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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:
SirVixofVixHall · 19/04/2018 09:50

Susan, my nearest one has changing rooms which are often not staffed. A good staff presence really helps, but even with staff, I feel uncomfortable in unisex spaces for changing rooms and loos. The loos in my nearest store are a row of cubicles with female one side and male the other, in one space. They are busy generally, and I rarely see men in there, just women queuing, but in the week, particularly in the morning or near closing time, the loos are often deserted. I never let my dds go in there alone as a waiting man could push them into a cubicle and lock the door. I don’t like using them when I’m alone and it is quiet, I feel really vulnerable.

Rufustheconstantreindeer · 19/04/2018 09:50

Changing rooms have assistants hanging round (policing how many items you can take in!

Ours dont

Branleuse · 19/04/2018 09:52

people shouldnt be getting their bras fitted at M&S anyway as theyre shit.

I cant get too worked up about changing rooms with lockable cubicles tbh.

My local H&M has the childrens dressing rooms combined with the mens changing rooms as the two depts are right next to each other. I found that uncomfortable the other day when my 10 year old daughter was trying things on.

invisibleoldwoman · 19/04/2018 09:52

It's been very interesting reading the varied responses. Especially @Merchfach that the men's changing area was closely supervised. My experience in M&S female areas has been that often they aren't and it is hard to find a member of staff. But I shall certainly inhabit the men's if there is a queue for the women's.

Generally, I have been trying to think why I do object to the rush to change to unisex areas and don't think just saying we ought to get over ourselves, make compromises, minimise the risks, is enough. These are all the arguments that were brought into play against the introduction of safeguarding policies.

Some of them are not much different from the rationales in societies where women are not allowed out in public, or not allowed to dress how they wish 'for their own protection' or the victim blaming of rape victims. It is no different from the attitude of the judge in the recent court case where the female assault victim was told that her attacker's sentence took into account that she had been lacking in grace by referring to him as male. It is always our behaviour that must be modified.

If the whole scandals and issues about safeguarding has taught us anything it is that predators and those with ulterior motives will gravitate towards areas and organisations where the controls and boundaries are loose and not enforced. So self-id is Christmas for these people and ultimately there will be backlash and the genuine trans people will suffer.

There has been a lot of comment on t'internet about how public places are leaving men's facilities unchanged and making women's multi use.

That all the emphasis is on women making their space available to men and not the other way round makes me suspicious and I have been thinking that I would rather be in a changing area/toilet with straightforwardly heterosexual/gay men who would not dream of going into a women's area than in an area where the men inhabiting it are more likely I think, to be there for the wrong reasons.

There has been lots of comment on other threads and in other arenas how the abuser/narcissist will keep moving the boundaries and goalposts until there is nothing left.

What has #PeakTrans'd me and made me feel this is a hill worth dying on is the attitude and behaviour of the transactivists. It is vile and reading it makes me feel ill. How anyone can not see this for the abuse it is is beyond me. This is what we are allowing to drive social change if we keep allowing our boundaries to be breached. Thin end of the wedge.

I think of a young just pre-teen girl I know who would be mortified to have to change with men/boys. She also suffers severely from anxiety and has already been assaulted by an older boy at school. Her needs are simply ignored in all this. In fact her younger brother is a very modest boy and would not like to be with women. It works both ways.

For myself I do not want to go shopping worrying about what circumstances I might encounter and have to deal with. I am more than capable of asserting myself, but really don't want to feel I have to gear myself up for this every time I go shopping for clothes.

So I think the rush to change existing provision is ill thought out and maybe poorly executed. It certainly doesn't cater for women with religious views/cultural expectations that prevent them from undressing in spaces where men have access. I notice that M&S has a modest clothing range!! They are not joining up the dots here.

The whole problem is that there has been no debate so the issues arising have not been explored or understood. So my protests to M&S and others reflect this. I am not going to let them say they were not warned when it all goes pear shaped.

OP posts:
Pratchet · 19/04/2018 09:54

Ellen is damn right. If it's all so safe let the TIMs go in the gents.

LassWiADelicateAir · 19/04/2018 09:55

And do you really think all the women in changing rooms are thinking lovely non- judgemental thoughts?
Not to mention the fact that us lesbians are in there too - we're probably perving over the sight of some woman with a non-perfect body in really unflattering lighting too. Perhaps we should have separate changing rooms for gay & straight biologically-female-from-conception women then?

Neat little straw man argument and nasty twisting of words there Nike. You know perfectly well that was not what I was referring to.

SusanBunch · 19/04/2018 09:56

Susan, my nearest one has changing rooms which are often not staffed

And is it unisex? And is there a policy from M&S saying that they will now have unisex changing rooms? What is motivating the boycott? I am just interested.

Merchfach · 19/04/2018 09:57

SallyAnneMum: re cameras, I didn't mention hidden cameras, I was referring to the kind of up-skirt shots that some voyeuristic men like to take. That isn't possible in the M&S cubicles I used.

Sorry about linking to the Sun, but it seems to take the issue seriously:

Upskirting has been an offence in Scotland since 2010 but isn't an offence in England and Wales as far as I know.

Ellenripleysalienbaby · 19/04/2018 09:58

Yes Pratchet that's what I always think about this issue, and the toilets thing. The cubicles are lockable, it's all safe and no one has anything to fear because no one can do anything. So why don't transwomen just use the changing room of their sex?

TodayImThisName · 19/04/2018 10:00

All my the M and S stores I can think of (8?) have lockable doors, are we sure that some have curtains?

