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
“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.
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.”