Women Who Eat on Tubes: feminists stage picnic protest on the Circle Line

The protest  was in response to the Women Who Eat on Tubes Facebook page which was accused of being sexist last week

Swapping banners for bananas, and plaques for pasta pots, feminists staged a protest on the London Underground’s Circle Line on Monday against the controversial Women Who Eat on Tubes Facebook page.

Started in 2011, the site made headlines last week after journalist Sophie Wilkinson wrote a story describing how she felt "hurt and humiliated" after a man took her photo while she ate her lunch on the tube, and posted it on the Women Who Eat on Tubes Facebook page.

"I'd like to know the name of her finishing school," read a comment under her image. "I was the butt of a joke without my knowledge, in front of thousands of strangers. I'd been 'stranger-shamed'" she wrote.

In less than a week, 21-year-old Goldsmiths students Lucy Brisbane McKay and Alexis Calvas had planned Monday's protest, which had garnered almost 500 attendees on the Facebook event.

Armed with a wicker picnic basket and a vintage suitcase filled with bananas, the pair passed out the fruit to protesters, both female and male, in the tube carriage.

While some munched on humble sandwiches and steadied themselves by holding onto the carriage poles, other hungry activists sat with full-spreads of sushi with signs reading "I eat on the tube" propped up against them. At each station, people would join the group with their lunch in hand.

A woman taking part in a 'Lunch Party' organised as a counter-offensive against the Facebook page 'Women Who Eat on Tubes'. A woman taking part in a 'Lunch Party' organised as a counter-offensive against the Facebook page 'Women Who Eat on Tubes'.
Read more: ' Women Who Eat on Tubes' is not high art, it's harassment

"I'm not for censorships. We want to turn the conversation around and take tension off the [Women Who Eat on Tubes] page and make something positive," Ms Calvas told The Independent before she handed out multi-coloured napkins decorated with lollipops to protesters who had gathered near the barriers of High Street Kensington station in west London.

Asked what the aim of the protest was, Ms Calvas explained: "We plan to try and stay on the tube, we'll just be having our lunch," alluding to the jovial nature of the event.

She added: "We hope to bring to together opinionated people and feminists and start some good conversations.  We want people to come and talk to strangers, not just hide behind their computers arguing."

"Of course you can take pictures of people on the tube, but we wanted people to come and talk about why you would do that, and if it's really OK," added Ms McKay.

Pointing to her t-shirt given to her by the founder of 50:50 Parliament, a group campaigning for the equal representation of women in Parliament who met the students for the first time at the protest, Ms Calvas said: "That's why we are wearing these shirts. The [Women Who Eat on Tubes] page is a part of bigger problems in society."

Women taking part in a 'Lunch Party' on the circle line underground tube in London, April 14th, 2014. The event was organised as a counter-offensive against the Facebook website 'Women Who Eat on Tubes'. Women taking part in a 'Lunch Party' on the circle line underground tube in London, April 14th, 2014. The event was organised as a counter-offensive against the Facebook website 'Women Who Eat on Tubes'.
"People say it's not about gender. If it was just people eating on the tube you could bring in the question of privacy, but it's not, it's just women. You can't ignore that."

On the event's Facebook page, organisers encouraged feminists across the country who could not made the protest to use the #ieatontubes on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to raise awareness of the cause.

While the sense of solidarity as protesters chomped, laughed and networked in the packed tube carriage was clear, busy commuters and members of the public looked a little bewildered.

33-year-old architect Sho Das was unaware of the Facebook page, and confused by why people would want to take photos of women eating on the tube. "Who has time to do this?" he asked.

Tucking into a packet of Worcester sauce flavour crisps, 24-year-old activist Zoltán Jászai said she disagreed with claims that the protest was against a trivial matter, and explained she hoped to raise awareness of how women's bodies and behaviour are constantly policed.

"Everyday prejudice against women is as important as 'real' problems like jobs.

"Every time women meet together and talk about their views it contributes to a wider movement," she said.

"Everyone had fun, that's the point," said Ms McKay an hour later as the train once again neared High Street Kensington, and protesters had returned to work having finished their lunches, adding: "we hope to carry on the movement in May, when we've finished our dissertations."

Arts and Entertainment
books
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
people
Voices
Nigel Farage arrives for a hustings event at The Oddfellows Hall in Ramsgate on Tuesday
voicesA defection that shows who has the most to fear from the rise of Ukip
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Life and Style
Brave step: A live collection from Alexander McQueen whose internet show crashed because of high demand
fashionAs the collections start, Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

CRM Developer (MS Dynamics 2011/2013, JavaScript)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: CRM MS Dynamic...

IT Teacher

£22000 - £33000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: ICT TeacherLeedsRandstad ...

Graduate C#.NET Developer (TDD, ASP.NET, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Graduate C#.NET Developer (TDD, ASP.NET, SQL) Su...

Junior SQL DBA (SQL Server 2012, T-SQL, SSIS) London - Finance

£30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior SQL DBA...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution