Is the "Men at Work" Sign Sexist?

After PINK magazine editor Cynthia Good complained that its "Men at Work" and "Men Working" signs are sexist, the city of Atlanta is going to change them - at a tune of $1,000 - to "Workers Ahead."

The project, which involves painting over the existing 50 "Men at Work" and "Men Working" signs with those that say simply "Workers Ahead" or "Workers," will cost a total of $1,000, Atlanta Public Works Commissioner Joe Basista told

About half of the city's 100 Public Works employees are women, said Basista, so he complied with PINK magazine editor Cynthia Good's request to stop warning passersby of men at work when women were right there alongside them.

Now, she's going national:

"We're calling on the rest of the nation to follow suit and make a statement that we will not accept these subtle forms of discrimination," she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A sensible correction or political correctness gone mad? What do you think? Link - Thanks Chris Ayres!

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

C-dub: 'Knee-jerk' is no attempt to color the argument. Knee-jerk is basically referring to how fast the decision was reached, and the strong language the Commissioner of the Atlanta Department of Public Works used in addressing the issue. I will refer you to the following quotes:

" take immediate measures to phase out any gender-specific signs by crews and contractors performing work for the city," and to "integrate this requirement into the permitting process to ensure compliance by all others working in the city's right of way..."

Immediate measures? Since when does government do anything fast? Actually the commissioner wants the new signs by the the end of July... not very long after the article was published. Granted, this is a relatively minor project and probably didn't need much time or effort, even with changing all of them out right away, but this focus on pleasing the feminists immediately, as soon as they dial your number, is what disturbs me. The commissioner could have simply said "Hey, thanks for pointing that out. We'll replace them when they wear out with better ones." Simple. Effective. Eliminates the issue with a minimum of waste.

Instead it seems rather sensationalist. Yes Ma'am! We will replace them right away! Pronto! Can I kiss your feet? To be fair, this is a rather typical reaction nowadays when a special interest dials a government official, and feminists are certainly not the only ones to get such a reaction. That doesn't make it any less of a knee-jerk reaction, however. Ironically the rapid response to the issue might serve to demonstrate that in many ways, the typical response to feminism has reversed since its early days. Instead of a hateful reaction, or at the very lease a grudging indifference, people often bend over backwards to please feminists. While I don't really agree with that response either, it does serve to demonstrate just how far the country has come in defeating sexism.

At any rate you are right about one thing... We've probably taken this as far as we can. I'm on my side of the issue and you are firmly on yours, but I will say I respect your debating ability and I certainly did a good deal of thinking about the issue which, at least, isn't quite as simple as it may first appear.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Sheesh, I'm careless today: Your poor opinion of the decision doesn’t mean it WAS made rashly, is what I meant to say. I guess my point is that the decision may have been the subject of a good amount of thought and consideration, you don't know. Which makes me think your description of it as "knee-jerk" is nothing more than an attempt to color the argument.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Okay, Xeal. I think we've probably both taken this about as far as possible (whew). But I do have one last question: why do you describe the government's reaction as "knee-jerk"? Where do you get that? The Commissioner's quoted comments are very mild and measured, and I don't see any other evidence in the article that supports your assumption. Your poor opinion of the decision doesn't mean it wasn't made rashly.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
C-dub: Do I object to feminist ideology? The answer to that is no, if we are referring to the general principle that women should not be held back, should be paid the same for the same work or not barred from privileges and rights accorded to men.

However that same question can be answered yes, I do object, if it is referring to over-inflating the importance of minor issues, getting angry when a man holds open a door for a woman out of common courtesy (which is likewise accorded to men), deliberately misinterpreting statements to be sexist, the extremist "all men are pigs" belief and other such ridiculous absolutist positions that some feminists subscribe to. Yes that's a run-on sentence, but it should serve to delineate where I draw the line.

Certainly if there was serious complaint about the signs earlier, it would have been wise to state that the signs would be replaced as they aged and left it at that, and if your statement is true, I would fault the government for that error (that still doesn't mean resources need to be wasted, however). And I don't necessarily fault the feminists for calling about the sign either. I think you misunderstand where my frustration is directed. My beef is less with the feminists for acting like, well, feminists.... and more with the local government for the knee-jerk response and the type of behavior that encourages from said feminists.

That isn't to say I don't think many feminists are prone to overreacting and deliberate misunderstanding -- I've indicated that enough times in my arguments to make that position clear. And if you read PINK magazine's statements on the matter I think you might find that attitude to be overreaching. They are "going national" with the issue and saying, as the article states, that they will not allow subtle discrimination like this. It's almost like a little crusade against road construction signs. That is what I find silly. That's why I don't this precedent, not necessarily because I don't subscribe to their ideology. Everyone has a right to complain. That doesn't mean the government should make knee-jerk decisions on a whim, however.

In short... this entire thing could have been a lot less sensationalist and handled in a quiet manner without feminists shrilling about it or governments acting rashly. It is, after all, just a sign, and not a representation of systematic bias, lower paychecks, female circumcision or any number of real issues that harm women around the world every day. Handle it in a quiet manner that doesn't waste resources unnecessarily. Unless, of course, people start running over female workers and using the sign as an excuse. As far as I know, that hasn't happened yet.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Is the "Men at Work" Sign Sexist?"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More