Kit Steinkellner
March 18, 2015 6:06 am

A TripAdvisor user was recently shocked (and justifiably angry) when she found out that the word “feminism” had been deleted from a TripAdvisor review she had written.

As that TripAdvisor user, Christina Fowler, writes in a piece for The Guardian about her experience, after witnessing the owner of the UK restaurant she was dining at sexually harass one of the working waitresses (biting her on the shoulder, slapping her behind, making kissing sounds at her, all while the waitress tried to ignore the behavior, and finally was seen complaining to the other waitresses), Fowler wrote a review of the place titled “Great food with a side of misogyny.” In the review she described the incident, (that, crazily enough, happened on International Women’s Day) summing up her feeling with the comment: “A huge reminder that we still need feminism, even in 2015.”

Fowler was shocked to find that her post’s title was soon changed to “Great food, not so great atmosphere” with “International Women’s Day” shortened to “IWD,” and that line about feminism removed entirely (though the anecdote about the inappropriate behavior remained).

TripAdvisor has since removed the post entirely. In a statement made to ShinyShiny.com, the website explained its reasoning:

“In our guidelines, we ask that reviewers refrain from personal political, ethical or religious commentary. In this case, we can confirm that the original review was removed because it contained some commentary of that nature. To be clear, the review was not removed because the reviewer’s first hand experience was considered irrelevant. In fact, we encouraged the reviewer to resubmit their review in order that their experience be shared with the travel community. We are pleased that the reviewer chose to do so, and that her resubmitted review meets our guidelines. As such, the review remains published on the site.”

While feminism may fall under “personal, political, ethical” commentary, it’s also important for a potential patron to know whether or not she and the women around her can expect to be treated with respect at an establishment. Rather than creating a neutral space by editing this language, it seems like TripAdvisor is taking a “personal, political, ethical” stance on the issue of gender equality, and in my opinion, they are landing on the wrong side of history.

I like TripAdvisor, I’ve planned road trips, backpacking adventures, even my honeymoon using the site. I’ve always found the work this site does to be tremendously helpful, but I am bothered to my core about their stance on gender equality. TripAdvisor, we want to remain your devoted users, please update your policies.

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