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Fuck Me, You Lawyer You

WWW- She’s a sensual brunette showing a flash of cleavage and lots of inner thigh. She’s tugging at the necktie of a handsome executive, pulling him aggressively toward her. Eyes closed, mouth slightly open as they prepare to kiss, she’s wearing a men’s suit jacket and not much else.

It’s a glossy, full-color advertising insert for a clothing company with this racy caption: “A custom-tailored suit is a natural aphrodisiac.”

And it’s triggered a blitz of indignant letters and calls to Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, where it recently appeared for three weeks in a row.

“Highly insulting,” wrote one reader. “Puerile, tasteless, and offensive,” wrote another. “Wrong on so many levels,” added a third. Another was even more blunt: “Stop publishing this ad.”

About two dozen readers have contacted the paper to complain that the insert, for a New York company called Jiwani, objectifies females and undermines gender equality. It is especially inappropriate, many of them said, for a publication that targets the legal industry, where women struggle mightily to achieve the same respect and status as men.

The decibel level ramped up after the paper’s publisher, David Yas, wrote a column defending the ad, which he called “par-for-the-course in the fashion industry.” Critics, he suggested, were “a bunch of self-important prudes.”

That spurred another round of blistering comments, including some that described his response as “stupid” and “sophomoric.” It also prompted the president of the Women’s Bar Association to weigh in.

“As lawyers, we are obligated to fight against gender discrimination, in whatever form it may take,” Kathleen M. O’Connor wrote in a letter in Monday’s issue. “We expect more from this paper.”

Reached yesterday, Yas said Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly hadn’t originally considered the ad in poor taste, but, “in listening to our readers, we learned that the ad was offensive to many of them.”

As a result, he said, the paper has suggested to the company that it design tamer ads in the future.

“We absolutely want to allow people that make suits to advertise in our paper, but we’re a lot different in tone and feel from fashion magazines, so people do see us differently and we should see ourselves differently,” Yas said. “It’s a balancing act, and the up side of this controversy was that it provided a forum for exactly this type of discussion.”


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