Monday, October 1, 2012

Saudi IKEA's Misogynistic Madness

I might have gotten out of bed with the wrong foot as we say in Finland, but I noticed something so disturbing today that I just HAD to rant a little bit about it. I mean this is complete and utter madness. So Dumb. Disturbs me what kind of sickos and women haters are out there.

This is the source of my headache, an article in the Swedish Metro magazine this morning: http://www.metro.se/nyheter/kvinnor-gar-inte-att-retuschera-bort/EVHlja!2mPseJ6LPTrK2/
So the new IKEA catalogs are out and can be viewed online at their site www.ikea.com.
All the countries have pretty much the same stuff on offer and the catalogs look the same. Except for of course Saudi-Arabia, the so called model country of Islam.

What's different in the Saudi IKEA catalog then? Can anyone take a wild guess?
They censored it. ALL THE IMAGES OF WOMEN have magically disappeared from the Saudi version. A misogynistic airbrusher has vandalized the entire catalog.

You might have seen how they censor stuff in Saudi-Arabia before, like blacking out half clad women from the swimming pool packages or placing white tape on celebrity decolletages, drawing imaginary black leggings and T-shirts on women in the women's magazines or spray painting the bare skin parts black. Heck they even black out the word PORK from food items.
I can understand why some of the censoring is done in Saudi-Arabia if I really really try hard to block most of my brain activity while at the same placing my head in a very narrow tunnel. But people, this is a furniture catalog, OK? Who the hell needs to censor a furniture catalog anyways?

Take a tour of the Saudisized IKEA here: http://imagesofsaudi.blogspot.com/2012/02/saudi-ikea-experience.html
The censorship at the actual Riyadh IKEA store has always creeped me out. Check this out:
 What on earth was going on in their minds when they decided to do that? It's just the babies mother for God's sake!
How about this? The woman is fully covered! Looks like someone has some serious issues with women.

As a woman I find this highly offensive and insulting. This must also be the height of hypocrisy. I wonder how many of the men responsible for this stupidity have maids (as in unrelated females) living in their houses? I would guess 99%.

What is the point to remove all the women from the Saudi catalog? Women do exist. What are these misogynist men trying to accomplish by this, trying to imagine women don't exist? Do they not watch the news or TV at all? Do they not go to malls or grocery stores? Images of women are everywhere in Saudi-Arabia! Heck there is even REAL uncovered women out there on the streets of the conservative capital Riyadh. Should they be blocked from public view too? Even the women's magazines that are allowed in the Magic Kingdom are not censored like this. So why IKEA?

I wonder how IKEA as a Scandinavian company is even agreeing to this. Sweden is one of the most gender equal countries in the world. What a mockery this is to equality of women. This is oppression of women. What an absolute shame and disgrace that is going on with Saudi IKEA. I feel insulted as a Scandinavian. As if the women are indecent or shameful and thus needed to be removed. These are normal everyday images of women, of mothers with children in their homes, not of women posing in sexy positions in bikinis or miniskirts.

What do these people think, that Saudi men can't handle a few images of mostly fully clad women? Are Saudi men expected to be so sex deprived they would go crazy to see these tempting Swedish women? Do these perverted minds assume all men think like them and would take the magazine into the bathroom for some "private viewing"? How disgusting. Is someone out there really this sick? For the life of me I can't understand what is wrong with this picture of a family brushing their teeth together:

And in the Saudi version the mother has disappeared. I find this very sad that someone thought she needed to be removed. What kind sick minds are these?
This is the scene from the normal catalog kitchen section, the screen shot taken from the UAE catalog. How are the UAE men able to handle the images of women btw?



You would think that women naturally appear in the kitchens right? Not in Saudi! They also removed the man though. But hey, by taking a closer look we can see the woman looks Asian. Wouldn't this be a scene from a typical Saudi home then? An unrelated, uncovered Asian woman working in the kitchen, mixing with the Saudi males of the family. Why is it totally fine in the home but not in the catalog? Can anyone say double standards?
Maybe they removed the guy too so that Saudi women don't get any ideas of hiring male maids! God forbid an unrelated male mixing with Saudi women. What would the world turn into.

Another image from the real world. A family cooking happily together, father, grandfather, mother, children all joyfully together. What is so wrong with this image that Saudi-Arabia can't handle it?

