the drink uptown waterloo

Ontario bar accused of promoting rape culture with inappropriate sign

The owners of a Waterloo bar are publicly apologizing after outrage from residents over a photo of an inappropriate sign that surfaced on Facebook. 

The Drink Uptown in Waterloo posted an audio-less video to their Facebook page earlier this week that contained footage of a sign saying, "I thought she was 18."

The video sparked strong reactions immediately, with many calling it "disgusting" and others saying it "[promotes] rape culture and [targets] underage girls," according to CTV News. 

Facebook user Spencer Harrison initially reposted the video, encouraging others to share it to raise awareness, according to the Waterloo Chronicle. 

"While you read this post please be mindful of the young women in your life ie. little sisters, nieces, cousins and daughters. If you are committed to their safety within this community I strongly encourage that SHARE this," she said.

"I'm addressing the business within my hometown that finds it appropriate to blatantly promote RAPE culture. The fact that they made this sign LETTER by letter, carried it into a group of men, whilst laughing and making LIGHT of 'F****** girls under the age of 17' is saddening, unacceptable, sickening and should not be tolerated."

Her post has since been removed, along with the bar's original video. The owners of The Drink Uptown posted a fairly long apology online yesterday. 

"The Ownership and Management of the Drink Uptown have been made aware of a sign that was presented in our establishment to a group that was intended to be a personalized sign. The sign that was presented was inappropriate. Nobody should have to see what was presented to this group and for that we apologize," they wrote on Facebook, adding that personalized signs do not get approved or reviewed before being presented. 

"We have given the freedom to groups to make personalized messages and it is clear that we need to do a better job ensuring that inappropriate messages are not presented."

The owners also said the sign does not reflect the values of the bar (to provide a safe, fun, and inclusive atmosphere for students to enjoy a responsible night out in uptown Waterloo) and that they plan to provide diversity, inclusion and safe space training to all staff, managers, promoters and DJs.

"The Ownership and Management of the Drink Uptown acknowledge that there is no place for this type of content and we sincerely apologize," they said. 

And although some may not be satisfied with the bar's apology, Harrison said the response was encouraging. 

"This is not only an apology but an action oriented apology," she wrote on Facebook.

"We cannot wait to see on social media the training that will be taking place @thedrinkuptown businesses and individuals should take note of this establishment's response. Thank you for hearing our voices and committing to do better."

Lead photo by

The Drink Uptown Waterloo

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