Filthy's apologise after urinal ‘joke’

Jess Herbert reports on the sexist debate sparked by the Newcastle bar

Jess Herbert
21st June 2020

Filthy’s, a popular Newcastle bar, came under scrutiny this week after a controversial Facebook post went viral. 

In a now deleted post, the bar explained that they had undertaken some renovations after COVID-19 forced them to close in March. They explained that they have "been busy during lockdown making minor improvements throughout the venue,” before expressing how they were “pleased to present the results of the new gents restroom.”

Filthy’s accompanied this statement with an image of the updated toilets. Their new urinals were straddled by silver busts of women portrayed from behind. Because they were bending over with their underwear exposed, the urinal would recreate a sexual position when in use.

Although Filthy’s later removed the post, screenshots of it have since created widespread social media outrage. The Angry Bartender Ireland captioned the image “Stay Classy…Boozer in the UK.” The comments were divided between those who found the image humorous, and those who deemed it offensive. One user wrote “Jesus that’s awful”, while others remarked “Only a matter of time before that has to be removed over libtards screaming sexist” and "Do B&Q sell these?".

Newcastle University’s branch of It Happens Here - a society supporting survivors of sexual violence - criticised the bar for its insensitivity. One of their associates reached out to Filthy's and this conversation was shared on the society’s Instagram. In the screenshot, they labelled the toilets as “degrading and offensive” and asked “is this a joke?”

In their caption, the society maintained that these images contribute to the culture of sexual violence. They claimed that ‘On average 70-80% of students experience sexual harassment… and a large portion of this takes place during night life’. They argue that these urinals could therefore undermine survivors of abuse, as “it sends the message that a report of harassment would not be taken seriously by this establishment.” They signed off their analysis with “#BoycottFilthys”.

The bar replied that the photos were fake, but they maintained that it was “some social media fun” that “not all woman [sic.] are so easily offended” by.

The anonymous user received many messages from those who defended the bar. One comment read “Live in a world of fucking pussys…. I’m offended you’re still breathing”, while another wrote “[they need] a good shag that’s why [they’re] so scatty.”

However, Filthy’s have since issued a new statement across their social media channels where they retracted their initial “defensive replies”. They wrote: “Our intent, which we would like to make very clear to everyone was never to upset anyone", while reaffirming that "we are not sexist and have never been."

They continued: “We are now aware of the extent in which some people fear for their safety in venues in Newcastle, we are going to work together with others who are more educated on the topic… and promote to others what needs to be done to make more people have a worry-free night out”. 

While the bar is feeling optimistic for the future, the comments underneath their statement remained divided. Some questioned “what happened to your fun posts and not caring about pleasing every single snowflake?” Others observed that “the joke was tasteless and boring, the apology was weak.” 

The Courier approached Filthy’s for a statement but they did not comment.

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