Twitter Thinks An Oxford Professor’s Photo Proves The Need For International Women's Day

"This should not have happened."

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Yesterday, March 8, was International Women's Day, and the holiday commemorating the movement for women's rights was celebrated by individuals, companies, and institutions all over the world.

As part of the celebration at Oxford University in England, someone had written "Happy International Women's Day" in chalk on the steps of a building. While that's a fine way to mark such an important day, how the message was removed has caused some outrage online.

According to Mashable, Dr. Sophie Smith, an associate professor of political theory at Oxford, tweeted a photo of a female cleaner removing the message with a mop as at least two additional university staff members looked on. "Oxford security makes a woman cleaner scrub out 'Happy International Women's Day' on the Clarendon steps," she wrote. "What an image for #IWD."

Since it was first posted, Smith's photo has already amassed nearly of 21,000 retweets, more than 32,000 likes, and 1,700 comments. Not surprisingly, many of the social media users who sounded off on Smith's image were very unhappy with what they saw. Not only was a woman being asked to erase something that's meant to empower her, but there doesn't seem to be any justification for why the text was removed so swiftly after a day of celebration.

As one person on Twitter noted, "Not a good look. I don't think management realised what an image that would make. They need to consult their marketing team."

While many people defended the university by saying they likely didn't realize how asking a female worker to clean the message would look to others, another user posited, "Doesn't that make it worse?"

Still, in Oxford's defense, it was quick to apologize for the unfortunate incident. In a tweet to Smith, someone from the educational institution wrote, "We are deeply sorry for this and for offence caused. International Women's Day is hugely important to Oxford. This should not have happened."

And though Smith appreciated the university's apology, she proposed the person who really needed to hear an "I'm sorry" was the woman herself. She also suggested the woman receive "a warm cup of tea, the rest of the day off and, along with all our precarious staff, good enough pay to live in this city."

Cover image: Skowronek /

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