Earlier this week, Unbound, a sex accessories company whose stated mission is "educating and empowering women to own their sexuality," submitted a series of new ads to Outfront, the company that manages MTA advertising. The illustrative ads were quickly rejected for their allegedly racy content, which the company argued it was a sexist double standard. Now, after considerable media attention, the MTA has stepped in to make sure Outfront works with the company to get the ads up.

"The MTA has always and will continue to ensure that our policies are applied evenly and fairly," Jon Weinstein, a spokesman for the agency, said in a statement. "We’re going to direct our advertising partner to work with the company toward a resolution that is agreeable to all parties and allows their ads on the system."

Unbound, which sells sex toys and other accessories, worked with five female artists (Laura Callaghan, Loveis Wise, Kristen Liu-Wong, Robin Eisenberg, and Yoko Honda) to create artwork with very little text for their campaign. There is no nudity, and only a few discreet images of sex toys. Compared to other sexually-explicit ads—like Roman's now-ubiquitous erectile dysfunction ads, graphic The Museum of Sex ads, and ads promoting breast augmentation—their artwork was relatively tame.

An Outfront representative told Unbound in an email earlier this week that the company believed that the ads "would not be approved under MTA guidelines," citing two clauses in the MTA's ad policy which prohibit "the dissemination of indecent material to minors" and the "public display of offensive sexual material." The Outfront rep did not offer any suggestions on how the ads could be modified to be accepted.

Unbound remain cautiously optimistic about the MTA stepping in, and look forward to discussing the ads, but they're not sure what changes Outfront will require them to make to put them up. In addition, they have not heard from the MTA directly yet—they only found out about MTA's statement on the ads via the NY Times.

"Outfront has reached out to start the conversation about re-submitting to the MTA, and we're looking forward to learning what this means for the campaign," Polly Rodriguez, CEO of Unbound, told Gothamist. "We haven't yet finalized what changes will be required of us or any other specifics. That said, we want to make certain we're not just putting a band-aid on this issue by making quick fixes, but really doing our best to change the policies that resulted in this dispute in the first place. Ultimately, we'd love to be able to make a lasting impact on the policies that have, and obviously continue to, discriminate against companies that cater to different genders and versions of sexuality. What good is it to blaze a trail if others can't follow in your path?"

#Repost @unboundbabes 💖💖💖I had such an amazing time working on this project and while the outcome is disappointing it sadly isn’t a surprise... ・・・ WE NEED UR HELP! Last week, Unbound submitted our first ad campaign to the #MTA. And we were rejected. After emails and a phone call, the MTA confirmed that our ads were denied for being “offensive sexual material.”** We wanted to convey the idea that the pursuit of sexual wellbeing is an act of self-love and to showcase the belief that womxn’s sexuality IS something worthy of more public visibility. And we did this by commissioning the artwork you see above from @lauracallaghanillustration, @cosmicsomething, @kliuwong, @robineisenberg + @yokopium. Since @mtanyctransit won’t take our ads, we’re asking for UR help. If u believe that this art and womxn’s sexuality deserve equal access to public forums, please consider screenshotting & sharing the artwork above with the hashtag: #WTFMTA ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ **Meanwhile, an erectile disfunction company has bought out #GrandCentralStation starting today. We saw the ~rise~ of these ads on the subway as a hopeful sign that the committee that regulates ad space was loosening their standards a bit. If there are now countless ads for erectile disfunction, why can’t we create ads that depict a positive sexual wellbeing without it being deemed offensive?

A post shared by Kristen Liu-Wong (@kliuwong) on