An open letter to everyone enjoying a good SU FemSoc pile on Re: West Quay cars advertising campaign.

First to address the idea that SU FemSoc is leading some sort of hate campaign against West Quay cars. Obviously the answer is this is not the case. So far everything said has been said by individual members discussing this. This is the first time SU FemSoc have actually said anything official about this.

The female version of the “If I look sexy…” advert was posted on our public discussion group on the 1st of January 2015. Seeing an advert from your home town on the very first day of 2015 enforcing policing of female bodies and fatphobia upset people, understandably we believe. Some members then got in contact with West Quay cars to raise the problematic nature of this advert.

What is problematic about this advert?

This advert is a form of body policing and an example of fatphobia. It is making fun of someone because of the way they look. This objectifying, judging lens is something we are well aware of in the media, for both genders, but especially for women. Therefore seeing the female version of this advert by itself, as it first was, some members branded it sexist. It was only later that the male version was posted. Members immediately voiced their dislike of the male version also, noting again that it was an unacceptable form of body-policing. Individual members of FemSoc have a right to discuss these sort of topics on our Facebook page as long as it is in line with our safe space policy.

So what does SU FemSoc say?

We think that the taxi poster campaign’s message of don’t drink and drive is good one and are glad West Quay cars want to promote it. However the posters, both male and female, are offensive and in bad taste. Both are a form of body-policing and the female one is obviously fat-phobic. Feminism is about acceptance and how someone looks does not and should not define their worth or attractiveness. This sort of body policing and stereotyping happens every day in the media and society and that is why this is not “just a joke”. One can be funny without feeding into patriarchal, objectifying stereotypes. As one of our members pointed out (Shout out Heather Cartwright!), an advert with “a mop with googly eyes” would have been very funny with the tag line “If I start to look sexy, call a taxi”. Perhaps West Quay cars could consider this for their next campaign.

We would like it if West Quay cars removed these posters and issued an apology. An apology “for any offence caused” is not enough. They need also to acknowledge the damaging nature of these posters. One can unconsciously play into patriarchal values, but when it is pointed out you need to acknowledge it. Currently the manager, Mr.Haynes, says he does not think it “discriminatory in any way” and is “humorous as befits the festive season”. It IS discriminating against different body types and personally our festive season does not include making fun of people for the way they look. And we are not the only ones thinking like this. Union president, David Mendoza-Wolfson commented that: “We are aware of the advert in question, and in forming our partnership agreement with West Quay Cars we agreed that this campaign was not suitable for use within our venues or outlets. We are currently in talks with West Quay and have asked them to remove it from wider use.”

To the commenters on the Soton Tab who think we have deleted posts, hidden our group or whatever else, this is not the case. Our group has always been and still is, public. And as for the fact you think we have time to go through and orchestrate a cover-up during revision, well, you overestimate us there I’m afraid.

Yours sincerely,
Your favourite local feminists,
SU FemSoc

taxi ad

a taxi

Soton Tab’s previous articles on the matter:

SUSU affiliated taxi company gets ‘sexist’

No complaints for male version of ‘sexist’ ad

41 Comments »

Leave your response!

  • Feck off Femsoc
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    You are femsoc not rent a false outrage soc (although this may be the same thing)

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    Impressed
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    Good one, you sure told them!!! Bazinga.

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  • Jim
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    What a load of tripe. Goodness gracious girls, why’s everything got to be appended with a -phobic and why does everyone have to consider your feelings? It’s a taxi company advert. A local taxi company. It’s not exactly War and Peace, and the beauty of the free market is that if you don’t like it you can simply take a different company.
    Write about why you personally object by all means, but demanding that the company “acknowledge the damaging nature of the posters” is tripe – you’re stifling their own freedom of expression and asking that they capitulate, even if they personally (and hundreds of others) literally were not offended, could not give a fornicating, flying fuck and would much prefer it if you turned your attention to a real issue, eventually. I for one object that SUSU only has a female cat, feline equality would be far better suited to such a large bunch of pussies as yourselves.

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    Normally happy student
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    I served in Iraq, not even the baddest most hate filled insurgent we came across was as big a fun-sponge as FemSoc. You’ve got to watch out for groups like this, first they silence the taxi company’s, then its Robin Thicke ‘Blurred Lines’ and any group of guys laughing because it’s “LAD culture” next thing you know they are invading Poland and rolling in Belgium. Also I agree with previous point that the union only has a lady cat, if we get SUSU a gentleman friend we could have SUSU kittens! Followed by an open letter by FemSoc about how offensive kittens are.

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    Haha
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    Shit. How did you get hold of the plans? Looks like Poland will have to wait….

