Sorry sisters, but the double-standard reaction to ‘Women Eating On The Tube’ shows exactly how hypocritical – and humourless – feminism can be.
After 48 hours of brow-beating and trolling, Britain’s feminist community are hoping that a fun, irreverent, tongue-in-cheek blog about ladies masticating in public will be removed from the internet.
The Women Who Eat On Tubes group, which was set-up in 2011 and has more than 21,000 members, has sparked controversy in recent days with opponents claiming it encourages people to ‘objectify and humiliate women’ who are unaware their picture is being taken.
Film-maker Tony Burke, who set up the Facebook page in 2011, has insisted it was created as a ‘human observation’ that more women ate on the Tube than men and he had not intended to hurt anybody.
A British Transport Police spokesman has since admitted that three people have contacted them about the group, including one woman who had her picture posted online.
Speaking to MailOnline, Mr Burke, 39, said he is now weighing up whether to shut down the page due to the ‘constant barrage of toxic hatred’ on social media. ‘I’m considering taking the group down,’ he said.
‘I need to think about it carefully. I don’t want to be seen to be backing down but I need to think about my family.
‘There are more important things to think about.’ And he’s right – there are much bigger fish to fry.
One example is TubeCrush: a website which has encouraged women to objectify men on the London Underground without their knowledge for more than three years.
When it became a global sensation in 2011, it was lauded as a peak-time pastime by everything from Pinterest to the Evening Standard, who wrote a gushing feature about it, claiming: ‘Flirty females are using their smartphones to capture the dishiest of the Underground’s two million daily commuters, and uploading the unsuspecting men onto hit website TubeCrush.net.
‘The cute commuters are then rated and commented on by admiring women – with surveys taken as to which Tube lines have the hottest men (so far, overwhelmingly, the Northern line is winning).’
Here we had women taking pictures of men based on their looks, their muscles and the bulge in their trousers – with the sole intention of humiliating them.
Disturbingly, some of the lads in the photographs didn’t always look old enough to be sixteen, while others – wearing shorts in the summer – were snapped sitting down as the material rode up their legs.
I couldn’t help but wonder: how desperate were these women?
Given that this all started happening at a time when a record number of female teachers were sleeping with male minors (and, of course, frequently avoiding jail) this was hardly something to encourage.
Shortly after the advent of TubeCrush, another blog called ‘Men Taking Up Too Much Space On The Train’ was launched – and hailed as hilarious.
One columnist in Grazia even celebrated it by saying: ‘I love it. Now when will there be one about men taking up too much space in the world?’
Soon after, when Game Of Thrones actor Richard Madden used the Bakerloo Line and sat with his legs slightly apart for comfort, one woman publicly demanded he be – and I quote – ‘castrated.’
Hilariously, when the tables are turned – even in a way that is utterly non-sexual and non-violent, like women eating food on public transport – it’s considered misogynistic.
Yes, had Tony Burke’s blog been the first-of-a-kind, I would probably agree that it was violating with a little ‘v.’
I would also wonder whether it stemmed from casual, everyday sexism. But, given that these women started it all, they’ve got no right to complain.
Sure, they think they’re redressing an age-old imbalance of being found attractive by heterosexual men, but objectification is nothing new for both genders. In fact, women frequently objectify men via their wallets.
If they are sex objects, then men are success objects. Now, thanks to TubeCrush, they’re also being leered at by peeping toms in pencil skirts.
But, as TubeCrush is about to re-launch with a bigger and ‘better’ site, how can men take action?
The answer: turn the tables and play them at their own game.
I was once travelling on the Northern Line when a young woman was trying to surreptitiously take a photograph of a man in a suit.
Hilariously, her flash went off – at which point he started filming her with plans to put the footage on YouTube – which caused her to scurry off at the next stop in shame.
That’s because what he did is exactly what the Women Eating blog does – it holds a mirror up to double standards and levels the playing field.
It takes away the thrill of it all, which – in women’s case – is objectifying without being objectified.
The same thing happened when a bunch of female law students from Australia recreated the Robin Thicke video for Blurred Lines with men in pants. It was the best way to make their point.
But, given that countless feminists have been unable to recognise this, what can we all learn from from this week’s furore?
That feminism – for all its gains, for all its boldness – is still marred by irrational double-standards. On the one hand we’re told that women must be treated equally to men, but when they are – for good and bad – they don’t like it.
Quite frankly, they’ve got off lightly.
Imagine if, like millions of British men, women were routinely denied access to their children in a divorce.
Or if schools were failing girls more than any other social group. Or if 99 per cent of the war dead were female.
Or if women died ten years earlier than men because the NHS didn’t dole out equal funding.
Guys taking pictures of women on the underground is nothing in comparison. It also isn’t sexist or sinister, but simply boy power.
Normally, I’d dread travelling by the tube at rush hour: there’s always some wretch who stands on my Grenson brogues or a tourist with no sense of special awareness.
Or, worse, a teenage girl who thinks she deserves to be given a seat by an old man simply because she’s female.
But, now, my journey will take on a whole new level of enjoyment, because – just like women across London – I’ll also board the love train with my camera at the ready.
Isn’t equality wonderful?
This article was originally published in mailonline, and is reposted here with Mr. Lloyd’s permission.