I can’t really see the problem if there are lockable doors. 🤷🏻‍♀️ If people are worried about voyeurs or spy cameras then they would be best trying the clothes on at home, Marks has a great returns policy.

I completely agree with some of the concerns about self ID but this one isn’t one that I’m worried about.

Merchfach · 19/04/2018 10:18

I respect your right to take your own action and I'm glad, even though it was a damp squib, to have had my own little foray with M&S. I don't discount your concerns but frankly, no one has to use the changing rooms at any particular store if they don't want to. You can order on-line or buy, take home, try on and return. Whereas if you've been for a swim and you're wet and you need to change and there's a TIM with tackle out in the women's changing rooms you don't have a lot of choice.

Possibly what all of us need to do in all stores where we want to try anything on is to ask the manager what the changing room policy is and whether they can guarantee our privacy and dignity, explain our concerns and fears (taking up lots of their precious time as we do so!) and asking them to report concerns to HQ. If we don't like the response we can say so. Women have spending power — much, much more spending power than the TRAs. Ultimately it will be the law and money that will talk.

SurfnTerfFantasticmissfoxy · 19/04/2018 10:23

The lingerie fitting room at my local M&S has double lockable doors (a private outer area with a lockable door so the assistant can come in if you want) and an inner changing area with a lockable door - all floor to ceiling.

I am gender critical / anti self-ID and not at all in favour of making all spaces 'gender neutral' or unisex but usually their lingerie fitting areas are very private?

Totally unrelated, but was in there buying giant pants yesterday and it's the first time in a long time I quite liked some of the clothes.... whether their clothes are getting better or I'm getting older and naffer is open to debate....

SirVixofVixHall · 19/04/2018 10:26

Susan - I don’t know if it is unisex, I will ask next time I’m there. It is in the lingerie dept and I assumed it was women only. I haven’t seen anyone other than women and girls in there.

Women generally prefer single sex space, single sex space has been available for some considerable time. Male people know that women generally prefer single sex space, so why would they want to use it too, unless they couldn’t care less about women ?

UpstartCrow · 19/04/2018 10:30

Nikephorus The multi storey car parks in my town already have a women only level.

SusanBunch · 19/04/2018 10:32

Quite, Vix, what I am still confused about is whether there actually is a policy of unisex changing rooms and whether there are men in female changing areas. Fine if they have made an announcement, like Topshop did. A bit odd to be boycotting them if they have not.

SusanBunch · 19/04/2018 10:33

The multi storey car parks in my town already have a women only level.

Really? That's a good idea. I know people jumped on Corbyn for women only train carriages but after several unpleasant late night train rides, I would 100% use them if they existed.

womanformallyknownaswoman · 19/04/2018 10:36

WTF!! A non-woman measuring women and girls for bras - really - have you a link??

SirVixofVixHall · 19/04/2018 11:18

Susan - agree. I’m going to ask for clarification .

AngryAttackKittens · 19/04/2018 11:24

I have a friend who often spends time in a city where women-only carriages exist on trains, and she often uses them. Says men there complain about them too, because MRA whinging is universal, but women as a whole are very happy that they exist even if they don't use them themselves.

crispbuttyfan · 19/04/2018 11:34

so when trans people contact such places and boycott them if they don't allow trans people to use spaces afforded to them according to the equality act, it is called bullying and harassment.

When other people do same because such stores refuse to break the law and ban trans people, that is perfectly acceptable and reasonable????

AngryAttackKittens · 19/04/2018 11:39

Oh, is it crispbutty time again? Anyone who objects to a store's policy should be free to contact the store and complain. However, I suspect that the numbers here are not in your favor, crisp.

SirVixofVixHall · 19/04/2018 11:42

The equality act allows for single sex space . As I’m sure you know crisp.

CharlieParley · 19/04/2018 12:23

SurfnTerf that sounds like a fantastic bra fitting room. Where I buy all my bras (Debenhams which has an excellent fitting service) the only lockable cubicle was the one used for bra fitting. All other cubicles have a curtain which is just about wide enough to close. So if you're trying on clothes in that space, you have to make sure you don't elbow the curtain open (which happens a lot as the cubicles are quite small). Some of the cubicles are visible from the shop floor.

Since they've introduced a men's department however, the one lockable cubicle is now dedicated as the men's changing area. Which is of course part of the women's changing area. I haven't been back to get fitted since, if that's what I'm needing, I'm going to a different branch in the neighbouring town instead.

To all the posters who are not concerned about this can I just ask why the hostility? There are some spaces I don't feel that bothered about if they're not single-sex but I understand that many other women do feel uncomfortable if they aren't. That's why I support their need over my own.

Please help me understand why you find the need for a single-sex changing area so -contemptible- objectionable?

CharlieParley · 19/04/2018 12:27

That was supposed to be a strikethrough (trying again contemptible) because maybe that word is too harsh? It certainly reads like it to me but in the absence of tone and all the nonverbal cues I realise I may be wrong about that.

AncientLights · 19/04/2018 13:43

I'm interested in the very fact that there is a wide range of views here. It goes from 'what the hell? I don't care who sees me' to wanting to be really private. And that's fine, it shows if nothing else that we don't have a 'hive mind'. So stores need to err on the side of caution surely, else they will be alienating lots of customers with money, never good. However, the view is often expressed as 'welcoming all', not noticing that by doing so they are rejecting some. Mostly us, women. Because we don't tell them. So let's tell them.

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