery
Property of the week: Västra hamnen, Malmö
Sponsored Article
'There is no such thing as Swedish values'
National
Why is support for the Sweden Democrats at a record high?
Sponsored Article
ConnectSweden: Examining Sweden's place in the world
Gallery
People-watching: May 15th - 17th
National
VIDEO: Swedish man's roar scares off charging bear
National
'Gang conflict' linked to latest Gothenburg attack
National
RECIPE: How to make Panna cotta with cloudberry jam
Sponsored Article
'Educated immigrants get stuck in limbo in Sweden'
National
Sweden backs migrant sharing plan
National
Swedish boozing on the rise
National
Why Sweden's deputy PM was forced to apologize for Auschwitz analogy
National
End of the road for Julian Assange's arrest appeal?
Features
Booked to go to one of Sweden's sizzling music festivals yet?
National
Meet the Swedish boy who used to be a girl
Sponsored Article
How to change the world: Malmö to Mogadishu
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Estelle through the years
National
Why is obesity ballooning in Sweden?
National
VIDEO: The bizarre Swedish nurses song that's gone viral
National
Ecuador stray dog Arthur in Swedish charity race
National
UK expert: 'Sweden's current military state is alarming'
National
Elfdalian: a real language spoken in central Sweden in 2015
National
Is King's love for house tracks behind new military music?
Gallery
Property of the week: Hjortnäs, Leksand
National
Sex-crazed grouse terrorizes Swedes
National
IN PICTURES: Sweden's King Carl XVI turns 69
National
Dolphins spotted in Baltic
Gallery
People-watching: May 1st-3rd
Sponsored Article
'Never waste a good crisis'
National
Road trippers flock to 'The Bridge'
National
Why are Swedish supermarkets banning paracetamol pills?
Gallery
People watching: April 29th
National
"In many ways Swedes and Americans are kindred spirits"
Swedish Hasbeens
Sponsored Article
Is the world wrong to connect Sweden with sex?
Sponsored Article
'Impossible' to run Skanska without Bromma Airport
Sponsored Article
Want to study in Sweden? Read why Stockholm is the best choice
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

3,277
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se