For those who haven’t been following me on Twitter, I should start by telling you that I’ve spent a lot of time in London over the last few weeks. That means that I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on the London Underground. Now I’m not a particular fan of the “Tube” – mostly because I find the whole experience quite stressful. I hate that feeling of being swept up by the crowd and having to jostle my way to the sign telling me which fork in the road to follow, depending on whether I’m travelling eastbound or westbound.
But there are benefits to that journey across London to my destination. I’m quite happy to plug myself into my Ipod, listen to a Jillian Michaels podcast and watch the world go by. This week, something struck me which reminded me of this hateful Facebook group about women eating on the London underground. It’s a page which encourages people to take photos of women eating whilst travelling on the tube. There are assorted pictures of women munching their way through sandwiches and the like. This site has thousands of followers – literally!
So here’s the thing… I’m sat across from a perfectly normal woman munching her way through a sub sandwich. She’s sat opposite me and quite discretely eating her roll, probably grabbed from Paddington station after an equally long journey. She’s probably been up since dawn and she’s damn hungry. Does this offend me? No… why should it? She’s exhibiting good manners – chewing with her mouth closed, making no discernible noise and is occasionally dabbing at her mouth with a serviette. Why the heck would this offend anyone? Why is this behaviour deserving of a whole Facebook page?
This Facebook group has popped up a couple of times on the news when it first appeared… admittedly this was a couple of weeks ago but with a busy few weeks in work I’ve not had much time to give it any detailed thought. Many commentators were saying that it was offensive.. true.. others noted that it was just bizarre. The creators of the page said it wasn’t sexist – just a bit of social commentary.
My question is this…
Would they create a page dedicated to black people eating on the tube? or the disabled? or indeed any other “category” of people. Of course not. That would definitely be offensive. I think this should now be the litmus test for all things. A pretty good indicator of something be sexist, racist, or generally offensive is to transpose your target group with another. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, then it’s not appropriate.
Next time you’re on Facebook, happily “liking” pages and the endless array of photos which pop up in your newsfeed, take a breath and think… does this pass the litmus test?