Just asking questions: Some key questions about the Metro and Fair Play For Women

Content note: this post discusses transphobia, transmisogyny and violence against women

Yesterday, the Metro ran a full-page bigoted ad. It remains to be seen whether popping a question mark at the end of an outlandishly bigoted and non-factual statement violates advertising standards. However, in the spirit of Just Asking Questions, I have some questions about the Metro’s decision, and Fair Play For Women, the bigots who took out the ads. I’ve asked some of these questions in this thread on Twitter (archived for when I delete old tweets), and some have been updated in the light of information emerging.

1. How much, exactly, did FPFW pay for the package they received? 

According to a statement from the Metro, “our commercial team did consult with them carefully on its content and language before agreeing to the final creative in today’s Metro”. In other words, editorial support was provided, on top of a service which according to their rate card is more than £40,000. Are the Metro giving away advertising space at massive discount? They remain tight-lipped on that, but it certainly sounds like a favour was done by the Metro.

Also, can you imagine the absolute state of the ad before some poor sod had to edit the language? Bile is still dripping from every word, I can only imagine how spiteful it must have been before.

2. Why aren’t FPFW spending their money on causes which actually benefit women?

Yesterday I pointed out what could be bought with the amount spent on a full page ad in the Metro. I’m not going to do that again. Instead, I’m going to have a peek at the £33,715 which appears to have been raised by FPFW’s crowdfunders, which have the stated purpose of supporting their campaigning activities.

A sum of around £33k could provide:

440 nights at a refuge.
255500 menstrual pads to be distributed to schools. The fancy ones. Bought at cost price.
£48 to every single one of the 700 people who travel from Northern Ireland for an abortion.
440 local support sessions for survivors of domestic violence
1369 emergency packs for women who fled domestic violence with nothing
938 fun days for children staying at a refuge with their mums
292 weeks of childcare for a single mother
165 mammograms for women aged 40-49 who are ineligible on the NHS

So, why spend money on spiteful campaigning when one could use that money for causes which benefit women in need?

3. Who’s funding FPFW?

FPFW claim to be an organic grassroots organisation, but I’m calling astroTERF here. There are inconsistencies with their funding model, and apparent bankrolling and laundering from the evangelical right. Let’s have a look at a genuinely organic grassroots crowdfund from FPFW back in March. (HT @wendylyon) You’ll note they raised £595, which is a lot less than the big bucks they’ve been rolling in since then, although that £595 could still cover travel expenses and accommodation for a woman or two coming from Northern Ireland for an abortion, or five stays in a refuge for a woman and her children.

Tweeter @caseyexplosion has been investigating funding of transphobic groups and ties with the US evangelical right, and spotted a pattern of large anonymous donations to crowdfunds calling for bigoted ads to be put out, their close relationships with said US evangelical right groups, and the sudden proliferation of very similar groups. Factor in that “high profile advertising campaign” is a tactic beloved by the megachurches with the megabucks, and there’s a lot of questions.

4. Why aren’t the media interested in asking these questions?

We know the media loves to ask questions about funding of campaigns. I volunteered in the Yes To AV campaign back in 2011 (off-brand, I know), and I remember the media collectively losing its shit because one organisation involved in the campaign owned a property which had once belonged to a communist party. Moscow gold funding the fluffy democratic reform campaign, apparently.

There’s more than enough eyebrow-raising with the funding of FPFW going on, and they’ve raised their profile. So, where’s the investigative work? Where’s the media attention? It’s newsworthy. Heck, it’s super newsworthy in a world where it’s emerged that political process has been influenced by paid advertising with false claims. I hope something will break soon, rather than this work having to be done voluntarily by people on Twitter.

5. Who’s signed off the ad in the Metro?

It’s almost immediately being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority. They must have guessed this would happen.

6. Do you remember ever having seen a full-page full-colour ad in the Metro on women’s or LGBT rights?

I sure as shit don’t. Admittedly, my relationship with the Metro is usually putting it on my tube seat if the seat feels a bit dank and I don’t want to sit on it, but sometimes I open it up for the “to put in the ass” if my phone and book are out of batteries. I do not recall ever having seen an ad of such prominence highlighting issues affecting women, or issues affecting LGBT folk. The Metro may cry fairness and balance, but that sounds rather false when they just whack a rainbow on the Landrover ad during Pride season.

There’s an antisemitic conspiracy theory floating round that Soros is funding some shadowy trans cabal who control the media, but let’s be honest here: first of all, that’s antisemitic as fuck, and secondly, I’ve never seen a full page ad in a commuter rag raising awareness of transgender rights.

7. Since the ad was influencing a political process, will the Metro be supplying equally prominent ad space to alternative perspectives?

The FPFW was directly targeted to influence a political process, a government consultation. This was its purpose. The Metro itself acknowledged this. So, given their endless bleating about balance, will they be equally prominently raising voices of alternate perspectives on the consultation?

I’m just asking questions here.

__

Usually this is where I ask for money. Today, I’m not. I’m asking you to make a donation to Refuge or Abortion Support Network since they’re being cut out of the transmisogynistic megabucks and need money to support women. 

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