PARK SLOPE — "Rape culture" promotion or funny joke?
A new coffeeshop's bathroom sign depicting a stick figure man peeping over the top of a bathroom stall at a stick figure woman has sparked a massive debate among customers and on social media, as critics decry it as promoting "rape culture" while the store owners say it's just "an innocent stupid sign."
Clever Blend, which took over the Gorilla Coffee space at 97 5th Ave. near Park Place in April, sparked a firestorm with its sign on its single-use, co-ed bathroom door, which sparked a war of words online.
Customers took to Instagram and Yelp to demand owners take the sign down.
"Dude, here's a quick breakdown: women get sexually harassed or assaulted every day and it's never funny," Instagram user @christinawoowoo wrote.
Hey Brooklyn friends: there's a new coffee shop called Clever Blend @clever_blend where Gorilla Coffee used to be. They have this shitty sign on their bathroom door and definitely don't need our patronage. When approached about the sign their Clever response was "get over it." They don't get it and are scratching their heads at the backlash instead of talking it out. Dude, here's a quick breakdown: women get sexually harassed or assaulted every day and it's never funny. So in conclusion, fuck you. Fuck this sign and fuck this shop. (Repost from @piersonnelle)
But instead of caving, the owners doubled down, saying that despite the controversy, the sign stays.
Coffeeshop co-owner Luca Tesconi posted a long defense of the sign on its official Instagram feed, saying that they bought it as a joke on Amazon and that anyone who didn't like it should "get in touch with Amazon, EBay Pinterest etc... explain your point of view and convince them to have this silly sign removed from their websites."
"I don't think it's fair that you can just attack us this way," Tesconi's wife and co-owner Nadia Tesconi, who was working at the shop on Friday, told DNAinfo New York. "We're trying to keep everyone happy."
Nadia Tesconi said she thinks the brouhaha was started by a disgruntled customer mad that the store has a no-laptops policy on busy days.
But the store decided to open the decision on the fate of the sign to its customers, adding a handwritten paper sign to its bathroom door inviting them to vote on whether the sign should come down.
“We have received a number of threats and insults from a few internet users that believe this silly bathroom sign promotes violence against women,” an explanation sign on the bathroom door reads, “We are really having a hard time accepting and understanding how some people can turn silly things into an opportunity to judge and insult other human beings. We are not willing to take this silly toilet sign down unless we are sure that the majority of our customers believe we should.”
A "Cast Your Vote" sign invites customers to mark a paper poll with spaces for X marks under "just a silly sign" or "promotes violence."
As of 4 p.m. Friday, there were 9 marks for "silly sign" and 3 for "promotes violence."
I'm having a hard time making sense of this. We bought a funny sign (this is the way it is advertised on Amazon and EBay-why don't you curse at Jeff Bezos now?) and we get a "FU@% YOU" compilation, plus a couple of "bad" Yelp reviews because a "Laptop customer" decides to translate an innocent stupid sign into a personal vendetta probably because she didn't like our laptops rules. Having said that, I'm deeply offended by the ferocity of your posts and the way you use the internet to judge people without even knowing them. I'll agree to the following: get in touch with Amazon, EBay Pinterest etc... explain your point of view and convince them to have this silly sign removed from their websites and then we will remove it immediately. Until then the sign stays for one simple reason: we didn't put it up to offend anyone :)
A customer at the cafe Friday said she thought the bathroom sign could help promote unhealthy attitudes toward women.
“I don’t think that I would say that it promotes violence, but it is inappropriate," said the woman, who gave just her first name, Valerie. "It gets into your subconscious."