One of the founders of elite women’s club The Wing publicly criticized New York City’s openly gay City Council Speaker for sharing a picture of a shirtless man on social media.
Audrey Gelman, who co-founded The Wing with Lauren Kassan in 2016, tweeted a screenshot of a recent Instagram post shared by Corey Johnson, who has served on New York’s City Council since 2014 and as City Council Speaker since 2018.
Johnson’s post, shared just after midnight on Friday, depicts an unidentified man who isn’t wearing a shirt. [UPDATE: Johnson is dating the man in the picture, his office confirms.] Gelman tweeted her screenshot of the photo approximately eight hours later, calling out what she perceived to be a sexist double standard.
“Corey Johnson, the NYC Council Speaker, posted this photo on social media at midnight,” Gelman wrote. “If a woman elected official did this, they wouldn’t have a job in the morning.”
The tweet was deleted about two and a half hours later, presumably by Gelman.
It would appear by the content of her tweet that Gelman — whose business, The Wing, now operates eight different locations throughout the United States, offering members-only access to woman-centered workspaces and events for $185 a month — is criticizing Johnson because she feels that a female politician would be run out of office were she to post a photo of a shirtless person on her public social media account, as the Speaker has done.
If that is the case, one could argue that such a line of feminist inquiry is misguided, especially in a state like New York where it is legal for anyone of any gender to not wear a shirt. It might perhaps be more fruitful to push for a world where women enjoy the same freedoms as men, rather than argue that men’s bodies should be as restricted or controlled as their female counterparts.
This doesn’t even begin to address another concerning dynamic at play in Gelman’s tweet, that of a straight woman attempting to hold a gay man to heterosexual moral standards — but only Gelman can say for sure what her intentions were. Out reached out to both Gelman and Johnson for comment. We will update the story if we hear back.
UPDATE: Gelman has apologized for criticizing Johnson's Instagram post.
"In this tweet, my intention was to make a point about the double standard facing women seeking or occupying public office, but this was the wrong example to choose and I apologize," the Wing co-founder said in a statement to Out. "Many of the critics that hold women to this double standard are also the same ones who regularly attack those in the LGBTQIA community. I have immense respect for Corey Johnson and the example he has set of what it means to be a public servant as an openly gay man."
Johnson has also commented on the matter, telling Out that while he agrees that sexist double standards are real, his post was merely a celebration of a man he is dating.
“There is a double standard that women face and there’s a real conversation to be had about that double standard," the Speaker said in a statement. "I want to live in a world where everyone — women, men, the LGBTQ community — absolutely everyone can celebrate their relationships however they see fit. When I posted that photo, I was just in the moment and feeling very happy. I’m proud of Ernest.”