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Sexy or Sexist? Racy Ads Still Sell in Sweden

The birthplace of the Ikea flat-pack also finds itself home to some pretty controversial ads. Unlike its Scandinavian neighbors, Sweden does not ban advertisements insulting to women. Considering advertising a form of free speech, Sweden allows sexist images — such as nurse lying on a bed with male underpants covering her face. Such an ad, showing a woman in a demeaning position, would be banned in the countries next door.

In Denmark and Norway sexual and sexist images are forbidden unless they are relevant to the product. According to the BBC, the strict laws forbid anything that could make a viewer take offense or feel uncomfortable. Firms that do not remove inappropriate material are fined about $100,000 — though many businesses welcome the fine as a small price to pay for increased publicity. Head of Norway's association of the country's top advertising agencies says of their standards, "we're not that Puritan that you can't have naked bodies. But it has to be done in the right way, with charm and passion."

Do you agree with Sweden that sexist ads should be protected under freedom of speech? Norway and Denmark's ban on anything offensive seems like a pretty subjective standard. But do you think it would be easy to determine what crosses the line? Is it charm and passion or censorship gone wild in Denmark and Norway?

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janneth janneth 8 years
I prefer a country where no group is demeaned by the media or put in a subservient position by the culture, be it women or others who have been insulted or vitimized in the past. Freedom of speech is an important right, but don't hide behind it so you create a buzz about the underpants you are selling.
BeautiJunki BeautiJunki 8 years
HOT GUY! HOT GIRL! HOT SALES...really easy. I recall the Calvin Klein ads of the 90's every guy I knew was sporting those boxer briefs because girls we're in love with marky mark's HOT body... :)
wackdoodle wackdoodle 8 years
Sweden's society works completely different from us here in America. Sweden is a society of individual personality responsibility (we are a society where people are now expected to take in to account every one else's feelings and thoughts above or before our own whether that's sincere or not). If a Swede doesn't like the ad then they exercise their right to ignore it personal without infringing on another persons right to enjoy it. I so want to immigrate to Sweden one day.
Bettyesque Bettyesque 8 years
Much ado about nothing. :oy:
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Sure sexist ads are protected here under freedom of speech. I for one still want to know what Paris Hilton washing a car in her Victoria Secret has anything to do with a hamburger. Admittedly they're titillating depending on your interest and they obviously sway a certain percentage of consumers otherwise they wouldn't be used. They just don't make sense but again I guess that falls back onto us because we're the ones responding to such manipulation.
zeze zeze 8 years
I guess it depends on placement too, if these ads are in the mall near "Limited Too!" and "Osh Kosh" I would be offended, sometimes ads here like Gossip Girl and "the Kardashians" are over the top when I'm taking my 7-9 year old sisters shopping, I don't want sexual images like that around normal public family places and I don't want them, being young girls, to see women in the positions these ads have them in. I think freedom of speech should go so far, like any other right, when it starts to overstep other people's rights it gets to be too much.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 8 years
I'm fine with the ads as long as they're not pornographic or depict anyone being abused in any way, that I think is crossing the line.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 8 years
I don't think we are truly easily offended (Americans I mean), I think it's what you (cabaker) said - we just make a bigger deal about it. We're all about the drama. We just want to sue everyone over everything, take away other people's rights so we can have ours, and not have to take responsibility for our lives. Not all people by the way just alot of them and of course it seems like more than it really is because those are the ones we hear/read about.
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
hmm thanks Liberty... some ads are so off the wall nowadays I have no idea what the heck they are for until the end.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 8 years
Hi cabaker27 — it was a male underwear company. The specific ad was banned in Denmark.
Bookish Bookish 8 years
Come on now. I think we're reading too much into it. Everyone knows nurses are overworked- she probably just needed a nap. And since hospitals are so bright and noisy, she probably put the underpants on her face herself, just because that was all she had to block out the light. I'm sure that next up will be men's socks on her ears to block out the noise. It's all perfectly reasonable.
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
"such as nurse lying on a bed with male underpants covering her face. " Liberty what was this an ad for?
Jillness Jillness 8 years
These laws go too far, IMO. Some people will find ANYTHING offensive!
syako syako 8 years
developments? like the internets? what is wrong with me today? I agree cab. My husband calls us all puritans. ;)
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
Europeans dont seem to get offended as easily as Americans... or maybe they just don't make as much of a stink about it.
syako syako 8 years
freedom of speech. If you don't like the ads, don't buy the products. Simple. I actually did my thesis research on how advertising professionals have the same level of moral developments as prison inmates. nice.
CoconutPie CoconutPie 8 years
I'd be surprised if the over-the-top Swedish feminists let that happen...
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