Another day, another misguided sexist joke from a company that should know better. Except this one has the extra dig of being told on the centenary celebration of women first receiving the right to vote. It was made by a Tfl worker on a ‘thought of the day’ whiteboard inside Colliers Green station, the second scandal of a similar nature this year.
The ‘joke’ was as follows:
‘100 years ago, suffragette Emily Davison died after throwing herself in front of the king’s horse. History remembers her as being influential in giving women the right to vote. What history doesn’t remember is her husband, who didn’t get his tea that night!’
Seemingly, it went down like a led balloon on Twitter.
Not only was it factually incorrect, she died in 1913 and didn’t have a husband, it just wasn’t plain funny. On an opportune moment to commemorate a woman who gave her life for us to vote, Tfl chose to make a sexist, not even remotely funny joke. While it may not seem like the biggest problem we’re facing right now as women, it only serves as a reminder that everyday seemingly small acts of sexism perpetuate an acceptance of sexism at a larger standard.
We can accept the odd sexist joke here and there, not all feminists are humourless, but to make one like this, ridiculing a woman who was trampled to death fighting for civil rights, ridicules the entire movement at a time when women are still hugely misrepresented in parliament, two are murdered every week because of domestic violence and 250 million girls worldwide don’t have access to basic education.
Just last week, we reported that FGM still impacts over 9000 women in the UK every year, with no convictions. Maybe that would be an opportune statistic to report on a ‘thought of the day board’? Or maybe they could celebrate the laws we have because of female MPs, who never could have made a difference without women like Emily Davison.
Its’ not the first time Tfl have come under fire for a misguided thought of the day either, last month Lily Allen posted a video to Twitter showing a staff member rubbing off a message that had been complained about for its celebration of colonialism. It read:
‘On this day in history: On the 22-23 of January 1879 in natal South Africa, a small British garrison named Rorke’s Drift was attack [sic] by 4,000 Zulu warriors.
‘The garrison was successfully defended by just over 150 British and colonial troops. Following the battle, eleven men were awarded the Victoria Cross.’
While many people defended the message as a factual account of history, the implication of the message was clearly pro-colonialism, almost re-celebrating the fact that the British successfully invaded territory killing almost 7000 Zulu’s.
As Evelyn Clegg addressed on Twitter after Tfl apologised to her, the lack of equality and diversity training in the company is prevalent in both of these incidents. A spokesperson for Tfl said:
‘This message was wrong and inappropriate in multiple ways, and completely unacceptable.
‘We apologise for the offence caused and the message has been removed as quickly as possible.
‘An investigation is underway in to who thought this was a good idea, and the appropriate action will be taken.
‘We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind, and actively work to create more opportunities for women in our industry and celebrate those who fought for the rights of women.
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