Remember that horrendous advert myself and thousands of other women challenged a couple of months back? Yup, that advert.
Our victory appears to be short-lived as a brand new sexist and outdated advert has suddenly appeared. The advert, created by currency exchange company WeSwap, features a blonde woman in a short skirt and heels along with the message “We can’t swap your missus for a Swedish supermodel, but we can swap your money for her Krona.” Instead of dedicating a post to every thing that is wrong with the advert, I thought I’d raise another important issue instead.
Why aren’t TFL using their advertising space for better? Why are the advertisement slots on the tube carriages being dedicated to products that don’t resort to sexism to promote their product? Why aren’t they advertising and promoting more important things? Shouldn’t they be used to raise awareness?
One thing they could be promoting is Project Guardian for example.
On its website, Project Guardian is described as “a long-term project involving British Transport Police (BTP), Transport for London (TfL), Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police, which aims to reduce sexual assault and unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport in London“.
But how many of us are aware of this campaign or the fact that this behaviour happens on public transport?
Matilda conducted some research of her own when she founded Underreported Street Harassment.
In January 2015, nearly two years after Project Guardian had been founded, she discovered that:
- Only 2.2% of respondents (who live or work in London) had heard of the police initiative
- 84% of people using London transport ‘daily’ or ‘once or twice a week’ had not heard of Project Guardian and were unaware of what it is
- 8% of respondents ‘have heard of it but don’t really know what it is
The aim of Underreported Street Harassment is to campaign for Project Guardian information and posters to be advertises across the London transport system. I spoke to Matilda myself and she feels that “sexual harassment/assault is partly generated by the way society places low levels of values on women’s bodies.” I have to say, I don’t disagree.
Adverts like Protein World’s and WeSwap’s turn a woman’s body into this commodity, just like adverts such as Bulk Powder’s do to men’s bodies too. Advertisements like these are not only harmful because they body shame thousands, they’re harmful because they suggest our bodies are merely objects. Objects that can be grabbed, touched, harassed and assaulted – just because some people want them.
Back in April, TfL launched a communications campaign “Report It To Stop It’ which included a short film and around 300,000 handouts. The YouTube clip has had over a million views and whilst this is a fantastic reach, it simply isn’t enough. TfL already have posters up for many other safety and security issues but still they are not utilising the carriage advertisement space.
The video also fails to neglect the fact that men and transgender people can face sexual assault or harassment too. Although encouraging people to report harassment is a good thing, I feel we should be more focused on no longer tolerating this behaviour and stopping it for good. On a whole, it seems as though there is a general lack of awareness and we feel TfL could really help change this.
We live in a society that shames victims and suggests that harassment (of any kind) should be immediately forgotten and not spoken about. It’s no wonder so many people feel as though they can’t come forward. Things aren’t going to change until we start to acknowledge these things fully and work together to teach people that this behaviour is completely unacceptable.
We’re asking TfL to switch the body shaming media for posters that raise awareness and help make the London Transport system a safer place for people everywhere.
Do you agree? Spread the word and show your support using the hashtag #DearTfL.