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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:
OriginalBluestocking · 18/04/2018 20:26

This is awful. The bra fitting that sticks in my mind was the one I had for nursing bras at just before DS was born. I went to Johnny Looloo and my fitter was a wonderful motherly older woman who obviously knew exactly what it was like to be 38 weeks pregnant, with planet-size veiny bazongas producing drops of primrose yellow colostrum. It was a fantastically affirming and strengthening experience at an intensely female time. Being confronted with an MtT would have been, let's just say, very different.

invisibleoldwoman · 18/04/2018 20:28


Btw you have to put the special characters at the start and end of each paragraph no spaces either side.

I see. Thank you.


Can I ask which email address you used?

I used the email form on the contact page of the website. Why?

OP posts:
CertainHalfDesertedStreets · 18/04/2018 20:32

you could always refuse if you were asked to see a male one.

Yes of course you could. All women are assertive, middle class, articulate and self possessed. No-one is worried about making a fuss, or being annoying, or being thought a bigot.

And it's entirely reasonable that people born with penises have the right to do jobs like this as anything else might upset them a little bit.

HermioneWeasley · 18/04/2018 20:36

They are ridiculous - do they really think the MTT population outweighs women

Kyanite · 18/04/2018 20:44

Sometimes women like to step out from the changing room and see how they look in the mirror in the open area of the changing room, with more distance.

I know that it is a fetish to watch women in changing rooms, there will be men getting off just being in the cubicle next door.

Writersblock2 · 18/04/2018 21:36

Bugger this. I think we should make more people aaware, and all write to M&S. I won’t shop there while they do this either

UpstartCrow · 18/04/2018 21:41

Nikephorus Voyeurism is not a small risk, that's just you opinion. Amd a camera in a changing room catches multiple victims until it is removed.
Stop minimising. If you want unisex changing rooms campaign to make the mens unisex and leave the women's alone.

MikeWyzowski · 18/04/2018 21:46

I brought my 14 year old dd to try something on in M&S the other day and there was a man faffing (in and out and very loud about it) about trying something on in the next cubicle. Shy Dd wouldnt come out to show me the trousers so we ended up leaving them. I thought it was odd that he was in there but presumed the men's was closed or something.

MikeWyzowski · 18/04/2018 21:47

Oh and it was curtains, not doors on the cubicles

LassWiADelicateAir · 18/04/2018 21:54

Has any one encountered a trans woman bra fitter in M&S? Out of M&S 8,000 bra fitters.

I don't buy clothes in M&S other than occasionally underwear and pyjamas and usually don't bother trying them on. I'm fairly certain the M&S I go to has lockable full length cubicles (tbh I can't think of any shop I've been in for quite some time which doesn't)

Sometimes women like to step out from the changing room and see how they look in the mirror in the open area of the changing room, with more distance

When trying on bras? What point are you making here? A trans woman might see you fully dressed in a new dress?

Sorry but I am rapidly reaching peak anti- trans. There are legitimate concerns such as prisons and at the other extreme threads like this.

CharlieParley · 19/04/2018 00:19

Well done invisible! I certainly would not try on a bra in my usual place if it was unisex or self-id. It's only got curtains with quite a gap at the bottom, but the changing rooms for the two sexes are completely separate rooms thankfully.

FYI Lass I do try on things and then step out to see myself in the distance mirror provided in many changing rooms but only where they are single-sex precisely because I may look awful in what I'm trying on and do not want a male gaze on me when I do this. I even avoid doing so where I have to walk past the entrance to the changing rooms to the distance mirror because I don't want anyone waiting there to see me.

I wish I had your confidence to not care about such things. But I do and I don't think it's asking to much for a shop to make all of their customers comfortable, not just a minute number of them.

Public service announcement (sorry going off topic)

Obviously this is not the point of this post but I'd recommend avoiding M&S for bra fitting. I used to work for a specialty bra company and once spent a few days testing bra fitting services in every shop that had them.

M&S was one of the few that still added 4 inches to my measured band size and then fitted me into the cup size that corresponded to it (thereby seemingly maximising their chances of having a size they could sell me). Although there used to be a legitimate reason for this 50 (yes fifty!) years ago, this no longer applies. Avoid at all costs.

I fitted my mother after I learned how to do this properly and she looked slimmer and younger after I managed to convince her to wear the right size bra. It gave my mum such a boost, I honestly wish I could do this for every single woman. Alas, sadly 80% of us wear the wrong size bra.

This includes most if not all of the Victoria's Secret models btw - in pics and on their shows Shock

LassWiADelicateAir · 19/04/2018 00:46

FYI Lass I do try on things and then step out to see myself in the distance mirror provided in many changing rooms but only where they are single-sex precisely because I may look awful in what I'm trying on and do not want a male gaze on me when I do this

Why do women think every man is looking at them ?

