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Thursday, November 19, 2015

F*ck the Starbucks Cup & Let’s Get Real about the Bloomingdale’s Rape Ad.

ad screenshot

“Spike  your best friend’s eggnog when they are not looking,” reads the tag line of the Bloomingdale’s ad, in a recent holiday catalog.

A woman is looking away, laughing and smiling at someone, while a man is leering at her. The caption is between them.
Are you f*cking kidding me?
What exactly is being sold here or advertised? The clothes? The concept? The season?
Who at Bloomingdale’s thought this up, and what team, boss or authority reviewed it, approved it and sent it into to circulation?
I don’t get it, and the fact that it happened during the same week that people have lost their minds over the Starbucks Holiday cup is making my head spin.
Could someone explain to me why this doesn’t get the same level of outrage? I know I’m seeing red.
It’s not like an ad is an Instagram photo that gets shot and accidentally sent out in the world.
People modeled for the ad. Someone had to think up the tag line, commit it to type, choose a font and color and then share the whole thing. That doesn’t happen with one person, or even one department, in most places.
It usually requires levels of approval.
WTF Bloomingdales?
And if you think they feel all bad for this horrible mistake, please read the “apology” that came from Bloomingdale’s.
“In reflection of recent feedback, the copy we used in our recent catalog was inappropriate and in poor taste,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Bloomingdale’s sincerely apologizes for this error in judgment.”
It’s “inappropriate and in bad taste” just in reflection of recent feedback? Just in reflection? Does that mean if feedback were different, it wouldn’t be inappropriate or in bad taste?
Then there’s the headlines about the story.
Fortune: “Bloomindale’s Apologizes for Ad Seen as Encouraging Date Rape”
NBC: “Bloomingdale’s Says Sorry for Holiday Ad That Seemingly Implies Date Rape”
Seen as? Seemingly?
I’m sorry, what else is one supposed to infer about secretly spiking your best friend’s eggnog, while out at a holiday party, while she’s not looking?
What’s the other less date-rapey implication, that I’m supposed to be taking away, that I’m missing?
You don’t have to be a feminist or an activist or a scholar to know what rape culture is in a time like this.
It’s simple—rape culture is the culture where this ad gets made.
Rape culture is where Bloomingdale’s gets away without a real apology and where those writing headlines don’t know how to be clear.
Rape culture is where Bill Cosby needs to have dozens of women say the same thing for years, before one of them is believed, and where he is seen as the victim of attacks.
This is rape culture—using spiking a drink, while the woman isn’t looking, as something that helps promote a business.
Rape culture is the culture I live in, and that’s terrifying, because I’m female and a sister, daughter, mother and aunt in world where 1 in 5 females will experience sexual assault, just while at college. It’s a world where 1 in 4 of us females will be sexually assaulted during our lives.
This world.
This culture.
That’s it—that’s how simple a concept rape culture is.
One in which an ad like this comes out—yet people lose their minds over a coffee cup.
And some of us have to remind others that rape isn’t funny, sexy or a good ad idea.
Rape is a crime.
Rape is a violent, real and serious—and we have to explain that isn’t funny.
That’s rape culture.
90% of the time, victims of sexual violence know the person who they are assaulted by.
This ad is an example of exactly what rape culture is.
90% of people assaulted know the perpetrator, who is often a friend, teacher, co-worker, boss, neighbor or relative. Which is why the entire conversation about consent is so important.
There are apparently people who don’t understand that rape isn’t funny, because we still live in a world wheresomeone thought suggesting “secret eggnog spiking,” as a kind of holiday-festive-druggy-sexy-flirt move, was agreat idea.
They though it could be a great way to help sell stuff during the holiday season—and it didn’t get shut down.
In 2015.
It’s astounding and there are a ton of us who don’t think it’s even a tiny bit funny, seductive, smart or charming—and who are royally pissed off.
We know the real picture behind that picture.
The one not used as an ad—the one that follows after the non-consent or the drugging or spiking. We’ve known or lived as the woman who is sobbing, heartbroken, shocked, shattered and limp—because she’s been violated by the “best friend” who turned out not to be the best.
Or she’s rendered completely silent, speechless and maybe semi lifeless, because she just doesn’t know how to go on with what happened.
Or he doesn’t know if or who to tell, because he doesn’t know if he’ll be believed or supported, or if it will turn into more of a nightmare.  
So maybe “no” to the ad, to the bullshit apology and to having to explain rape culture in the culture where an ad like this gets made.
No to having to make a case, again and again and again, saying rape is a crime and not a joke.
No to the eye rolling people, who just don’t want to think or hear about this.
The eye rollers made this ad.
The eye rollers approved this ad.
The eye rollers didn’t listen to anyone who might have said, “Not funny. Not happening. Not a good idea. Not okay.”
How the hell does this ad even get made? I can’t even imagine how an ad like this gets made? It seems unfathomable except that it happened.
My friend, Laura Parrott Perry , wrote on her Facebook page:
“So, there’s a marketing meeting at Bloomingdale’s. The ad agency guy, dressed like Don Draper, says, “You know what’s festive and fun? Date rape!” And all the men nod their heads. “That’s a great idea, Don! You sure do have your finger on the pulse of what ladies like! (I need to believe there was no woman in the room.)”
I hear that.
I need to believe one day an ad like this one won’t even be thought of as a good idea—by anyone. Not a single soul.
Unfortunately, it won’t be this week.



