West Quay Cars has received 16 direct complaints for their anti-drink driving advert featuring a large woman, while a male version of the same poster has received none.

The second poster still reads the words ‘If I start to look sexy, book a taxi’, but instead of a large woman it displays a moustached man with a sleazy look on his face.

The photographed man is clad in an unbuttoned shirt revealing a hairy chest, with a thick gold chain around his neck and large rings on his fingers.

He points at the camera, drunken-eyed and grinning suggestively.

a taxi

The previous advert, showing a voluptuous woman attempting a suggestive pose in a low-cut top, was criticised by Southampton Feminist Society for inciting sexism.

taxi ad

Kristian Gardner said of the advertisement campaign:

Is it sexist? Exact same advert but with male model, can’t see how that classes as sexist myself.

He went on to add:

I understand how people can see it as bad taste, just not sexist.

Meanwhile, West Quay Cars has been publicly shamed by fellow Southampton cab company, Aero Taxis.

aa taxi

Now that the male counterpart has been revealed, has the criticism been withdrawn or altered?

Amy Bolton from the University of Southampton Feminist Society said:

It is [still] a really, really shit and offensive advert.

Georgia Jeffery, also from FemSoc, added:

It’s still a body shaming issue just not quite so gender specific as first thought.

Following the negative backlash from the adverts, West Quay Cars told us:

We have received 16 negative complaint posts via social media in respect of the poster depicting the female, their claim is that we are sexist, a claim we refute in the strongest possible terms.

We have not received any communication directly to the office by phone or email. We have by the way, received no complaint or negative comment on the male poster whatsoever!

Does having a male version of the advert make it ok? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

54 Comments »

Leave your response!

  • God
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    Tl;dr – Regardless of whether or not you think it is offensive, the ad campaign is obviously not sexist.

    Tl;dr of the tl;dr – Told you so.

    Reply

  • Some Guy
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    Finally the Feminist society will have to admit they’re wrong? But then they’ll be like no men were wrong so therefore we are not wrong. Lesson for the future, research everything before jumping to conclusions.

    Reply

  • Cynic
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    Amy Bolton, how is it offensive? Could you please explain? I’m talking about the advertising campaign as a whole, ie both posters. Who is it offensive to?

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    Amy Bolton
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    My full quote wasn’t actually included but I did specify that the offense in this campaign isn’t actually related to gender in the slightest and I don’t think sexism is the issue, I think this advert is shit because it insinuates both of the people in the advert can’t be deemed attractive because they’ don’t meet a societal ideal. I appreciate it’s tounge in cheek but I can appreciate on the flipside how people who actually look like the people in the advert might find it offensive :)

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    yumstix
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    But they aren’t attractive. Society needs to stop pandering to everyone’s feelings and realise people are more attractive than others.

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    Sam Wheeler-Brown
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    Agreed, I think the campaign is pathetic as a marketing strategy, but nowadays there is so much emphasis on somebody’s ‘offense’ being the arbiter of whether or not something should be allowed. I’m sorry Amy, I’m no troll but since when did one person’s, very subjective, offense or ‘outrage’ (another favourite of the Guardian) become something we’re supposed to give a toss about? The ability to look past one’s own personal feelings and look objectively at the larger issues is what separates us from the fundamentalists responsible for the Charlie Hebdo shootings and other similar immature emotional zealots.
    At the end of the day societal norms are not the only thing responsible for why we find certain people more/less attractive. There are biological factors at play there as well and breeding with the more attractive, physically able or intelligent people is just part of Natural Selection and the reason our species has survived this long. No matter how much you tell people they should, they are never going to fancy fat and ugly people and neither should they, it’s unhealthy, unpleasant and costs us all millions in taxes every year.

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    Amy Bolton
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    To be honest, my original post on femsoc was more centered around the fact that I disagreed with the original article and I didn’t actually make the initial suggestion that I found either of the articles offensive. Whilst the campaign doesn’t particularly offend me, I can see why it would offend others and I can appreciate that as part of a rounded argument. My quote has very much been taken out of context in regards to my original argument which was that this advert wasn’t sexist.

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    confused onlooker
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    Sam Wheeler-Brown- no one is asking you to, as you so eloquently phrased, ‘give a toss’ about Amy’s opinion, or anyone’s opinion for that matter. But it is an opinion that freedom of speech permits Amy to have. Not only are the Charlie Hebdo shootings completely irrelevant to this discussion but since you brought it up, the shootings were not only a horrifying act of terror but also a complete disregard for freedom of speech that satire is entitled to just like any other genre of news. For this reason I’m frankly shocked that you compared Amy to an ‘immature emotional zealot fundamentalist.’ That’s fucking ridiculous. If anything, you are denying Amy her own freedom of speech within this open forum used for sharing OPINIONS.