My local branch of Hobbs has a big full length mirror outside the changing room. It usually has men have been dragged there by female partners to give their opinions on what their partners are trying on. In my experience they sit there looking at the floor wanting it over and done with as soon as possible.

And do you really think all the women in changing rooms are thinking lovely non- judgemental thoughts?

CircleSquareCircleSquare · 19/04/2018 00:47

I just wanted to make sure my email reached the same destination as your email.
Thank you.

LassWiADelicateAir · 19/04/2018 00:49

M&S bras are pretty awful. It is almost impossible to get an under-wired but unpadded bra.

mummybear701 · 19/04/2018 00:56

I'd love to know what stores have kept strict sex segregation in fitting rooms, however its policed. I know M&S don't, and Topshop have all gender neutral (curiously in pink decor in the Miss Selfridge section aimed at teen girls but open to men and boys however they present). I don't know any who will publicly say so.

LizzieSiddal · 19/04/2018 00:58

If their staff started acting suspiciously peering over the cubicle partition I'd just report them immediately. But how likely is that to happen?

Don’t be so disingenuous. No one is worried about staff peering over the top of a door.
They are concerned about bra fitters who are trans woman, touching and looking at their breasts.

thebewilderness · 19/04/2018 01:02

Odd they claimed all their shops have locking cubicles when they have curtains. They ought to know that much surely.

CharlieParley · 19/04/2018 01:26


I said "a" male gaze. Any male gaze. A single one. "Women" do not say "every" man is looking at them.

(FYI from talking to countless men over the decades: they always look though. Yes, I do ask men questions like that. And they're very open and honest. You might want to try it yourself, it's quite fascinating.)

And no, I am fully aware that other women may not think lovely non-judgemental thoughts if and when they see me trying something on that doesn't suit me. But I don't give a flying fuck what anyone thinks about me. I simply want to have the privacy to try things out in a female only space. If you don't have that need, that's fantastic. Good for you. But do not belittle me for having it.

P.S. I've met far more women in changing rooms who've joked with me about themselves or I with them about myself than I have met women who made cutting remarks about what I looked like. Well, not met one actually. Plenty men though - complete strangers - who absolutely had to share their thoughts of my attire.

Noqonterfy · 19/04/2018 01:31

No thanks. I won't be using M&S anymore.

bunbunny · 19/04/2018 01:54

Wonder how many of the ranks of middle aged grey m&s managers who think it's fine to spin these platitudes would think it was fine for their wives or dds to be fitted for a bra by a mtf trans individual in a curtained dressing room with other Tim using the same changing rooms at the same time...

It would be completely double standards and hypocritical if they did but it might make them realise what they are inflicting on women!!

OlennasWimple · 19/04/2018 02:40

I don't think they'd be daft or clueless enough to assign a self identifier as a bra fitter would they? Wouldn't they get them working on more neutral less contentious activities in the store?

If what M&S mean is that they have used the exemptions available to them in the Equality Act to ensure that bra fitters are female, I presume that they would have said so. (I can't think of any other services that M&S offers that are so intimate as to engage the exemption?)

There are two aspects of this for me: one is the bra fitter, the other is the unisex changing room policy.

I would hope I would have the gumption to refuse to see Doreen for my bra fitting if I was uncomfortable, but it's not always easy to say "no" firmly in a public place TBH. Don't want to make a fuss, don't want to offend anyone, etc etc

Changing rooms are clearly not all lockable doors - there are still stupid not-quite-big-enough curtains all over their stores. And I do like to step out of the changing room to see what something looks like from a bit of a distance, and I might not always do the fiddly zip at the back all the way up, or I might put a blouse on with the trousers I'm trying but only do up every other button - so I'm not exactly flashing the flesh, but I'm not completely covered up either. Doesn't matter in a female changing room, it does in a unisex changing room (if only to spare the blushes of the poor bloke who might see more than he bargained for)

Battleax · 19/04/2018 03:06

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.

That’s a timely reminder. It’s spreading.

123MothergotafleA · 19/04/2018 03:22

Just for the record, M&S " bra fitting service" is absolutely hopeless in my experience. It consists of someone asking " what size are you"? and letting you get on with it. How exactly can this be a bra fitting service?
Yes, yes, I know! this is beside the point, but I see red when I see M& S being touted as some kind of experts.

sleep5 · 19/04/2018 03:31

Given all their cubicles have lockable doors, I don't see it as being an issue. Has anyone actually come across a male staff member dressed as a woman doing so to be voyeuristic? I imagine any halfway house m-f (or f-m) working in their changing rooms are exceptionally careful not to do anything dodgy.
Hidden cameras can be installed by anyone - including women. If you're worried about that then look around the cubicle and query anything out of the ordinary - that's more likely to happen in a public toilet.

RefuseToDenounceBiology · 19/04/2018 03:35

that's more likely to happen in a public toilet.

Not if the voyeur is specifically interested in breasts and underwear

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