WASHINGTON -- What message is this U.S. Senate Federal Credit Union ad sending to small-breasted women in the nation's capital?
As Roll Call reported on Tuesday, the credit union recently sent out a mailing that features "a headless torso of a buxom blonde." (To be fair, the torso is not completely headless. The woman's smiling mouth can be seen, surrounded by a cascade of hair; the bottom of her nose is also visible.)
On one side of the mailing readers are urged to "Please borrow responsibly!" On the other, the text reads "GOT BIG PLANS? Let us worry about the money ... you've got a lot of living to do."
For some folks, some of that living these days includes petitioning the credit union, which has branches in the Hart Senate Office Building and the Government Accountability Office's downtown D.C. headquarters, as well as another one in Alexandria, Va.
"I got home from a nice holiday weekend late last night and found this in the mail," Washington, D.C., resident Amber Wobschall told The Huffington Post. "I've really been a lifelong credit union member. I'm also a feminist," she said." So I was very disappointed to find this in my mailbox."
On Tuesday morning, Wobschall put up a Change.org petition, making three demands: "disciplinary action of the persons responsible for creation and approval of the mailing," a "mailed apology to everyone who received the mailing" and "anti-sexism training to help improve the environment in which this was allowed to occur."
"I can't imagine what they were thinking," Wobschall said. "Mailings usually don't go out without a few sets of eyes in the approval process."
One blogger, Yashar Ali of the Current Conscience, has an idea of what the credit union was thinking: "You should get a loan to finally get the breast implants you’ve always wanted … or maybe never wanted, but still feel pressured to get."
This reading is bolstered by text coming at the end of the mailing, next to a patriotic-looking photo of the U.S. Capitol: "Maybe your BIG PLANS include a new car, a new home, a new attitude? Talk to a [service office] today about making the appropriate adjustments!"
The credit union has a membership of more than 32,000 and assets exceeding $500 million. The Huffington Post contacted Kimberly Mueller, a credit union representative, to learn more about the organization's intended message and response to the petition but did not receive an immediate reply to a request for comment.
The petition, addressed to Susan Ennis, U.S. Senate Federal Credit Union's president and CEO, had 76 signatures as of 6 p.m. and carried the following text:
Repair the damage of your sexist mailing
This past weekend, the US Senate Federal credit union severely disappointed me with their mailing.
I would like to request the following actions:
1. Disciplinary action of the persons responsible for creation and approval of the mailing
2. A mailed apology to everyone who received the mailing
3. Anti-sexism training to help improve the environment in which this was allowed to occur.
Let's help get our credit unions back on track, serving the community in the respectable manner we deserve.
UPDATED, 11:04 p.m.: Amber Wobschall emailed to say that, in light of a public apology for the mailer published on the U.S. Senate Federal Credit Union's website, "I've shut down my petition."
Here is the text of the apology, addressed to "the Membership of the United States Senate FCU" and signed by Board Chairman Christopher C. Dey and President and Chief Executive Officer Susan R. Enis:
It has come to our attention that the imagery and message in a recent marketing direct mail campaign has offended some of our membership. It was not the intention of this marketing campaign to insult, demean or in any way offend anyone in our field of membership.
The Board of Directors and Senior management personally apologize to the membership of the United States Senate Federal Credit Union for this action.
The comments and opinions of our members recently received are very important to the Board. We will always value your opinion, membership, and support of the Senate Federal Credit Union.
We will also work diligently and constantly to keep your confidence in our leadership.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated with the correct spelling of the name of the person starting the petition: Amber Wobschall (not Amber Wobschallin).