A prominently displayed MTA bus ad for the Museum of Sex is stirring up controversy, with some women bus drivers claiming the institution’s logo is encouraging riders to make inappropriate remarks. In response, the MTA has begun moving the ads, previously plastered between the headlights on the front of the bus.
“People have made comments to me like, ‘I like that ad, do you like that ad?’ in a sexual tone. And I don’t like that ad,” one anonymous woman driver told the New York Post.
“The safety of our workers and all those who use NYC Transit is our top priority,” said MTA communications director Jon Weinstein to PIX 11. “After hearing from bus drivers earlier this week, we have begun the process of moving these ads.”
The move comes halfway through the four-week ad campaign, which features the museum’s logo, comprising the institution’s name in simple black and white. As opposed to most bus ads, which appear on the side or back of the vehicle, it is front and center. There are no suggestive images or graphics—just the word “sex,” but for some, that is enough to cause offense.
Kalman Yeger, a city councilman for Borough Park, Brooklyn, has allegedly received numerous complaints from his constituents about the ads. “I think it’s not a family-friendly ad, frankly, and our buses should be reserved for things that are family friendly,” he told CBS New York.
For its part, the Museum of Sex, which hosts art and culture exhibitions related to sexuality, sees no problems with the ads, and argues that moving them amounts to censorship. “With two weeks left in the campaign, we hope to resolve this issue with the MTA and the community amicably, without having to escalate this to a First Amendment case,” said the museum in a statement.
“As the Museum of Sex has been advertising for close to 3 years in subways, buses, and bus shelters with no complaints, we were surprised to hear about the issue raised by the MTA,” the museum added, acknowledging that any complaints of sexual harassment should be taken seriously. “We have conducted and recorded a dozen interviews of bus drivers in the past two days and have not received a single negative response. One female driver even inquired: ‘Where is the Museum of Sex? I would like to visit.’”
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