A sex toy company filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against New York City's transit authority for refusing its advertisements.
Dame Products, which built its brand around closing the "pleasure gap" for women, claims that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) applied its policies in a discriminatory manner against the company using a double standard based on gender. The company started a social media campaign, #DerailSexism, to promote its dispute with the MTA.
The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, claims that the MTA violated Dame's rights to free speech, due process, and equal protection under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
"We shouldn't let institutions like the MTA shame sexual pleasure while advocating for improved libido," Dame said in a video on its website. "Sexual pleasure is linked to increased libido, as well as better sleep, less stress and an overall better quality of life."
The company alleges in its lawsuit that it worked with the MTA on proposed art for its ads beginning in July 2018 and spent $150,000 to revise the art based on the MTA's feedback.
Dame then received a letter on Dec. 3, 2018, from the MTA's Chief Development Officer stating that the public transit authority determined the ads were promoting a "sexually oriented business, which has long been prohibited by the MTA's advertising standards," according to the suit.
The MTA has accepted advertisements, however, that use phallic images to promote erectile dysfunction medication. There has also been art displayed for the city's Museum of Sex and city programs that promote free condoms, the lawsuit states.
MTA Chief External Affairs Officer Maxwell Young could not comment on the lawsuit directly, claiming the authority has yet to be served, but denied public statements alleging the MTA's advertising is gender-based.
"The MTA's FAQs about its advertising policy clearly states that advertisements for sex toys or devices for any gender are not permitted, and advertising for FDA approved medication - for either gender - is permitted," the statement said.
The statement went on to say that the transit authority is "constitutionally entitled to draw reasonable content-based distinctions between different types of advertisements."