This question was sent to our flagship podcast, Mamamia Out Loud, from Genevieve via email. Below, is our response.
Yesterday, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across a post that stopped me in my tracks.
“Looking for a new housemate!” it read.
“Full time worker required. Do not bother applying if you are a white feminist, classist, ableist, racist, homophobic or a young liberal. Must be vegetarian and believe in climate change. Simple.”
The most shocking revelation, was that the ad was posted by my 29-year-old brother.
Unsurprisingly, so far there were no takers.
And here’s the thing.
On the surface, I understand what he’s getting at. I believe in equality, and I think that by ‘white feminist’ he meant any privileged young woman who doesn’t acknowledge the intersection of race, gender, age, sexuality and ability.
That’s an admirable stance.
But at the same time, my boyfriend is a young liberal, as are a number of my friends. People – I believe – can’t be put so strictly into boxes.
Our family all eat meat, and it seems extremely unfair to discriminate against us given how accommodating we have been of his vegetarianism.
Even though he is trying to be super progressive, I can't help but feel that the ad itself is a form of discrimination, judging people superficially on their political beliefs.
At the same time, I've seen lots of ads around the place that specify race, age or gender for a housemate, so perhaps this is just expected now.
I want to tell my brother to take the ad down because it makes him look like, well, a wanker, but I'm just not sure what to do. I'm worried members of our family will see it and feel offended.
What should I do?
Your brother has definitely limited the pool of housemate applicants, and as women who are also big proponents of equality and social justice, none of us are too interested in living with someone who (ironically) appears to be quite judgemental.
If you are close to your brother, it might be worth saying how that ad made you feel, and how it might be taken by other members of your family.
Perhaps the ad is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, or a (poorly) executed joke. It might be worth clarifying.
LISTEN: Mia Freedman, Holly Wainwright and Jessie Stephens discuss this listener question on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below.
But, when it comes to advertising for new housemates, for better or worse, your brother is 'allowed' to set criteria. For some, it might be that they want someone without pets, who won't have too many people over or be out very late. Maybe they're looking for a fellow student, or would feel more comfortable with a female roommate.
When race comes into it, especially discriminating against an already marginalised ethnicity, things become more complicated. But your brother has not done that.
In a way, your brother's ad is quite efficient. If he was going to ask those questions upon interviewing a potential housemate anyway, then better to get them out of the way early. It would be like applying for a job, and turning up for an interview only to be told they want someone with 15 years experience. It would have been preferable if they just stated that in the ad.
So, as awkward as your brother's ad is, you don't need to do anything. He is entitled to seek a very specific kind of roommate.
Something tells us, however, that he won't be inundated with applicants.
You can listen to the full episode of Mamamia Out Loud, here.