The website “Stalkholmed” is explained as a large-scale art project, meant to engage the citizens of Stockholm in a “thought-exercise that explores the issues of gender and privacy”.
“As a general question, why is it widely perceived as acceptable to view women as passive, sexual objects, but not men?,” it says on the website.
“And in a contradictory double-standard, is it more acceptable to ‘stalk’ male subway passengers, while many people exhibit a visceral reaction if the subjects were instead changed to women?”
However, there’s no denying that the ultimate purpose of the site is simply to share “candid pictures of handsome gentlemen”, something three young Stockholm men had mixed feelings about.
“I’d be surprised if someone took a ‘stalker photo’ of me and then I found that picture on a website, without knowing anything about it,” Darko Hussein said.
“If the comments were good it’d be okay,” his friend Lawend Barwari laughed.
“But still a little bit scary,” Piotr Popowicz added.
None of the three were sure whether they would have been more shocked had the website featured snaps of women.
“We’re all individuals with individual feelings,” Hussein said, “so I don’t know if it had been different.”
But Hanna-Saga Nygårds, 22, had a clear opinion on the topic.
“Had I been told that people were snapping pictures of good-looking women and posting them on the internet, I would have immediately thought it was disgusting and terrible,” she said.
“But now that it’s men, I find myself thinking it is more okay, just because it’s women doing it to men. But really, no, it’s not okay.”
Nygårds said she could have guessed the website had an underlying political agenda as well, seeing that objectifying men isn’t as common as the other way around.
But she wasn’t sure if it’s necessarily the most effective way to go about starting up a discussion on equality.
“I think it’s the wrong way to handle these issues,” she explained.
“My first, spontaneous reaction, is that it has gone too far. There is something repulsive about it, that you can take a picture on the tube and then publish it without that person’s knowledge, and then let people comment on their looks.”
However, the concept of stalker photos of men is not a new one.
In March of 2011 the British website “TubeCrush” was created as a “drunken joke” by a group of friends. It has since become immensely popular, and led to the recent launch of the New York version, “SubwayCrush”.
The new Swedish site, however, is not connected to its predecessors and is unique in that it has a political agenda and isn’t just about broadcasting good looks on the internet.
Although, needless to say, showing off handsome, young Swedes to the rest of the world is still a large part of it.