Like former Rotorua Chamber of Commerce President Dr Margriet Theron, I was in disbelief after hearing that the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce was intending to reinvent its Women in Business as The Bikini Club.

The Chamber announced on Monday it was reinventing its Women in Business sessions, and revealed the new name and logo - a caricature of a woman in a bikini.

However, after receiving complaints, chamber chief executive Darrin Walsh issued an apology to members on Tuesday, saying the organisation never intended the name to be demeaning and apologised to people who had taken offence.

Now I am all for bikinis. But the name Bikini Club would only fit if the group was just that, a group for fans of bikinis.


Why did no one in the chamber raise the issue earlier that such a name would be totally unsuitable?


How can the Chamber of Commerce as an organisation be so out of touch with what in my opinion is the reality of women in business?

Walsh said that the organisation had wanted to come up with something "fun and vibrant".

Now I am all for bikinis. But the name Bikini Club would only fit if the group was just that, a group for fans of bikinis.

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To name a business group for women The Bikini Club is immediately sexually suggestive, demeaning our intelligence and contribution. You may as well as call it Tits in Business, opined my colleague.

Even if there could be some questionable argument that the new branding was meant to convey women of style or sophistication, the logo squashes any idea of that, depicting a woman looking like an idiot in a stupid hat standing on one leg on a beach towel. Is that the idea of business women that the organisation wanted to convey? No woman I know would want to be associated with such an image.

It suggests to me that we may as well give up trying to be taken seriously in business and on a par with our male counterparts and just come to work in our bikinis or our aprons. As some noted on social media, you wouldn't get a man's business club named "The Budgie Smugglers Club" or "The Jock Strap". Or named after some other stereotype of men, such as "The Beer Swillers", "The Shaving Club", "The Snorers" or "The Farters."

Such a club would immediately make one think, what a bunch of losers.

So it is with The Bikini Club.

Even the first event for the group is questionable - an "interactive presentation on aromatherapy".

I love a whiff of lavender as much as the next person. An interactive presentation on aromatherapy sounds great.

But it doesn't really seem appropriate for a Chamber of Commerce event. What is planned for the following month, how to bake the perfect scone or iron a good collar?

As Dr Theron suggests, what about an event that looked at career opportunities for women with the proposed polytechnic merger, or featured women standing in the local government elections.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. Minister for Women Louise Upton said that in her job she was surprised on a regular basis, and this was one of those occasions.

The mentality of the Bikini Club is the same mentality of people who criticise the women on The Bachelor. I have said before I am a fan of the show. It is what it is, reality television. Everyone on it has chosen to be on it.

But I have noticed how the criticism is all centred around the women, none for the man himself, who seems to be looking to hand-pick someone for the Rio Olympics rather than a girlfriend. He has so far put his dates through wakeboarding, horseriding, paintball and driving around a race track.

Maybe the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce could use some of his ideas for its business meetings?

Some of the Bachelor's mind-boggling comments like this week when he said he liked a woman who could drive, make me think he'd be right at home with whoever thinks it is a good idea to name a business women's club after bikinis.