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Navy scraps mailer over sexism accusations

The U.S. Navy said it has scrapped a national recruiting mailer that promised women they can enlist without compromising their feminine side and pursue careers that “most girls aren’t even aware of.”

Navy officials said they made the decision amid criticism that the wording was condescending and perpetuated stereotypes. Lt. Commander Nate Christensen, a Navy spokesman, said officials also have launched a review of all their mailer templates after The Associated Press inquired about the brochure, which has been sent to nearly 203,000 people in numerous states in the last few years.

The mailer invites women to take on “the kind of exciting, hands-on work that most girls aren’t even aware of. Making your mark in career areas that certainly aren’t just for the guys. And what’s more, you can do all this while staying in touch with your feminine side — and while bettering your world along the way.”

Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, a national group that works for women’s equality, said the wording undersells a woman’s potential.

“You wouldn’t recruit a boy by saying that,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, a national group that works for women’s equality. “What does it say about the Navy? It’s relying on old stereotypes instead of a picture of modern women who can really make a contribution to the Navy and how needed they are.”

Christensen said the wording doesn’t reflect the Navy’s values, saying women make up 18 percent of the Navy and are indispensable to national security.

“Women have shown great courage and sacrifice — we simply could not accomplish the mission without them,” he said.

The Navy’s advertising agency, Campbell Ewald, created the mailer’s content five years ago, Navy officials said. Campbell Ewald officials didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

It’s not clear how much the Navy spent on the brochure because the costs were part of an advertising contract that wasn’t itemized, Navy officials said.

Since it was created, the brochure has been mailed to about 202,900 people across recruiting districts that include parts of numerous states, including Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin, Christensen said.

The Navy was reviewing all mailers to ensure they contain language that “reflects our core values and beliefs and are respectful of all,” he said.


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