• Wed, Dec 4 - 11:30 am ET

DC Metro Ad Insists Ladybrains Don’t Understand Math Problems But Love Shoes

dc-metro-sexist

Another day, another incidence of casual sexism in the world. This time, right smack dab in one of the busiest stations in the Washington, D.C. metro system. I’m definitely not surprised, but I suuuuuuure am tired of this kind of bullshit.

Eagle-eyed political correspondent Lucy Westcott spied this ridiculous and offensive ad for metro services , where one woman spouts off a fact and another says “Can’t we just talk about shoes?”at DC’s Metro Center station yesterday. Like any savvy feminist with a smartphone, Lucy quickly snapped a photo and put it out on Twitter blast, attracting the attention of local blog DCist:

A brouhaha began, with people calling out the ad for its obvious sexism and also producing a number of smart parodies. At first, the metro system declined to comment, but then a DC Metro spokesperson told DCist:

“The point of the ad is to get people talking about Metro’s massive rebuilding effort by juxtaposing technical facts with a variety of light responses in conversation between friends.”

I believe that that’s what the planners and public relations representatives behind this stupid ad thought they were doing—Showing that you can talk about important metro issues right alongside silly lady issues like shoes. Track work + stilettos! Delays + platforms! Life is a mishmash of things and people with vaginas can talk about them all! TEE HEE.

But using the incredibly tired cultural cliche that women love shoes is such a dated advertising strategy, such a stunted throwback to the era of the blatantly-infuriating sexist world that Don Draper and his cohorts inhabited. The DC area isn’t exactly known for its creativity and innovation in advertising (or in anything other than bureaucracy, I guess), but seriously, was there not one culturally- aware person who saw this ad before it was printed and thought “Hmm. That’s a little sexist?”

Photo: Lucy Westcott

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  • Muggle

    Ugh, shoes. I don’t like shoes all that much, actually. The only pair that I own that aren’t super-simple and neutral are my red-and-black lacy heels. I won’t wear them often because it’s easier to just slap on a pair of gray flats and go. But anyway.

    I think improvements to buses are important topics to the women who ride them. But I’m one of those freaks that doesn’t like shoes.

  • Lindsey Conklin

    they could’ve at least referenced chocolate or puppies, or something, but perhaps that would ruin the stereotype. WHAT A RIDICULOUS AD. clearly, shoes are the most interesting conversation topic women can think of.

  • Jessica

    I’m not sure how this is sexist. One woman is talking about the metrobus, the other wants to talk about shoes. Two different women, two different interests. I could talk about math all day long, but I have friends who would rather talk about fashion. One of my friends would rather talk about make-up – she owns her own salon. So if I post a picture of the two of us talking and I reference a news article and she says something about make-up, is it sexist or is it two women talking, who happen to be interested in two different things?

  • Anna

    I think the point is, if she acknowledged that, and then went into shoes, it would not at all be offensive. It is the pushing away from the metro convo that makes it look like ‘ommygawd dont talk scary math to ladybrain’ and makes the ad insulting.

  • Anna

    I think the point is, if she acknowledged that, and then went into shoes, it would not at all be offensive. It is the pushing away from the metro convo that makes it look like ‘ommygawd dont talk scary math to ladybrain’ and makes the ad insulting.