It’s usually a harmless, if often overlooked, news feature: A story on the most successful business people in the area.
The St. Louis Business Journal found a way to draw eyes to its feature of the city’s 25 “Most Influential Business Women.” But the attention has been far from positive, with many readers calling a photo gallery that shows each of the women posing with a pair of shoes sexist.
“We asked this year’s class of Most Influential Business Women to tell us about the pair of shoes that best describes them, and more importantly, why,” wrote Vince Brennan, the managing editor of the Journal. “While some in the newsroom initially balked at the idea, it turned out to be the perfect filter to show readers the best qualities of these 25 spectacular business women.”
The readers disagreed that this was a “perfect filter.”
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“Would you ask St. Louis’ most influential business men (sic) to pose with a pair of shoes that define them,” one reader wondered on Facebook. “Seems a little strange.”
“What’s on tap for next week?” another wrote. “‘We Asked Ten Female Heads Of State To Make Their Husbands A Sandwich That Reflects Their Governing Style.’”
“I will add my voice to those who have already commented. This is pitifully sexist and objectifying,” wrote yet another. “I’m not sure what’s worse — the fact that someone at your publication thought it would be best to characterize these intelligent, accomplished women based upon their footwear choices OR the fact that asking them to talk about the pair of shoes that ‘best describes them and why’ is essentially asking these women to reduce themselves to an inanimate object. Shameful.”
More than 50 people said similar things about the article on Facebook, many calling for an apology to the Journal’s readers, to the women pictured and all women in general.
All but one of the 25 women, who said she was traveling, agreed to do the photo shoot. Brennan did not answer a call seeking comment.