The Washington Post

Metro defends ‘shoes’ ad some call sexist

A top customer service official for Metro on Thursday defended an ad that many have called sexist and offensive.

The ad shows two women talking, with one woman mentioning the breakdown rate of Metrobuses, while the other woman responds, “Can’t we just talk about shoes?”

The ad created a flurry of online comments after Lucy Westcott, a political correspondent at Capital News Service, tweeted a picture of it Tuesday from the Metro Center stop.

On Thursday, Lynn Bowersox, Metro’s assistant general manager for customer service, communications and marketing, defended the ad and claimed responsibility for the communications campaign the ad is part of.

She called the campaign a “series of unlikely conversations between friends and colleagues” about improvements at Metro. She said the agency was “poking a little fun at ourselves” for “our transit-speak.” Bowersox said the ads “contrast dense facts with light responses from both men and women on both sides of the conversation.”

She said the ad about shoes was created by two women.

“My response to comments about that message is that women should be able to talk about any subject that interests us, from reliability to shoes, without anyone judging us.”

After the first tweet of the ad, media outlets picked up the online buzz.

New York Magazine ran a headline that read: “Ladies Only Want to Chat Footwear in This Casually Sexist Public Transit Ad.” And Jezebel wrote: “The Subway: Your New Home for Romance and Sexist Stereotyping.”

Another online comment on the ad came from Meghan McCarthy, who took the ad and doctored it slightly. She showed two men instead of two women — with one of the men answering, “Can’t we just talk about sports.” She tweeted, “I’m an equal opportunity metro-ad-improver.”

Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.



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