The pub shared the permission slip on its Instagram page asking the girlfriends and wives of their male punters to sign a permission slip allowing them to go and watch the upcoming Six Nations rugby games. Ahead of the Six Nations fixtures from 5 February to 27 March, the Town Square pub in Belfast shared a tongue-in-cheek post addressed to “Girlfriend/Fiancé/Wife”.
The form read: “Your Boyfriend/Fiancé/Husband has been invited to watch the rugby with the lads at Town Square Belfast.”
It then listed the rugby fixtures and added “these outings obviously require your permission. Kind regards, The Lads”.
The image read “I give/do not give consent for my Boyfriend//Fiancé/Husband to attend” above a space left for a signature.
Many social media users slammed the pub for “alienating and disparaging half the population” and called it out for everyday sexism.
Kat Freeman, from Belfast, described the post as “cringe”, adding that “it’s kind of sad that they thought this is what peak humour looks like”.
Ms Freeman tweeted: “You know what’s such a good business decision by Town Square? Alienating and disparaging literally half the population!”
She said: “I mean this 50s ‘My wife doesn’t let me do XYZ’ thing is so outdated. It’s so apparent to everyone else with a brain in this day and age that women are disadvantaged in society, that to frame men as being victims under their own partners is so tone-deaf and embarrassing.”
Other social media users branded the post as cheesy and tone-deaf, with one Twitter user saying they could “never be friends with anyone who finds this one bit funny”.
The post was quickly taken down following the backlash online. The Town Square then uploaded a modified form in which gender references were changed.
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The new image removed the references to “Girlfriend/Fiancé/Wife” and “Boyfriend/Fiancé/Husband”, instead replacing them with “insert name here” and “other half”.
It also included a number of hashtags in the captions such as #notjustformen #politicalcorrectness #girlslikerugbytoo which sparked further criticism for coming across as sarcastic and disparaging of people who did not find the original post funny.
Ms Freeman said: “When I saw they deleted and reposted it to be ‘gender neutral’ but still had to get a dig in with further sexist ‘snowflake’ hashtags, before then deleting it entirely, I really had to laugh. Absolutely embarrassing to think that joke was ever worth fixing and reposting to be honest.”
Ms Freeman added that it would have been better for the bar to “apologise and don’t try to pretend it didn’t happen after you didn’t get enough backup from the anti-political-correctness defenders”.
The modified post was also swiftly removed from the pub’s Instagram page, although no apology has been posted on the page.
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However, a spokesperson for Town Square Belfast has since issued a statement about the poorly-received permission slip.
The statement said: “We don’t usually mind ruffling a few feathers with our social media, but in this instance, we’re genuinely sorry for any offence caused. The post was removed shortly after it was published.”
The Six Nations fixtures will kick off next weekend when Ireland faces Wales in Dublin on 5 February.
This year’s championships between England, Ireland, Scotland, Wale, France and Italy will last for five weeks with matches played across Europe.