By Enrique Tessieri
It’s funny how still some in this country like to tell the rest what is acceptable when it comes to labeling different ethnic groups. The term ryssä, a derogatory term to place Russians in a negative context in the Finnish language is one of many examples. The Council of Ethics in Advertising ruled that using the term ryssimme as a verb from the noun ryssä on one of its cider beverages was unethical.*
The label ryssä is used by Finns as a derogatory term for Russians.
Even if some Finns like to constantly warn and remind us about the “Russian threat” to Finland and that of other groups as well, the truth is that the only ones that are a threat to this country are such people. They don’t build with their racist comments anything constructive but feed an old ogre of to Finns called hatred and suspicion of outsiders.
Another degrading label that we have brought attention to on Migrant Tales is the term mamu, the shortened word for maahanmuuttaja, or immigrant.
Stand-up comedian Ali Jahangiri mentions in the following video clip why his blood boils every time he hears the term mamu used by Finns. Warning: The video clip uses quite offensive language and is recommended for viewers who are over 18 years old.
On a number of occasions we have debated on Migrant Tales about the use of the term neekeri by Finns, which is highly offensive to blacks.
As a person with a Latin American background, I personally find it incredible how Mexicans are portrayed, sometimes as toothless unshaven desperados outside of Mexican restaurants. The Amarillo restaurant chain portrays a Mexican in a pretty suspicious manner. Isn’t it funny that cowboys from the U.S. are never portrayed as Mexicans, who don’t even look human.
A dating website shows subjectively and even in a racist fashion how sexy women are portrayed in Finland. If the picture is anything to go by, the ideally beautiful woman in Finland has platinum-blonde hair, blue eyes and enjoys holding a red strawberry between her teeth.
Despite the racism and sexism we see in advertising in this country every day, the Council of Ethics in Advertising ruling on the usage of the term ryssä is a positive step in the right direction.
*Mainostoimisto Kingin suunnittelemassa mainoksessa oli kuva Otto Greippi Lime -tölkistä, jossa sana greippi oli tavutettu virheellisesti grei-ppi. Mainoksessa luki ”Uudistimme maun, mutta ryssimme tavutuksen!”.
Thank you Minun Suomeni on kansainvälinen – My Finland is International for the heads up!