Canadian Realtor under fire over Christmas card

Critics say a joke about the women in his life talking too much was inappropriate for work-related communication, especially in the wake of the #MeToo movement

Many real estate agents send holiday cards to clients. But this year, one Canadian Realtor has raised a commotion online after critics took offense at his Christmas card’s depiction of his wife and three daughters with their mouths duct-taped shut while he held a “peace on Earth” sign.

Realtor Dwight Streu, based in Edmonton, Alberta, with Realty Executives Encore, is on the receiving end of a blast of criticism that his card to clients joking about the women in his life talking too much. Some women found the card’s depiction of women as needing to be silenced as inappropriate and sexist, especially in the wake of the recent global #MeToo movement of women speaking up against harassment and historic discrimination.

“As a society, we’re having such public conversations about #MeToo and gender based violence and gender equality, and for a local businessperson to think that this would be a good idea to send it to his clients is just beyond me,” Paula Kirman, an organizer with women’s rights advocacy group March on Edmonton, told Huffington Post Canada. Kirman also posted an image of the card in question on her Facebook.

Dwight Streu and his wife Roxanne provided the following statement to Inman about the card controversy:

“Our family has been mailing out Christmas cards since our daughters were little. This years card was a regrettable choice. It was never intended to go online and was meant to be seen by people who know us as a close fun loving family who were only intending to poke fun at themselves. Had we known the card had the potential to hurt or offend even 1 person we never would have done it and we are deeply sorry to anyone hurt or offended by our card. We are saddened to think that our Christmas card has caused so much controversy and division at at time of year that is special to so many families including ours. We have been overwhelmed with emails, messages and phone calls of support and encouragement from friends and strangers alike including Realtors both local and across Canada.”

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Although Streu’s daughter later took responsibility for the photo idea, telling a local CityNews reporter that it was based on a family joke, Kirman said that her apparent internalization of the problematic message was still concerning. The card found attention through online comment sections and felt the heat from angry readers.

The flare-up comes as the real estate industry — much like many other professions around the country — grapples with how to handle historic discrimination against women, especially in leadership roles.

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