Facepalm: Sweden's Advertising Ombudsman, an ad-focused regulatory agency, has deemed that the use of the "Distracted Boyfriend" meme by Swedish ISP Bahnhof in a hiring ad is sexist to both genders. The Ombudsman feels the image presents women as "interchangeable" sex objects, while simultaneously pushing a "stereotypical picture" of men who see women as interchangeable.
Citizens of the EU were already getting a bit nervous about the possibility of memes being restricted following the organization's passing of a controversial copyright bill, but residents of Sweden might have even more cause to be worried now.
The country's ad regulator, the "Advertising Ombudsman," has said that the use of the "Distracted Boyfriend" meme -- which depicts a man glancing at a passing woman while his girlfriend looks on in shock -- is sexist to both genders.
To be clear, this ruling didn't come out of the blue. A Swedish ISP, "Bahnhof," used the imagery in one of its ads, where the girlfriend in the meme was labeled "your current workplace," and the passing girl was Bahnhof.
In short, it was a goofy hiring ad that probably wouldn't have attracted much attention ordinarily. However, a user who spotted the ad reported it to the Ombudsman, and the organization "unanimously" ruled that it objectified men and women alike.
The ad regulator says the meme presents women as "interchangeable" sex objects...
The ad regulator says the meme presents women as "interchangeable" sex objects while depicting men as "seeing women as interchangeable"; a harmful stereotype in the eyes of the Ombudsman.
It should be noted that the Advertising Ombudsman isn't demanding that Bahnhof take its ad down, nor will it issue any fines (for now). However, this is still a slightly strange ruling that's worth discussing.
What do you think of the regulatory agency's decision? Let us know in the comments.