Earlier today I had my very own chance to confront Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO who thinks his scantily clad all female calendar is a bit of fun. The interview on BBC Radio 4 “Woman’s Hour” with presenter Jane Garvey and O’Leary on the ‘phone from Dublin gave us the opportunity to explain our respective points of view. (I will post a link to the piece as soon as possible).
Nothing was said to change my mind that pictures of young females in suggestive poses is demeaning to women. It is also a marketing tool for O’Leary who seems to think it’s perfectly acceptable to use virtually naked women in provocative poses to sell his no frills airline – cheap as long as you book well in advance.
Many of you will know that trade unions are not allowed in the Ryanair company. This inevitably casts doubt on O’Leary’s claim that the young women posing for the calendar, all of them Ryanair employees, are willing volunteers. With no recourse should any one of them decline to take part in his scheme, I feel I have to ask, are they volunteers or have they been press-ganged? O’Leary conspicuously refused to answer this and would not deal with my question about lack of trade union representation at Ryanair.
Neither would he engage with the question of aircraft safety. When Jane Garvey pointed out that one of the pictures in a Ryanair calendar showing a bikini clad female flight attendant blowing up a life jacket was not an appropriate way to treat the safety of air passengers, O’Leary merely reiterated that it was a bit of fun.
I’m glad I had the opportunity to talk to Mr O’Leary. It’s good he raises money for charity (the proceeds from the calendar go to charities across Europe). I just wish he would find a way of benefitting good causes which does not involve a bad cause, that of demeaning women.