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Japanese Train Commercial Criticized For Being Sexist (Video)

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Women just don’t know how to sit properly anymore

Dentetsu, the Japanese private railway operator that was harshly criticized by many on social media late
last year for a commercial they ran that targeted women who put make up
on while riding their trains, is once again being called out on social
media and this
time its for a new ad that targets women who wear high heels.

The new commercial, like all of the previous ones in this multi-part ad campaign, takes place on a train. It opens up with
actress Sawa Nimura  noticing a woman wearing high heels sitting across
from her. Nimura then says “I saw a person who looks good in high heels. She
was a person who sits beautifully.” Following this she breaks into a song
and dance routine, during which she praises the woman for “looking
lovely” and for sitting in a “stylish” manner. The commercial, which can be seen below, ends with a message telling viewers “Don’t bother those around you, please sit in a stylish manner.”

of the main points of criticism brought up by people on Twitter was that
both the commercial and its accompanying poster, show men that are
sitting in ways that most people riding on a crowded train would
consider a nuisance. One
of the men is sitting with his legs spread apart and the other man is
sitting with his legs crossed. And yet, at no point is this criticized
or even mentioned in
the ad.

Translations of some of the critical tweets can be seen below.

Start by calling out the men for being improper!

So since it’s pretty much only women that wear heels are you trying to say “Women close your legs, men do whatever you want”?

You don’t call out the men sitting with their legs apart or crossed
for being improper but you make sure to praise the woman for sitting
properly. I wonder if the message (of this commercial) will really resonate with men who sit with their legs spread apart.

It’s like you/re implicitly telling all women to close their legs, regardless of whether they’re wearing high heels or not.

I feel like what you’re saying is that a lot of women sit in a vulgar way. That’s so underhanded and it pisses me off

Ladies, THIS is the only acceptable way for you to sit when on a train.

Following the negative reaction of people on Twitter, The Huffington Post called Tokyu Dentetsu and talked to a company spokesperson about the matter. However, the spokesperson’s responses seemed to indicate that the company did not agree with  the critics of the ad.

When asked about why the company had decided to focus on women who wear high heels the spokesperson responded by saying “We didn’t decide to focus on high heels after we
did the commercial about make up. Train etiquette ads are often
ignored, so we were trying to catch people’s attention by choosing
something that would really have an impact and leave an impression.” The spokesperson also stated that “they are taking people’s
opinions into account.” However, the representative also seemed to defend the ad by saying that “past ads
have featured male models so a
woman was used in this one in order to not be one-sided.”

Given these comments and the fact that Tokyu Dentetsu did nothing after the uproar that followed their controversial make up ad last year, it seems unlikely that the company will be taking any actions to address the concerns of people who were offended by their newest ad. However, even if they simply stay quiet and allow this matter to fade from the consciousness of people, hopefully, the second time is the charm for them and they don’t end up releasing yet another controversial ad a few months from now.

As for the controversial make up ad, it was released in September of last
year and also features actress Sawa Nimura on a train acting as Tokyu Dentetsu’s spokesperson for train etiquette. In the
commercial, Nimura can be heard criticizing
women who put on make up while riding the train. At the beginning of the commercial Nimura can be heard saying “Women in the city are all beaurtiful. However, sometimes they are mittomonai.” This word, mittomonai, is a rather harsh word that can be translated iany ways, including “improper,” “undignified,” “shameful” and even “ugly..”


The rest of the commercial, which can be seen below, is quite similar to most of the others in this series. Nimura breaks into a song and dance number, during which she further criticizes the person doing the rude thing that is the subject of the commercial. Then at the end of the commercial a message directed at viewers appears on on-screen. This time the message reads “Please refrain from putting on make up while riding the train.”

Although it is true that open make up bottles can emit odors or even spill and thus inconvenience other train passengers, many on Twitter pointed out that this commercial seemed to be attacking women for their appearance. And yet despite the criticism raised by people online Tokyu Dentetsu seemed not to care. In fact, they cared so little that they went ahead and released the high heels ad only a little over three months later.

If you’d like to watch the other, not so controversial, commercials in this series then click here to go to the official YouTube channel of the ad campaign.

Or if you’d like to check out a much more fun and not controversial train etiquette ad then click here.

Update: Since the writing of this article it appears that Tokyu Dentetsu has taken down both of the controversial ads from their YouTube channel. However, if you check the channel you will see that short versions of the non-controversial ads in this series are still available to watch. It does not appear that Tokyu Dentetsu has made any official comment on their decision to take down these ads.

Sources: Excite News, The Huffington Post

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