Distracted Boyfriend meme is sexist, rules Swedish ad watchdog

Swedish advertising ombudsman: 'Distracted Boyfriend meme is sexist'

Swedish advertising ombudsman: 'Distracted Boyfriend meme is sexist'

Now, Sweden's advertising authority has ruled that a recruitment advertisement based on the meme - for internet company Bahnhof - is sexist.

The ombudsman can only pass judgment, not impose sanctions.

"It gives the impression that men can change female partners in the same way as changing jobs".

According to The Guardian, after the ad was posted in April, it garnered almost 1,000 comments, many from women criticizing it as sexist.

Bahnof used the meme in recruitment advertisements on Facebook, labelling the boyfriend "You", the girlfriend "Your current workplace", and the second woman "Bahnhof" which the ombudsman called gender discriminatory.

You would've been hard pressed to travel the internet lately and not see the popular Distracted Boyfriend image, which depicts a man swiveling his head backward to gawk at a woman walking in the opposite direction while his girlfriend glares at him in anger.

"The committee finds that the woman in red, who is in focus in the image, through the man's appreciative reaction is produced as a sex object", said the watchdog agency, known as RO or Reklamombudsmannen, in a ruling revealed earlier this month.

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"The advertisement objectifies women", the ombudsman, RO, said. You really don't want to attract women to your company 2. "You really don't want to attract sensible guys either", said commenter, Susanne Lahti Hagbard". It's a meme that has become ubiquitous in recent times - 'Distracted Boyfriend'. The Swedish ad watchdog is self-regulatory, meaning it can't legally force the company to take down the posts. This is the typical use of the meme-not to use it as a vehicle to objectify women, but to illustrate other abstract ideas.

Bahnhof responded to the criticism in a Facebook post, saying: "Anyone familiar with the Internet and meme culture knows how this meme is used and interpreted". Gender is usually irrelevant in the context.

The meme originated from a stock image filed by Spanish photographer Antonio Guillem in 2015.

"We explained both the objective of the image and meme-culture for the regulator but they have chosen to interpret the post in a different way".

According to the website Know Your Meme, the image first appeared in the popular format with the trio of captions in January 2017 on Facebook, when it was about Phil Collins turning from rock to pop.

According to The Local, the ombudsman "acknowledged the humorous intent of the picture and the fact it had been widely shared by other individuals and companies, but added that even well-known memes may not be mainstream".

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