IKEA’s Saudi Arabian Photoshop Debacle Might Not Be Such A Big Deal For Saudi Arabians
1:31 pm, October 3rd | by Terri Ciccone
The Swedish design house and home to all of the DIY dorm room favorites of your youth, IKEA, recently shipped out a catalogue to Saudi Arabia, in which all the women were removed from the original images, causing quite a bit of outrage. But was it really all that bad?
We hear of things like this happening every now and then, and I’m sure I share the opinion of many when I say it makes me sad and angry to know there is still the need to erase women from anything, even marketing materials — it’s a reminder that we still have so far to go. I believe this is a normal reaction. However, even though the catalogue seems offensive to me, perhaps there’s something to learn from the measured reaction of some Saudi Arabian women.
“We’re beyond that right now in Saudi Arabia,” said Eman Al Nafjan, a Saudi writer and blogger who tweets as Saudiwoman, to CNN. “With Internet and satellite TV, there’s really no such thing anymore as blacking out women or airbrushing out women. I would be upset if something like Google was doing it, but for IKEA to do it, that’s just marketing — it’s not such a big deal.”
IKEA has already apologized and accepted responsibility for their misstep, and it saddens many to be faced, once again, with the realization that women are far from equal to men all over the world. But the IKEA catalogue (and any other Western marketing campaign, for that matter) is not the only reading material in Saudi Arabia. If it’s shrugged off by a Saudi woman working in media, is this a case of us overreacting in the West? If we had heard an outcry from Saudi women outraged and offended by the incident, there should absolutely be cause for concern, but it seems that the bulk of the offense was taken in the United States.
There is no clear answer to these questions, but it’s something that crosses my mind when I hear stories like these. What do you think? Should we continue to be angry with IKEA, or accept their apology and move on?
[Photo via The Grindstone]