Tuesday, 9 June 2015


So, I spotted this on the tube the other day:

Forgive the blurriness, it was taken with a smartphone on a moving train, and I had to snap it quickly, partly because I was getting off at the next stop, partly because the guy sitting directly underneath clocked me pointing my phone in his direction right away, and was getting more and more visibly agitated - perhaps he's in witness protection and thought I was going to blow his cover. Don't fret, your secret's safe with me, jittery tube man with the conspicuously over sized glasses. YOU'RE NOT FOOLING ANYBODY. 

A little internet jiggery-pokery reveals this is an ad for We Swap, an online currency exchange forum which might actually be a good idea if the company weren't clearly run by sexist twatwagons. Oh well, you lose some, you lose some more. I've left them unmolested so far but their Twitter handle is @WeAreWeSwap - have your fill, my vengeance-seeking feminist missiles.

Well anyway, when I saw it I posted it on Twitter under the #EverydaySexism hashtag, because my version of activism is raging impotently on social media for a bit, and then forgetting all about it, much like 99% of all other activists. (Incidentally, this kind of activism does nothing for your job prospects. It seems all writing jobs these days want your Twitter handle as part of the application process - possibly because I will insist on a desire to write for the 'yoof' market - and I don't think it impresses employers when your feed is comprised entirely of swearing, jokes about sex acts, and calling people sexist twatwagons). Ordinarily I'd have left it there; as I say, I've adopted a strict 'post and run' policy, only moments later I got a notification from a (I'm reaching for a suitable synonym for sexist twatwagon. Misogynist cockwomble? Misogynist cockwomble.) misogynist cockwomble asking me "why" it was sexist, and, abandoning my instinctive response of "if you can read I shouldn't need to answer that question", I have decided, for the benefit of misogynist cockwombles everywhere, to answer the question. So why is it sexist?

1.) Women aren't objects
Surprise! Yes, shockingly, there are marked differences between a woman and the average desk chair (namely, we don't tend to come with convenient swivel-wheels and ergonomic back support). To boil it down, you cannot 'swap' women with or for anything because THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS WITH FREE WILL (I concede that We Swap do admit they can't swap your wife for a Swedish supermodel, but I suspect with them it's an issue of ability and not for want of trying). You can swap your stapler for a Mars Bar because it's inanimate and can't object (it judges you silently though), but attempting to trade in people comes under the handy, catch-all term of 'human trafficking'. Don't do it kids.

2.) It reduces women to no more than the sum of their looks
The only time I tend to ever get shouty about male privilege is when attempting to explain that women are taught from birth that their most important quality is their physical appearance. Men really don't get that. If we spend hours obsessing about our looks it's not self-obsession, it's self-preservation, because if you're not pretty and thin, by Cod baby, you'd better be rich. Anyway, I digress. The 'joke' is only funny because we're supposed to assume that the hypothetical male (let's not kid, this ad isn't aimed at anyone else. Only teh menz deal with important things like money) would obviously want to swap his missus (what a descriptive term, I feel like I know so much about this woman) for a Swedish supermodel, because when it comes to women, looks are all that matter. Guess what? THAT'S SEXIST.

3.) It assumes all men are sexist too
Remember how I just said the joke only works when you assume the male reader would obviously want to swap their female partner for a Swedish supermodel - well, that's pretty sexist to men too. As much as it's offensive to women to imply all that matters about them is how attractive they are, it's equally offensive to men to imply that they are all so shallow that they only care about looks, that they'd all blindly take the supermodel over their loving partner because they're all a bunch of superficial aresholes. Calling all men sexist is, ironically, fucking sexist.

4.) It fetishes Swedish women
I'll touch on this only briefly, as because a white, Western woman, I'm not ideally placed to comment on the fetishisation of other cultures, but it happens a lot. Like in how Eastern European women have been stereotyped as femme fatales (I'm not just talking about Bond girls either, the number of times men have told me I'm "not Eastern European enough" or that they "only date Eastern European women". It's......weird), and how middle aged Daily Mail readers are always espousing the values of marrying Thai and  Eastern women, because they're supposedly more subservient (because that's what normal people want in a partner. Part lover, part slave.). It's Creepy. As. Fuck. And when it's concentrated on one gender, it's sexist. So stop it.

I could probably go on, but I can't be fucked. Slacktivist forever.

No comments:

Post a Comment