    Reply

  • Copywriter Advertising
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    It’s tongue in cheek advertising that addresses a serious subject in a light-hearted way – suitable for the pubs and clubs that it’s being advertised in. It is in no way shape or form ‘sexist’ or offensive. The only thing offensive I see is you referring to the woman in the ad as ‘voluptuous’ when she is clearly overweight. And saying that Aero Taxis ‘publically shamed’ West Quay cars quite extreme – when all they did was made the students aware of it. Your journalism students still have a lot to learn – clearly.

    Reply

  • The Common Observer
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    “It’s still a body shaming issue just not quite so gender specific as first thought.”

    Not quite as gender specific as first through? No. It’s in no way gender specific at all

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    Georgia Jeffery
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    I agree, I was just trying to lessen the embarrassment of those who didn’t research properly.

    Reply

  • Amy Bolton
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    Only a bit of my quote was included but I did actually specify I was disappointed that this campaign was made out as a gender issue, when I don’t actually think it’s intent is sexist at all. The issue is body shaming. Not gender.

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  • Georgia Jeffery
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    Not impressed with how I’ve been quoted seeing as I never believed the advert was sexist in the first place and I was actually criticising those who had. Know that’s the case for Amy Bolton too. Guess that’s a lesson for what you let be quoted!

    Reply

  • Trollface
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    “it’s still a really, really shit and offensive advert”.

    …So you were wrong then? Sounds a lot like bottling out

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    Amy Bolton
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    I actually thought that the original article was wrong in the first place, and my initial comment to the group was that a male version of the poster existed so it isn’t actually offensive on the grounds of sexism at all. If my quote it taken as defending the original article then that isn’t what I was referencing. See my other comment as to why I can appreciate how some may find it offensive.

    Reply

  • Covert feminist
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    Amy Bolton. Unfortunately the minute you used the word “shit” you seriously reduced the credibility of your statement which was coming from a weak angle in the first place. :/

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    Amy Bolton
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    Honestly wasn’t aiming for credibility just shared my opinion on a lighthearted discussion group – which was actually that I don’t think this campaign is sexist.

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    .
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    Are you seriously criticising the credibility of her statement through language that she uses whilst using a ‘:/’ in your own post?

    Reply

  • A Man
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    Journalists died today for the right of freedom of expression and this crap is the best you can dredge up? Give me strength

    Reply

  • Georgia Jeffery
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    So basically myself and Amy Bolton are not the members of FemSoc who thought the advert was sexist we’re the ones who pointed out the male one!

    Reply

  • Short, Dark and Devilishly Handsome
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    (TL:DR: Lol Asian humour, reminds me of my uncle, femsoc should apologise, see the end for why)

    I’m rather surprised that nobody’s accused the campaign of being racist, I mean, did Goodness Gracious Me and Citizen Khan make it OK for Subcontinental Asians to be the butt of such jokes?
    …Is what I would say if I didn’t have several Uncles who look exactly like the dude in the picture and therefore wholeheartedly agree with it! (and the ethnicities involved are likely a coincidence)
    I think that since we haven’t heard an outcry from the Asian community (largely due to the fact we find things like this bloody hilarious, and all have that one uncle who would genuinely go out looking like that trying to pick up drunk students) we should just appreciate the fact that these adverts are rather inventive and funny, femsoc should apologise (I mean they have defamed a legitimate company for a legitimate – because it’s irrelevant whether you think they’re shit adverts, people shouldn’t be afraid of the occasional failure – likely damaging their business) and leave it at that. (because if they don’t, what that means is that we accept that women should be treated in a different manner to men, and since I don’t want to live in a sanitised world where people are afraid to attempt to be funny, we can’t have that.)

    If Femsoc struggle to word an apology, here’s a draft they can use:

    Dear WestQuay Cars,

    We’re sorry for wrongly accusing you of being sexist in your recent ad campaign. Whilst your sense of humour is clearly not to our tastes, we realise that, outside the realm of gender equality, we have no right to force our ideals upon other, free, human beings. We support the fact that you attempted to run a drivesafe campaign, and hope that your humour is broader and more inclusive in future.

