If you don’t hate women, cool it with the ‘grab her by the’ anything jokes

If you don't hate women, cool it with the 'grab her by the' anything jokes
Haha! Everything is so, so terrible! via Rachel Eve Stein (left) and Strong Place on IG (right).

Hey Brooklyn, we (women) get it. President-elect Donald Trump says dumb things. So dumb, in fact, that within seconds of saying them the internet is suddenly flooded with satirical merchandise quoting it. But it’s one thing to wear “Nasty Woman” proudly on your chest — a self-identifying moniker women happily sport in order to reclaim the bogus litmus test of “likability” they have to endure in their everyday lives — and entirely another to repurpose Trump’s admission of sexual assault as a marketing scheme.

This past weekend, Brokelyn writer Rachel Eve Stein spotted a sandwich board outside Littleneck, a seafood restaurant in Gowanus, advertising a special on clams and recommending that you “Grab ’em by the … Shell.” We also spotted a “Grab ’em by the Pint” Trump special on a sandwich board outside Strong Place, a gastropub in Brooklyn Heights.

Brooklyn businesses, let me be clear. “Grab ’em by the pussy” is an incredibly violent phrase. And your using it in jest is the same thing as Jimmy Fallon ruffling Trump’s hair, i.e. it normalizes the behavior of an accused rapist and makes women feel unsafe. Also, this is New York fucking City, you can find a better joke.

Littleneck has since apologized to Stein and removed the sign, and the world goes on despite triggering instances like this. The only mildly appropriate pun on this phrase I can recall in recent memory was the Grab ‘Em By the Ballot movement to rally the vote of working women in America — and remind me how that turned out, again? UPDATE 11/15: The owner of Littleneck sent us a respone to the sign; see below.


No. via IG user heytayreneex
Don’t care if you’re all the way in Australia, pizza place. This is a no. via IG user @heytayreneex

Whether or not the women of this country respect themselves, you cannot claim to respect and support them while making jokes about grabbing their vaginas. This is the kind of 2016 “asshattery,” to use Stein’s word, that’s going to inspire a whole new wave of workplace sensitivity training videos.

And on that note, I suggest we remove the word “sensitivity” from the conversation altogether. It is not liberal America’s bruised ego I am telling you to take care of— it is women’s physical safety, point blank. If Hillary had won the election, we might be looking at a different set of circumstances for jokes like these. But Trump won, and people do not feel safe right now, and until the wave of homophobic, misogynist and racist behavior stops dominating the news, I urge you to take your butt-hurt feelings of being oppressed by PC culture elsewhere.

If you need further evidence of just how deeply entrenched liberal misogyny is, or that the people making these jokes are misguided, and not misunderstood, just look at what a guy from Littleneck sent to Stein in a direct apology message:

“I want to assure you that supporting misogyny or disrespect toward women was never my intent. In fact it was the exact opposite. Myself and each and every one of my staff supported Hillary Clinton through this election and are all in sheer disbelief that Donald Trump now represents us as a nation. It is a time of high emotion and I understand that so I see that you may have read this as though we supported him or his ludicrous beliefs. What I was attempting to do was to poke fun at his utter absurdity.”

Anyone want to start “Men go low, we go high… emotion” as a meme?

Unfortunately for blue businesses, pro-Trump businesses elsewhere in the country have no problem normalizing this “absurdity” with the opposite intention:

Even Brooklyn celebrities have had their fun with the phrase, but Halloween is over and we have a lot of work to do before American women can feel remotely safe again. So if you’ve got sandwich board duty at your job, or you’re sitting in a post-election pitch meeting, I urge you not to suggest any spinoffs of pussy-grabbing, tempting as they may be.

Thankfully, the two instances of Brooklyn sandwich board signage above are the only ones we’ve spotted so far, but here are some guidelines for places that aren’t NYC:

Do not name your women’s empowerment group Grab Her By the Brain.

Do not tell people to focus instead on “something we all love” by sporting “Grab ’em by the Sushi” hoodies.

Do not advertise a $4 slice of “Grab her by the Pizza.

Do not make inspirational posters about “Grabbing Today by the Pussy.

Do not make corporate  “Grab them by the Pouilly Fuissé” t-shirts for your wine tasting event.

If you’re looking for a way to make a political statement with your signage that’s actually funny, might I suggest this as a guide. And if you do hate women and you were just trying to express yourself, my mistake. As you were.

Update 11/15: Aaron Lefkove, owner of Littleneck sent us an email last night saying the sign “does not in any way reflect us or our staff or our beliefs,” and that the employee who made the sign “needs to be held accountable for his poor judgement.”

I was as aghast as you and your writer at the board when I saw it and immediately had the employee who drew it erase the caption – I’m not here to make excuses or anything for the actions of our employees, one of whom in this case acted on their own, unsupervised, and in bad taste – i understand that his board is a de facto representation of us whether we each personally saw and approved it or were, as in this case, blindsided after the fact.

He went on to say:

Our staff, as is indicative of most in this industry, is a diverse group of women, men, immigrants, and people of many races, religions, and ethnicities…it is an industry known to be a safe haven for immigrants, the disenfranchised, and those that live in the margins of society, and thus we are acutely attuned to the issues that have been at the forefront these past months leading up to the election. And a number of our people have said they have real reason to worry in this current climate for just those reasons; we stand with them and against those that wish to see harm done to them or anyone in a similar situation.


Sam would be happy to grab a BEER with you and talk some more about this: @ahoysamantha


  1. Conal Darcy

    Wow, man, that apology. Was writing “We were wrong to use such a tasteless joke and apologize for it. I have instructed my staff that this kind of thing is unacceptable and it won’t happen again.” really that hard?

    High emotion…

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