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    james bapworth
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    Jesus Christ you’re a fucking idiot. You know that?

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    John Titford
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    Colonel?

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  • This is what classes as offensive these days?
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    This claims to be the first official word from SU FemSoc about this issue, yet a letter was sent to the Daily Echo on behalf of SU FemSoc, complaining about the issue and labelling the campaign sexist?

    And seriously, offensive? It’s a tongue-in-cheek poke at the effects of alcohol and it’s ability to hamper our decision making abilities. Has no one in FemSoc ever taken a person home from a night out to realise they weren’t quite the beauty they thought they were the night before after more than a few beverages? Should I take offence in the lack of matches I receive on Tinder, because people decide that the overweight photos on my profile aren’t attractive?

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  • GarbageMan
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    Being fat isn’t healthy and should be viewed the same as smoking

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  • Don’t Care
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    Give it a bloody break!!

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  • Casual Observer
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    I honestly think this advert has worked incredibly well, everyone is taking about it. Massive publicity for West Quay Cars! Like it or not, their advertisement department is pretty spot on!

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  • general public
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    There’s a fundamental mistake in your letter – nope not that you’ve put your instead of you’re; but the answer to the first question. There is nothing problematic with the advert.

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  • .
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    First demands that femsoc apologise, have legal action taken against them yet when they explain there stance after the shit-storm people caused THEY’RE the ones over reacting? ….

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  • GarbageMan
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    Also I have to ponder the question of who exactly is being represented when the moniker of “SU Femsoc” is used.

    Is it the committee of the society? Or is it all 1078 of the group, who have come together to draft this letter?

    A distinction should perhaps be made to avoid generalising the views of over 1000 people to a simple 7 paragraph letter.

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    .
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    The letter signed in behalf of the whole society does not represent the whole of the society, I for one think this is totally rediculous.

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    duh
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    You do realise what an official stance is right?
    e.g. if Labour have a policy, then that is the official party line, but all members of Labour don’t have to agree with it.

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    .
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    Most of the 1000 odd Facebook Group members didn’t give two shits about this.

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    Lol
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    Labour is a political party, not a community purporting to provide a safe space for people (well, women) a safe space to discuss their issues.

    It’s a bit out of order for a small minority of a large community to release a statement on behalf of the entire group, claiming it represents everyone’s views, without so much as a consultation with said group.
    I suppose that’s also the reason everyone thinks feminists are man-hating extremists – the wider community make little to no effort to speak out against a vocal minority and then complain when they’re tarred with the same brush.

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    .
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    Actually the wider community do call the minority extremists in the movement (and society) a lot – only to then get attacked with the argument that the ones calling them out are a) Victims of internalised patriarchy, b) Misinformed and uneducated, or c) privileged and therefore shouldn’t be listened to. And you’re quite right, making a statement about this purporting to represent the whole group (when they don’t) without even consulting the whole group is utterly pants.

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  • A man
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    This is everything that is wrong with ‘feminism’ in its current form. I fully support equal rights for women, but articles like this give feminism a bad name, and polarise people away from the feminist movement.

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  • Susu_Cat
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    You had me until:
    “One can be funny without feeding into patriarchal, objectifying stereotypes. ”
    After ‘patriarchal’ you lost all credibility which you won over by previously saying ”for both genders.”
    Why oh why must feminists always have to have a jab at the ‘patriarchy’ no matter how much you say it’s about equality for all genders etc etc. You still have to add that little word to blame ‘the man’

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    Name
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    The patriarchy is carried out by both men AND women.

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    Ribs
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    The patriarchy negatively affects both men and women. The system assumes the men should assume positions of power in society while women should be subservient. These gender Clichés effect how men and women are expected to act and appear. The patriarchy doesn’t imply ‘the man’ but rather the way we treat men and women in society.

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  • Crime
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    Did femsoc steal the posters?

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  • Crime
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    Did femsoc steal the poster?

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  • Broccoli
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    Surely a start would be changing the name of the society, feminist the term shows how focused upon the female views it is instead of a gender neutral agenda which would more appropriately address grievances across the full spectrum especially those normally missed out such as third gender. Hopefully the great minds of this university can come up with an all encompassing term that unites all not just Harriet Harman and her acolytes in their nice t shirts.

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  • Soton
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    Everyone who is today defending free speech in light of the Charlie Hedbo case, yet is also campaigning to take down this advert need to take a long hard look at themselves.

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    Ribs
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    Saying the advert is counter-productive and makes a cheap joke at the expense of women and men is not equivalent to curtailing free speech. Free speech is not freedom of consequence and Femsoc is perfectly justified critiquing the advert. The Charlie Hebdo case is a terrible tragedy but it feels pretty cheap to bring it up to point score against a university society that is just commenting on the society we live in,

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  • mysogynyst
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    I remember it used to be unhealthy to be overweight.

