Brooklyn coffee shop removes bathroom sign after being accused of promoting ‘rape culture’
The owners of a Brooklyn coffee shop have faced backlash for a since-removed restroom sign that some patrons said promoted “rape culture.”
The coffee shop, Clever Blend, came under fire last month for the novelty co-ed restroom sign which depicted a stick-figured man peeking over a barrier at a stick-figured woman, Fox News reported.
While coffee shop owners Luca Tesconi and his wife, Nadia, just thought it was a funny sign, many customers apparently didn’t see the humor in the bathroom sign.
The sign was quickly lambasted on social media, with users accusing the coffee shop of being “sexist,” promoting “violence against women,” and encouraging “rape culture.” But Luca Tesconi, for his part, told DNAInfo it was nothing more than “an innocent stupid sign.”
Ultimately, the couple decided to remove the sign — but not before first defending it on social media.
Nadia Tesconi told DNAInfo that she believes the social media backlash against Clever Blend was started by a disgruntled customer who was frustrated over the coffee shop’s no-laptops policy, which is instituted during the shop’s busiest hours.
Luca Tesconi seemed to have a similar perspective. So late last month, the Tesconis decided to put it to an informal vote by adding a handwritten note under the controversial restroom sign, inviting customers to vote on whether the sign should stay or be taken 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,” the note explained. “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,” it continued.
By 4 p.m. on May 26, the day the note was posted, there were nine votes on the paper ballot for “just a silly sign” and three for “promotes violence.”
Nevertheless, the Clever Blend owners decided to take down the sign and replace it with two “inclusive restroom” plaques in its place.
“Some people got offended, but we didn’t put anything up with the intention of offending,” Nadia Tesconi said. “We started defending ourselves. … They started cursing, ‘F-you.’”
This is not the first time Clever Blend has faced criticism, Vice reported.
Before the bathroom sign dustup, the Brooklyn coffee shop in New York was criticized for displaying a large, pre-Civil War-era map identifying the Confederate states that seceded from the union.
In a statement to Vice, Luca Tesconi defended the map, which is still displayed in the shop, saying it recognizes a historically significant moment in American history.
“This map shows how the U.S. geography briefly changed as some Southern states with cotton-based economies joined the Confederate States of America in a stupid attempt to maintain their ‘legal’ rights to slavery and profit from it,” he said. “This map is displayed in an attempt to remember to all of us that at any time Civil Rights are at risk of being taking [sic] away from us.”