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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Marks & Spencer protest

371 replies

invisibleoldwoman · 18/04/2018 14:39

Here is an email sent to M&S today.

"I needed new bras. Normally I go to one of your stores, get fitted, get advice and buy several. Have a look around generally and maybe coffee or lunch in the cafe. Now, I cannot deal with the stress of worrying about whether I will have to deal with a male fitter, or men in the changing rooms. So I have bought my bras somewhere I don't have to deal with this. I have decided not to use your online shop as I do not wish to support a company that makes it impossible for me to feel comfortable visiting a changing room or asking for a personal service."

I have decided to send this sort of feedback everytime I fail to buy something somewhere where they have gone along with the self-id policy.

OP posts:
LassWiADelicateAir · 20/04/2018 12:22

If you now want to call me a liar too, Lass, that's fine. Not very polite, but oh well

I queried why you did not mention this before or link anything to support it. I can't find anything anywhere saying multiple women in M&S have been offered a trans woman bra fitter.

SirVixofVixHall · 20/04/2018 13:34

MadBad - 1. women living like that isn’t a choice.

  1. The vast majority of trans identifying males don’t have breasts. Only a small number have surgery and /or hormonal treatment.
Italiangreyhound · 20/04/2018 13:35

@bd67th "Bravissimo girl here, 34HH on right now. Sainsbury's don't even come close to my size. I need to make a store trip and try on every time I buy a bra, because it's quite a trek to the nearest Bravissimo to make returns to and I've tried the mail order thing and not been able to get it right even in months of sending parcels back and forth (also, return postage is expensive). Just because you have the good fortune of wearing a supermarket size, don't assume that we are all as lucky as you. It's girls getting their first bra and women with outlandish bra sizes who need female fitters and private changing rooms, and who will suffer if these are threatened."

I do apologize that was not what I meant at all. I actually meant males needing bras could go to Sainsburies. I absolutely agree with you.

I took my 13 year old daughter (then 12) for her first bra fitting last year. I certainly would not have wanted a male in the fitting room or a male bra fitter.

I am very sorry if my post came off offensively. Not my intention at all. Flowers

SirVixofVixHall · 20/04/2018 13:49

Yes my dad was fitted at 12, a few months ago. With a lot of the discussion on self id it is as though young girls don’t exist. I don’t want my 13 year old in loos or changing rooms with males. Teenagers often don’t feel able to challenge adults.

SirVixofVixHall · 20/04/2018 13:51

Daughter, not dad, obv. Bloody auto correct on new iPad. As far as I know my Dad never wore a bra...

MadBadDaddy · 20/04/2018 14:06

@SirVix People with breasts need bras, and to be comfortable with the person fitting them.

If you trust M&S to ensure that, you'll shop there, and if don't, you won't.

Iamagreyhoundhearmeroar · 20/04/2018 14:51

You seem hugely invested in this, MadBadDaddy. You needn't shop there if you're not happy with it... Do you actually avail of their services?
Even if you do, I don't think you're best placed to pontificate on why women shouldn't mind who measures their bra size.
And frankly, given that we're talking women's underwear, male opinions aren't relevant.

Pratchet · 20/04/2018 14:57

Little bit of excitement for someone, talking about boobs with ladies

Iamagreyhoundhearmeroar · 20/04/2018 15:00

Obviously, Pratchet

MadBadDaddy · 20/04/2018 15:19

It's a point of view, and as the topic has the word 'Trans' in the title then I've got an interest. If I didn't feel welcome I wouldn't come.

Kneedeepinunicorns · 20/04/2018 15:20

But would you have that courage if you were lying half undressed in a hospital bed and a male nurse was caring for you?

That's a radically different situation in every way. For a start, medical professionals work under strict codes of ethics and qualifications and so carry trust in ways that a bra fitter doesn't. Hospital staff have strict codes around dignity and privacy. Even so, there are situations and types of care that some women would still not be happy for a male nurse to carry out. And any male nurse worthy of his qualifications fully understands this and puts the feelings and needs of his patient first. And half undressed in a hospital bed suggests the patient is under duress and in need of urgent care anyway in which case priorities can shift and change.

There is a radical difference between 'I'm in agony, I don't care if you're male/female/a leprechaun, just please help me' and 'good morning, I'd like your help to choose a bra please'. Some women have no concerns at all about stripping off in front of a random male stranger. Good for them. Other women feel very strongly about it indeed and would not be able to access the service under those conditions. Those women should not be compelled to surrender their consent, sense of dignity or access to services in order to protect the feelings of trans identified men. (Who in these situations are in a professional role, not the recipient of it.)

MadBadDaddy · 20/04/2018 15:30

@Kneedeepinunicorns "Those women should not be compelled..."

There's compelled by law, and compelled by expectations.

