Students from Siena College in Loudonville, New York, recently took to Route 9 in nearby Newtonville to protest sexism in a Teakwood Builders Inc billboard that shows a sleek, remodeled kitchen with the phrase "Your wife wants me" to its right. The billboard is the latest step in Teakwood's aggressive "Your wife wants me" ad campaign, which has only gained steam since the student protest took place March 24. The campaign also includes a contest and full advertising spot that has its own host of issues. Is the statement sexist? Absolutely. As Siena College student Delaney Rivers told News 10 ABC in Albany:
Plenty of men would love to have that kitchen, too. We just want them to have a more inclusive script. So it could say, "You know you want me," and that could include men and women, because in today's world men and women are the ones in the kitchen doing the cooking, not just women.
Right on. She continued:
[The billboard] implies that men are the primary financial supporters of women and that women are materialistic and portrayed as having no other value outside of the kitchen. This is especially egregious towards students at our institution as many of us are working towards financial independence in hopes to have successful careers and equality in our relationships.
Students lined Route 9 with signs that read "I prefer an office," "I can buy my own kitchen," and "I can speak for myself" as well as "Stir until equal," which is actually kind of a genius culinary joke. And what did Teakwood have to say for itself? The business' statement is loaded with rhetorical fallacies and zero accountability:
Thank you for the message regarding the report on our billboard in Newtonville. A vast majority of Teakwood’s clients are women. Frequently they are the decision makers about major expenditures. This billboard – and the entire “Your wife wants me” campaign is good-natured, tongue in cheek fun meant to appeal to women who have a sense of humor, a sense of history and healthy self-esteem. We applaud the students involved in the protest for their excitement about their cause. And we thank them for drawing attention to the gorgeous Teakwood kitchen on the billboard.
Justifying an ad campaign by saying that they're simply catering to their primarily women clients is anecdotal evidence steeped in relativism. By saying those who get the billboard are in fact good-humored and have healthier self-esteems, Teakwood further divides the rift between protestors and the company and insinuates those who dislike it are not good-humored and have low self-esteem.
Teakwood goes on the attack while erroneously thinking the protest itself is a hidden boon to their ad campaign. The argument is just as lazy as the advertising, sadly. If only Teakwood could exert as much energy on its bid for customers themselves as it does crafting renovations and room-by-room remodels.