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British Museum meme telling women to ‘walk around looking confused’ to meet men at Roman army exhibition sparks sexism row writes EDEN CONFIDENTIAL


When George Osborne became chairman of the British Museum, he may have assumed it would be a cosy sinecure a world away from the scandals and bitter arguments he was accustomed to in Westminster.

Instead, the Conservative former Chancellor of the Exchequer finds himself presiding over yet another controversy at the 270-year-old London institution, this time over alleged sexism.

The row was provoked by a post by the museum’s social media team. Promoting its Life in the Roman Army exhibition, the post declared: ‘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 adds: ‘Come for the Romans, stay for some romance,’ and shows five red imperial banners featured in the show.

The post was a light-hearted reference to a recent social media trend in which women share clips of themselves expressing bewilderment at how often the men in their lives think about the Roman Empire – in some cases, more often than sex.

When George Osborne became chairman of the British Museum, he may have assumed it would be a cosy sinecure a world away from the scandals and bitter arguments he was accustomed to in Westminster

When George Osborne became chairman of the British Museum, he may have assumed it would be a cosy sinecure a world away from the scandals and bitter arguments he was accustomed to in Westminster

Promoting its Life in the Roman Army exhibition, the post declared: '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'

Promoting its Life in the Roman Army exhibition, the post declared: ‘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’

Last year, Osborne was criticised by Downing Street after the museum opened talks about its temporarily returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece for display

Last year, Osborne was criticised by Downing Street after the museum opened talks about its temporarily returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece for display

However, the reference was apparently lost on many who reacted with fury to the museum’s post.

‘Unrelenting fascist imagery and sexism dolloped on top,’ fumes Dr Claire Millington, a visiting research Fellow at King’s College London and former excavator on Channel 4’s Time Team. She likens the imperial banners to those displayed at Nazi rallies.

‘(I) can’t believe this is an official British Museum post,’ says another academic.

Another social media user claims: ‘We were at that very exhibit today and the level of mansplaining was off the charts.’

In response, the museum deleted its post and a spokesman explained that ‘mansplaining’ was ‘the butt of the joke’.

The spokesman insists: ‘We are not actually suggesting that women need to look for dates or pretend to be stupid. Apologies to anyone who wasn’t aware of the wider context who felt offended by this meme.’

Dr Millington dismisses this as a ‘non-apology.’

This is just the latest furore to hit the museum since Osborne became chairman in 2021. Last year, it was disclosed that some 2,000 of its treasures had disappeared, amid reports last year of ‘unheeded’ security warnings. A member of staff was sacked.

Last year, Osborne was criticised by Downing Street after the museum opened talks about its temporarily returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece for display. A No 10 spokesman suggested that the move was a ‘slippery slope’ that could lead to the return of other contested antiquities.

Boris’s boy gets a bear hug on the runway 

Tennis star Boris Becker trashed his reputation when he was jailed for hiding £2.5 million worth of assets despite declaring himself bankrupt. His son Elias is, however, determined to show that he’s the cuddly one in the family.

The 24-year-old model made a catwalk appearance at Paris Fashion Week in a coat made out of teddy bears. He says the creation by Swiss fashion house Vetements made him feel ‘warm and fuzzy’.

Boris Becker's son Elias made a catwalk appearance at Paris Fashion Week in a coat made out of teddy bears

Boris Becker’s son Elias made a catwalk appearance at Paris Fashion Week in a coat made out of teddy bears

Elias’s mother is Becker’s first wife, Barbara Feltus, an actress and designer, whom he paid £11 million when they divorced in 2001 after an eight-year marriage.

The Body is back! Elle owns the catwalk at 59 

Elle MacPherson proved she is still ‘The Body’ as she approaches her 60th birthday by returning to the catwalk for the first time in 14 years.

The Australian model appeared at the Melbourne Fashion Festival in a pastel yellow trench coat and matching slacks by Bianca Spender.

Macpherson, who was born in a suburb of Sydney, says: ‘This felt really worthwhile because I have a passion for supporting Australian fashion and young designers, and I love Melbourne.

‘I’m grateful to be coming home — not to be seen necessarily as an icon, but I am grateful for my Australian heritage.’

Princess Anne’s horse event hits hurdle 

Already working even harder than usual because of her brother’s cancer treatment, Princess Anne has suffered a fresh blow.

The Festival of British Eventing, which has been held at her Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire since 1983, has been cancelled because it has become ‘unfeasible to run’.

The Festival of British Eventing, which has been held at her Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire since 1983, has been cancelled because it has become 'unfeasible to run' (pictured: Princess Anne at The Festival of British Eventing 2023)

The Festival of British Eventing, which has been held at her Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire since 1983, has been cancelled because it has become ‘unfeasible to run’ (pictured: Princess Anne at The Festival of British Eventing 2023)

Her son, Peter Phillips, the event director, says: ‘It is with a heavy heart that the festival cannot run this year. The event has been a huge part of my family’s lives and those of many others.’

His father, Captain Mark Phillips, who founded the event with King Charles’s sister when they were married, explains that costs — particularly insurance — have risen so much since the pandemic that the numbers no longer add up. ‘It is the end of an era,’ he says.

DAME Jilly Cooper — whose latest novel, Tackle!, sees Rupert Campbell-Black buying a football club — is no fan of the ladies’ game.

‘I don’t like women’s football much,’ the bonkbuster author, 87, says. ‘I adore my own sex, but I like to see [men] whizzing around being macho… it’s my heterosexuality.’

Restaurant kitchens are full of workers suffering from communication and addiction problems, claims three Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge.

‘Kitchens have loads of chefs in them that have maybe ADHD, some form of communicative difficulty, or people that aren’t very sociable — or they’re really sociable and prone to addiction issues — or people that don’t conform to the norms of society,’ he tells the High Performance podcast.

Restaurant kitchens are full of workers suffering from communication and addiction problems, claims three Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge

Restaurant kitchens are full of workers suffering from communication and addiction problems, claims three Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge

‘It slightly attracts people that are a little bit left-field, a little outside the normal society thinking.’

Dame Darcey Bussell won millions of new admirers when she became a judge on Strictly Come Dancing, but her fellow former principal of the Royal Ballet, Carlos Acosta, won’t be following in her dainty footsteps. ‘Strictly is not for me,’ the Cuban star says at the launch of his production Nutcracker In Havana, which he is choreographing and directing. ‘I like to choreograph, and I don’t want to be tied up. That level of exposure is not me.

‘I don’t want people saying, “Look, that’s so-and-so from the telly.” I’ve danced at the Bolshoi, the Royal Ballet — that’s what I want to be known for.’



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