Go get them, Göran – let them books burn for the good cause of moral purity and spottless political correctness!
Last week, Sweden's advertising trade magazine Resumé revealed some sensational news that have not been widely quoted or debated. As we speak, a most un-holy political alliance consisting of the ruling Social Democrats, the ex-communist Left, the Greens, and, coming in from the right, the Christian Democrats, have joined forces to quickly pass a new law which will outlaw, once and for all, all “sexist“ expressions in advertising and marketing – to begin with. In the Resumé article, a spokesman for the Christian Democrats threatened: “Advertising is our first priority, but we will also look at the editorial side“.
I'm sure many will see this new law as just another natural and logical step in the ongoing moralistic purifying process sweeping through our political society, as we already have the western world's most restrictive practice for sexism in advertising, save for the exception of Norway. Some are also likely to dismiss it all as a cheap and symbolic political price for the Social Democrats to pay to keep the Left and the Greens quiet and loyal in the upcoming electorial campaign. I doubt that we'll see many voices speaking up against this reform, as anxiety of being labeled as a sexist creep, I'm afraid, is probably more acute to most than the concern for freedom of expression.
To me, it's scary. It reeks of burning books and older, darker times; a discreet and subtle, very reasonable and well-meaning kind of tyranny. Who will be the ones to be entrusted with the judgement of what is sexist and what is not, in advertising as well as in editorials? I have an eerie feeling of who they might be. Personally, we should perhaps be greatful that we're not publishing our magazine Stockolm New any more once this new law is passed – they could have had us tarred and feathered for each new issue. Our Prime Minister Göran Persson speaks of the urgent need to strike back against ”the sexualization of our public space”, a favorite pc cliché of the day. So what's with this hypocrite neo-moralism anyway? What has become of these schizofrenic times, when 12-year kids shave their genitals but where we can no longer see even topless sunbathers in the parks and where infants are dressed up in swimming trunks and bikinis when going to the beeach? All of this in Sweden, this land that used to be known as a haven for sexual liberation and freedom of mind, remember? And now: de-sexualization of our "public space" – how wonderfully resonable a perspective...
I can only once again repeat my favorite quote from my favorite photographer (when will they come to confiscate his books from me?):
”Of course I'm a feminist. I love women. But I can't stand the politically correct. It reminds me of my youth in Nazi Germany.”
- Helmut Newton
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