Thirteen flight attendants from Ryanair have stripped off their uniforms for the company annual charity calendar, but it has feminist groups burning bras and claiming that the airline is sexist and perpetuating long held stereotypes about cabin crew. It's unlikely that the female Ryan Air staff feel the same way since it is reported that over 700 of them initially made an application to be part of the annual publication. The calendar will sell for 10 Euro and at least £100,000 of the proceeds are to be donated to the Dublin-based homeless organisation Simon Community.
Spain's Government run Institute for Women, an organisation that is part of the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry, and based in the country the calendar was shot, has labelled the publication as sexist, claiming that the photos represent the stewardesses as "sexual objects" and "reinforce discriminatory stereotypes" ? even though they applaud the airline for their charitable intent (assuming that charity was in fact Ryan Air's motive). The feminist group has complained to Irish and European authorities and is seeking to undertake legal action against Ryanair. The group became involved after the consumer group FACUA claimed the images promoted "macho behaviour". What FACUA means by that cryptic phrase remains a mystery. Does this mean we'll all wear extra aftershave and spend a couple of hours in the gym before every flight?
Ryanair had previously encountered turbulence with FACUA for printing images of under-dressed girls in its advertising. Swedish regulators reprimanded Ryanair over an advert featuring a young woman in a short skirt seductively twirling her hair next to the words "Hottest School Prices". When an airline isn't concerned about its reputation, anything goes.
Spokesperson Maria Jesus Ortiz said that "...it is significant that that only women are used, in a sector in which there is a considerable percentage of men... we're not talking about morals or nudity here, it's simply how women are portrayed. If there had been men in the calendar, I'm sure there would have been no controversy."
Ryanair have a knack of eliciting free media from various news agencies and interest groups because they constantly provoke negative discussions; offering blowjobs on board their flights, a fat tax for passengers of above average girth, charging passengers to use onboard amenities or their foul mouthed and obnoxious CEO saying, well, anything. The airline is hugely successful for a range of reasons that put it in a (low) class of its own. This all makes me wonder if the airline is genuine about the calendar's intent. My own guess is that the marketing department at Ryanair saw yet another strategy to cause controversy and thus steer the world's media attention in their direction - and it's worked. It's a fantastic initiative that Ryanair has undertaken, and I wouldn't dare suggest that the media focus is their primary motive... but it's a motive nonetheless.
It's somewhat ironic that the Spanish Institute's objection to the calendar has probably resulted in increased awareness and interest. They've unwittingly become an accomplice to the publication's success.
Back in Ireland where Ryanair has its headquarters, the calendar doesn't appear to be overly popular with the female staff. Of the four native girls that applied, none were successful in obtaining a spot, meaning that Ryanair's home country isn't represented.
Who isn't a fan of scantily clad women and aircraft? Who cares what the company motives were? The photos are quite artistic, really, and bring together the ultimate in mechanical and biological beauty. I'm surprised to see such a prudish attitude from Europeans when I'm almost certain my own countrymen wouldn't react in the same way. Come to think of it... I should suggest something similar to my own employer (assuming they haven't done so already).