A photo of President Donald Trump in the Oval Office signing a series of executive orders — including one that would dramatically restrict women’s access to health care around the world — surrounded by nothing but white men sparked anger and ridicule on social media last week, with many pointing out the irony of the situation:
As long as you live you'll never see a photograph of 7 women signing legislation about what men can do with their reproductive organs pic.twitter.com/dXjfVjnRiX— Martin Belam (@MartinBelam) January 23, 2017
If you're wondering what patriarchy looks like: A group of white men watch as Trump reinstates the #GlobalGagRule pic.twitter.com/ZV1OX41ziF— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) January 23, 2017
“We’ve got your best interests at heart, ladies. Believe me.” pic.twitter.com/2ZY4Sc6sKh— Greg Greene (@ggreeneva) January 23, 2017
On Friday, Sweden’s deputy prime minister and climate minister, Isabella Lövin, tweeted out her own staged legislation-signing photo — and the photo composition looks strangely familiar.
In the photo, Lövin sits at a desk in the far left of the frame and, pen in hand poised over a document, stares right into the camera as seven women colleagues with decidedly confrontational body language and facial expressions look on in support.
Just signed referral of Swedish #climate law, binding all future governments to net zero emissions by 2045. For a safer and better future. pic.twitter.com/OqOO2y8BU6— Isabella Lövin (@IsabellaLovin) February 3, 2017
And although the legislation Lövin was signing was related to climate change and not specifically women’s issues, it’s a powerful — and rather hilarious — photograph clearly meant to send a pointed, feminist-tinged message to Donald Trump: “Come at us, bro.”
The substance of the legislation is similarly pointed. Speaking to the Swedish media outlet the Local, Lövin said, "There is a global demand for climate leadership. I want to show that Sweden is ready to take that leadership. The new climate law that was announced yesterday marks a new era in Swedish climate politics.”
Donald Trump once famously tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive” and repeatedly vowed on the campaign trail that he would “cancel” the Paris climate agreement once in office.
Lövin’s photo op wasn’t just a one-off but rather is emblematic of Sweden’s governing philosophy. "We are a feminist government, which shows in this photo,” Lövin told the Local. And she’s not joking. Sweden is literally a feminist government — it’s a formal policy that’s stated right on the Government of Sweden’s official website:
Sweden has the first feminist government in the world. This means that gender equality is central to the Government’s priorities – in decision-making and resource allocation. A feminist government ensures that a gender equality perspective is brought into policy-making on a broad front, both nationally and internationally. Women and men must have the same power to shape society and their own lives. This is a human right and a matter of democracy and justice. Gender equality is also part of the solution to society’s challenges and a matter of course in a modern welfare state – for justice and economic development. The Government’s most important tool for implementing feminist policy is gender mainstreaming, of which gender-responsive budgeting is an important component.
But Lövin, clearly a canny politician with more than a little talent for the art of diplomatic dissembling, refrained from stating outright right that the photo was meant as a direct parody of the Trump signing photos. “Ultimately,” she told the Local, “it is up to the observer to interpret the photo.”