An Open Letter to IKEA

I grew up with IKEA. I studied throughout elementary, highschool and college sitting on IKEA chairs, at an IKEA desk. We’ve raised our children on IKEA futons and rugs, and curled up in IKEA blankets. IKEA is all about making home a more comfortable space. There is no one-size-fits all at IKEA — every situation, lifestyle and budget can find an IKEA solution. However, this time IKEA’s flexibility has backfired. When IKEA submitted to distributing publications devoid of women, they did not promote multiculturalism and diversity. Rather, they contributed to the repression of women.

Banning images of women — all women of all ages and demeanors — has nothing to do with respecting sensitivities and everything to do with a power struggle attempting to deny women equal opportunities. This is expressed in Israeli women being denied representation in business, media, health forums, politics and more. By distributing brochures void of women, IKEA are the latest members of the dishonorable club that include eliminating women as a strategy to promote their interests, and can count themselves as aiders and abettors to the subjugation of women.

IKEA are now allies with those who deny women the right to advertise their businesses and thereby deny women an equal opportunity to earn a living.

They are cohorts with those who ban women access to lifesaving information regarding women’s health, particularly breast and cervical cancer, topics deemed too immodest for print. The tragic result of this ‘sensitivity’ is that ultra-orthodox women are 30% more likely to die from breast cancer due to lack of basic knowledge about early detection.

They are granting legitimacy to those who deny women the right to political representation, the latest addition to a growing list of businesses who kowtow to power-greedy brokers who want to keep political voice a man’s domain. Is it any wonder, that out of the 13 Israeli ultra-orthodox members of parliament, and dozens of ultra-orthodox mayors and city council members, women number ZERO? This translates to ZERO power for addressing matters directly affecting women’s and children’s lives.

Dear folks at IKEA, it’s not enough to issue a letter that this offensive brochure was published without your consent, because it has already been delivered to our homes inside our mailboxes – without our consent! As a result, you have succeeded in making our homes a very uncomfortable space. Your apologetic words are meaningless. The damage is done: the very act of distributing brochures portraying a perverse frau-rein view of the world strengthens and encourages those who deny women the most basic right to representation.

See if you can find a solution for that.

About the Author
Nili has lived with her family in Israel for 25 years, of which the last 17 have been in Beit Shemesh. Trained as a computer engineer, Nili recently enrolled at the Buchman faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University to further her social and communal involvement.