A debate has been sparked over a new website featuring secretly snapped photos of attractive men riding the Stockholm metro.
Unlike similar internet offerings of TubeCrush and SubwayCrush in London and New York respectively, ‘Stalkholmed’ claims to be a “thought-exercise that explores the issues of gender and privacy”.
While the makers of the website admit that its main purpose is to share “candid pictures of handsome gentlemen”, it claims it is also exploring the question of “why is it widely perceived as acceptable to view women as passive, sexual objects, but not men? And in a contradictory double-standard, is it more acceptable to ‘stalk’ male subway passengers, while many people exhibit a visceral reaction if the subjects were instead changed to women?”
Interviewing men in the Swedish capital’s subway who could potentially find themselves featured on the site, The Local received some mixed responses.
“I’d be surprised if someone took a ‘stalker photo’ of me and then I found that picture on a website, without knowing anything about it,” Darko Hussein said. “If the comments were good it’d be okay,” his friend Lawend Barwari laughed. “But still a little bit scary,” Piotr Popowicz added.
None of the men were sure how they would feel about a similar site showing pictures of women, but 22 year-old Hanna-Saga Nygards was quick to tell The Local her thoughts.
“Had I been told that people were snapping pictures of good-looking women and posting them on the internet, I would have immediately thought it was disgusting and terrible,” she said. “But now that it’s men, I find myself thinking it is more okay, just because it’s women doing it to men. But really, no, it’s not okay.”
Ms Nygards added that although it is clear there is a more serious message behind the seemingly frivolous website, she is not sure that the move is an effective method of starting a debate about equality.
“I think it’s the wrong way to handle these issues,” she explained. “My first, spontaneous reaction is that it has gone too far. There is something repulsive about it, that you can take a picture on the tube and then publish it without that person’s knowledge, and then let people comment on their looks,” she said.