I think men have a hard time getting their heads around 'compelled' in any way except law. When it comes to 'compelled by social conditioning' I think the first thought to most men would be "WTF? Speak up if you don't like something. Don't be silent" (ps this actually works)

This may explain why we men seem to so spectacularly miss the point sometimes.

Pratchet · 20/04/2018 15:43

Keep sex segregated female spaces.

Keep XY out of them.

I don't need an essay to say this.

Melamin · 20/04/2018 15:50

as the topic has the word 'Trans' in the title then I've got an interest

It hasn't.

Iamagreyhoundhearmeroar · 20/04/2018 15:52

Nobody said you weren't welcome, MadBadDaddy, just that the male viewpoint on bra fitting services isn't particularly relevant to women, who happen to be the service users.

Pratchet · 20/04/2018 15:58


SirVixofVixHall · 20/04/2018 16:02

Mad - males don’t “need “ bras . They may want to wear them, but they don’t need them. Large breasted women , and women after breast surgery, while pregnant , or breastfeeding, do often need a bra to be comfortable. But anyway. That isn’t the point. If someone male wants to wear a bra, then they need to either try it on at home, as has been suggested to the women on this thread, or take it into the male fitting rooms.

MadBadDaddy · 20/04/2018 16:04

I don't just have any old male viewpoint - I shop at M&S for one thing (they sell the only sherry trifle on the high street), and for another, I'm trans.

Colour me 'entitled' if you like, but me being here means this thread is less like an echo-chamber - wouldn't that add to its credibility?

(is there a [facepalm] icon for the 'its in the title' comment?)

athingthateveryoneneeds · 20/04/2018 16:06

I went into the men's at my local m&s for #ManFriday. It is indeed policy to allow anyone to enter into whichever changing rooms they wish.

Pratchet · 20/04/2018 16:10

Thanks for the update. I think the best option for women in terms of cameras IS actually the men's.

Kneedeepinunicorns · 20/04/2018 16:15

Self ID would legally compel, and the tenets are being introduced 'ahead of the law', aka by stealth and without debate. Bit of a serious moral issue there.

Perhaps the tribe for which you speak could organise a bit of assertiveness training for women? Wink Although this would necessitate looking at where the difference in assertiveness between men generally and women generally comes from. If you watch a reception class of children lining up, try watching who barges in and who gives way without protest. By four they have this pinned down. Listen in work conversations or on tv group debates or chats who talks over who, who is interrupted, whose words carry more weight. Look at the experiences everyone has: which sex makes up the majority of doctors, head teachers, senior leaders, politicians, the people whose words carry weight, who make policy, who make the decisions, who have authority in daily life. Think about daily language: which sex is it an insult to be compared to and which sex is it a good/empowering thing? Look at the abuse/assault statistics and talk to people: who experienced harassment and assault, many probably before the age of 18.

Try it. Once your eyes are opened you start seeing it everywhere, and it might give you an insight.

SirVixofVixHall · 20/04/2018 16:16

I’m happy to share sherry trifle space with anyone.

CharlieParley · 20/04/2018 16:46

Here's an interesting blog about the needs of men who wear bras. In the light of this thread and how it has gone though, the most remarkable statement is this:

Sadly, not all of our customers are comfortable with the idea of being fitted and trying on bras next door to a man doing the same thing, and none of us would want any of our customers, male or female, to feel uncomfortable with the process.

Now I realise the situation described is a little different from what we've been discussing, but here is a simple acknowledgement that not all women are comfortable if men are near in this situation. No judgement. It's simply the truth. A statement of fact:

You may be fine, I'm not.

The bra fitter therefore suggests that men should phone ahead and ask about the best way to organise a fitting. She does this not only because men who wear bras often feel uncomfortable in this situation too, but also because the default customer and fitter arrangement is female-female.

And anything that deviates from that expected norm could make people uncomfortable, a situation no store wants to find its customers in.

I do therefore find it entirely appropriate if someone has concerns in this area, to contact the store and share these concerns. Why not? Our feedback is sought by stores constantly, every single time I get a receipt I'm told to go to this webadress or that survey and tell them how my shopping experience was.

As it happens I couldn't go to the other branch to buy a bra today, had to hit my local branch instead. Since our changing rooms are now shared between men and women, two shop assistants were there supervising (normally there's no one there). So it did feel very safe if uncomfortable being half naked in a space that was single-sex before. But because the cubicles only have curtains and there were a lot of male customers, there was just no way I could ask for a fitting.

Iamagreyhoundhearmeroar · 20/04/2018 16:46

I'm a bit confused, MadBad; are you biologically male or female?

MadBadDaddy · 20/04/2018 16:54

I agree, Self-ID is half-baked.

As to the observations you make - I see it, I've seen it.

Not so sure about your description of the schools, though. My teen-ish DDs (who I'm not out to) have always called out any -ism or -phobia you care to name, which I don't think had much or anything to do with me or DW directly coaching them in these principles, which only really leaves their Junior school or their friends. Cause for hope?

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