A manufacturer of sex toys for women takes the New York metro to court. Advertising posters on the subject of erectile dysfunction, bare buttocks, inflatable fake breasts, condoms and penis-shaped cacti are permitted, but advertising their products is not.
Dame Products, an American start-up company founded by women that promises to close the ‘pleasure gap’ for women with sex toys, accuses the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) of sexism and censorship. In November last year, MTA refused advertising posters from Dame.
Pictures of the toys could be seen on the advertisements. One advertisement contained the words “Toys for sex”. Dame Products had first informed whether there was interest from the MTA prior to the development of the campaign and received positive feedback. Subsequently, the company spent a whopping 150,000 dollars on the development of the campaign. In the end, the MTA decided not to allow the campaign, because it promoted “sex-oriented trafficking.”
According to the indictment, the MTA has “favored male interests” with its arbitrary advertising choices that violate the First Amendment of the US Constitution that guarantees the right to freedom of expression. For example, an ambiguous advertising poster from bedding company Brooklinen was allowed, as was a poster from a travel agency that encourages travelers to “get wet (on the beach, not from the guy next to you).” In addition, the MTA even allowed a city-sponsored advertisement for condoms.
“I think it is important that we are fair and it is unfair for these other companies to have ads that support sex in any way, while our company, which focuses on female pleasure, is seen as inappropriate,” says Alexandra Fine’s co-founder and co-founder of Dame Products.
A spokesperson for the MTA states that the transport company has done nothing wrong and “has the constitutional right to make a reasonable distinction based on the content” between advertisements, such as banning sex toy advertisements and that the advertising policy “in no way” discriminates against women.
In 2017, the New York City metro transported an average of 5.58 million passengers a day and 1.73 billion in total. It is not the first time the company has been charged with refusing to display advertisements, including posters with political content.
Company Thinx, a manufacturer of menstrual underwear, was also told by the MTA in 2015 that their campaign was inappropriate. Thinx brought the matter out and got the press behind them. The advertisements were finally approved.
The sex toy company wants compensation and demands that the MTA show the advertisements of Dame.