DC Metro criticized for ‘sexist’ ads

Washington, D.C.’s Metrorail subway system is being criticized for an ad campaign that women’s rights groups are calling sexist.

The ad depicts two female Metro passengers talking about about improvements that have been to the agency’s trains and buses.

One woman in the ad responds to the statistics with the phrase “can’t we talk about shoes?”

"We get it," the ad says. "You're probably not talking about our increased bus reliability. Why would you? But thanks to an enhanced inspection program, battery upgrades and cooling fan conversions, our buses just keep going and going and going. So even if you’re not talking about bus maintenance, at least now you know about it.”

Women’s advocacy group UltraViolet said the Metro ad is sexist.

“These new ads by Metro Forward are not edgy, they are sexist, stupid and offensive,” UltraViolet co-founder Shaunna Thomas said in a statement.

“The PR failure shows just how little Metro Forward thinks of its everyday passenger, and highlights how out of touch the system is with the DC-area residents that they serve,” Thomas continued. “Metro Forward needs to take these ads down, apologize and plan an advertising campaign that doesn't play on sexist tropes.”

The Metro Forward campaign is part of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) attempt to build support for maintenance work that has been criticized by passengers for causing delays on the capital area subway, which is the second largest public transportation network in the United States.

A Metro spokeswoman told The Hill that the ad campaign was being misconstrued.

“The point of the ad is to get people talking about Metro's massive rebuilding effort by juxtaposing technical facts with a variety of light responses in conversation between friends,” the spokeswoman said.