First of all scenes like this just don't exist in Saudi homes. Better to remove the grandpa (although he looks culturally acceptable with his muttawa-look) and the father so that Saudi women won't get any ideas in their heads that men do actually cook in countries like Sweden and thus become too demanding on the Saudi men. The woman is dressed so indecently that she needs to be removed straight away. The kids are helping to set up the table. What! Helping?? Where is the maid? Totally unacceptable to make children to do housework. This is what it should look like:

Except that the magic deleting wand forgot the wine bottle on the table. What a horrific mistake! Someone might some bad ideas from that!
How about this image. Honestly I can't even tell which one is the woman immediately. She seems to be dressed just like the male counterparts. But because she's a woman..DELETE.

How ridiculous can this get really? The entire catalog is full of examples like this. Why does the IKEA censor hate women so much they need to be completely deleted from the catalog? Above all how could IKEA, which is a company based on family values and comes from a country once chosen as the best country for women to live in, accept this misogynistic madness? Are women not welcome into the Saudi-Arabian IKEA stores?


Edit: IKEA has issued a statement saying it regrets its decision saying "We should have reacted and realized that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalog is in conflict with the IKEA Group values." http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444592404578030274200387136.html?mod=WSJUK_hps_LEFTTopWhatNews

72 comments:

I'm Farsilla said...

sexist much i guess

Silla

Noor said...

This country just takes steps backs how sad.

LM said...
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Maha said...
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Anonymous said...

I have noticed that even little girl's are blacked out sometimes. I have also seen young men snapping shots of mannequins in the malls. All of this seems so perverted to me.
Rahma

Yunnan said...

This is really disturbing, but it reflects just as badly on the company, who, at some level, were either complicit in, or ignorant to, this airbrushing. Perhaps some of the photos just don't represent what Saudi households would look like, and so I could understand that 'whole family cooking in the kitchen' might just be a bit of a culture shock, but then just have NO people appearing in the catalogue. The selective disappearance of only women is just too sinister.

However, I could probably imagine that - with images of women so sterilised everywhere else - that IKEA catalogues of swedish women with a modicum of skin *would* probably appear pretty scandalous to some. And do you think perhaps there's also an issue of the women being white as well, that makes the pictures seem extra racy (hah, unintended pun)?

Hope said...

OMG I am so disgusted!! I would not have been so surprised if this was a saudi-store, however, given that its a Scandanivian one, I am in shock!!! that only gives me NO HOPE that the new FINNISH school they're building wouldn't be influenced by such ignorance. The sad thing is this is not Arab culture nor ISLAM. They really need to wake up and LEARN how to CO-EXIST with their equal counterparts.

Yaelian said...

Minun on vaikeaa kuvitella IKEAn luettelo tuolla tavoin retusoituna...Mitäköhän IKEAn oma väki tuosta ajattelee....

sessi said...

Unbelievable. No words. Really.
Seikkis

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Laylah said...

yes things like these are always depressing.

Laylah said...

Why did they also remove female children then? I don't think there is anything wrong with displaying women as mothers. Sweden respects mothers very highly..

Laylah said...

Snapping shots of mannequins? Never saw that one before! That's what living in such an inhumane environment does to some people I guess. It's not normal for human nature to hide all women (images and real) from public. I find it sick.

Laylah said...

I noticed there were women of many races and skin colors in the original catalog and all have been removed so I don't think that's an extra issue.
Ikea knew this was going on but accepted it and are now apologetic saying it was a mistake which is hard to believe.

Laylah said...

Hope you would be surprised to know how many Muslims really think this is Islam..Mainly brainwashed western converts.

Laylah said...

Yaelian-kuulemma ovat pahoillaan etta 'paasi lipsahtamaan" ya right!

LM said...
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Muslima Helen said...

Well, however I don't think women should be deleted out of such pictures or have their face blacked out, it's known that it's a sin in islam to look at an uncovered woman. But it's very contradictional with the unislamic things happening there though.

In Iran, the Dutch newspaper (that was ordered by a Dutch guy, living in Iran), has been totally censured. Everything haram has been taped, just for a 2 dollar newspaper, all that effort! Its here:

http://www.nrc.nl/inbeeld/2012/09/28/zo-ziet-nrc-handelsblad-eruit-in-iran-gecensureerd/

Anonymous said...

