People outraged at Watercare's 'sexist' social media ad on women's showering times

Several Kiwis are outraged by the ad and have called it out for being sexist.
Several Kiwis are outraged by the ad and have called it out for being sexist. Photo credit: Twitter/X @watercare_nz

Story by RNZ

Auckland water provider, Watercare, is defending a social media post encouraging women to take shorter showers, as other users call out the post for sexism.

The Auckland Council-owned organisation made the post this afternoon, with the caption: "Ladies, we're all for showering in a fiery inferno, but 27% of your power bill is used to heat water."

"So, let's keep it snappy to keep your wallet happy! 1 shower, 4 minutes - it's all you need #MakeEveryDropCountAKL" the post continued.

The post was accompanied by a meme from the Mandalorian.

X users, formerly Twitter, have lambasted the tweet, saying it is sexist to single out women.

North Shore councillor Richard Hills reposted the tweet, writing: "This is sexist", and "This was not part of the water conservation strategy I asked Watercare to show me".

One user commented, "Oh my god. Who on your social media post approved this?"

While another wrote, "Are women the only ones to have hot showers?"

However, Watercare has said it was part of the social media strategy targeting particular audiences.

"From time to time, we do target particular audiences with our social media content to ensure it resonates with them," Watercare head of communications Rachel Hughes said.

"Men will not be exempt from our short shower messaging," she added.

Hughes said the post was part of a summer campaign called 'Make Every Drop Count', encouraging people to save water.

"This particular post was inspired by a trend we'd observed on social media that claims women like their showers hotter than men," Hughes said.

Social media commentator Anna Rawhiti-Connell explained why people may be taking offence to the post.

"First and foremost, what people are taking offence at is the assumption that is based on old-school gender stereotype about women taking longer to get ready than men.

"The second thing they've done, is not only have they isolated one specific gender, but it's quite personal and individual, pointing the finger at individuals around their own water use."

She said the word 'ladies' has tricky connotations, and the gender reference was unnecessary.

"Ladies has quite an old school, rugby club feel to it. And I think women do often read that as quite a patronising term."

Rawhiti-Connell said that the negative response may have also come from being given instructions around something personal.

"There is something distinctly uncomfortable about a faceless brand reaching into your home like that to talk to you about something that you do when you're naked."

The use of the meme adds to the post's sour taste, she said.

"I think all of that compounds to make it a kind of awkward, cringe moment for people too."