Let's Talk About Sex(ual Harassment)

Buzzfeed found that the restaurant business from 1995 to 2016 reported more sexual harassment cases than any other industry. Alarming? Yes. Surprising? Maybe not.

The restaurant business is yet another industry primarily dominated by men. Karen Leibowitz, an owner of a San Francisco restaurant, decided to take it upon herself to create a poster to outline how to take a stand to sexual harassment.

Kate Bratskeir, author of the article “Why Every Restaurant Should Display This Sexual Harassment PSA on its Walls” says the poster was designed in the spirit of the Heimlich maneuver posters required to be hung in all New York City restaurants. By mimicking a poster that people have become accustomed to, the creators hope to have people take a double look at the new colors and the new meaning of the poster.

So, what? Will people take the time to read the posters or assume they already know the information based on the familiar design? Do people eating out care about this issue?

Before I touch on the questions I have posed above, I think this campaign is a good idea. I think it is long over-due, but it definitely couldn’t hurt. The idea to base a poster about an issue as serious as sexual harassment on a past poster about choking, however, is not how I would have approached the campaign.

There is a serious chance that people will graze over this poster because visually, they have seen the design before. In my opinion, drastically changing the colors is not enough to stop people in their tracks and consider the message.

I also think that where this poster is placed makes a worlds difference. On the wall by the door of the restaurant? Probably not going to get a lot of attention. On the inside of a bathroom stall? We are onto something. The goal of the poster is to get people to read the message and understand that they are not powerless in a situation of sexual harassment. It is to educate people about their rights and the laws surrounding their rights.

Do I think people eating out will care? Yes, because this is a huge social issue. I think how serious they take the posters depends on the delivery of the message and how focused they are when receiving it. I don't think that people will look twice at this poster if they just walk past it in a restaurant, especially when they are used to seeing the same design for years.

This campaign is a wonderful idea to help raise awareness for workers’ rights, but its success depends greatly on how the posters are designed and delivered. However, the Heimlich maneuver and sexual harassment are two very different issues and in my opinion, deserve different poster designs.