Wow..this is freaky..i understand the religious way of thinking in terms of blocking out half naked women from photos ie: bikini or lingerie but as anon said it is a little perverted when they are deleting little girls from the photos as well as well-dresses women. The fact that they keep male figures shows its not religiously connected to the idea of "photos of humans are haram" but its more linked towarads females and their tempting ways. This is what will cause serious distortions within the male populations way of thinking towards women. I think segregation is definitely part of Islam but there is an extreme that it can be taken to. There is a huge problem in a society when men are so sexually deprived they find an ankle or a wrist to be exciting. now this is when things start to get scary.
Yes in the west we are de-sensitised to sexual things and men have another problem which is that they may not get excited about hardly anything because u turn on the tv and its soft core porn. There needs to be the balance and that is what Islam gave us. I do not think this is what things where like in the days of the Sahaba.
#Julia

Anonymous said...

Im a convert and i do not view this to be Islamically correct. I don't think you should bulge us into one group..not fair.
#Julia

Umm Gamar said...

Sick is all I can say. I beg to differ about the last part of your comment though Laylah, since my western convert friends know what is Islam. However, it is a great tool for people who hates Islam and hates the idea of God to make use of this information against Islam, regardless of the many VALID information out there that states it isn't Islam at all! Cannot wait for those kind of comments (sarcasm).

Anonymous said...

I agree with yunnan its also the light skin factor (damn those saudi men must have binoculars for eyes they probably don't even blink in case they miss something) LOL..arabs are obsessed with attainting light skin and that word doesn't even touch on the topic.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

That is really too much. I am totally ok with them airbrushing a naked butt or overthetop cleavage on something giant like a poster (which seems only to happen here in Oman in magazine covers that are displayed on the front of shelves not those in the back and top of the rack) but anything else is really demeaning to me as a woman. If they argued they believe showing images of anyhting living their Islamic reason I could see them cutting all human or animal entities ect.... but most Sunni madhabs think that photos don't count for that so... lol and yeah. Totally OK to have maids living in the same house and women have male unrelated drivers. But the ikea mother.... haraaaaaaaaaaaaam. LOL. And Maha, Islam respects women and the reason we WEAR hijab is to be part of sciety. Not to be invisible house-sitters.

Bourne69 said...

Interesting Article layla .. for me i grown up seeing all the censorship in supermarkets , pharmacies , advertisement etc. Saudi mentality belongs to the stone age

Anonymous said...

well, when your daughter grows up (16-older), you can let all the men stare at her all you want...and make sure she has no choice to cover.

now honestly, can you give me a true answer to that without going around the bush on the subject.

you are still new in the country, and will appreciate it all after many years. g

Anonymous said...

and if this was displayed in the ikea here in the states, everyone would wonder if it were a new trend or something. maybe say ''wonder what's going on with the picture and why like that'' and turn their head and keep on going. nobody would get mad or upset or care- they dont want to buy the family. you need to spend more time out of saudi, if it upsets you so much.g

♥hind♥ said...

assalam alaikum
I somehow think that your post will offend someone.
Especially brainwashed western converts and MAYBE saudi woman.
First
Who cares whats brainwashed western converts think anyways.. Ikea Saudi Arabia?
NO I dont think so.
Second
In a country where woman are harassed for not covering properly or even forced to cover more than they want - censoring pictures like that is not uncommon right?
MAybe its even to not offend Saudi woman instead of tempting saudi man.
How would you feel if your supossed to cover.. even tho you dont want to and then you go shopping and there are plenty of uncovered woman on the display...
Just my thoughts...

wasalam

Laylah said...

well said Omani Princess!

Laylah said...

I'm not going to answer such a stupid question which has nothing to do with the post anyways.

Laylah said...

I wasn't bulging anyone.. I was saying how surprising it is that the first ones who I've seen on the internet defend such actions have been female western converts. I'm also a female western convert btw :)

Laylah said...

Julia men can turn their TV on in Saudi and it's full of the same soft core porn. I agree extreme measures and segregation will only make matters worse, there needs to be a middle way.

Laylah said...

I don't see how, but that is their loss if they can't take the humor in it. Brainwashed western converts are fun!

