#DerailSexism: Why a Women's Sex Toy Maker Is Suing the MTA

by Amanda Lederman


The MTA doesn’t want you thinking about getting off WHEN getting oN their subways

Dame Products is going to court to fight a harmful double standard.

Being a media company with an award program celebrating brands that challenge gender norms through advertising, we’ve always got our eye out for a great campaign. So when we found out our friend, Alexandra Fine, “The Pitch” participant and CEO at Dame Products, was running into trouble with her new ad campaign, we had some thoughts…

Last summer, Dame contacted New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) about running a female-focused sex toy campaign on their subways. It’s a prime spot to get the word out, given that the trains carry over 5 million riders each day. The campaign included research, customer reviews and product shots with clever headlines. At first, the MTA was on board, and Dame received approval, pending some updates to their creative. To comply, Dame conducted several rounds of edits to meet the MTA’s criteria and submitted their final designs:


Then they waited. And waited. And waited… until they received their formal rejection. In their response, the MTA issued new guidelines stating they have never, and will never accept advertising from a “sexually oriented business.”

Hmmm… as riders of the subway, we’re calling bullshit.

The subway basically screams sexuality. Each car seems to be plastered with ads from The Museum of Sex (it literally says SEX), Hims and Roman (both for erectile disfunction), Kyng sized condoms, and so much more. And plenty of ads, regardless of industry, use sexualized images and headlines. Every. Single. Day. What makes these ads in compliance with the MTA’s policy? Why reject sex toys and not reject pharmaceutical companies, supplement companies, condom makers, and MUSEUMS THAT ARE JUST ABOUT SEX?

Well, Dame’s founders Alexandra Fine and Janet Lieberman have a theory: The MTA has decided to "privilege male interests" through arbitrary and discriminatory advertising decisions that violate their constitutional right to free speech. So now, they’re taking legal action against the against the MTA to “protest this sexist policy, and to address its implications for vulva-havers everywhere. Advertisements are hugely influential on our culture, and have the potential to bring sexual wellness tools out of the shadows and into our lives.”

We agree.

“This lawsuit is important because it is necessary for us to change society misconception of vibrators and sexual pleasure as harmful when in truth, not reminding individuals that sex SHOULD be pleasurable - is harmful,” said Alexandra Fine. You can read their full complaint here.

We would love to support these strong female entrepreneurs and healthy sexuality enthusiasts by shouting “SEX TOYS” from our roof while holding up their advertisements. In case you can’t see our roof, we’ve also included their rejected ads here. We encourage you repost this article using the hashtags #DerailSexism and #Femvertising, and mention @blogher, @dameproducts and @mtanyctransit (or @mta on Twitter).

Let’s crush the patriarchy, one orgasm at a time!

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Amanda LedermanComment