10/09/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Sex and the Swedish Censor

The European Union is flexing its politically correct muscles again, this time taking straight aim at what they deem to be advertisements that portray women as sex objects. The woman behind this initiative is Eva-Britt Svensson, a 62-year old member of the European Parliament (MEP) who has never been accused of being a Swedish beauty. I wonder how the French, Italians, and even the Brits feel about this dictum. They're the ones that have the most to lose, since they dominate the fashion and beauty scene in Europe and beyond. The Swedes, on the other hand, are really the "enablers", since they supply the tall, nubile, full-breasted blondes who model the clothes and beauty products that grace the pages of fashion magazines and billboards. That must really curl the hair on Svensson's legs.

Eva Britt Svensson

Although Svennson's initiative is directed at television, it will have a chilling effect on other advertising if it passes Parliament, and it may even affect French and British politics. Imagine Carla Bruni, the beautiful first lady of France, being banned from her husband's next TV campaign because she's too sexy. Or imagine a Chanel ad starring Ugly Betty (actually, that might be really cool).

What bothers me most is the assumption that women:
1. Find sexy photos of other women offensive.
2. Are so stupid that they can't distinguish between fantasy (advertising) and reality.
3. Will give up their jobs and become housewives, circa 1954, because of these images.

If Svensson and the European Parliament want to get behind an important reform, they should support the Italian fashion designers campaign against anorexia, endorsed by the Italian government. They ran billboards of an anorexic woman to drive the message home, and the designers banned size 0 models from the runway.


Keira Knightley, the stunning British beauty in Atonement, defined another issue recently that Svensson might like. Knightley stars in the upcoming movie, The Duchess, and she fired a warning shot at the studio's promotion department when she said she didn't want her breasts digitally enhanced in the billboards and advertising. Knightley likes her Audrey Hepburn-like figure, and she just might be sending a real life message to young girls that they don't need breast implants in order to be beautiful and sexy. Now that would be a real win for women!