MONTCLAIR, N.J. ─ A cheeky logo of a cartoon cow has sparked a beef between a derrière-themed ice cream shop and residents who say the image is sexist.
Complaints against the newly opened Dairy Air Ice Cream Co. began Monday with an open letter by local business owner Amy Tingle, who blasted the store for sexualizing women to sell ice cream and demanded that the logo be put out to pasture.
“It is offensive and sickening,” Tingle wrote. “A hyper-sexualized, obviously female cow with her a-- upended and poking through a circle, tail raised up, waiting for what? I'm not sure, but I do know that I am repulsed and offended.”
The logo is not visible from the store’s exterior but is plastered on the store’s furniture, walls and cups, making girls and women feel “as if we are things for someone else’s sexual use,” Tingle wrote.
“This kind of marketing scheme is the reason we currently have a sexual predator in the White House,” she continued. “This is offensive, not just to women, but to husbands and fathers and brothers and uncles and grandfathers who are trying to raise strong young women in a culture that continuously sexualizes them rather than treating them equally, with dignity and respect.”
Anthony Tortoriello, owner of Dairy Air Ice Cream, could not be reached for comment. The store’s online presence had been wiped by Wednesday and its Instagram page set to private.
Maya Stein, Tingle’s business and life partner, said Tortoriello stopped by their business, Creativity Caravan, on Monday but disputed that the logo was sexualized.
"The owner said it's not what he intended," Stein said. "But there's a responsibility as a business owner that extends beyond your person. OK it’s a funny joke, but now you're making it a business and now all of your signage revolves around this very adolescent communication. Is that what you want? Is that the imprint you want to make on the community? Maybe it is but it comes at a price of seriously offending people."
Natalie DeRosa, the ice cream store’s manager, has also met with Stein and Tingle and extended an olive branch, writing on Facebook: “We have heard the complaints. We take them very seriously and we are acting to change the cow to be more fun and less sexy. Our goal was always fun and not sexy.”
The conversation is set to continue on Saturday, when Stein and Tingle will open their studio for a community meeting.
“I hope people get quiet enough to listen to each other’s pain without trying to rationalize it or trying to tell this person, 'How could you be in pain?' " Stein said. “You can’t tell somebody what to be in pain over.”
The women have found both supporters and detractors online. Some have accused Tingle of being too sensitive, others called the logo “horrible,” “disgusting” and “tasteless and completely unacceptable” at a time when the country is reckoning with sexual harassment and the treatment of women.
"It is a cow, true. But it is a cow dressed as a WOMAN in a hat, braids, lipstick and earrings with her bottom on 'display,' " Jessica Ashmore Siciliano wrote on Facebook. "In our climate of heightened awareness of sexual harassment this is even more shocking to me."