On April Fool’s Day, the internet is a treacherous place. What started many years ago as a gag where sites would make outrageous posts designed to fool readers into thinking fake news stories were real has evolved into a tradition of posting the most outrageous, click-baiting articles they can in the hopes of fueling false outrage.
Most years, I get taken in by one or two articles like many others, and laugh it off. This year, the April Fool’s Day “joke” that People Per Hour (a UK-based online freelancing site) sent straight to my inbox is so obviously an ill-advised attempt at humor that it highlights just how deeply ingrained sexism is in UK culture, and how little consideration the company gave to this “joke”..
People Per Hour apparently thought it would be funny to send an email telling their users they were going to split the site into two – based on gender. “MenPerHour” and “WomenPerHour”, complete with consultants to help users determine which category they fell into.
Leaving aside entirely the fact that they apparently thought it would be funny to exclude those who don’t identify as either male or female, and the fact that they have both clients and registered workers in countries that hold abominable records on women’s rights and safety, This is an international company, and such laddish humor is not just offensive, but highly culture-specific in its obviousness as a joke. Their “prank” is in unbelievably poor taste, and will hopefully backfire on the company. I almost hesitated to post about it, given that in the end I don’t want to drive traffic to their site and let them profit off this stunt, but have posted screenshots of the email and blog post below in the hopes that readers will look at them rather than going directly to the site (though I did include a link to the blog post for those who think this post is my idea of an April Fool’s Day prank).
In full, here is the PeoplePerHour April Fool’s Email:
And here is a link to the company’s blog, which I had hoped would be a blog saying, “Haha, got you!,” but which actually takes the joke to an even more offensive level, with guidelines on how men and women should look in their user photographs. The blog starts with the same information as above before moving into more “specifics” on the new policy:
Or, if you’d rather not give them the pageviews, here are some more screenshots:
And, at time of posting, here are the comments that had been left on the blog entry:
This may be one of the least professional “April Fool’s Day” jokes I’ve ever seen a freelance website run. I’ve already forwarded the email concerned to the Everyday Sexism project, and tweeted about it, and hope PeoplePerHour realize the extent of their ill-advised attempt at joining in on April Fool’s Day fun.
While I “get” that this is supposed to be “funny,” it says a lot about the culture at People Per Hour that this was the best their team could come up with.
Edit: I’ve already started receiving comments from those who think it’s “embarrassing” that I “don’t get the joke” or “don’t understand humor.” Comments of this nature won’t be approved or published, as this is a well-known silencing technique that will not be humored on this blog. If you want to make a cogent argument as to why it was responsible for PeoplePerHour to make this joke, or why this is the funniest joke they could come up with, by all means go ahead – but personal insults, etc. are off the table.
Second edit: I’ve deleted my profile on this site. While PeoplePerHour decided to follow me on Twitter half an hour or so after I posted the original blog, they did not reply to a single tweet nor address the concerns of numerous others who commented on their blog post that the “joke” was in poor taste. Other users made similar points to those I made above: that the stunt was unprofessional and too culturally-specific for an international site with users in countries where women’s rights are severely curtailed. Coupled with feedback from those who have given endorsements to others on the site regarding PeoplePerHour’s unscrupulous email spamming and unnecessary unsubscribing complications, it became clear that this was not a site I wished to be associated with.