Saudi Ikea probably only cares about how to make the most money :)

The last situation you described I'm not sure what you exactly mean here?that Saudi women don't want to cover but do anyways, and go out shopping then see images of uncovered women and get offended?

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Hope said...

Another issue is that Saudi-Women think its unfair that the uncovered women are flaunting their beauty when they have to cover in public.... ... ..... Ive heard that from alot of saudi ladies.. One of my Saudi neighbors in the US told me to never take my husband with me to Kingdom Mall because there are so many pretty uncovered women there..... They're intimidated by the uncovered women or feel insecure because their men will look and compare ..... basically they don't trust their men...
Tempted ? why are men getting tempted by the concept of a woman??? Its because the society is portraying women as sex-objects.. they're not looking at them as career ladies, mothers, teachers, docs, ... basically an essential part of society!!!!

Anonymous said...

I could not help but laugh while reading this article. You have got a great sense of humour. Your expressions are really funny. I know this is a serious topic, but I can't help but point out the obvious. Your sarcasms were a beauty. I think you should branch out a page for reviews and observations. We can laugh while we think.

Hope said...

Anonymous, your question is beyond ignorant.. its very disturbing actually! they always say you can judge a person's intellect from the kind of questions they ask..

Laylah said...

Thank you, I'm glad someone recognizes appreciates sarcasm like I do :) this post is 90% sarcastic and 10% serious.

Anonymous said...

Salam Laylah i think thats where ppl get confused and offended they don't understand the sarcastic point.they think it to the be the other way around 90% serious and 10% sarcastic...maybe they have not been reading ure blog long enough.
Julia

Anonymous said...

mostly sarcasm? ok, sounds fair. cute. g

Om Lujain© said...

I finally got the chance to read this... and all though I am not shocked at all about any of it.., Your spin on it had me on the ground laughing! FREAKEN HILARIOUS!!!!!!!! HAHAHAHHAHA!!

Om Lujain© said...

lol.. didn't realize my first comment went through.. thus the double take :D

Anonymous said...

http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/02/world/meast/saudi-ikea-women/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

hey I alway ready your blog and I wanted to send you the link above. CNN in the states has a story about IKEA dropping images of women.

Just thought you would enjoy the story. The link should take you straight to it.

Teresa in America

Laylah said...

Thanks Om Lujain I'm glad you had a good laugh :)

Laylah said...

Hi Teresa thanks for the link!

Abdullah The Arabian said...

this is really silly. What is the problem if ikea erase the pics of women in their catalogue? It is not against women. it is just respect of the culture of the land. arabian dont think it is apropriate to use women in catalogues. and they are free to do what they think is right. people you should get a life!

Fayez said...

I once saw a cooking show here in Saudi Arabia where the guy was showing how to cook pork. But every time he said the word pork, they muted his voice.

So basically, you can see pork, learn how to cook it, and watch people enjoy eating it, but god forbid if you ever hear them mention it!

dragonlady said...

It also appeared on the 6pm news broadcast (local time Jeddah) of BBC Worldwide News on Monday or Tuesday night (can't remember which) - so its getting a bit of publicity of the type that IKEA don't want!

Dianne said...

It also appeared on the 6pm (local Jeddah time) broadcast of BBC Worldwide News on either Monday or Tuesday (can't remember which). Publicity of the sort that IKEA won't really be wanting! Loved your article btw!!!

Anonymous said...

Well Laylah, let's see how much sales will IKEA record :) Actually it is all about selling the product, if they can sell it without pictures why they are going to bother themselves for letting the photos appear (which they have deleted) and getting loggerheads with the govt.

- A

Anonymous said...

It seems to be the hypocrisy. I saw read several other blogs where some women are supporting it and some are against it. The most disturbing trend is that they accept unrelated women living with their men and boys and themselves going out with unrelated men (read driver here). I think if it is their culture they should be honest from all the aspects, I respect their culture but honesty should also be there.

-A

Sandy said...

It is against women. And aspects of Saudi Culture are very against women and should not be respected.

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Anonymous said...

I was just thinking about the topic you wrote about. Now they even cover little girls photos. I mean how sick can people get? what surprises me the most is the silence of the Saudi women. It's amazing how passive they are!!! I just hope that the new generations will be better educated and bring the change needed.

Anonymous said...

