09:45 GMT +314 November 2019
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    Sweden's First #MeToo Monument Polarises Public - Photo

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    While some saw the lacquered red statue of a roaring puma as markedly unfeminine, others complained that the divisive monument was not a particularly good investment for a municipality with a troubled economy.

    The international anti-harassment movement #MeToo, which hit Sweden among the hardest, has been commemorated by a monument in the city of Umeå.

    The statue named Listen, erected in Umeå's main square, consists of a bright red cougar with an open gap on an elevated podium, which, according to the artist Camilla Akraka, symbolises a stance against sexual harassment. According to Akraka, she chose the puma as a “majestic, beautiful animal”.

    According to Moa Krestesen, art curator in the municipality of Umeå, the work is the first #Metoo monument in the whole of Sweden. The local newspaper Västerbottens-Kuriren has suggested it may actually be the first one in the entire world. It also comes with a neat price tag of SEK 500,000 (about $51,000).

    “It is a work of art and it costs, otherwise we won't get any art at all”, she told national broadcaster SVT.

    Helena Smith of the local cultural committee called the monument “a reminder of the endless struggle for an equal society”.

    SVT's art critic Daniel Dahlqvist praised the statue as “an expression of female strength and power”.

    Посмотреть эту публикацию в Instagram

    Nu är hon på plats, me-too-puman. #umeå #metoopuman #metoopuman #uå #ume #rådhustorget #puma

    Публикация от Alex the Cat (@kaptenkattfregatt)

    On social media, however, the reception was far more mixed. While some praised the monument as daring and socially important and even asked whether a smaller copy of it will be made available, others slammed it as garish and unladylike.

    “I think male. Does not feel #MeToo at all to me”, a user complained on Instagram.

    “Is it an upcoming April joke or what?” another inquired.

    “So listen... I'm gonna swallow your soul”, another one wrote, attaching the photo of the puma “roaring” into a construction worker's face.

    Посмотреть эту публикацию в Instagram

    So listen... I'm gonna swallow your soul. 👹 #listen #camillaakraka #offentligkonst #publicart #rådhustorget #umeå #hurcoolärdenhärstan

    Публикация от Jessica Larsson Svanlund (@lexjecks)

    “No, paying tribute to a movement that resulted in fake slander charges, innocent people being punished and even suicides is in my opinion not a thing to do. I see the statue as a cancerous tumour in Umeå city. (And it should be removed immediately, sold and the money should be used to renovate the square the statue occupies)”, another one wrote.

    Посмотреть эту публикацию в Instagram

    Umeå, here I come! metoo-sculpture "Listen", now on its way to Umeå. #sculpture #handmade #puma #bigcat #metalnordicgold #soulredCrystalpaint #metoosculpture#Hantverksministeriet#Buckelteknik

    Публикация от Camilla Akraka (@skumraskcollection)

    Many found the monument all the more misplaced, given that the Umeå municipality's economy is ailing and had to slash its education budget by 3.9 percent in 2018.

    “The money should have been spent on our elderly”, a user wrote.

    ​In 2017, Sweden became one of the countries hit the hardest by the #MeToo movement, which in the course of several months spurred over a dozen petitions by female representatives of various trades from church officials to sex workers, sparking hours of media debates, an excess of opinion pieces and numerous outings of alleged sexual predators.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    MeToo, feminism, Sweden
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