Did Burger King Really Try To Celebrate International Women's Day With A Sexist Tweet?

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Burger King

Someone at Burger King apparently believed it was a good idea to celebrate International Women’s Day by tweeting one of the oldest, most tired sexist tropes in the history of sexist tropes.

The fast-food chain captured our attention for all the wrong reasons on a day intended to celebrate gender equality and the strength of women.

And social media is not happy about it.

Burger King UK tweeted, “Women belong in the kitchen” first thing on the morning of March 8, before quickly following up with a series of tweets about how female chefs make up just 20% of the industry and announcing that they were launching a scholarship designed to help women entering the culinary arts. The original tweet has since been deleted and an apology has gone up instead.

Not even that otherwise exciting announcement could deflect from the outrage caused by their initial tweet.

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Yes, the sexist remark was, presumably, all in the name of marketing.

Yes, the powers that be at Burger King probably thought they'd stir up some attention for their scholarship program.

But even if the misguided tweet doesn't reflect the values of the corporation, there is a huge problem with playing into harmful stereotypes for the sake of drumming up attention.

Sure, Burger King is ultimately trying to do a good thing here by creating this scholarship but by reinstating a joke that so many women try to avoid into the vocabulary of their 76,000 followers, they could be causing more harm than good.

Some feel the “joke” calls into question whether the brand actually has positive motives behind its scholarship fund.

Burger King failed to acknowledge that the sexist culture that makes jokes like this one is the same one that doesn’t provide women equal access to job opportunities in culinary arts (and most other industries — including social media marketing, it seems!).

Part of the reason only 20% of chefs are women is that many people do believe women are supposed to stay at home and do that kind of work for free.

By using this trope under the guise of female empowerment, Burger King seems to forget all the reasons gender inequality exists in the first place.

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Burger King's tweet also distracts from the importance of International Women’s Day.

By choosing shock factor over true empowerment, Burger King is drowning out the kind of celebratory conversations that should be happening on this day.

This performative activism leads some to believe that attracting clicks and engagement is more important to the fast-food chain than the cause they’re trying to promote.

And before anyone goes blaming Twitter’s character limit, they would have easily been able to clarify the “joke” if they really felt the need to use it in just one tweet.

Before it was deleted, the original tweet had racked up over 250,000 retweets, while Burger King’s follow-up tweet about the scholarship fund has just over 4,000.

This means that not only will countless people see the sexist remark without context, it further demonstrates how little progress we’ve made as a society if a cheap joke is more appealing than a scholarship fund that could change the lives of many aspiring female chefs.

When brands latch onto days like International Women’s Day as a means of raising brand awareness with empty campaigns, they run the risk of erasing the celebration's deep and important meaning.

Instead of engaging in conversations around the persistent gender inequality we see across the world, we risk making this into a commercialized Hallmark holiday.

Hopefully, the folks at Burger King will learn to do and be better.

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment.