'Sexist' Tube Ad For USPAAH Spa Service Sparks Outrage For 'Offensive' Message To Men

'Are we back in 1930?'

14/03/2017 12:35 | Updated 14 March 2017

A mobile spa service has sparked outrage for a “sexist” advert it’s placed on the London underground. 

USPAAH’s tube ad advises men to keep their partners “sweet” by ordering them a manicure or pedicure if they’ve been “out with the guys ‘til 4am again”.

On Twitter, many have said the ad is an example of “everyday sexism” as it implies that women are “simple creatures” who can be “bought off” with beauty treatments.

But the company has said it “whole heartedly” stands by the ad, which it claims is “tongue-in-cheek”.  

In light of the backlash, Transport for London (TFL) told The Huffington Post UK it is reviewing the content of the advert to “assess what further action to take”.

Commenting on the advert, intersectional feminist and social activist Molly Thompson told The Huffington Post UK: “It’s ridiculous that in this day and age, women are still treated as these self-obsessed beauty addicted beings with nothing more important on their minds than getting beauty treatments done.

“I’ve honestly never had a pedicure in my life and the idea that getting one done will keep women docile and ‘sweet’ is offensive, sexist and plain stupid.”

Feminist author and HuffPost UK blogger J.J. Barnes added: “The implication of advertising like this is that a woman is simply a programme, an object. If you do the right series of things the woman will do what you want.

“Input the right commands and like a computer programme she’ll give you the desired output. Her feelings, her emotions, her humanity are removed and she’s reduced to an object behaving undesirably that needs the programming corrected. If she’s complaining about you, buy her this gift and she’ll start behaving herself again.”

On Twitter, the brand has stood by its decision to run the advert, even asking one user whether they would suggest cancelling Christmas, too.

In a separate statement, USPAAH founder Iglika Ghouse said: “We stand by our advert whole heartedly”.

“In fact, we love it and are busy planning our next set of adverts,” she said.

“Just because it is 2017 does not mean couples don’t argue and as far as we are aware it’s still ok to receive a gift as part of an apology.” 

The company also pointed out that USPAAH has an all-female run team who offer flexible working hours to support mothers of young children.

It said the company means “no offence” by its “tongue-in-cheek adverts”.

But Barnes is not impressed by USPAAH’s response. 

“The company’s joke that people should cancel Christmas if they object to a man buying a gift misses the point entirely. Buying your partner a gift is lovely, implying that the gift will cause them to start towing the line is not,” she said.

“A problematic woman being made to perform according to your wishes through the use of money should never be acceptable, and yet is constantly shown as entertaining in fiction and advertising. 

“If she’s angry, buy her flowers.  If she doesn’t fancy you, buy a box of chocolates. If she won’t have sex with you, buy her a romantic dinner. Buying things to make women behave correctly is age old and society has apparently not come around to the notion that a woman is more than a programme, and deserves more respect than an object.” 

Commenting on the backlash, a Transport for London (TFL) spokesperson said: “In some cases, adverts are referred to us for further review. Had this advert been referred to us, we would have worked with the advertiser to amend it.

“We will work with our advertising partner today [Tuesday] to review the content and assess what further action to take around this specific advert.”

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