A Facebook group that encourages commuters to take pictures of women eating food on public transport has sparked controversy in Britain.
While some see it as harmless fun, others have branded the “Women Who Eat on Tubes” demeaning to women. Tubes is a reference to London’s underground subway system.
After finding her picture on the site that has more than 18,000 members, journalist Sophie Wilkinson, wrote that she felt “victimized and hurt” in an article for The Debrief, a UK women’s website, adding that she felt as if she were being humiliated by “stranger-shaming.”
Taking photographs of adults in a public place is not a crime according to a statement from Britain’s Transport Police but, “if anyone is made to feel uncomfortable on their tube or train journey then we would always want to hear from them,” they said.
The group insists it doesn’t intend to intimidate or bully, instead the women in the photographs are “embraced and cherished.”
Founder Tony Burke said he started the group after noticing that women ate on the London Underground more than men, adding that he did not intend to cause offense. Only two women had complained about their pictures on the site and he had removed them, he said.
“I don’t care about the criticism as the majority of it is ill-informed and unintelligent,” he told NBC News. “The group's core values are good-natured and well-intentioned. For me it was about stealing a moment that would never be repeated or uncovered. As numbers have grown I've made it my personal mission to encourage respect and admiration for its subjects.”
Meanwhile, some Facebook users have responded with humor, creating a “Men Who Post on Women Who Eat on Tubes”, while others have set up “Women Eating on the Tube” lunch party events.