At the start of October when it was discovered that Ikea had been airbrushing women out of their Saudi Arabia catalogues and it spawned a tumblr-joke site that replaced famous women with Ikea furniture some people thought this was A-OK. By some people I mean this anon commentator "chlitto".
since when is accounting for cultural differences discrimination?
when they'll start selling to martians should they have humans in the catalog? all white people in nigeria ads, all black in china?
Fair enough. The ethnic makeup of a country, and the habit of using big fat black markers to remove any trace of skin as shown here on a Katy Perry album cover*, clearly varies around the world. But it's still discrimination to exclude women from IKEA homes in Saudi as, they clearly have women in Saudi, or King Ibn Saud wouldn't have had 45 sons. Note that they never count the daughters.
This ad depicted above however, tops them all. It's October. It's breast cancer awareness month, and even in Saudi they're breaking the Kingdom’s traditional culture of "Don’t tell anyone" with awareness ads. That contain no women.
This isn't an easy topic in Saudi, where women are in many cases controlled by men as they have fewer legal rights overall in the country, and the culture itself is male-dominated to the extreme. That the poster becomes a mano-a-mano talk about letting your wive(s) check their breasts isn't at all surprising.
Dr. Samia Al-Amoudi, a gynecologist and former vice dean of the College of Medicine at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, was reportedly quoted as saying “In male-dominated societies like some areas in Saudi Arabia, women’s decisions are controlled sometimes by men, and men may be unaware of or may disapprove of screening.”
She added that Islamic guidance and health ministry rules do allow women to give consent to the surgery on their bodies, except in certain cases such as tubal ligation.
* as a side note, one of my Blondie albums looked like that. Shopping for music in Saudi broke a young art directors heart.
Update: some of the commercials from the campaign and more images can be found in this post on Osocio Can you raise breast cancer awareness without even showing women? #Pinkverts. They found the images at the Saudi Women to drive Facebook page where people (who clearly can't read arabic) are rather amused by the approach.