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No Woman, All Cry: Ikea Gets Slammed for Male-Only Brochure

© AP Photo / Alan DiazIKEA store
IKEA store - Sputnik International
The Swedish furniture giant Ikea, which is known for its unrelenting promotion of human rights, tolerance and political correctness, has sparked an outcry by issuing a catalogue that doesn't feature any women; the free glossy publication was released for members of an ultra-Orthodox Israeli community.

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Members of ultra-Orthodox Haredi communities received a special version of the Ikea catalogue that featured no women, The Jerusalem Post reported. The catalogue featured images of boys and men, but "unlike the standard Ikea catalogue, no daughters, sisters or mothers accompany those fathers and sons," the newspaper noted, alluding to Ikea's promotion of family values.

In its marketing campaigns, Ikea tends to offer an idealized take on ethnic and gender diversity, casually featuring gay and mixed-race couples, yet is not averse to digressing from its general line.

The men and boys featured in the Israeli catalog wear Orthodox Jewish attire and are occupied reading religious books, while their households are filled with religious objects. Women, however, were noticeably missing from the entire catalog.

​In Sweden, comparisons were quickly drawn with a similar case from 2012, when Ikea notoriously deviated from its principles and released yet another no-women catalogue for the Saudi market. In the Saudi version of Ikea's annual furniture booklet from 2012, all the women who appear in the catalogue published in other countries were removed via photo retouching.

​Following bitter criticism from politicians and a public outcry, Ikea apologized for its faux pas and called the incident "unfortunate."

"Our opinion is that this brochure does not live up to Ikea's values, which our franchisee in Israel seems to have comprehended," Ikea spokesperson Josefin Thorell said, as quoted by the Swedish tabloid newspaper Expressen.

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Ikea had another run-in in its earnest attempts at cultural relativism in Moscow in 2013, when it omitted pictures of a lesbian couple from its catalog in an attempt to conform to what it assumed to be local restrictions. This prompted several local gay and lesbian couples to protest by visiting the Ikea in the Moscow suburb of Khimki and staging a "kiss-in," where they kissed in front of mostly-unconcerned shoppers.

Roughly 10 percent of Israel's 8.6 million citizens are ultra-Orthodox, who adhere to a stern interpretation of Jewish laws. Accordingly, women are expected to dress modestly, in long skirts and sleeves. Many ultra-Orthodox Jews consider pictures of women immodest altogether.

In yet another ethical lapse, the spring collection of the Swedish clothing giant H&M was slammed for its striped pajamas, which allegedly looked identical to robes worn by inmates at the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, the Swedish tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet reported.


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