The decision by a group of Czech women politicians to pose seductively for a calendar has drawn accusations that they are making an exhibition of themselves and demeaning politics.
Officially the female politicians, all members of the Public Affairs party (part of the coalition government) posed to highlight the growing presence of women in politics.
Despite the country returning the highest number of women MPs ever, 44 in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, there are no women in the cabinet.
The 2011 calendar, which is being sold by the party for $20 features the women in non-parliamentary positions and scant attire that could raise the blood pressure of more staid members of the chamber. The calendar can be bought online from the party’s website.
“We want to draw attention to the fact that we have women in politics,” said MP Lenka Andrýsová, who appears in a thigh-high dress kneeling on a shelf.
Markéta Reedová, Public Affairs candidate for mayor of Prague, pictured reclining in an armchair, was far from apologetic and insisted the calendar highlighted the tolerance of society.
“Women’s political influence is growing. Why not show we are women who aren’t afraid of being sexy? Czechs are open-minded.”
Kate?ina Klasnová, the 32-year-old deputy speaker is photographed lying on a bed wearing a loose-fitting robe.
However, the calendar had drawn a sharp rebuke from other politicians and women’s rights groups.
“From a formal point of view shooting a calendar for the purpose of financing a political party is an entirely legitimate thing,” Michaela Appeltová, deputy head of Fórum 50 per cent, an NGO that promotes greater female participation in political life, said.
“But we can not agree with the content of the calendar,” she added.
“These politicians confirm the stereotype, they are portraying women as sexual objects. The calendar shows women in highly erotic poses that have nothing to do with political or professional work of these women, only their sexuality. In other words, the calendar encourages voters to ‘vote for us because we are beautiful and sexy.’ It did not encourage voters to vote for them because they understand their jobs. The male politicians are not depicted in this way. In this respect, emancipation is not yet here.”
The charge that the calendar depicts women in a negative way was repeated by Alexandra Jachanová Dole?elová, deputy director of women’s rights group Gender Studies.
“The calendar supports the stereotype that a woman should be beautiful and a sex symbol. This has a negative impact on society. It says to women that they have to be beautiful to get into the politics and that it is normal, for any job, to ask women to pose in erotic positions. Politicians should be elected on the basis of merit not according to their looks. We can hardly believe a party promoting equal opportunities for men and women while it earns money through an erotic female calendar. The number of women in parliament shows that voters want women in politics but the new government indicated that there is not even a single woman among half of the population qualified to be a minister.”
The was also criticism from other politicians.
“The Green Party has always advocated and promoted ethical and fully transparent fundraising and the participation of women in politics,” said party spokesperson Tomáš Pr?ša.
“This will only reduce the participation of women in politics. The ethical fundraising of a political party should not be in the form of cheap marketing.”
TOM CLIFFORD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org