    Kthxbaii

    Reply

    Anon
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    It was accused of being racist by a very very clever troll in the other soton tab article. (I hear this guy is a level 50 redditor). He’s really funny.

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    Tom
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    Sorry, when did FemSoc ‘force their ideals upon other, free, human beings’? Agree with them or not, they have the right to criticise the advert, just as you have the right to disagree.

    This entire comments section is smug wankers with an axe to grind with feminism.

    Reply

  • ugh
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    What I find interesting here is the direct assumption that this was a FemSoc led attack on the company.The article was shared on our page, a page which is open to members to discuss any article that they see fit. Some members of our facebook group (Including some members of the committee) believed this to be sexist as we had not been made aware of the male version as only the female version had been posted. However, it is important to note that when it was revealed that there was a male version many agreed that this was more an issue of fat/ body shaming. Furthermore, this was not an OFFICIAL stance from FemSoc. Oh but wait, I forgot that any comment ever made by any feminist anywhere is ALWAYS the direct fault of FemSoc.

    Reply

  • Check your privilege
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    Hmm… already that name is probably going to make some Tab trolls sh*t themselves. tl;dr the objectification of anyone is not something we should be encouraging.

    Let me explain through mathematics how insulting the physical appearance of women and men, whilst can be compared, is not the same – and hence why there were lots of complaints about the female poster, but not the male one.

    Women are objectified on a much more frequent and powerful basis than men are – from page 3 models, to the daily mail commenting on what the new women in the Tory cabinet are wearing, to women getting ‘compliments’ for how they look on the street, to rape victims being told to “take responsibility because [they] were dressed like a slut”- all that matters is their appearance. It is a fair premise that men and women are not equal in society… just like this equation: 2 =/= 3.

    If you then have another insult / objectifying piece of material lobbied at women, it’s going to have a relatively larger impact on women – because they have to go through this sh*t every f**king day! For men, like myself, it’s much easier for us to brush them off as an irregular occurrence (although unfortunately, happening more and more in society).

    Or to go back to the numbers, if we take away 1 from each side of the equation: 2 – 1 =/= 3 – 1 OR 1 =/= 2. Both are still unequal, but one side of the equation has lost 50%, whilst the other has lost 33%.

    Reply

    Evan Whyte
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    Come on man. Wtf is this stupid equation bullshit. Don’t try and quantify sexism.

    Let me explain through words how much of an idiot you are: you are a massive idiot.

    Now let me explain through mathematics how much of an idiot you are: On the scale of 1-10 on the idiocy scale, you are a ten. (I assume this is the only time in your life you will called a ten btw, enjoy it).

    Reply

    The Real Evan Whyte
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    I am actually Evan Whyte and whilst I am not going to call you an idiot, I do agree with Evan Whyte that this mathematics argument is flawed.

    What is your unbalanced equation representing exactly? Is the 2 =/= 3 the ratio of abuse men and women receive or is their ratio of privilege in society. Either way doesn’t your percentages contradict your argument. It is was abuse ratio your percentage imply women are more used to it and therefore less affected, if it was the privilege ratio you are implying men are losing more due to having more privilege to start with.

    I feel this argument has really brought the feminism issue to light and I am glad of the effort soton tab go to with this sort of journalism, however I feel often the comments get ridden with a certain depth of trolling is a shame.

    Anyway we really shouldn’t be focusing on your terrible mathematical skills (no offence), but rather on these idiot feminists jumping onto every little thing and making a meal out of it. I was really hoping for a full on apology but instead we get this “body shaming” crap. Feminists have taken it upon themselves to rid the world of all humour as inevitable someone will be offended. I think they should go back where they came from and stop stealing our jokes. #freespeech #mathematics #VPsport2013 #BigNOC

    Reply

    ugh
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    You’re so right. The fact that our FemSoc deals with issues and raises money for support on issues such as FGM, rape, Trans violence etc. Is just any old ‘little thing’.

    Reply

    HMMM
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    Mhm and where are all the fucking articles about that?

    Reply

    God
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    Yes, women are affected by objectification more frequently than men. Yes, this is bad. No, attacking only the female side of something that treats men and women in the same way is not a sensible solution.

    It would be like trying to combat the problem of more (UK) university places going to women than men by actively trying to increase the proportion of men studying engineering. Creating even more inequality to try to balance out existing inequality is ridiculous. Yes you could address the university’s overall male:female inequality that way, but that wouldn’t make it any less moronic an idea.

