A picture of scantily-clad girls licking ice cream with the caption "Sweet Dreams," which was intended as one of the prizes at this year's lottery for the Swedish police, has triggered an outcry of indignation from the female staff, Swedish national broadcaster SVT reported.
The artwork triggered a crescendo of angry and upset commentaries among activists from the Swedish police's internal MeToo campaign #nödvärn ("self-defense"). Some even proposed marching to the office of newly-appointed police chief Anders Thornberg and demanding an answer.
"The message is cheap, pornographic. I'm disgusted," police inspector Eva Wettborg of Stockholm told SVT. The divisive picture appeared in her city's Police Department and is accessible to employees and international guests alike.
According to her, the fact that the picture, in which many saw suggestive undertones and subliminal misogynist messages, was hung on International Women's Day, only made matters worse.
Inside the closed police group, there was no shortage of livid comments.
"No one with a normally functioning brain could argue that this is a piece of art," one police officer wrote, as quoted by SVT.
According to Eva Wettborg, the unlucky choice of artwork indicated a complete lack of judgment. She characterized it as a throwback to the 1990s, when sexist jargon and posters of scantily-clad women hanging on the walls were common.
As the debate on the appropriateness of the painting spread nationwide, Swedish users were left divided.
Ulf Cahling, who argued that the police "could do more in their gender equality work," ventured it was tantamount to the degrading of women and said he was disappointed "after working 44 years as police officer."
Nils Stoor reminded the public that artists Molly Sandén and Zara Larsson get a lot of praise for posing lightly-dressed. "That's what the painter would have got as well, had she been a woman. But it's a man who made the painting, and therefore it's vulgar and pornographic," he wrote on SVT's Facebook page.
Other users argued that the task of art was to provoke and spark debate, drawing parallels with Lars Vilks' pictures of Prophet Muhammad as a roundabout dog, Carolina Falkholt's "vagina graffitis" and Makode Linde's "screaming n**ger cakes."
Maria Ellior, one of the purchasers of the police art club, voted against buying the picture, but was overruled.
"I do not like the board, but the purchase is a majority decision," Ellior explained.
By her own admission, this is not the first time a painting in the art lottery has been perceived as controversial.
"But art cannot just be beautiful. Art can be perceived differently depending on who is looking. It can be provocative, alright, but that the job of art," Ellior explained.