It's 2015 and, to no one's surprise, people continue to plumb new depths of despicable attention-seeking behavior. Lowering the bar, a restaurant in Islamabad is stirring up outrage for its relentlessly misogynistic marketing campaign and online menu. The restaurant's slogan is "If she won't make you a sandwich, we will!" and the joke only goes downhill from there. The sandwiches themselves are named after celebrities, notably all American, who have abused women.
Predictably, a lot of people are pissed, and are calling the restaurant "disgusting," "classless," and have demanded that it be shut down.
Table No. 5's sandwich menu was posted to Facebook, and includes sandwiches named The Charly Sheane, The Kris Browne, The Shawn Pen, The Will Cozbee and The Myke Tieson, each presumably featuring creative spelling in order to avoid legal action, though they're probably in the clear in Islamabad. All have a history of violently abusing women.
But it isn't clear if the menu is even real. One Twitter user said that when he went to Table No. 5, it just seemed like a normal restaurant, no offending menu in sight. The BBC says that when the city police came to Table No. 5 to investigate, the misogynistic menu was nowhere to be found. It appears the menu may have only appeared online.
In a plot twist, the BBC and Channel News Asia reports that Table No. 5's owner is a woman. OK, then.
The whole concept of Table No. 5, as depicted online, centers around the idea of women making men sandwiches, and the restaurant embraces an irreverent attitude and seems to delight in public outcry. One Facebook ad for Table No. 5 features a chart comparing a woman and a sandwich, with "Shouts" "Cries" and "Breaks your heart" checked for the woman and "Affordable" "Good for health" and "Makes you happy" checked for the sandwich.
Table No. 5 has been defiant and antagonistic on its Facebook page, posting a number of updates, including this one on November 4:
WE NEED TO CLARIFY SOMETHING
A lot of people have been calling us misogynists over the past few days. I guess we started off on the wrong foot. We don't have anything against the ladies; in fact we're grateful to them. It's because they stopped making sandwiches that we got the opportunity to open up a sandwich join in town.
So thanks ladies
When they finally seemed to crack under pressure, the restaurant apologized, saying "We've read a lot of your comments, blogs, articles and essays on our marketing strategy and would like to take a moment to sincerely apologize! We realized that naming our sandwiches in this way have offended and aggravated a large population of dedicated Facebook activists. We must clarify that we, on any possible level, do NOT endorse rape, domestic violence or anything remotely of the sort! That's just disgusting." They then said they would change the names of their sandwiches, asking people to stay tuned.
About 12 hours later, they announced that after "sleepless nights for a team of marketing experts and copywriters," they changed their menu. They then posted a white board drawing of a menu featuring sandwiches as Sandwich No. 1, Sandwich No. 2, and so on. They called the menu "poetic," and labeled the sketch "Innovative," "No Misogyny," and "Feminist Friendly."
The supposed joke is a bad one, no matter who is making it. But it's particularly reproachable in Pakistan, a country where 1,000 women are killed annually in "honor" killings for allegedly bringing shame upon their families—often marrying a man against their family's wishes. Eighty-three percent of Pakistanis support stoning as a punishment for adultery, according to the Pew Research Center. As of April this year, 160 Pakistani women had been attacked with acid. That was a rise from the same time the year before, according to the Daily Record. Acid attacks can be fatal; survivors are left disfigured and sometimes commit suicide.
The wait staff at Table No. 5 apparently isn't talking, but online the relentless marketing assault continues. Maybe this is all an elaborate ploy to get people talking about women's rights in Pakistan by being blatantly offensive. In the past, in an effort to get some memes going, they've posted a photo of Yoda emblazoned with the words, "To the kitchen you must go/Sandwich you must make," hashtagging the post #TheForceAwakens. They also have a "quote" from Voltaire, saying "Behind every successful man is a woman who made sandwiches for him."
Earlier today, they posted to say that they will be giving away tickets to see the Romanian DJ Edward Maya in the restaurant this weekend as a show of thanks for "getting a lot of love recently." Table No. 5 added, "P.S. Please don't bother googling Edward Maya, the guy has no history of violence (we checked this time.)"