Women who eat on tubes

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - BULLETIN -

headed to visit her grand­par­ents one af­ter­noon, jour­nal­ist Sophie Wilkin­son tucked into a salad on her com­mute. She saw a man near her pulling out his phone. ‘Some­thing about it made me think he’d taken a pic­ture,’she later wrote in The De­brief. ‘I’ve known about the Face­book group Women Who Eat On Tubes [WWEOT] for a while … I knew I’d end up on the page.’ And so it was, com­plete with ad­mon­ish­ing com­ments: ‘I would like the name of her fin­ish­ing school. Fail.’

The WWEOT group was cre­ated by film-maker Tony Burke in 2011. Ini­tially just an­other odd pin­board on the in­ter­net, the group gained trac­tion this year, with its num­bers swelling to over 20 000 (the page was briefly deleted, and re­turned as a closed group).WWEOT en­cour­ages people to pho­to­graph women hav­ing a bite on the Un­der­ground. The nat­u­ral as­sump­tion was that this was a kind of sham­ing, but Burke in­sists that isn’t so, that the project is more an­thro­po­log­i­cal, and no less than ‘art.’ He claims that the choice to sin­gle out women was mere ‘co­in­ci­dence.’ ‘If it was called “People Who Eat On Tubes”, it wouldn’t be the same.’ It cer­tainly wouldn’t, and one rea­son is the long his­tory of in­tense scru­tiny about the way women con­sume food, and the no­tion that be­ing a light eater (or a noneater), is more ‘la­dy­like’. A Burke-back­lash quickly formed, with a protest pic­nic held on the Cir­cle Line. A re­tal­ia­tory Face­book group was also started, called: ‘Women Who Eat Wher­ever the F*** They Want.’

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