GSD&M, a usually quite creative ad agency in the heart of "weird" Austin, created this ad pro-bono together with five-time Academy Award-nominated director Richard Linklater. The ad was shot in GSD&M's own bathrooms in parts, and the idea is to add a little humor to a serious subject. GSD&M's CEO Duff Stewart told Advertising age: "Discriminatory legislation is not what this country is about. We need to speak up when we can."
Oh, I agree.
But what the agency is speaking up against here is SB6 which they have dubbed "the bathroom bill." Advertising tends to have a bad reputation due to omissions and spin, and here the spin is that it's all about sitting vs standing in public bathrooms, when the bill encompasses shower rooms, locker rooms and all changing rooms in schools. The bill is very clear that "Biological sex" means the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person's birth certificate," thus putting weight on reality of biology over what anyone might identify as, in terms as clear as bill can be. But you wouldn't learn this from this lazily put together choddy, which suggests that every business will flee tax-haven Texas because some people sit down when they pee. No seriously, the standing vs sitting thing, they actually went there.
Of course there's a website and a hashtag: #StopSB6, hoping to prompt people to write to their congressman to stop this bill. Why has this bill even appeared? Well, if you never heard of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, it's a federal law that states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." That means you can't lock girls out of school, or scholarship programs, which actually used to be a problem. In fact, discrimination against women and girls is still such a hot topic that advertising agencies usually fawn all over themselves over projects that encourage girls to enter STEM or be the 3%, or #womennotobjects etcetera. We've come a long way since 1972, baby as the Virginia Slim ads used to say, but discrimination due to a persons sex still happens. While females historically have faced greater sex restrictions and barriers in education, Title IX benefits men as well, since the goal is to achieve educational equality for all. All of this changed when this guidance letter issued under President Barack Obama was sent out to public schools. The damning part is:
As a condition of receiving Federal funds, a school agrees that it will not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently on the basis of sex any person in its educational programs or activities unless expressly authorized to do so under Title IX or its implementing regulations. The Departments treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of Title IX and its implementing regulations.
And with that, the law that was intended to prevent discrimination, enables discrimination. If women and girls is a class that is not defined by biological reality, but instead a chosen identity, what does it actually mean to be female? Who is female and how can we tell? Female as a term becomes irrelevant, as does being biologically a woman or a girl.
This choddy - complete with horrible piano as they tend to be - never comes close to explaining any of this, but they expect uninformed citizens to write their congressman after seeing a guy in a cowboy hat hammering on about not being like North Carolina in a bathroom. The website makes it clear that "It is and always will be illegal to harm or harass someone in a restroom," but mentions nothing of situations where young girls and anatomically young boys are nude together in the same changing rooms. Probably because if they did, not a single parent in Texas would write to their congressmen about this.