Swedish feminist demands Ryanair boycott

Swedish feminist demands Ryanair boycott
Birgitta Ohlsson, one of Sweden’s most prominent feminist politicians, has called for a consumer boycott of Ryanair in response to the discount airline’s attitudes about an ad deemed sexist by a Swedish advertising trade group.

“Consumers should vote with their money,” Ohlsson told The Local.

“It’s my duty as a feminist politician to name and shame companies like this.”

Ohlsson felt it was “very sad” that Ryanair chose to run the controversial advert, adding she was disappointed at the company’s cavalier attitude toward a recent finding by Sweden’s Trade Ethical Council against Sexism in Advertising (ERK) that the ad was sexist.

“Ryanair is relying on old fashioned, outdated values and they’re proud of it,” she said.

Earlier in the week, Ryanair dismissed the ERK ruling as coming from a group of “old farts” and suggested that ERK’s attitudes aren’t in line with the “famously liberal and easy going Swedes”.

The controversial ad, which ran in 2007 to coincide with a back to school airfare sale, depicts a woman in a skimpy school girl’s outfit, which ERK found “offensive to women in general”.

Ohlsson is particularly irked by Ryanair’s claim that the ad was in line with “liberal” values.

“The ad isn’t funny and liberal, it’s old-fashioned and conservative,” she said.

Nevertheless, Ohlsson added that she has no plans to pursue further measures to punish Ryanair or other sexist advertisers.

“I’m not calling for a ban at all; that would be anti-liberal and infringe on freedom of expression,” she said.

Ohlsson also emphasized that she wasn’t trying to make a statement about the way girls and women dress.

“I’m not some sort of dress code police,” she said.

“Girls should absolutely be able to dress any way they want.”

Ohlsson said her statements about Ryanair have already helped raise awareness among Swedish consumers.

“There needs to be an open discussion about these sorts of things,” she said, noting that she had received a flurry of emails and telephone calls from different corners of Swedish society who are disappointed in Ryanair.

“It’s really too bad; I used to regard them as a straightforward and modern company,” she said.