By Sarah McBride/The Associated PressAn iconic image of a Spartan warrior wearing a helmet and shield has become a rallying cry for the American military and some in the public.
The image is a symbol of the United States’ war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
But the image is also being criticized as sexist, racist and offensive.
A group of feminists in Sweden have launched a campaign calling for the removal of the image.
They say the symbol is sexist, misogynistic and a sign of a “spiteful culture.”
The campaign is backed by the Swedish Feminist Association.
“The image is meant to represent a ‘spitefully hostile culture’ and ‘a deeply-rooted sexist and racist culture that has a long history of being used to control women’s bodies, control the reproduction of women and control their own lives,'” the group’s president, Sinead Ståhlberg, told The Associated Press on Friday.
In the video, StåHLberg said it’s a message of support for Swedish soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the images they create.
The video also includes a series of images that show women soldiers.
One of the images is of a soldier in the U.S. Army in the 1960s, a time when women were not allowed to enlist in the military.
The feminist group, which includes some members of the Swedish government, also released a video on Friday saying the image “demonizes” women.
“I want to point out that the image itself is not sexist, it’s not misogynistic, it doesn’t represent a culture of violence, rape and abuse,” the video said.
“It’s a symbol, not a sign.”
StåHLHLberg says the image has become so popular in the United Kingdom that it’s become part of the country’s national culture.
“There is this myth that we have a lot of people who hate us and think that we’re bad,” she said.
While the campaign is trying to rid Sweden of the Spartan image, it isn’t the only one to attempt to take down the symbol.
Last week, the British Broadcasting Corporation removed a photo of a woman in a military uniform and a shield from its website after a series on gender inequality in the armed forces.
The picture shows a woman with a helmet, holding a shield, in front of a large blue flag.
Other countries have also come under fire for using the image, with several countries in the Middle East and North Africa saying they have removed the Spartan symbol from their websites and public buildings.
A U.N. official said Saturday that the UN Security Council is considering removing the emblem and has called on all member states to do the same.
Follow Sarah McDonough on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/SarahMcDonough