Everyone has their preferred method and maker for home-brewed coffee, but which way yields the best flavor is constantly up for debate. Sure, people assume Chemex coffee is mellower than French press, but is it true? To definitively find out the best way to make coffee at home, we blind tested seven different coffee making devices: a French press, AeroPress, Chemex, Kalita Wave, an auto drip brewer, Moka stovetop espresso, and a single-serving Keurig.
We enlisted Lorenzo Perkins -- a member of the Barista Guild Executive Council and owner of forthcoming Austin, TX cafe Fleet Coffee -- to ensure each coffee was brewed correctly, and we brewed two kinds of beans -- a bold Starbucks Breakfast Blend and more subtle Counter Culture La Voz -- since different coffees are sometimes better suited to different methods.
The participants: 
1. An espresso lover
2. An all-day-long drinker
3. An old-school cream and sugar type
4. A non-coffee drinker
5. A champion barista
6. A budding coffee nerd (yours truly)

The process: 
1. The tasters received seven cups of coffee, each brewed using a different method.
2. Each cup was then ranked from best to worst. Each ranking was assigned a point value (first place earned seven points, second place earned six, and so on).
3. The process was repeated with the second kind of bean.
4. Scores were tallied and ranked.

Here are the results.

7. Keurig K-Cup Coffee Maker, 24 points

We loaded up the K-Cup machine with a pod that allows you to use your own coffee and hoped for the best. Although our cream and sugar fan rated this well because the mildness would pair well with sweeteners, most others thought the brew was flat, flavorless, and watery. The most fitting description was "bank lobby coffee."

6. Moka stovetop espresso maker, 35 points

For our espresso drinker who liked to chew her coffee, this ranked highly. Others didn't enjoy the sediment that gathered at the bottom of the cups. The darker beans had a motor oil quality, while the lighter roast dialed up the fruitiness to mouth-puckering levels, so both ends of the spectrum suffered.

5. Auto drip coffee brewer, 44 points

Across the board our tasters found this to be stronger and more bitter than other brews, which worked with some palates, but offended others. Our coffee newbie thought this was more of an expert-level coffee due to the oiliness and sharpness, which was surprising because auto drip machines are the most commonly used of all these methods.


4. French press, 51 points

Generally considered a gateway method to manual pourovers, the French press resulted in a flavor profile that was much nuttier, but the acidity was toned way down. Despite the thicker body, most of the jury thought it was more neutral and less vibrant. Surprisingly, several tasters noted alkaline flavors and correctly guessed that this method didn't use a paper filter.

3. Kalita Wave, 55 points

Although it sounds like a super fancy method, the Kalita Wave is basically just the same type of hopper you'd see in a Mr. Coffee maker, except you place it directly over your cup and pour the water yourself. The consensus was that the coffee was well-balanced, but a little bland, which worked to tone down the darker coffee but didn't bring out enough flavor from the lighter one.

2. Chemex, 57 points

The only coffee maker with a permanent space in the Museum of Modern Art, the Chemex is an elegant vase-looking pourover method that's great for making large batches. The non-coffee drinker in the group ranked this last, equating it to a sour beer. Others agreed with the sour beer sentiment, but found that the coffee sweetened as it cooled and was still strong, but with a smoother texture and not as overly-aggressive as some of the other methods.

1. AeroPress, 70 points

Invented by the maker of the Aerobie Frisbee, the AeroPress has been a cult gadget among coffee nerds for some time, and, if our jury's tastes are any indication, should be a welcome addition to anyone's coffee-making arsenal. It won by a landslide because of its ability to help roasted characteristics shine through without the bitterness, while accentuating the oily, flavorful aspects of the darker beans. It also cooled better than the others, retaining bold notes at lukewarm temperatures, balanced by an underlying sweetness that endeared it to even our cream and sugar fan.


There will always be coffee-is-coffee skeptics out there, but our entire jury was surprised by just how diverse the same coffee could taste when prepared different ways. Although the AeroPress won this test by a mile, it's important to note that it didn't receive first place votes across the board, but it was hands-down the most consistently pleasing across a wide array of palates. It's worth paying attention to how you brew! And maybe consider kicking K-cups.

Dan Gentile is a staff writer at Thrillist. He'd like to apologize to all the sleep schedules of all of the taste testers. Follow him to cleaning up his kitchen at @Dannosphere.