British Museum in sexism row after suggesting ‘confused’ women can attract men at Roman exhibition

British Museum syas the uploaded TikTok video via its official account was a ‘playful joke’

Alex Ross
Wednesday 06 March 2024 09:45 GMT
The British Museum has stirred up a sexism row over a social media post advertising its new Roman exhibition
The British Museum has stirred up a sexism row over a social media post advertising its new Roman exhibition (PA Wire)

The British Museum has been accused of sexism after it suggested women should “walk around looking confused” to attract men at its new Roman exhibition.

The museum shared the “playful joke” in a now-deleted social media post as it attempted to promote the exhibition Legion: life in the Roman Army - but the move was met with criticism from users.

The post shared a viral TikTok video that showed men telling shocked women how often they thought about the Roman Empire.

With it, the museum added a caption which said: “Girlies, if you’re single and looking for a man, this is your sign to go to the British Museum’s new exhibition, Life in the Roman Army, and walk around looking confused. You’re welcome x.”

It then added: “Come for the Romans, stay for some romance.”

The TikTok video was uploaded to the museum’s account. It has since been deleted. (British Museum/Twitter)

But the joke did not go down well with many on social media.

Dr Claire Millington, a visiting research Fellow at King’s College London, wrote on X: “Unrelenting fascist imagery and sexism dolloped on top.”

Oxford Brookes University Professor Alexandra Wilson wrote: “Really misguided marketing approach, British Museum - really alienating to your (very broad) audience to presume they would ‘get’ the intertextual reference to something on TikTok. This ‘irony’ was bound to go wrong.”

Another social media user, named Vixen Science, added: “I got the reference; I still thought the post was crap. The last thing we need is more stereotyping of history as belonging to men, whether tongue-in-cheek, or not.”

But others saw the funny side of the post.

Hari wrote: “You’re just old and bitter that a joke went over your head. How dare the British museum make jokes Alexandra Wilson doesn’t understand. Head should roll.”

A British Museum spokesperson told The Independent: “We reposted a viral video from a female influencer on TikTok and Instagram to our own account. It was meant to be a playful joke linked to the ‘Roman Empire’ trend and we apologise to anyone who was offended which was never our intention.”

The viral TikTok trend started when Swedish-based influencer, Saskia Cort, urged her followers to ask their male partners how often they thought about the Roman Empire.

The meme, called Roman Empire, took off with millions posting their reactions to partners’ responses.

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