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Is this Danish shoe ad a satirical feminist rallying cry or just plain sexist?

The Danish footwear company Bianco has found itself dealing with backlash to an advertisement that has been slammed as a “hypocritical”, “sexist” and an “ignorant” attempt to use the fight for gender equality to sell shoes.

Is this Danish shoe ad a satirical feminist rallying cry or just plain sexist?
Immediate reaction to the #WomenNeedMore campaign wasn't particularly positive. Photo: Bianco/Facebook
“Listen up! There’s still not equal pay for equal work anywhere in the world. And it seems most women are not even angry about it,” the ad begins, before going on to air complaints about women’s “ridiculously more expensive” underwear and the stupidity of men who “apply body lotion to their face”.
 
 
While the shoe company’s claim that women “are not even angry about” not getting equal pay is dubious at best, there were no shortage of women – and men – who were angry about the ad itself. 
 
Three days after the ad was uploaded to YouTube, users’ down votes outnumbered up votes 832 to 42 and comments were overwhelmingly negative. 
 
“I find this incredibly insane with both the sexism and the hypocrisy reeking from this ad that sells over-priced products,” one YouTube user wrote. 
 
“I find it hilarious that the ad complains about overpriced women's products while trying to sell overpriced women's products. Can you really not see the irony?” wrote another. 
 
Likewise on Twitter, Bianco’s #WomenNeedMore campaign attracted a number of negative reactions. 
 
“Bianco creates attention for itself with an attempt to debate equality… and sell a few pairs of stilettos while they’re at it,” added Danish Twitter user Kirsten Ebbesen.
 
 
But the negative feedback was perhaps most prominent on Facebook, where the company’s ad had been viewed over one million times as of Wednesday.
 
“A lot of women are angry about it, but funnily enough not because we want to buy more shoes. Isn't it great when capitalism attempts to cash in on feminism? What a load of bullshit,” wrote Laura Line in the video’s most popular comment. 
 
“You mock the basic principle of equality between the genders by assuming women need to spend more money to fulfill their needs. This is below ignorant!” added Andre Christensen. 
 
“I’ve never seen such a sexist, offensive ad that abuses and misinterprets feminism,” wrote Josephine Turms.
 
Bianco’s social media staff, perhaps sensing that the ad was backfiring, replied to many of the negative reactions by defending the ad as satire. 
 
“The commercial's focus is shoes and fashion, with a satirical twist – no more serious than that,” the company wrote. 
 
Bianco also said that it believed most viewers would be able to recognize the satire. 
 
“We believe that many self-assured women will be able to tell when something is humorous and might even be able to laugh at the absurd and caricatured situations from the ad – but a good debate is of course just as important,” it wrote in response to another angry comment. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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EQUALITY

Glimmer of hope for Danish nurses’ conflict with committee set to scrutinise pay

A special committee is to assess wages in Denmark’s public sector, offering hope for long term improvement on wage equality for nurses, who have been protesting over the issue for months.

Nurses during a walkout at Kolding hospital on September 27th. A new committee is to look at the wage structure in Denmark's public sector, offering long term hope for improved wage equality.
Nurses during a walkout at Kolding hospital on September 27th. Photo: Søren Gylling/Jysk Fynske Medier/Ritzau Scanpix

Parliament in August intervened to settle a dispute over a new collective bargaining agreement between the nurses’ trade union DSR and regional health authority employers, ending union-sanctioned strikes which had been ongoing throughout the summer.

Strikes authorised and announced by unions, when negotiations over new working conditions break down, are permitted and recognised as a legitimate part of Denmark’s labour model.

But nurses have continued to protest against the agreement by conducting unauthorised walkouts in September and October. That action remains ongoing despite the Arbejdsretten labour court issuing fines against nurses involved in it and DSR urging them to end the walkouts.

EXPLAINED: Why has the government intervened in Denmark’s nurses strike?

A committee has now been set down to scrutinise wage structures in Denmark’s public sector, offering a glimmer of hope of finding a way out of the deadlock.

Economics professor and former head of the Danish Economic Councils Torben M. Andersen will lead the commission, the Ministry of Employment said in a statement.

In June, nurses voted against accepting the collective bargaining agreement, arguing that wages for their profession are lagging behind pay levels in other fields.

It is that agreement that was later implemented via the government intervention.

The wages committee will analyse pay structures and the consequences of any changes to them. The results of the work are to be presented as soon as possible, although the final deadline is the end of 2022.

Minister for employment and equality Peter Hummelgaard welcomed the appointment of the committee and recognised that Denmark does not have wage equality.

“But we must also recognise that it’s a complex debate and we need to make an informed basis that can form the background to future collective bargaining negotiations in the public sector,” the minister said.

“This is important work which the government obliges itself to follow up on,” he added.

Several professional sectors in Denmark, including nurses, have pointed to a 1969 wage law as the culprit in leaving a lot of female-dominated professions lagging on pay.

The 1969 wage reform, tjenestemandsreformen,  placed public servants on 40 different pay grades, with sectors traditionally seen as dominated by women, such as nursing and childcare, given lower pay than jobs such as teacher or police officer.

A petition demand an end to the decades-old wage hierarchy failed in parliament earlier this year.

READ ALSO: Why Danes want to boost equality by scrapping a 1969 public sector pay reform

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