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Air New Zealand unapologetic for repeated sexism

20 December 2012

Air New Zealand unapologetic for repeated sexism

On the eve of CEO Rob Fyfe’s departure, Air New Zealand has been urged to undertake a clean out in regard to its pattern of puerile, sexist depictions of women.

In an open letter to Air New Zealand last week, Stop Demand, which works to curb the sexual denigration of women, says that while Air New Zealand under Rob Fyfe might have served the interests of its shareholders well, it has served the interests of women poorly.

Stop Demand lists a series of controversial promotions that have simmered under and over the radar in recent years. It cites the series of potty-mouthed Rico ads that either sexualised or trivialised women, the fuelling of comments like "there's not much better than getting blown by a Kiwi bitch”, a “fares lower than your grandma’s boobs” promotion, a “naked granny” flight safety video, the pairing up with misogynist rapper Snoop Dogg, and recent jokes over “Beastheim” and a female shot putter’s “left testicle”.

In its letter to Air New Zealand’s Board and Executive, Stop Demand asks:

“Why does Air New Zealand persist in belittling and sexualising women, young and old?
Why does Air New Zealand have a juvenile obsession with nakedness, genitals and fellatio?
Why has Air New Zealand turned its back on ‘classy and clever’ for ‘cheap and tacky’?
Why has the Board of a national icon permitted such a puerile culture?"

Stop Demand’s founder Denise Ritchie says, "This is not about being ‘PC’, humourless or prudish. Most of us enjoy clever humour. Most of us like ‘edgy’ and ‘provocative’. Sexism and misogyny is none of these.” She adds, “On one hand, most of these ads are puerile, aimed largely at what Air New Zealand thinks juvenile males find titillating. At a deeper level, however, Air New Zealand’s repeated marketing of sexist messages is socially irresponsible; it fuels unhealthy attitudes towards women and serves to reinforce a sense of male superiority and entitlement.”

In its response to Stop Demand, Air New Zealand remained unapologetic about its sexually denigrating promotions. Ritchie says, “Its justifications – driving revenue, creating jobs and popularity – fall woefully short when weighed against respect, ethics and integrity”.

As Fyfe departs, Stop Demand calls on the incoming CEO, Christopher Luxon, to embrace a more respectful positioning of both men and women.

Air New Zealand now features on Stop Demand’s website as a company with a history of sexually denigrating women http://www.stopdemand.org/wawcs0154998/sexual-denigration.html

Stop Demand calls for action to stop sexual violence, sexual exploitation and sexual denigration of women and children.


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