Saxby’s Coffee Bathroom Sign Celebrates Sexual Predators

Heeeey Saxby’s Coffee at Vermont and K in DC? Maybe this is not the most appropriate bathroom sign.

(Yes, that is a bathroom sign that shows a dude peeking over a stall door at a woman. Very cool! Definitely what you want happening in the bathroom of your dining establishment. I do not see what could possibly go wrong).

Thanks to Josh Glastetter for the photo.

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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38 Responses to Saxby’s Coffee Bathroom Sign Celebrates Sexual Predators

  1. Andie says:

    Keep it Classy, Saxby’s.

    The ‘Limited to Saxby’s Customers Only’ disclaimer lends a little extra squick.

  2. Emily says:

    Nice… Another thing that makes me think ‘What was going through your head?’

  3. FashionablyEvil says:

    The ‘Limited to Saxby’s Customers Only’ disclaimer lends a little extra squick.

    My thoughts exactly. Buy our coffee and you can be a peeping tom! Alternatively, buy our coffee and and be sexually harassed!

  4. DonnaL says:

    Oy. I guess I should be thankful that it isn’t a figure of a “man in a dress” looking over the side of the stall.

  5. Fran says:

    Wow! That is really creepy. I was assaulted by a stranger in a bathroom years ago and I would certainly be uncomfortable and possibly triggered if I saw that sign at a coffee shop. The Saxby’s in my town has bible verses posted in the bathroom, so I assumed they were one of those religious places like Chic-fil-A or a franchise situation. Makes you wonder what kind of management thinks this is funny.

  6. firelizard19 says:

    Whoa! I’ve never been to a Saxby’s, but I think we all agree that sign is creepy- definitely not going somewhere with that little taste and respect if it ever comes up. Anyone thought of contacting them and mentioning how offensive the sign is, and how having something like that up could really hurt their business?

  7. Nickeled says:

    Lovely. Glad to be able to cross one restaurant off my list so easily! Will be sharing this.

  8. number9 says:

    Hey, there’s a Saxby’s by my office! I stopped in a few times on the way in to work but never noticed the bathroom sign. Will check tomorrow if their sign is the same. And needless to say, even if it’s not, I’ll be taking my business elsewhere.

  9. Unsolicited Commenter says:

    Yes, that is a bathroom sign that shows a dude peeking over a stall door at a woman. Very cool!

    How do you know that the “dude” is peeking? I don’t see anything that look like eyes, let alone open eyes.

    Anyway, long post, summarized: I think the above pictograph is open to interpretation and not necessarily creepy.

    Trying to understand what’s really going on…

    (Which is subjective, I know, but let’s try to get into the original artist’s head, okay?)

    One common unisex pictograph is a male figure and a female figure separated by a vertical line. (See the Wikipedia page for “Gender-neutral toilet.”) A vertical line (“|”) is a common symbol used for representing the “or” operator. Thus, the common unisex pictograph can be interpreted as “Male or Female” (or “Female or Male,” depending on the order). So, in the common pictograph, the intrinsic interpretation of the vertical line is that it is only a logical operator.

    Assuming that the above pictograph is based on the common unisex pictograph, the question becomes how one interprets the actions of the male figure. Also, the environment of these two seemingly now anthropomorphic figures is relevant to consider.

    E.g. Did these two figures just become alive/self-aware? How big is their world? Is it only two-dimensional? Perhaps the male figure wants to explore his new-found world, so he climbs up the vertical line to see what is on the other side. And, then he finds a female figure. So, what does he do next? Does he say “hi” somehow? Or, just climb on over? And, what will she do? How does she feel about seeing the male figure?

    In other words, consider the common pictograph as the first panel in a cartoon strip, and the above pictograph as the second panel. Thus, how one interprets the actions of the male figure could determine the female figure’s reaction in a conjectural third panel.

    Also, this graphic dates to at least 2005 and perhaps originated at a drive-in movie theater in Seoul (see flickr.com/photos/wili/83732757/).

    ***

    Now, using this in an apparently serious place of business, a “what were they thinking” response is more in order.

  10. igglanova says:

    ^ Lol, is this pretentious knob for real?

  11. librarygoose says:

    @9

    HAHAHAHAHA

    Are you serious? Yeah, let us get all deep and linguistically analyze this peeping Tom sign.

    HAHAHAHAHAHA

  12. LotusBen says:

    I don’t know Unsolicited. . .I actually clicked on your link and everyone on the Flickr thread thought the sign was depicting a Peeping Tom. So that seems pretty obvious. Not sure what you’re getting at.

