11/11/2015 10:50 EST | Updated 11/11/2015 10:59 EST

BeDevil Enterprises, Alberta Oilfield Company, Defends 'Misogynistic' Billboard


An oilfield equipment company is under fire over a controversial billboard standing next to a highway near Killam, Alta.

The ad, for family-owned company BeDevil Enterprises, shows a painted, mostly nude woman lying down with her eyes closed and a devil's tail curling up from behind her. She's partially obscured by flames, and a piledriver drills into the ground over her body.

It also features the slogan, "Screwpiles. We drill them to hell and back."

One Twitter user called the billboard "distasteful," adding that "advertisers should be held to a higher standard." Another disagreed, calling it "good hometown marketing."

Facebook commenters called it "misogynistic" and "vulgar."

BeDevil owner Dan McCrae told CBC News that the billboard doesn't contravene any laws.

"It has nothing to do with women and violence," McCrae told the network.

"I have as much respect for women as they have for me. We don't abuse women. I have had women working for me and I have had nothing but good luck with that," he added in an interview with The Edmonton Sun.

Advertising regulations

The Canadian Code of Advertising Standards states that an ad may not "appear in a realistic manner to exploit, condone or incite violence," "demean, denigrate or disparage one or more identifiable ... group of persons," or "undermine human dignity; or display obvious indifference to, or encourage, gratuitously and without merit, conduct or attitudes that offend the standards of public decency."

Members of the public who feel an ad has contravened those standards can submit complaints through the organization's website.

Misogyny in the oil patch

This isn't the first time that people in the oil industry have been accused of misogyny.

An Alberta-based Facebook page known as "Sexy Oil Patch Girls," for example, has been called "disgusting" and disrespectful.

Numerous articles published over the last few years have also reported on women facing challenges that their male counterparts don't.

Those issues include sexist comments from co-workers, unequal pay and a lack of accommodation for mothers who have to take care of their sick children.

Women make up 19 per cent of the labour force in Canada's oil, gas and mining industries, Alberta Venture reported.

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