3.25.16 - Letter to MTA Demanding They Take Down Sexist Ads

Peter Lyons
Director of Advertising
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
2 Broadway, 4th Floor
New York, New York 10004
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March 25, 2016

Dear Mr. Lyons,

We are glad you are in the process of considering the wellbeing of all passengers. A society in which periods should be silenced and breasts should be sliced to sexualized proportions, believes a woman’s only worth is her sexuality.  Allowing subway walls to be plastered with plastic surgery and weight loss advertisements - turning women into objects and comedic material - leads youths and even well-intended grown men to act as if women are only there to please them, not to be taken seriously as equal and important contributing members in society.  

We value the power of your contributions to the dialogues around the oppression of women.  As those afforded the power to censor or promote, you are in the position of shifting popular culture and individual beliefs. In addition to public transportation, New York subways serve as ambassadors of New York and United States culture; the ads you choose to place on these walls should be curated as such.  In the context of an international city, ads which prey on ignorance, stereotypes and an oppressive status quo are embarrassing and hurtful to all people in the U.S. 

Body shaming, slut labeling and slandering of intelligence to any degree must be muted. For centuries women have tolerated tactics of control, abuse and defamation. No more!
Advertisement such as Protein World’s Beach Body Ready or the Doctors Plastic Surgery 2015 (featuring a woman so sad or so excited  depending on the size of fruit she was using to represent her breasts) aim to make women feel they are inadequate without a specific body type or product and must be removed.

When considering how to apply your support,  you should bear in mind the difference between information and glorification advertising. Ask yourselves; is the advertisement honest and factual or purely manipulative? Is an advertisement operating on stereotypes or prejudice? Does this product seek to help individuals in a natural and uncompromising way or does it work to alter their self-esteem for the benefit of a third party?  Does the advertisement further an oppressive agenda?

To obtain true equality, there are many battles that must be fought at work, at home and everywhere in society. We want to consider you our allies; you want to be allies of women.  To that end, please make our commutes a positive experience where we are not accosted by sexist advertisements.

Melissa Dupalo
Activist with National Women’s Liberation