    By all means attack anything and everything which doesn’t treat men and women as equals, but attacking things which treat both genders in the same way is actively unhelpful.

    Reply

    God
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    As I’ve said before, I’d appreciate it if people would tell me why they disagree with me instead of just thumbs-downing.

    Fighting inequality with even more inequality doesn’t solve anything, it just creates more (albeit different) problems. I honestly thought this would be something that pretty much everyone would agree with, apparently I was wrong.

    CYP’s original post gave a reason why tackling objectification from sources which disproportionally target women could be considered a more pressing issue than tackling objectification from sources which disproportionately target men. However, based on my understanding of feminism (that men and women should be treated equally, full stop) it did not give a logical feminist basis for attacking (in a non-equal way) a source which treated men and women equally.

    If you want to attack both posters equally, I can see the logic in that. If you think neither poster, I can see the logic in that. If you want to attack one poster but not the other, you can’t justify that in the name of equality.

    Reply

    ugh
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    You’ve even explained yourself why people don’t agree with you.

    You don’t help remove the male dominance in engineering subjects by increasing advertising of engineering to both men and women, you focus on promoting the subject to women more.

    Or as Check your Privilege would put it, if you start off with 1 =/= 2, you don’t make it equal by adding 1 to each side, but adding 1 to just one side can then achieve equality.

    Reply

    God
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    You’ve completely missed the point. I was talking about deliberately worsening the imbalance in engineering to improve the overall balance at university in general – and obviously this would be a stupid idea. Likewise, crating inequality by only opposing one side of a currently equal ad campaign would reduce the net inequality in society, but would actually increase the number of instances of inequality. You don’t help remove the female dominance in objectification by targeting something which treats men and women equally, you focus on something which objectifies women but not men.

    Equality isn’t having lots of sources of discrimination which cancel each other out, it’s having no discrimination at al.

    Apparently we like analogies, so lets say objectification = fruit, and source of objectification = type of fruit. At the moment, we have a balance with an apple, a banana and an orange on the female side, but only an apple on the male side. We all agree that we want to balance the balance. Where we disagree, is that you seem to think (correct me if I’m wrong) removing the apple from only the female side is a step towards equality. Yes, the net balance is closer to being even (which is obviously a good thing), but when you look a little closer you see that you’ve gone from having 2 unequally distributed fruits to having 3 unequal fruits (which is obviously a bad thing.)

    It then becomes a question of whether this good thing is worth the bad thing. Either you priorities addressing the net imbalance, or you focus on the individual imbalances – which will result in the net imbalance taking care of itself.

    (Again correct me if I’m wrong), but from your reply got the impression that you think targeting the net imbalance in objectification in a way which disregards the imbalances (or lack thereof, in the case of these posters) was OK, but that tacking the net imbalance in university places in way which disregards the imbalances in individual subject was not OK? That stance would not be logically consistent, but it seems to me to be what you’re advocating?

    Reply

  • Asim
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    In my view this ad is only as much wrong as all other typical ads where only the not-fat ladies are portrayed as sexy. This ad mean that fat ladies r not sexy… and others acceptable ads also mean the same thing in a different way that only skinny ladies can be sexy. This ad is not worse than those others.

    Reply

    Asam
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    Asam you are so right son.

    Reply

  • Fat Sam
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    I agree with comment above and those on the Daily Echo that an appology is owed if not by FemSoc then by the initial student(s) who raised the “sexism” card and called for a boycott (or maybe that should be a personcott) of West Quay Cars and essentially tried to damage their business based on an argument to which they had only seen/considered partial evidence. This could all be written off as a misunderstanding of the facts and still the student(s) and/or FemSoc can state they feel the advert is in bad taste but in hindsight not sexist. If the society wished to act responsibly they could make a statement to this effect and look to promote education on such matters within their society. The alternative could be that West Quay Cars raise grievance to SUSU and/or the University regarding the actions of individuals and FemSoc (as a representative body) for deformation of character. There could also be grounds for grievance as to the method of reporting by the tab which has at times demonstrated a bias slant against West Quay Cars. In addition to this members of FemSoc could formally complain about the way they have been quoted in this article.
    If anything comes of this lets hope people have learnt lessons to review all evidence before jumping to conclusions; that we all have a better understanding of what ‘sexist’ means; that West Key Cars see this may be in bad taste and ultimately that the key message of the campaign sunk in and that fewer people were tempted to drink and drive and risk endangering life.

    Reply

    ???
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    Wait…..what was that thing about freedom of speech?

