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Dear Marks & Spencer: women-only changing rooms

On 31st October, Marks & Spencer tweeted the following post in response to Jean Hatchet:

“As a business, we strive to be inclusive and therefore, we allow customers the choice of which fitting room they feel comfortable to use, in respect of how they identify themselves. This is an approach other retailers and leisure facilities have also adopted. 2/3”

The responses to this tweet reflect the outrage many women feel about this change to a policy without any consultation with women customers.

The policy change by M&S is in stark contrast to that of Centerparcs which this week affirmed its decision to provide single-sex changing rooms:

It’s a debate we’d rather not be in. But we feel our response is in line with the Equality Act.”

The Times reports

[Centerparcs] added that its approach was proportionate to the needs of all guests “and we do provide the option of private changing facilities”.

Write to Marks & Spencer

Below is the text of a model letter you could adapt. It is always good to personalise letters of complaint so please feel free to edit or add your own points.

  • Send it to the manager of your local store
  • You can also complain to M&S headquarters via the online form. The text below fits the box they supply.
  • Let us know what response you get.

Model letter

Dear Marks & Spencer (send to your local store manager and HQ)

As a customer of Marks & Spencer I read recently that you have changed policy on changing rooms. In reply to feminist campaigner Jean Hatchet, who queried a man being present in a female changing room, you stated on Twitter that you “allow customers to use the fitting room they feel comfortable to use in respect of how they identify themselves”.

This is an unacceptable policy that has been developed without any regard for your female customers, including girls. Clearly, you have not considered if women will feel comfortable with men in women’s changing rooms or if the policy is safe. You have undertaken no consultation with your female customers proving you are contemptuous of us.

Marks & Spencer changing rooms carry out bra fittings, an example of the vulnerability and intimate arrangements that women experience in your changing areas. Women must trust your service to be discreet and dignified if we are to continue shopping with you. Yet you appear to have decided this is of no consequence.

I call on you to reverse this policy and instead implement a policy that asserts the right of women to privacy and dignity when they are in vulnerable and intimate circumstances.

I want Marks & Spencer to continue with female only changing rooms.

You are able to do this under the Equality Act 2010 which allows the utilisation of exemptions to facilitate single sex spaces. If you wish to create separate gender neutral spaces that option is available to you but must not be to the detriment of female customers and should be considered a third space, an option that requires additional resources.

I am supporting this feminist campaign asking you to reverse your policy with other feminist women who believe Marks & Spencer have shown a deeply sexist and dismissive attitude to women in this matter.

This is not just sexism; this is M&S sexism.

Yours

 

 

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