“Even if the accusation isn’t necessarily well-founded, it can ruin a person’s life. That’s why we don’t like the campaign and decided to be against it,” one response from the Bernard account reads.
Bernard has routinely reacted to criticism by publishing ads that are even more provocative, Ms. Havlikova said. After objections last spring to an advertising campaign that used scantily clad women to portray different styles of beer, the company produced a “feminist edition” in which the women’s faces were replaced with Mr. Bernard’s own.
That campaign was a runner-up in the 2017 Sexist Piggy awards, announced in November. The winner was an advertisement for a radio station that depicted a woman bent over an office desk, her breasts partially exposed, with a man standing suggestively behind her and the slogan: “The path to success may not be complicated if you understand it.” A representative from the radio station could not be reached for comment.
Such advertising may remind many Czechs of the 1990s, when highly sexualized imagery proliferated after the fall of communism. Helena Skalova, the director of the Prague-based nonprofit organization Gender Studies, remembers visiting her mother at work as a young girl in the early ‘90s and seeing pictures of naked women on the walls.
“After the fall of the previous regime, naked images were among things we swiftly imported from the West,” Ms. Skalova said. “It was very much in vogue and seen as progress.”
The communist system left Czechs with “a very specific situation” on women’s rights, Ms. Skalova said. “Women here are quite emancipated, meaning in terms of economic activity: It’s normal for a Czech woman to work.” However, she said, it’s also normal for child care and household matters to be a woman’s responsibility on top of those she may already have at work.
Such attitudes seem to be reflected in recent polling data. The Eurobarometer survey, which assesses social attitudes across the European Union, found in 2017 that more than three-quarters of Czechs believe the most important role of a woman is to take care of her home and family. In the same survey, the Czech Republic was found to have Europe’s second-widest gender pay gap.