  13. Angie unduplicated says:

    Small salads at inflated prices,now perv and purse thief at the ladies room door. Not my kind of place at all. Makes me think of Saxby Chambliss and bad governance every time I pass by.

  14. Xeginy says:

    This is awful. And way to feed into the already well-established bathroom fear, too. You know, the kind of fear that causes transmen and transwomen to be harassed or physically removed from bathrooms.

  15. Unsolicited Commenter says:

    I don’t know Unsolicited. . .I actually clicked on your link and everyone on the Flickr thread thought the sign was depicting a Peeping Tom. So that seems pretty obvious. Not sure what you’re getting at.

    That link was mainly for noting that this pictograph has been around for a while. And thinking something means something is different than knowing something means something.

    Are you serious? Yeah, let us get all deep and linguistically analyze this peeping Tom sign.

    Yes, I am. My original comment was directed at the interpretation of this sign in the original post. Namely, the title of this post which includes “Sign Celebrates Sexual Predators,” which I find to be harsh, and even if it’s in jest, a bit inappropriate.

    So, in my mind, the question becomes, from a neutral perspective, is this outrage justified? Therefore, an independent interpretation of the sign is necessary. At this time, I find the sign ambiguous, so I don’t join in the outrage. And, I think it’s premature to boycott a whole chain just because of the actions of one franchisee who has not been given the chance to explain herself or himself.

    E.g., according to anecdotal comments from elsewhere, it seem that this pictograph is common in parts of Asia. What if the franchisee is from a place in Asia where that pictograph is commonly used for unisex restrooms? Could this just be a case of cultural misunderstandings?

    • Jill says:

      E.g., according to anecdotal comments from elsewhere, it seem that this pictograph is common in parts of Asia. What if the franchisee is from a place in Asia where that pictograph is commonly used for unisex restrooms? Could this just be a case of cultural misunderstandings?

      What if space aliens came down to Earth and planted this picture and then made it disappear every time the American management of the American coffee chain went to look at it? Could this just be a big misunderstanding?

  16. Donna L says:

    So, what does he do next? Does he say “hi” somehow? Or, just climb on over? And, what will she do? How does she feel about seeing the male figure?

    This is hilarious. It has to be a joke. “Hi there, can I climb on over?”

  17. LotusBen says:

    This is hilarious. It has to be a joke. “Hi there, can I climb on over?”

    I just hate to imagine what our knowledge of Ancient Egypt would be like today if Unsolicited Commenter had been in charge of deciphering the hieroglyphics.

  18. infoqueen says:

    Could it be that “Unsolicited Commenter” = Sign Designer?

  19. Angiportus says:

    xkcd it ain’t.
    And I’d not feel comfortable with a “cartoon” where only one party gets to explore the world and the other is seen as inert, perhaps even inanimate.
    We have all, for one reason or another, had unusual/idiosyncratic responses that differ from what everyone else seems to agree on. Sometimes it’s best to just keep the lid on those.

  20. firelizard19 says:

    @ Angioportus- I actually disagree. Even though I totally disagree with him/her on the sign interpretation, I think the odd interpretations people come up with of an issue shouldn’t be suppressed just because they disagree with the group. Like you said, we all think differently sometimes, and shouldn’t that be a good thing?

  21. matlun says:

    Do we have confirmation that this is for real?
    Someone thinking this was a good idea is almost too stupid for belief.

  22. Ledasmom says:

    Sometimes it’s just too much effort to get coffee and be sexually harassed in the same day. Now I can do both in one trip! Thank you, Saxby’s Coffee!

  23. librarygoose says:

    At this time, I find the sign ambiguous, so I don’t join in the outrage.

    If your pictograph is ambiguous, especially to members of the culture it’s in, then you’re doing it wrong. If the overwhelming majority of people look at that and think “Oh, a peeping Tom sign.” and you meant “Deeply profound discussion of unisex bathroom procedure.” Then you need to rethink your whole approach.

  24. Maria says:

    You mean it’s now a woman watching a man pole-dancing?

  25. Jill says:

    It’s a woman watching a man drink out of a giant straw.

  26. Jill says:

    Do we have confirmation that this is for real?
    Someone thinking this was a good idea is almost too stupid for belief.

    The photo was taken by a real-life acquaintance of mine (Josh, who is credited in the post), who saw it at Saxby’s with his own eyes and took a photo, which he emailed to me. So… I did not personally see it, but I believe Josh when he says he did, and submitted photo evidence.

  27. PrettyAmiable says:

    How do you know that the “dude” is peeking? I don’t see anything that look like eyes, let alone open eyes.