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  • Fat Sam
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    I saw this headline and thought that on reflection FemSoc may have contemplated the commentary within their own ranks on Facebook, within the SotonTab, within the local press (see Daily Echo) and national press (see Daily Mail) they may have decided to acknowledge the opinions held against their initial position of “sexism” and try to disarm the situation.

    I expected I was about to read something like: “On behalf of our members the FemSoc committee would like to take this opportunity to formally apologise to West Quay Cars for the allegations of sexism. We have discussed the matter at length and although we do have issue with the campaign over XYZ we accept that some of our members jumped to conclusions and that the collective actions could have been potentially damaging to the West Quay Cars. We appreciate the diversity of your company staff and the good intentions that sat behind the campaign although in our opinion it was poorly executed but we do acknowledge that this is generally not perceived to be a sexist campaign. We hope this concludes the matter and that we can focus on our examinations and you can continue to get people under the influence home safely.”

    Happily the open letter contains praise for the message of don’t drink and drive however sadly there is no collective responsibility taken or remorse demonstrated for the potentially damaging and inappropriate allegation of sexism.

    In response to the Facebook comment in this open letter I acknowledged I have been one of those at fault. I passed comment on a previous thread that I was unable to locate the FemSoc account and pondered if it had been deactivated. I later accepted I was wrong and I acknowledge the account is in the public domain and that all comments made there are publicly accessible to anyone who may chose to view them.

    Reply

  • Could not care less
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    Bore off fem soc

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  • HB Pencil
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    Fatphobia? Piss off, smokers are generally criticised by society for following an unhealthy lifestyle, why on earth is it considered faux pas to criticise fatties for following an unhealthy lifestyle?

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  • freedom of speech and expression
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    David Mendoza-Wolfson is capitulating to feminist pressure. He is having talks with West Quay cars just to appease the large support he gets from his friends in FemSoc. It appears that the majority of people disagree with the decision to change this advert, yet he has decided to go ahead and contact the company directly. He will need to justify this decision.

    People in FemSoc generally tend to expect a certain privilege to make up for the unequal society of the past. This is bad, because the more you capitulate to them, the more they will demand, and the stronger they will go. They need to stop poking their noses in affairs that don’t concern them.

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  • boring
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    It infuriates me that fem soc think their words mean anything to anyone. They barge into each and every conversation with an air of self-righteousness as if their say carries some kind of weight with all of us. Sorry for not appreciating the amazing insight you must offer as 20-something political wannabees.

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  • Some Guy
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    Any now everyone is talking about this company and their name is in everyones mind, when people are drunk it will be the first company which comes to mind. Advertising done WELL. FemSoc AKA WomenarebetterthanmenSoc have been absolutely trolled by this company. Chin up…

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  • Adam
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    How about the Drive like a Girl campaign? That’s actually very demeaning towards women.

    http://www.drivelikeagirl.com/

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  • I just want to issue a public apology to FemSoc for being born with a ‘Y’ chromosome and the offence this has caused them.
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    I have a dream, that one day University of Southampton Boys and University of Southampton Girls and University of Southampton whatever gender you identify yourself as will live equal and free on a campus where they will not be judged by FemSoc’s self-righteous view, but by the content of their character. That the campus will be a ‘safe space’ for freedom or expression, lighthearted humour and all students to make their own decision of what taxi company to use without having FemSoc issuing an open letter apparently giving your opinion.

    *This post is awaiting approval from the FemSoc Ministry of Censorship. Remember anyone who questions us is part of the “patriarchy” and will be subject to a FemSoc social media hate campaign about how offensive questioning us is.

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    Trigger Warning
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    All my Yes.

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  • Bigger problems in the world
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    The events unfolding in France spring to mind. I don’t agree with steeotypicalising, and yes, this campaign does take that to the extreme, but it’s hardly something that is going to persuade people of those stereotypes. The biggest threat posed by stereotypicalisation is when policy makers in government and other organisations use them to help make decisions that affect real people in their real day to day lives.
    This is why I don’t approve of this campaign, but I will defend to the death their right to pursue it. #JeSuisCharlie

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  • Straws are for Women
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    Another massive blow up over something not important by femsoc. #Strawgate

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  • .
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    You don’t all SERIOUSLY believe that all FemSoc do is this fb page? You do realise that they actually DO stuff as a society but it never makes it into the Soton Tab? Jeeze, if you lot really believe that then they’re better off without you XD

    Reply