Marks & Spencer has become embroiled in a sexism row after shoppers took to social media to criticise a window display positioning men’s suits next to women’s “fancy little knickers”.
Yesterday Facebook user Fran Bailey posted a photo of the retailer’s window display in Nottingham to the Feminist Friends Nottingham group, branding it “vomit inducing”.
The display in question features the star of one of its two Christmas adverts David Gandy posing in a suit with the tagline “must-have outfits to impress”, while a second display in the same window depicts a woman in her underwear next to the tagline “must-have fancy little knickers”.
I'm appalled as a man. This is sexist, it is counter-productive and, Marks & Spencer, absolutely and utterly tone deaf! Who was the manager who signed *this* off? Middle-aged and male, perhaps?
— Stefan Paetow (@stefanpaetow) November 20, 2018
In her post to the Facebook group, which has since gone viral, Bailey said: “Ok, M&S Nottingham, have we really not learned anything in the last 35 years?
“Or am I alone in finding this, their major window display, completely vomit inducing?”
@GMB what a load of rubbish OMG this is why feminism is hated so much! What wrong with wearing nice underwear? How can Marks & Spencer sell something that can’t be seen? Get a life lady
— Dawn Swindlehurst (@DawnSwindles1) November 21, 2018
“It’s pandering to notions of gender that are so outdated that it’s unbelievable that it’s still being spouted out,” Bailey continued.
“I’m disgusted because I’d have thought that M&S was a grown-up store that knew better.
“I know M&S is not the worst offender by any means but this particular juxtaposition is just grotesque.”
Although Bailey said she believes everyone has the right to wear “whatever they want”, she said this juxtaposition encourages the “normalisation of damaging gender stereotypes” and suggests women are obsessed with “fancy little knickers”.
In response to the accusations, the retailer said: “M&S sells more underwear, in more shapes, sizes and styles, than any other retailer, especially at Christmas.
“We’ve highlighted one combination in our windows, which are part of a wider campaign that features a large variety of must-have Christmas moments, from David Gandy washing up in an M&S suit through to families snuggling up in our matching PJs.”
The strapline “must-have” is featured in the retailer’s Christmas advert for its home and clothing division, one of two it has released this year to separate it from its grocery business.