    LOL. You think a more likely interpretation is that the staff at Saxby’s saw this sign and said, “this stick figure has just become self-aware and decided to explore his two dimensional world by crawling over a stall that is already occupied by a woman. How fascinating.”

    You nailed it, sparky. That’s exactly it.

    Y’all remember that guy who got caught filming women in the Starbucks bathroom a few months back? Which one, you might be asking.

    You find it ambiguous because apparently you’re completely lacking in any awareness of reality.

    Anyway, moral of the story – don’t pee in a coffee shop.

  28. Pingback: Two Words: Rape. Culture. | Change Happens: The SAFER Blog

  29. Cara says:

    Namely, the title of this post which includes “Sign Celebrates Sexual Predators,” which I find to be harsh, and even if it’s in jest, a bit inappropriate.

    …as opposed to the sign itself, which is totally appropriate, even if it’s in jest?

    This has been Part Nine Kajillion in “Apologia: Up Is Down, Freedom Is Slavery, and We Have Always Been at War with Eastasia”.

  30. Francesca says:

    I have a few questions, I hope someone can elucidate. First of all, one of the critics levied at Unsolicited Commentor is that they are getting “all deep”. Now, generally, the idea of getting ‘deep’ is suggestive of getting closer to some kind of truth. Why is it used here as a criticism?

    Lotusben said “everyone on the flickr thread thinks it’s depicting harassment”, (implying that “everyone” is always right) and Angiportus said “We have all, for one reason or another, had unusual/idiosyncratic responses that differ from what everyone else seems to agree on. Sometimes it’s best to just keep the lid on those.” I find this a little bit scary. The gist seems to be that independent thought is incorrect almost by definition, or at least not to be taken seriously. Is feminism not all that compatible with independent thought??

  31. librarygoose says:

    Is feminism not all that compatible with independent thought??

    Nope. You caught us.

  32. Francesca says:

    I don’t mean independent thought as a group independent of mainstream society, I mean as an individual.

  33. EG says:

    Oh, she knew what you meant.

  34. librarygoose says:

    Alright, here we go for real:

    In cultures simple symbols are used to easily convey messages without the person being required to have too much foreknowledge. Simple symbols are accessible to many (like kids), where written messages are not. Now, like every other facet of culture they derive their meaning and worth from cultural context. If you make a sign, a symbolic sign like the one above, that says to the culture at large “Peeping Tom” then that is not the problem of the culture. An in depth reading of simple symbols is not required because of their nature. If this wasn’t meant as “Peeping Tom” whoever made it is doing it wrong.

  35. Francesca says:

    If she knew what I meant, why would she waste ( my definition) her energy typing that sentence? Seriously…?

    First of all, my initial questions weren’t about the sign, I thought I made that sort of clear. My questions were about the type of argument used to “shoot down” the Unsolicited Commentator, the ones I mentioned were implying that if one person thinks something, it’s wrong almost by definition. That’s the thinking I was questioning.

    ( Some types of feminists are against the signifier-signified link, ya know, they think it’s more progressive to do symbols wrong…)

  36. librarygoose says:

    That doesn’t change their meaning here, unless explicitly stated to be a challenge the symbols will be read in the cultural context. You can play with them and change them up all you want, but the context remains. What you’re playing with is the meaning that the culture gives the symbol and subverting the assumption most people have because of the given meaning for the fucking symbol. Also, I sincerely fucking doubt that’s what is going on with this sign, you know the fucking sign from the article?

    I typed that sentence because your assumption that everything needs a fucking meta analysis is fucking ridiculous and dare tell people off for denying some asshole the fun of dragging the obvious into the dense undergrowth of intellectual self servicing. I wasn’t shutting down the comment, I was saying it was stupid and needless and wrong because it was all of those things.

  37. Francesca says:

    You’re *that* sure you know what my assumptions are?

    I’m not saying “everything” needs a meta analysis, this is another thing I don’t get about the everything-is-always-polticial mindset, that what one person says is assumed to be like a prescription for everyone. There’s no such thing as everyone. Having written that, though, maybe life would be better if people got a little more meta, I don’t know.

    I would question the idea that there is a single context, also. I’m not saying that there isn’t a certain amount of overlap in how people look at things, but it’s not a sure thing. I know for a fact that one person’s obvious is another person’s “what?”

    You’re stil not addressing my point about the argument that was used against the Unsolicited Commentor. Are you saying that, since the person is a jerk, whatever argument you against them is fine? I feel like the “everyone thinks you’re wrong so you are wrong” argument can have really bad repercussions.

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