Put the catalogue down and take a deep breath! I understand how weird Saudi can be, and I myself think it's very odd how they will print a family pictures and blur out the mom. BUT this is Saudi, it's nothing like UAE. This is a country where hijab is mandatory, at least an abaya to cover the body. It would be more weird imo, to have that rule and then print pictures of women without hijab. I don't think myself think this is misogynistic, but rather an attempt to keep within the rules of the country and Islam. To keep strictly to religious rules they wouldn't print images of people at all, I guess this an uncomfortable compromise.
You must have more much more experience of Saudi life than I have - I have only been here a year or so, but I have heard from my students some pretty sweet stories of their dads being helpful and domestic. I guess it does happen although the reverse seems to be the norm here.
And I totally agree with you on the maid issue!
Jamila

Anonymous said...

Oh, and on the 'light skin' issue - one thing I have always loved about the IKEA catalogue is the blend of people in it - interracial families, adopted kids, etc.
Jamila

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Stephanie said...

When Osama bin Laden was killed, a Hasidic Jewish newspaper in New York airbrushed Hilary Clinton out of a photograph related to the capture and killing. Because nothing is more sexually arousing to males than watching a woman kill a terrorist. (Sarcasm).

I discovered my dad's porn collection hidden in the basement when I was about 8 years old. A lot of hardcore stuff along with some Playboy and Maxim. No IKEA, Good Housekeeping or Martha Stuart Living, however. If men seriously were using images of women in these catalogues to masturbate, I guess now they will just have to use their imaginations and pretend that the photos of sinks, refrigerators and shelves are women.

Also, as far as those imaages of women's skin airbrushed in black - to me they just look like black women wearing dresses now. So, it's okay for black women to show skin, but not white or lighter skinned women - the sociologist in me could write a book about that. Love your blog, Layla.

Jerry Mc Kenna said...

I can imagine the Saudi religious police looking at this catalog and seeing how this has raised the bar for them. Instead of ugly black marker censorship, the entire product was artfully redone. If this idea were to be adopted by the Saudis it might had thousands of jobs to the economy. Imagine a Saudi art department creating custom labels for sauces or custom cd inserts with carefully covered people on the covers. There are so many avenues for creativity. The black marker will die a quick death.

Anonymous said...

TMI about ure dad...thats just disturbing
#julia

Stephanie said...

men looking at porn is disturbing? i think it's quite typical

Abid Rahman said...

Being an Islamic country they don't like to portray females as such for any ads. Most importantly the advertisement is about furniture and that doesn't make a difference if there's females in it or not, be it a child or whatsoever!

Anonymous said...

You don´t think discovering your DAD`S HARDCORE-PORN is disturbing??!! I think you must be SOMEWHAT brainwashed from watching too much of todays media (which is also mostly porn) for that to feel ok for you! Please watch less freaky Tv-shows. Any helathy human would feel sick after that. Even guys consuming porn themselves would normally not want to find their dad´d freakin porn-collection.. That is just TOO MUCH. And EVEN MORE strange if you where only a kid!

Onelovely Muslimah said...

assalamualaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatu!
funny post lol your rant was quite commical!

i prefer no people in the catalogs ! it allows the products to be solely show cased...after all they are supposed to be selling household furniture and not advertising models and what not! Ikea should ban models universally in their catalogues!! Because not all families are typically looking like them and all happy go-lucky! totally unrealistic!!!!!

xo
www.onechinesemuslimah.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Because females are present, doesn't mean they are being "paraded around" as one writer claims. I take offense to this. Women are an equal presence. Why should their presence be construed as any more sexual than the male presence in these catalogues.

We are sisters, mothers, aunts, daughters... not sheep to hidden in our homes. I would sign my name, but I can't figure it out...

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Anonymous said...

Considering that image making is completely forbidden in Islam, I do wonder why they have kept images of any human beings at all. Muslims - they just confuse me!

Mayssa Bekri said...

There's nothing confusing about Islam dear. What really bothers me how non Muslims get such a false ugly image of Islam because of some stupid Saudi traditions. If you get to know real Islam you''ll be very impressed. There is no religion on a earth that have protected and cherished women as Islam did. The Muslim women got their rights way before the UN or what's so ever. I really don't understand saudis' obsession about women really. Women are the base of society in Islam and they are definitely not be hidden and stuck at home! So proud and happy to be a Muslim.