Coffee, hold the casual sexism please

This morning I checked out a new café that opened down the street from me. I sipped my coffee, flicked through the paper, and then looked at the menu to see if I might want to come back sometime for a meal. I won’t be back, and it wasn’t the food that put me off.

Here’s how, in 2016, this café pitched itself to the neighbourhood:

“We’ve wanted to open a true ‘local’ for ages […]
A local where you can meet the girls for lunch, relax with a wine, goss and enjoy a heathly light meal (guilt free, right!). Equally where the boys can call in for a cold schooner after work…
[…] We look forward to welcoming you to YOUR local…”

So — women gossip and lunch, but only lightly since they are trying to lose weight, and men work and drink beers.

This offends me. I hope it offends you too.

Normally, I fume quietly at such slights then later kick myself for saying nothing. I think that maybe I’m scared that I’m being overly sensitive, that I’ll be accused of not being able to take a joke, and enforcing “political correctness”, or that somehow the world will stop turning.

I don’t know what it was about today that was different, but I’d had enough. And so, I tapped out an email.

“Was excited to drop into the new local this morning, but disappointed with what I read in the intro on your menus and marketing online.
Ladies lunch and men go to work?
As a young (and incidentally, professional working) woman, I find marketing that perpetuates stereotypes like these thoughtless and offensive. You could so easily have said exactly the same comments about your Cafe’s appeal while keeping it gender neutral.
I’m sure that to you it might seem like minor semantics, but it makes me feel unwelcome, so I won’t be hurrying back.
Coffee was great, though a little steep at $5.50 for a soy flat white.
Welcome to the neighbourhood, and all the best with your new venture”

To expect that women and men are equally capable of participating in the workforce is not just “politically correct” (that dismissive term designed to make you feel guilty for being offended), it’s simply correct.

This is not just a gripe — it’s a call to action. I haven’t heard back from the café yet, but the way I see it, it’s the action itself (regardless of their reaction) that has meaning.

People — whatever your gender — if you see something, please say something. Be the pebble that disrupts the surface of a pond sending ripples across those around you — causing them to think twice about their own casual sexism, or giving them the courage to call it out when they see it. The world will keep turning, hopefully a little more even keeled than before.