    Reply

    whaat
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    Actually, if you go on the feminist society page there is currently a discussion going on about this article. Also, I think its incredibly unfair to be pushing all of this onto the society when the majority of people here probably haven’t actually bothered to speak to society or read the ongoing thread on their page right now. On the original post there are several comments which outwardly state that some members didn’t think it was sexist. Plus, you can’t sue people for not wanting to use a service because they were offended by it.

    Reply

    Fat Sam
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    Where was anything mentioned about “suing”. I’m suggesting West Quay Cars could legitimately complain about the actions of FemSoc members. I did look at the FemSoc group where there was a clear thread calling for a boycott (and yes some members challenged why this is sexists) however a boycott was called including statements such as “lets bombard their Facebook page” and one member stating they were writing to the Daily Echo on behalf of FemSoc hence the society was deeply embroiled due to actions of their members whether a committee decision or not. Stating FemSoc have no responsibility here is tosh. The society should have tried to calm the situation, ensured full and clear understanding of the situation, made a direct challenge to the firm (write a letter etc) and awaited a response before trying to go viral. Stating FemSoc is not to blame is liken to saying UKIP is not to blame for the racist /biggoted comments/actions of rouge members. Action has to be taken by those deemed to be responsible. It would appear the FemSoc group has become hidden or closed now (seems hypocritical if this is the issue as many on the discussion threads were critical of the taxi firm deleting comments and Twitter accounts and describing them as “social media eediots”). Sometimes in life we need to know when to say sorry and it is quite a mature thing to be able to do by seeing which battles you can actually win.

    Reply

    whaat
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    The FB page has always been closed, you have to join before you can post/ comment.

    Reply

    Fat Sam
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    When I searched yesterday I found it, when I tried this morning it was not coming up (maybe I searched the wrong thing) but it would seem to be back and the comments are public
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/sufemsoc/?fref=ts

    Reply

    Tom
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    Your ‘boycott’ ‘personcott’ joke really shows that you have spent a lot of time talking with real feminists and haven’t just formed an opinion from stereotypes you’ve seen online. I salute your deep understanding.

    Reply

  • Another man
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    There is no justifying the attacking of this campaign because of a lack of knowledge about a male version. It was not sexist in the first place, I think we’ve discovered that one.

    It is a complete fallacy to suggest that women receive more objectification than men, how could this even be quantified? Recording every single comment made by everyone relating to gender?
    I think what we’ve learnt from this whole debacle is that no one (FemSoc included) actually knows what equality is or how to achieve. Perhaps it’s time we embraced certain social differences as comical and dealt with actual problems.

    Reply

  • Random
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    Fucking great piece of advertising if you ask me! Gone viral all round the uni!

    Reply

  • Chanel
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    Just because there is an offensive, body-shaming male poster, it doesn’t make the female poster any less offensive. There is no cancelling out because the offence applies to both genders. They are both disparaging certain looks and traits and this type of marketing is very damaging, especially if seen by children.

    Reply

    Chief
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    Yes, but it does mean the original poster is NOT SEXIST. This whole issue isn’t even one of gender – this is body shaming.

    Reply

  • GarbageMan
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    good to see David Giliani was able to find a career as a model after his SU president reign

    Reply

  • .
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    Amy Bolton has been completely misquoted; evidence of the once again appalling and manipulative ‘writing’ that Soton Tab pretends to call journalism. This has already been addressed in multiple comments, so if you could all get off your high-horses and stop being such a bunch of bell-ends, purely for the purpose of being an arse-hole, that’d be just great.

    Reply

  • Bewildered
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    why on earth are people so quick to dismiss a group of people (femsoc) working towards equality for EVERYBODY? So what there’s a male version as well, it’s still a disgusting advert!
    Weird amount of unnecessary animosity towards feminists here, why is deconstructing and criticising things like this a bad thing?

    Reply

    nah
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    Because it’s a well known fact femsoc aren’t promoting equality for everybody.

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    Bewildered
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    a well known fact? You do know what feminism actually means right?
    Interested to hear the reasoning behind that moronic statement….

    Reply

    HMMM
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    I have about as much faith in the idea that we can solve all of societies ills by assuming everything is ultimately a women’s issue as I do in the idea of trickle down economics.

    Reply

  • Susu_Cat
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    This is why I only use the safety bus.

    Reply

  • Sensitive Soul
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    FemSoc can you stop, I am offended by your sensitive souls.

    Sincererly.

    Everyone normal.

    Reply