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Bob Abramms    Sticky
As the publisher, and person primarily responsible for this web site, I was little alarmed when we received two emails in the last month from women who felt the ads posted on this page were sexist, as the page left women out entirely. After emailing each of them, I've received their permission to post their comments, in the hope that we can create an on-going dialog about this issue.

Ainsley   Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Re: Sexism in ODT Map Ads
Dear Bob,
I was very excited to see your e-mail in response to my complaint with the company's ads and I greatly appreciate your interest in continuing this discussion.
The history on ODT was helpful and confirmed the values I believed the company to hold. As for the recent history, I understand the dilemma and the somehow almost always present "double-edged sword" when dealing with sexism and gender (im)balances. However, while I do see the innocence of the intent, as someone reading the website without knowing that background, it appears sexist.
I think your proposal of a blog style discussion on the website about this is an excellent idea! I am very interested in reading what other people have to say and I think that it is important to be constantly thinking about the effects of any ad or material a company presents to its customers... Thanks again for the e-mail, I am very impressed and pleased with the response I have received for my concern. Often these complaints go unnoticed or ignored, and so I really appreciate ODT's dedication to resolving the problem.
Thank you,
Ainsley Judge

Bob replies to Laurie - PART 2   Wednesday, February 20, 2008
-continued from previous entry -
More Recent Background: It was last April (2007) and my life-partner, Mona, who often supports this business in a variety of ways made the comment: "ODT needs to get the word out of maps as gifts for guys. You can buy a guy a tie only so many times, and ODT should put together a concerted effort to let the world know (especially with Father's Day approaching in June), that maps make a great gift for the guy in your life." Well, Mona persuaded us to move ahead on this theme, and our web designer, Odin, prepared a great web page showing up as the GIFT FOR GUYS section, showing the various types of guys and the map gifts they would love. Now click on the gift box at the top left of our home page. We made fun of eleven (count them…eleven) stereotypes of guys and created a goofy picture for each of them. But just imagine if we wanted to do the same type of thing with eleven stereotypes of women! Now that would REALLY be sexist. So, we have a double-edged sword: damned if you make them equal, damned if you don't. This is not to say that your criticism isn't valid. Dianne LaMountain always used to remind us that intent is irrelevant in instances of discrimination, and she's often give little lectures with anecdotes about "intent versus effect." The dilemma, which as I see it is: "Go for gender balance and present women in the same way we position the ads for men (somewhat silly and stereotypical one-dimensional characters). Or should we eliminate what we felt would be not only a cute promotion for Father's Day in June, but one well worth running year round. Is an ad sexist if it runs year round?, and might it be non-sexist if it only runs for 2 months?
The point of all this is to raise awareness and start a conversation. And I am grateful to you for having raised the issue so forthrightly. Thanks so much for bringing it to our attention. Let's see where it goes from here...
Gratefully yours,
Bob Abramms, Founder, ODTmaps.com

Bob replies to Laurie - PART 1   Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Dear Laurie:
I have discussed your email with Howard Bronstein, our president. I was both bemused and concerned by your complaint. Bemused - because I know this history of this particular promotional campaign - and how we could have missed the obviousness of how it might appear -- and concerned -- because no matter how well-intentioned (or concerned with gender equality & opportunity) one is -- the possibility of acting, or appearing to act, in a sexist manner is still something for everyone to be concerned about.
Some background -
Distant background first: In the 1970's ODT was a human resource development publishing company…very concerned with gender equality, very attuned to the importance of using non-sexist language. With the 70's came the first major influx of women into middle and senior management positions in corporate America. We published resources on using non-sexist language, we reprinted the Non-Sexist Word Finder, we supported publication of Paula Bern's How to Work for Woman Boss and also Natasha Josefowicz's How to Work for a Sexist Boss. In the 1980's we published the Cultural Diversity Sourcebook, Cultural Diversity Fieldbook, and Cultural Diversity Supplement #1 and well as many other award-winning and groundbreaking resources dealing with gender, race and class. We ran hundreds of diversity training programs for Fortune 500 companies all around the USA, and some programs internationally. Internally, we were vigilant about our own unconscious sexism. One of our founding mothers, the late Dianne LaMountain, did extensive corporate trainings and also produced an audio learning module on Dealing With Subtle Discrimination. So we are quite familiar with the issues. All which goes to address the question of "How the heck could ODT do something that would be, or even appear as, sexist?!"
--- to be continued in part 2 -----
From Bob Abramms, Founder, ODTmaps.com

Ainsley   Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Dear ODT Maps,
I have just made my first purchase, the "What's Up? South!" Map, and I am very pleased with your selection of thought-provoking maps; however, i do have one complaint.
Why does your website have a link for "Gifts for Guys?" and not an equivalent one for women? This seems awfully sexist and not at all something I would expect from your company. I am a geography major at a private undergraduate liberal arts college which consists of mostly women. I can assure you that myself and other women love maps as much as men do, and I thus find the sexism present on your website offensive and upsetting. Please consider incorporating both genders equally on your website as your prospective customers.
I would love to be a continuing customer, yet I can assure you I will not if I continue to feel discriminated or marginalized by your company as a female geographer.
Thank you.
Sincerely,
Ainsley Judge

Loli   Sunday, February 17, 2008
The first time I heard about the 'gift for guys' section, it surprised me a bit also as so many women have responded dramatically to the different maps in the training room sessions I've given and we don't need to add divisiveness to a super idea. While the genders ARE wired differently, the site could cater to both. The" gifts for Father's Day" might be a better title...leading then to the possibility of a Gifts for Mother's Day"--- noone is complaining about the special listings for educators, teachers, kids gifts etc... SO !
This site provides quality materials in an area that is both fascinating and potentially transformative. Let us work FOR it together instead of 'agin' it? I suggest.

Laurie   Friday, February 08, 2008
Why do you feature "Gifts for Guys"? I find this strange and off-putting, especially in light of your company's stated commitment to using maps as a way of making people think about other people, other frameworks and other points of view. Women (me for instance) are also interested in geography and maps

Dave   Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I didn't find it offensive. It's no secret that guys are wired differently than women. When I go to the mall with my wife, after five minutes I'm looking for a place to sit down.

NokiyaUp   Thursday, October 05, 2006
cute. When it comes to shopping, I'll take all the help I can get.
p.s. i love the site!