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Photo project will change the image of female sailors

18 August 2020

The Swedish Mercantile Marine Foundation has granted SEK 250,000 for a photographic project that will result in both exhibition material and an image bank for commercial use. The purpose of the project is to describe the work life of female sailors as part of changing the stereotypical image of what and who a sailor is.

When Lighthouse googles for pictures of female sailors to illustrate this article, we do not get many hits. And the ones we get consist mostly of pinups in sailor suits and other lightly dressed women. A couple of pictures of Vietnamese women in traditional straw hats paddling small canoes with vegetables and fish also appear. Hard working of course, but not really the image of female sailors. Could a image of Wonder woman painted on the side of a large passenger ship be it? At least she stands for power and change. Yeah, we’ll have to go with that.

According to a press release, one of the members of the facebook group #lättaankar had a similar experience when she googled art on female sailors. Only pictures of children in sailor dresses, mermaids and pinups appeared.

“It made us want to change the image of who is a sailor and what it means, because it is also so linked to how it affects the professional role and our work, for us who are women”, Petra Sviberg, a sailor and union representative, says.

The project is an extension of the shipping industry's joint initiative Vågrätt. The initiative's task is to shed light on and combat unhealthy power structures in shipping, especially with regard to the gender power perspective. Part of Vågrätt's activity plan is to produce visual material, both for exhibition and commercial use.

The project will start this autumn and the exhibition material is expected to be completed in the summer of 2021.

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