Stalkholming Posted by Marcus Cederström on Oct 26, 2011 in Culture
Websites featuring good looking Swedish men and women out partying are not at all uncommon in Sweden. Every weekend, thousands of pictures are published featuring people out at the clubs. Sometimes these websites are hosted by the clubs themselves, other times not.
A new website in Sweden has emerged though, this one also publishing pictures of beautiful Swedes. But with a twist. Stalkholmed features photos of men on the SL public transportation system in Stockholm which are supposedly taken without the men knowing (there’s a verb for that – smygfota).
What is interesting though is not necessarily the voyeuristic aspects of the website, but instead the reason for those voyeuristic aspects. The creators of the site claim that the photographs are meant to spur a discussion on gender roles (as well as entertain people by sharing beautiful people online). The website asks:
“As a general question, why is it widely perceived as acceptable to view women as passive, sexual objects, but not men? And in a contradictory double-standard, is it more acceptable to ”stalk” male subway passengers, while many people exhibit a visceral reaction if the subjects were instead changed to women? And finally, as we come under ever greater surveillance by both businesses and governments while we are in both public and private spaces, what happens when our fellow citizens become part of that discussion?”
This community art project then claims a noble cause. Their “About” section takes a decidedly defensive stand against anyone who might in the future one day maybe complain about their motives or actions, but as of this writing, only 19 photos are available online.
I love community art projects. I find them fascinating in their ability to bring out the creative sides of people from so many backgrounds. While photography is an art form that should be celebrated, I don’t know that voyeuristic photography on public transportation is one that should be celebrated. Regardless of the gender being photographed. I also have to question the motives of a group that seems to deliberately seek controversy under the guise of art.
Of course, the questions raised by the website are legitimate ones when discussing gender roles and even privacy roles. But is this a legitimate way of bringing this discussion to the fore? What do you think? Is this a harmless art project meant to spur discussion, or a sexist website meant to spur controversy?
For a short article on this phenomenon (and a good activity to work on your Swedish reading skills) check out Metro’s article titled Smygfotade killar läggs upp på nätet.
And for a blast from the past, check out Anna’s article on gender equality in Sweden titled When Daddies Take Care of Kids – Gender Equality.