Kit Steinkellner
September 03, 2015 1:47 pm

We’re all for an anti-littering campaign (Because raise your hand if you like seeing a whole bunch of trash on the ground? Nobody? That’s what we thought). But we prefer our anti-littering campaigns to treat men and women as equals.

Unfortunately, the “Love Essex” campaign didn’t get the memo. In an attempt to promote the beautification of this UK community, the campaign put out a pretty cringeworthy set of ads. See below:

Love Essex anti-litter campaign branded sexist by feminist… http://t.co/QO7Iz1HO1V #Chelmsford pic.twitter.com/gzw8TIGemt

So, dudes should be good community members because it’s “smart,” but ladies should behave conscientiously because it’s “pretty?” We don’t think sexism EVER makes sense, but this bit is a particular head-scratcher.

As Echo News reports, a spokesman for the campaign argued that gender was not a factor in creating the ads for this campaign.

“The choice of wording on the display material was not intended to apply exclusively to the gender of the accompanying models. The key message is a call to action, asking people to dispose of their litter responsibly.”

However, one community member isn’t cool with this explanation, and has started a petition to get the signs taken down.

“This ad campaign is both sexist and derogatory, especially to women,” Natalie Collins argues in her petition. “This is not a commercial ad campaign. It is a local authority campaign and, as such, falls under a responsibility to equality and diversity It is of great concern complaints from local residents were not taken seriously in 2014 when the campaign was first used, or that responses to local residents further perpetuated stereotypes and prejudices about women and men.Now it has been not only repeated, but expanded for 2015.”

Collins explained to Echo News that she regularly engages in feminist activism, and she will not tolerate sexism like this within her community.

“Some people are saying it means ‘smart’, meaning well-dressed, rather than intelligent, but women experience the issue of pretty-versus-smart all the time,” Collins told the news outlet.

For Collins, fighting for gender equality within her community is also about taking care of her two children.

“I have a 12-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son and this is not a message I want them to see.”

And over 100 people who signed her petition agree with Collins. As one supporter put it: “The value of women is not in whether they are PRETTY or not. The value of men is not in whether they are SMART (in either meaning of the word: well-presented or clever). This campaign is belittling to both sexes.”

We are so glad that Collins took a stand for herself and her kids with her petition. Whether or not the campaign intended the ads to be sexist, the results were way off the mark. Hopefully, moving forward, this community’s beautification efforts will stick to getting trash off the streets and leave women’s looks out of it.

Related:

These women hilariously review sexist vintage ads (and prove today’s aren’t much better)

Finally, a Carl’s Jr. ad that is slightly less sexist thanks to Ronda Rousey

(Image via Twitter)

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