Feminism, Islam, and IKEA

I thought this was a story from the ONION, but apparently it’s for real:

Swedish-based home furnishings giant IKEA has been strongly slammed by a Scandinavian leader for being “sexist” in its self-assembly manuals. The company has been told by Norway’s Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, to stop using so many images of men in its instruction leaflets. He reportedly rejected the company’s argument that it did not want to offend Muslims by depicting women building beds, sofas and bookcases. “This isn’t good enough,” he told a local paper. “It’s important to promote attitudes for sexual equality, not least in Muslim nations.”

The store’s colorful and detailed catalogue is printed in over 20 languages and circulates in over 30 countries, including Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Malaysia. …

Assembling an IKEA piece can be just as great a challenge for men as for women, the Norwegian leader had said. “I myself have great problems with screwing together such furniture.”


We had an IKEA when I was growing up in Kuwait. On the nights we were broke, my dad would drive us out to it in our smoking Olds — it really was smoking, I think part of it was perpetually on fire– and deposit my brother and me at the “ball pit.” Then, he and my mother would proceed to stare longingly at furnishings while my brother and I licked plastic and dove to the bottom of the pit, for hours.

No word on whether my parents discussed who would screw together the furniture. You know, worded differently, that sentence could have turned out really, really nasty.

3 thoughts on “Feminism, Islam, and IKEA

  1. I knew nothing of IKEA until a couple of years ago when they decided to put some three or four stores in my area.

  2. Growing up not rich in Kuwait and going to Ikea for entertainment – now *there* is a motif for a short story at the very least.

    I’ve wondered why people who need a break from their kids don’t just check them in at the Ikea play area and go upstairs to chill in the cafe over coffee and apple cake. I mean, if I didn’t have access to child care on the weekends (grandparents), I’d do it myself. In fact, since grandparents are going on a long vacation, I may just suggest this to dear hubby in couple of weeks or so.

    Or maybe he’ll do it himself next weekend while i’m in NYC living it up. See you there, Randa.

  3. I LOVE IT!! my dad worked as an interior designer at the IKEA in Kuwait before the gulf war, we basically lived in that ball pit! lol when i went back to Kuwait, i made a special trip to Ikea just to see the ball pit and the store that i remembered so vividly. apparantly they had to build a new one because the one we used to go to pre gulf war was damaged pretty badly during the invasion 😦

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