"See something? Say something." Advertising version

“Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?”

I had decided to get lunch at a new restaurant in town. I believe in supporting local business. Then I saw this cute little marketing card on the counter. And it made me feel not so good about supporting this business.

How many ways is this offensive? 
It tells me the place isn’t interested in my business.
It assumes that the male is the default person, females are the “other” and don’t really count.
It reminds me of continued sexism in the world, which I had forgotten for just a moment as I contemplated a nice hot lunch, and made me feel bad.
It makes everyday, casual sexism acceptable.
It sends the message to boys and young men that sexist comments are ok.
It tells boys and young men that an important thing about you is whether you have a hot girlfriend.

Why would a business put this sexist ad in their window? 
I pointed it out to the business owner. He nodded in agreement and what he said was that the vendor provides marketing materials which he just puts up, implying that he hadn’t read them or thought about the messages. (There were a bunch of these cards in the restaurant, with other messages.) He took the card and ripped it in half and threw it away.

So that’s one reason why we see sexist marketing: because regular, perfectly nice people don’t give it a second thought. And that’s why I say, “See something. Say something.” Raise awareness. Don’t just accept the messages that you see.


  1. I just heard a very short interview with Margaret Atwood on NPR. She said Democracy is the most difficult political system to MAINTAIN. Because it requires an active citizenry. Making observations, thinking critically, speaking up and out, and asking for the change you want to see is a critical part of making our democracy work. And in your case, it looks like you opened some eyes and made positive change.Thank you!

  2. Erin, thank you for your courage in speaking up. When people take positive action, they serve as a role model for others, and help them gain the courage to take action. And so on….I love your "See something. Say something" mantra. I try to remember to speak up for both the bad and the good :)Peace,Marsha

  3. Hi Melinda – Very interesting! I do think that media literacy is important to maintaining our Democracy. For example, people need to be able to evaluate the political messages bombarded them currently.And as you point out in your Food Sleuth blog, critical analysis is important in many aspects of our lives.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Marsha. Good idea to remember to point out the good, too!

  5. Melinda's comments reminded me of a book I have my grad students read – "Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Neil Postman. It's an old book (1985) but more relevant than ever – he says "we are the least-informed, most well-entertained society on Earth".(And is the handle to that mug in the photo a handcuff? Or am I seeing things?)Thanks for your work, Erin!

  6. good for you for having the courage to speak up. just shows what we already know: we need more women in media and advertising (and as business owners). although he didn't admit it, the owner may have read the card but failed to recognize it's sexism. glad to hear he had the guts to stand corrected. and i'm curious – who is the vendor? i don't want to buy their chocolate!

  7. Sorry I don't remember who the vendor was – they supplied the coffee, too, at this place. They should be told the ad is inappropriate, too. It wasn't a name I recognized.I'll check next time I go by the restaurant!

  8. Laser printers require less maintenance than ink jet
    printers;. The ribbon packaging came in a self-adhesive green bubble wrap that made it easier to
    unpack and repack ribbons. It also lets you economize the way you do your office printing with its monochrome laser printing

%d bloggers like this: