Subway's 'Penis Seat' Is Getting Some Attention

Mexico City takes on sexual harassment with eye-popping commuter prop
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2017 10:28 AM CDT

Shaking heads. Disgusted looks. Giggles. These are all reactions you'll spot in a YouTube video documenting a Mexico City subway experiment that definitely caught commuters' attention. In what's described as an empathy-building campaign, the city's government teamed up with UN Women to create the #NoEsDeHombres campaign (per the New York Times, that translates to "this isn't manly"), created to show how women regularly deal with sexual harassment. In the "Experimento Asiento" ad by the J. Walter Thompson agency, the camera shows what happens when people riding the Mexico City subway spy a repurposed seat, with the top half designed to look like a male torso, the bottom half like a penis, right where someone would sit. A sign in front of the seat reads: "It is annoying to travel this way, but not compared to the sexual violence women suffer in their daily commutes."

"We need to make clear that [harassment] is violent, not flattering," Ana Guemez, the director of the Mexican UN Women office, tells the Times, which notes the goal was to put the onus on men for this behavior, not on women. Various surveys show women in Mexico in general (and in Mexico City specifically) are prone to feeling unsafe or reporting they were groped or harassed while on public transportation. The BBC notes the video, which has so far been viewed more than 1.7 million times, is receiving mixed reaction, with some hailing it and others calling it sexist. "It's important not to stigmatize all men as violent and potential attackers of women," says the chief of a Mexican group working to educate men on sexual harassment. J. Walter Thompson also created a second ad showing men's butts. (A Mexican man was acquitted of sexual assault because a judge found no proof of "desire.")

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.