Ladies, I'm a feminist and I will actively fight our cause till my boobs hit the floor and I breathe my last breath through my Chanel lipstick but oh my goodness am I embarrassed by your behaviour lately.
A friend of mine has a Facebook group which has, in the last week, come under some pretty public scrutiny. The group is called 'Women Who Eat on Tubes' or 'WWEOT' and it does exactly what it says on the tin. It's women, eating on the underground and it's laugh out loud funny. Well it is unless you're a Feminist apparently.
First there was the KCL FEM Society who presented the group to their readership as sexist bullies that not only 'dehumanise' and 'objectify' women but they also went so far as to say the group was a 'trigger' for eating disorders. Yeah, they said that. And then Caitlin Moran waded in questioning womens privacy, calling the group creepy and saying hello a lot. HELLO CAITLIN.
Personally I'm confused as to why this has anything to do with sexism or feminism or any other 'ism' for that matter. I love this group and I am not the only woman who does. There are plenty of us lady-things who not only 'like' and 'comment' on the images shared but, God-forbid, we sometimes even upload them. *GASP* HELLO CAITLIN. As the group's creator, Tony Burke told me, "'[The group] was also intended as an observation of human behaviour... it isn't about women. The gender aspect is a random coincidence. It makes it more niche and adds to the group's popularity but there has never been gender agenda."
So come on girls- stop trying to make 'Victim' work. Why are these women seeing a problem where there isn't one? If these women were taking personal offence because their photos had featured, I'd possibly sympathise and think 'each to their own' but by throwing around the Feminist branding iron you're essentially speaking on behalf of womankind and you cannot do that over something so trivial. This group isn't going to undo a century of women's liberation; groups like this aren't a vendetta against women, it's just a bit of fun.
WWEOT is a harmless, tongue-in-cheek group with absolutely no malice or agenda, seeking simply to dramatise the ridiculousness of its own inanity. Does it throw into question women's privacy Caitlin? HELLO CAITLIN. If you want privacy when you eat here's an idea: Do it somewhere, you know, private. No one is breaking into anyone's home here. The photos are taken on 'Public Transport'. The clue is in the name really. You give up your image rights when you leave your house and consent to be photographed in public isn't a legal requirement in the UK.
There's never anything other than photos of women eating either which is something every human on the planet does every day, so really, what's so creepy? The secrecy? Is it any less creepy than the women who are taking pictures of men (secretly), posting them on the Internet and then RATING those men (publicly) like they are cattle on http://tubecrush.net/? Bad, bad Feminists. (Seriously though, check out 'Prime Beef' or 'Handle With Care' like, NOW.) Before someone shouts "yes but tubecrush celebrates men" WWEOT is celebrating women and in a less graphic way than tubecrush I might add. How many times do I/they need to say it: no one is being objectified on WWEOT. Women, you don't actually believe that the men of the group are sitting behind their screens touching themselves over a half eaten kebab being threaded through a woman's lipstick stained, booze mouth? Oh please. Don't flatter yourselves. Neither are they on the group because they hate us and wish to cause all women pain and humiliation. We're all bloody adults here.
Seriously, when did feminists lose their sense of humour because this is proof that it's well and truly gone. How do the women offended by something as insignificant as a Facebook group have nothing better to get wound up over than the fact that people (remember there are women in this group too) are commenting on their humanity. Writer Vaclav Havel noted, "Anyone who takes himself too seriously always runs the risk of looking ridiculous; anyone who can consistently laugh at himself does not." Havel is right; by making a mountain out of a Facebook-group-molehill we're making ourselves, Feminists, look ridiculous. Not everything is a Feminist issue; women need to remember to stop turning everything into an oppression contest. Not all Feminists want to be known as victims and kicking up a fuss over something this trivial debases centuries of hard work.
It's becoming evident that too many Feminists are operating with an 'us vs. them' mentality, believing that it's ok to oppose anything and everything that could vaguely be considered unequal between genders. We all wonder why women are finding it difficult to be proud of calling themselves Feminists; pathetic conflicts with groups like WWEOT are part of the reason. Even I, who had her Bush photographed to highlight Women's Choice, cannot feel proud of this fight. And unfortunately, this isn't the first time I've been embarrassed for the Feminist crusade. Do I need to remind everyone of the Jezebel article in which Lindy West argued that Colin 'God of Sex' in Love Actually was essentially the frontrunner of the patriarch apocalypse. How can anyone take Feminists seriously when they talk this much crap?
There's no medal for most Feminist Feminist; we need to pick our battles because picking the wrong battle ends up providing ammunition for the trolls, the men's rights activists and the patriarchy and we just end up losing credibility, not just with men but with women too. We've come so far; we got the vote, we've earned the ability to pursue any career that we want. We have more and more laws that prevent discrimination against women in the workplace and prevent men from treating us like property, abusing us, and having all of the power in a marriage. Fighting for your right to not be photographed eating on public transport (and then discussed) seems a little trivial. People might see the discussion of the women eating to be the crux of the problem but Tony assures me that "...Never has the group's intentions been to intimidate or frighten and anyone seen doing that or using language which isn't respectful of its subjects are reprimanded or ejected." Being talked about is the nature of the Internet. If you don't like that, never share any aspect of your life with anyone who has access to it.
We all know the story of the boy who cried wolf. Well, this is the same except it's girls who cried 'sexism' till no one bothered listening anymore. We don't want people to think "oh God, another crusade" every time we decide to fight the Feminist cause because it is worth fighting you know, just not every single time you feel life hands us a small injustice. Let's put this into perspective; in Ukraine they're chaining themselves to fences and protesting against an oppressive government, ruthless dictatorships and unlawful invasions and here we are, crying into our pillows because a photo of a woman eating a banana ended up on the web...
If we carry on this way it'll be our own fault when we've vagina'd ourselves into a corner in the pink aisle of the Internet where no-one can hear us roar. Women Who Eat on Tubes is simply just a Facebook group where the worst thing that could happen is that we all realise how human we are. Tony points out, "[The group] has developed into, on one level, a parody of online behaviour and where we are as a society. How trivial everything has become and how important the trivial is. The fact we're having this conversation is testament to that fact." The internet is a cruel mistress and even Tony admits that the future of this group is uncertain but let it be known that the issues women have with this group seem only to be founded in their own insecurities and nothing more. As Elsa Maxwell said, 'Laugh at yourself first, before anyone else can" and if you can't laugh at yourself, for goodness sake let WWEOT do it for you.