While sometimes helpful (when posting community notices and events), the messages posted by the Rotary Club of Portola on their marquee sign at the corner of Gulling & Highway 70 are frequently inappropriate and offensive, with countless messages about alcohol use and at least one about prostitution (using a pun). That these messages (about alcohol use, nagging wives, sexist tropes, etc.) are in such a prominent place, representing our community and readable by children, is a cause for concern and calls for a greater sense of responsibility than has been shown.
Though I have occasionally chuckled at some of their benign and corny offerings, their latest marquee message got my blood boiling—it is disgusting and hateful and I’m sure I’m not the only person who thinks so. Greeting residents and visitors at this busy intersection, the Rotary Club of Portola sign currently reads: “If I had a dollar for every girl that found me unattractive, they’d eventually find me attractive.”
This might seem like a joke to some people, but please look deeper. This message is saying that women who reject men can eventually be bought with money, depicting women as shallow, unprincipled gold-diggers and ultimately prostitutes. Is this how the sign’s authors (Rotary Club of Portola) feel about their mothers, wives, and sisters? Is this how they feel about more than 50% of the population?
Sexist “jokes” and misogynistic messages like this perpetuate outdated negative stereotypes about women which are harmful and have no place in a public space. Any of the work Rotary Club of Portola is doing in the community is undermined by these repeated asinine and hurtful messages.
I call on the Rotary Club of Portola to remove this offensive and damaging message and to seriously reevaluate the kind of messaging they use to represent their organization (not to mention our town and community). Such public and prominent messaging should be helpful to all people in the community. Do we really need to be glorifying alcohol use? Is this appropriate messaging for children to read? How does it feel for the people and children affected by alcoholism? This space would be better utilized for uplifting and informative messaging, instead of tired and hokey (at best) and hateful (at worst) outdated quips that many people don’t find funny.