Billboard mocking women drivers prompts female auto shop owner to fight back
'Sign was meant to be cute,' says business manager who posted the offending sign
When Josie Candito discovered an auto business had posted a billboard mocking women drivers, she was shocked and upset.
So the Toronto auto repair shop owner posted her own sign to fight back.
"I had to stand up for women," she said.
Now, outside Candito's shop, Master Mechanic, the billboard reads, "Mellish Motors … My Canada Includes Respect for Women! #Womencandrive."
Candito said she posted the message to remind Mellish Motors that "it's 2016 and women are respected. We deserve more than to be treated like that."
Many people were offended by Mellish's billboard, which quickly circulated on social media. "It's sexist and offensive," posted one woman on Facebook. "It gives the impression that it's okay to dismiss a whole gender," wrote another. "It's potentially damaging," added someone else.
Candito said Mellish's billboard went against everything she's trying to accomplish as the female owner of an auto business. She believes that because of the stereotype that women are clueless about cars, sometimes they are uncomfortable taking their vehicles to a repair shop.
"A lot of women will feel when they go in that the guy is going to take advantage," she said.
Candito adds that all customers are treated equally at her business. She said if a woman — or a man — doesn't know much about cars, her staff is there to educate.
"I just want the women around me to know I have respect for them and so does my staff."
Sign meant to be 'cute'
Mellish Motors manager John Mellish has seen Candito's sign on social media. He said he never meant to offend her and wants people to know, "I do respect women 100 per cent."
He said his billboard was just a joke. "The sign was meant to be cute," he said.
Mellish routinely posts funny messages, he said, and people in his community like them — including his most recent jab at women drivers. "More than 90 per cent are saying, 'Keep up with your signs, we enjoy your humour.'"
Candito isn't laughing.
The business owner said she sometimes posts funny messages, but that everything she writes has a positive spin. One of her recent billboards read, "The Best Therapist Has Fur and Four Legs."
"I use my signs to make people feel good and he made people feel terrible," she said.