An Irish event promotion company stirred some controversy with a gross ad last week. Which wouldn't have been especially noteworthy, except that the company's employees then took to Facebook to explain that when women get harassed, they're probably asking for it.
The ad (at left) — developed by event marketing company Midnight for the Dublin bar Alchemy — understandably made some people upset. It's no new thing to use sexy images of women to get people to come out to bars, but this one has rapey implications — it not-so-subtly suggests that if you don't want to have sex, you maybe shouldn't show up. Given the sadly widespread attitude that women who go out drinking are basically consenting to sex with whoever might decide he wants it, the ad is a bad move. Worse move: defending it by getting even more dickish.
According to the University Times, the moderator of Mondays at Alchemy's Facebook page kicked off the dick-fest by telling a critic that "maybe [she]‘d be more suited to a nightclub like the kitchen" [Ed. a reader has pointed out that the Kitchen is actually another Dublin nightclub. So it's unclear if the mod meant this as an offensive double entendre or just a recommendation.] Other critics started a Facebook group called End Mondays at Alchemy's sexist and dangerous advertising — and soon Midnight employees were popping over to that group to leave offensive comments. Perhaps the worst was by one Rob Walsh, who said,
Girls only really receive these problems and harassments in clubs when they are dressed to attract it. Also their behaviour is a huge factor provoking people to act like this.
Initially, Midnight employees seemed unapologetic. Somewhat hilariously, a number of them appear to have denied the University Times permission to quote their public Facebook comments, which is not really a thing you can do. But now Midnight co-director Jamie White has expressed regret to the paper, calling the comments "inciteful" (I think this is supposed to be a criticism). Walsh, too, took to the comments of the UT article to apologize:
I am extremely upset by what happened yesterday and apologize to anybody who has taken offense.
I should not have made the comment I made and regret it entirely. It was sexist, offensive and completely unacceptable.
Most important, I realized immediately upon reflection, that what I said had unintentional connotations with the unjustifiable belief that victims of sexual harassment are somehow responsible themselves for attacks. I removed it after two minutes for this reason but I did not realize that people were taking pictures of the comments, so it remains here for people to read.
This is a strikingly genuine apology, and maybe Midnight will really turn over a new leaf. However, they're unlikely to become paragons of tasteful advertising any time soon — at left is another of their ads for the same bar. Keep it classy, Midnight.
Alchemy Promoters in Sexism Row [University Times]